Code To Live: Jay Wren on the Boo Programming Language

As many of you know, I’ve been playing with Dynamic languages with the DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime). It’s fun learning about new languages. Furthering that goal, I had the pleasure to sit down with Jay Wren about the Boo Programming Language and interview him for Code to Live. I intended to make it a 8-10 minute interview and cut him off so that I had very little editing to do. 46 minutes later, I cut off the camera. It was a fun interview with lots of code. I found out that the language is a dynamic language but it’s statically types. I thought that was an interesting twist on the language scenario. The syntax is based on C#, Python and even F# pulling a lot of the best practices from each of these languages. The most fascinating part of the language, however, is it’s extreme extensibility. The first example that Jay showed me was how to extend the language itself with With block style syntax ala VB.

I’m a better .NET programmer because of the things that I’ve learned about Ruby, Python and now Boo. I really understand the C# 3.0 features that are coming such extension methods. I understand how LINQ works better as a result of these languages. I’m thrilled!

I challenge each of you to investigate a new language. If nothing else, it will change your perceptions and improve your ability to write code in your primary language.

Check out the show and let me know if Boo is the next language for you to check out…

Code To Live: Jay Wren on the Boo Programming Language

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Day of .Net in Ann Arbor Fall 2007

 Day of .Net May 5, 2007 - See You there!This past weekend I was privileged to attend and speak at the third iteration of the Day of .NET. I was one of the original organizers of the Day of .NET along with John Hopkins and Jason Follas a year and a half ago. They have far surpassed the original vision which was to just do a cool event for South-Eastern Michigan. The Ann Arbor Day of .NET is now one of the staple events in SE Michigan and they have moved it up to an every 6 month cadence.It’s even being exported to a number of other locations including Grand Rapids and Memphis.

The basic tenets are that:
A. Content is king. Over glitz and sponsors and everything else, this conference makes it’s mark by delivering rock solid content year after year. There were talks about .NET 3.0, WCF, LINQ, Astoria, Story Driven Design and Fitness, the Dynamic Language Runtime (my talk 🙂 – more on this topic coming soon), and even XNA. 20 sessions in all + 5 vendor driven half sessions. That’s a lot of fantastic content.

B. See rule A. 🙂

C. Leverage sponsors to cover the costs of the venue, food, T-shirts and more. I know that there’s been talk of requiring some type of registration fee of all the attendees. So far that’s not happened. There are a lot of benefits to the fee based attendance. It means that the variable costs (food, T-shirts and the like0 are covered based on the number of attendees rather that coming out of the flat fees that the sponsors have put in. There’s about 30-40% drop off from registration on free events. That’s because the people registered don’t have any skin in the game and decide that they don’t feel like it or it’s not a priority to show up. This is frustrating to all the organizers because it makes capacity planning really hard and it’s a slap in the face with all of the hard work that they’ve done to make this event amazing.

D. Nobody makes any money off of this. At different points, we discussed paying for different speakers to come in but we keep getting such great speakers that we haven’t ever resorted to that. I’m really hoping that we never have to. in the

E. Maintain your independence. While sponsored in part by Microsoft, there are many sponsors and none of them control the content or anything else – just get their name on the web site and other publicity. The independence of this conference and others like it is crucial. It means that they are able to take chances on “non-approved” content, maintain some level of credibility and attract an audience that would not be interested in a Microsoft or other sponsor driven marketing style event.

All of that being said – the community run aspect of this means a lot of work for the guys that are running the event and it really requires a good committee to do it right. John Hopkins and Jason Follas do a fabulous job year after year and should be proud of their work. I helped out the first year but was too busy with new job to help out last spring so Darrell Hawley stepped up, responsibilities were shifted and they pulled off an amazing event. This year Darrell Hawley was busy so they pulled in Patrick Steele, Chris Woodruff and Jeff McWherter to help out. At this point, there are parts of the event that were really hard that are on autopilot such as the registration system. The first two years were interesting because they didn’t have a registration engine and had to scrounge for one. Now they have one written that is just flicking a switch on and off to control the registration. That’s cool and needed. The web site was really hard the first year and now it’s pretty much writing itself when they add in the speakers, sessions and assignments. The giveaways were really hard the first couple of years but there have been a lot of great strides making that as automated as possible. I’m really impressed by the organizational and leadership abilities demonstrated by John Hopkins and Jason Follas to really make this a repeatable and sustainable event.

Thanks guys!

Day of .Net in Ann Arbor Fall 2007

Community Rocks!

It’s been a long but fun month.

9/30/2007 – 10/3/2007 Adobe Max

This was the first Adobe Max that I’ve attended. It was a lot of fun to catch up with James Ward and Ryan Stewart. Even though we are evangelists for different (and even opposing) companies – they are great guys and I enjoy hanging out with them. Actually, I got to meet a lot of the Adobe employees and they were all pretty nice even if they were nervous/suspicious/confused about why I was there. I saw a lot of cool technology there. Obviously, Thermo was the prettiest girl at the dance but some of the ‘Sneaks’ were pretty slick. My favorite technology that I saw was called seaming. The short version is that this guy figured out how to remove seams from pictures rather than crushing them during a resize. His app will, as the picture is resizing, remove areas of low “energy” rather than squishing all of the figures in the picture. This means that he’s not resizing the people, cars and the like and does remove things like part of the sky or beach or building and so on. It was very cool. He can also “paint” an object in the picture and remove enough other seams to pull the rest of the picture in to cover that object and it completely vanishes. As it was a “Sneak”, Adobe has not committed to releasing it but it’s on the horizon and it’s very cool technology.

