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An Iowa City Blogger

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I met Bill Sorenson at the Iowa Code Camp recently and figured out that he has been blogging on tech topics for quite some time. Go check out his blog here.

Written by Chris Sutton

December 9, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Unity at CRineta

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Jeff Brand from our North Central Microsoft office came to CRineta and gave a very good talk on Unity, Microsoft’s dependency injection container.

From my experience when people talk about IOC/DI they end up skipping basic concepts, but Jeff didn’t. It was really good because he went back to the very beginning and built a live code example along the way. And as he built the code base, he introduced all the core concepts.

I learned a lot and think I’ll introduce Unity into my current project. Structure Map has been on my list to learn for awhile, so I’ll probably use it to compare for usability and features.

Written by Chris Sutton

November 4, 2008 at 11:12 am

Iowa Tech is Heating Up

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Early this year I blogged about the general state the .NET community in Eastern Iowa and Iowa in general. Some of the goals on January 1st were to see more techies blogging, more speaking, to run our first camp and to see the tech community grow in general.

So here is an update. We had an incredibly successful first code camp at the University of Iowa conference center on May 3rd. We had around 130 people attend over the course of the day with about 25 people presenting.

On the blogging front, Tim Barcz has really taken his blogging up a notch and has moved over to the devlicio.us community. Chris Missal has been doing some nice work with ASP.NET and jQuery and I hope to see some more good blogging from there.

Bryan Sampica, Javier Lozano and D’Arcy Lussier(well he’s Canadian, but that’s close enough) are writing “ASP.NET 3.5 Programmers Reference“. This is very cool to have two Iowa authors writing a major programming title.

I’m sure there are other good bloggers in Iowa who are doing good writing, let me know in comments who else is out there.

Our next code camp in Iowa is just a couple of weeks away on November 8th. It is being held at the DMACC West campus in West Des Moines. We have great speakers from Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Texas and Ohio. We are also introducing a new format called a fishbowl in two of the sessions. Register here if you haven’t already.

The Cedar Falls / Waterloo area is getting a new Ineta group (tentatively Cedar Valley INETA) headed up by Josh Flory. We hope to see good things happen up north.

CRineta webcasted it’s first user group meeting presentation in October which was interesting. We have some work to improve this medium, but it has a lot of potential for reaching people that can make it into the meetings. Josh Flory is the primary person who made this happen, so thanks to him.

The University of Iowa has a new Ruby group as well, which is a great development.

We have 2 1/2 months left in 2008 so let’s finish this year off well.

By the way, Tim Barcz, Derik Whittaker and I might have some big news in a week or two but I can’t officially announce it yet.

Written by Chris Sutton

October 15, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Continuous Integration with TeamCity follow up

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The presentation last night went really well. We had a steady stream of questions and there seemed to be general interest in the topic.

We talked about what Continuous Integration is and then I introduced a build configuration that I had pre-configured around a sample ASP.NET application. For some reason I couldn’t get the jabber notifications to work, but they had worked flawlessly before.

After talking with several people I’ve clarified a couple of points that will help the next time I present the talk, likely at the Iowa Code Camp. Thanks for all of the feedback and questions.

Here are the slides from the talk if you are interested.

Written by Chris Sutton

October 7, 2008 at 10:43 am

Iowa Code Camp – Des Moines

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The summer is just about over and it’s time to ramp up for our second Iowa Code Camp of the year. This year’s code camp is going to held at the DMACC campus in West Des Moines on November 8th.

Greg Wilson put out a call for speakers a while ago. If you weren’t included on that email and want to speak, then email him at greg at solidrockstable dot com and he can help you out.

Javier Lozano has already lined up DMACC as our facility. If you haven’t been to their campus check out their website here. It’s an excellent high-tech facility and I think it will be a fantastic location. If you are interested in sponsoring the event please contact Javier Lozano as well at javier at lozanotek dot com.

To round out the list of leaders there is Greg Sohl (master of logistics), Bryan Sampica (marketing), Tom Burns and myself.

Written by Chris Sutton

August 31, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Speaking at CodeApalooza

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I’m doing a talk at CodeApalooza called “Rendering Great Client-Side Controls with ASP.NET MVC“.

The idea behind this talk is that the latest crop of browsers have significant boosts in their Javascript speed. Because Javascript is faster and is becoming more consistent in its implementation, some innovative libraries have matured significantly. YUI, jQuery and many others can now save you much effort. You can now easily offload the rendering of your client controls to the browser and just send the controls raw json or xml data.

One of the main examples we’ll build is a really slick pageable and sortable grid. I think you’ll be pretty impressed with what you you can accomplish if you haven’t tested any of these libraries.

CodeApalooza is happening in Wheaton, IL (think Chicago) on September 6th. If you haven’t signed up already, do quickly before it fills up.

Written by Chris Sutton

August 21, 2008 at 7:50 pm

CRIneta goes to Brazil

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Eduardo Bottcher, a .NET Architect for HNI in Muscatine, was recently back in Rio de Janeiro for some vacation and took part in a podcast with the guys from MSRio.NET.

In the second half they discuss the CRIneta.org, the 2008 launch event we did this spring and Iowa Code Camp. If you speak Portuguese or can at least understand it, definitely listen to their third podcast to hear more.

É muito bacana isso!

Written by Chris Sutton

August 19, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Jason Bock at CRIneta

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Jason Bock will be speaking on “Writing Better Code with Visual Studio 2008” this evening at CRIneta. Jason has written a several books, has been running the Twin Cities Code Camps for several years and is a Principal Consultant for Magenic.

Definitely come to CRIneta tonight if you want to hear from an experienced developer on how write better code.

Written by Chris Sutton

August 4, 2008 at 8:47 am

Who and What is ASP.NET MVC for?

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Michael Neel wrote today about what a good definition is for ASP.NET MVC.

I have to admit that many of my descriptions of ASP.NET MVC have been tied to deficiencies and frustrations in the current ASP.NET Webforms implementation. It is time to start talking less about what it isn’t and to start talking more about what it is.

Michael also points out that it is not likely people will use ASP.NET MVC just so they can use the MVC pattern, since you could come pretty close to MVC with some extra work in ASP.NET Webforms.

The main point of the post was to figure out a good definition of ASP.NET MVC that doesn’t rely on problems in Webforms. And here is where I don’t think he captured what ASP.NET MVC is about. Michael ends up with this definition

“ASP.NET MVC is the evolution of Classic ASP, adding an easier separation of concerns while not using an event based model like WebForms.”

First off, I used Classic ASP successfully for several years, but I don’t think there is enough in common to invoke Classic ASP in this definition. What we typed in .asp pages looked like what you make with .aspx pages in the default view engine, but beyond that I can’t find much similarity.

Second, he ends up counter balancing ASP.NET MVC against the event model. I’m thrilled that most of the event model has gone away with MVC, but isn’t this part of the definition implying that there is a problem with the event model in ASP.NET Webforms? So I think to define what value a company would get from ASP.NET MVC you need to counter balance it against the current Webforms implementation (to a degree). But it definitely needs stand more on it’s own as it grows up.

Anyway, Michael’s post has has really got me thinking. In an interview this week I was explaining to an architect why one would want to use ASP.NET MVC and I think I was able to articulate pretty well why you would want to use it and who would not benefit so much from it. I don’t have a better succinct definition yet.

So what benefits does ASP.NET MVC have for me?

It encourages me to separate out fundamental concerns. I want my tools to encourage me along a successful path. They can’t make me build good applications, but they can give me a good model. Having a View that is just about transforming data into a page (or some other format) is good. There isn’t much temptation to put business, data or flow logic in the view. The Controller accepts requests in a predictable format, finds out what Model it needs to call and says what view to render if necessary. The Model can easily be decoupled from the first two parts.

Routing is a first class concept now giving me a prescriptive way to specify a request format. It’s not an after thought like url rewriting.

ASP.NET MVC certainly flattens out the complex Webforms event model. Any time I can cut unneeded complexity from an application I will. I can’t imagine Webforms without preinit, init, render, etc.

As I do more and more TDD with web development, I know that ASP.NET MVC is easier to unit test.

Last of all, it takes me closer to the HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Some people want to pretend these languages don’t exist and want to do Winforms on the Web and others just don’t want to have to deal with the quirks of those languages. I make no claim that they are perfect, but they are good enough and by this point in web history there is agreement on their implementations.

Can we quite having to write ASP.NET MVC? It would be good to have a shorter name for writing. And yes, I ended my title in a preposition, get over it.

Written by Chris Sutton

July 26, 2008 at 3:42 pm

New MVP in Eastern Iowa

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A friend of mine, Arian Kulp, just received the Microsoft MVP award. Arian has been writing for Coding4Fun for quite some time, speaks up at CRIneta periodically and has produced a lot of content in the form of Hands-on-Labs and articles.

Bryan Sampica is the only other MVP that I know of in Eastern Iowa. Good job guys.

Written by Chris Sutton

July 6, 2008 at 11:30 am

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