10/8/2007 – 10/9/2007 Boston Remix

I really wasn’t sure exactly what to expect with Boston Remix. This was a recreation of the developer parts of MIX, which happened in Vegas in the spring. I was really impressed with how smooth the event went, the quality of the presenters from the keynotes to the regular sessions. I was privileged enough to pick up one of the sessions where the presenter bailed. I did the Web 2.0 talk that we’ve been doing with ArcReady. I really enjoy that talk these days. I leverage it as a conversation to see what everyone in the room things of Web 2.0, how they are doing their development and more.

I met Mark Frydenberg who is a professor at a Bentley University. He is leveraging Web 2.0 to teach his classes. By this I mean that he’s leveraging Wiki’s to do class notes, allow the users to contribute possible test questions and more. He’s looking at Popfly to do teach the class the basics of mashups and programming. It’s a very cool idea and I’m looking tracking his progress through-out the semester. I’ve also caught part of this for a future Code to Live show.

10/12/2007 – 10/13-2007 Devlink

This was an amazing event. John Kellar started off in Little Rock, AR (in fact he went to high school at on of the big rivals to my old high school and we know some of the same people from high school… 🙂 ) and started the Little Rock Techfest. He grew this to be a very successful event and then took a job in Nashville (or Nashvegas as Rob Foster puts it). This is the second year for DevLink and it surpassed expectations for the second year in a row. There were 350 people that paid $50 a head coming together for 2 days worth of rock star material. It was an honor to be listed among the speakers that we had here. You probably already saw my post on Brad Abrams, but I didn’t talk in depth about Ron Jacobs, Rocky Lhotka, Billy Hollis, Tim Huckabee, David Laribee, Wally McClure, David Silverlight, Rob Foster, Mark Dunn, Todd Fine, Jon Box, Kathleen Dollard, Keith Elder, Rob Howard, Ted Neward, Alan Stevens, Rob Winsor and I’m probably (almost definitely) forgetting someone else important. The buzz and conversations at the event were fabulous.

10/13/2007 – Indy Techfest

Code to Live DPEThis event was organized by the user group in Indianapolis run by Brad Jones. Brad and I go back to an MVP summit 3 or 4 years ago. The Indy Techfest cut off registration at 563 and they had a large waiting list on top of that. Damn the space constraints. I showed up during the last session of the day. I did my pitch for Code to Live. It was pretty cool because we got to actually bring the bike inside the venue. You can see in the picture Dave Bost, Bill Steele, Larry Clarkin and me. Notice the DevLink jersey… 🙂

After the event I went to dinner with Brad Jones, Steven Fultcher and the rest of the organizers and some of the speakers. It was a fun time.



DevLink 2007 and Brad Abrams is My Hero

Jeff Blankenburg already did a fantastic post on DevLink. John Kellar and his crew did a fantastic job pulling this conference together. In its second year – I was impressed with the whole event from the speaker’s dinner to the quality of speaker that this event was able to attract. There were 5 regional directors, 19 MVPs and some of the heavy hitters from Microsoft including Ron Jacobs and Brad Abrams. For some reason they let me speak too.
Have I mentioned that Brad Abrams is my new hero! I’m not belittling any of the other speakers because there were some amazing speakers and things that happened but I feel compelled to brag on Brad a little here.
I saw Brad at Boston Remix but I got to actually meet and spend some time with him at Devlink in Nashville, TN. This is a community conference, large for a community conference but a community conference none the less which is what makes this all the more special. First, someone on Brad’s level is actively engaging the community is very cool. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he was one of the original 5 on the CLR team. He has moved all the way up from writing the String class to his current position as the owner of the entire UI platform. That’s WPF, Silverlight and AJAX.  Between him and Scott Guthrie (his boss) – I can’t think of another company whose brass get out into the community the way these guys do.

Anyways, back to the story. Brad did the opening keynote where he did a fabulous job. He also did some other sessions with a lot fewer people in them. When he wasn’t talking, he was attending sessions like a normal attendee and between sessions and at lunches he was hanging out in the lobby and just talking to people. It was fun sitting in on a lot of those conversations as they ranged from Test Driven Development to the Dynamic Language Runtime to Kathleen Dollard and Billy Hollis taking him to task over complexity in the frameworks, timelines and more. At this point in the conference I’m really blown away by Brad and how approachable he is. He told me to call him and chat about some of the questions that I have around Silverlight road mapping. I know that he meant it and I’m going to take him up on it after we’ve both had a chance to recover from our travel this past couple of weeks.
Then I heard the about what he did on Saturday afternoon and was completely blown away. John Kellar, the main conference organizer, wrote me to tell me about it and I found Brad’s post on it. Brad went to listen to a talk on AJAX but the speaker didn’t show. There were 30 people in the room that were, understandably, getting bent out of shape about it. So Brad steps up and asks – “Who wants to see me do some AJAX demos?” An hour fifteen later – the crowd was completely jazzed by the stuff Brad was showing off the cuff. That’s very cool of him and shows that he is truly invested in the community and still has the technical chops to backup any of his things he says.
It’s truly impressive and that’s why Brad Abrams is my new hero!