Thursday, October 26, 2006

Southwest Fox - Day 3 (Saturday)

Saturday started out with a couple more informal sessions. I really wanted to attend Bo Durban's session Using GDI+ with VFP. Bo, Craig Boyd, and Cesar Chalom have done some really cool stuff with the GDIPlusX class library. I listened to Bo Friday night at the go-kart race when he was telling us how he and Craig initially architected this and how important it was for them to replicate the same functionality from .NET. These three guys are very energetic when it comes to this project so I am disappointed I missed this session..

On the way to Jim Booth's session XML/XLST, DOM and VFP Build Web Pages session I ran into Dave Bernard who was doing the UT coverage along with Bo Durban. These guys really worked hard on the coverage. I talked with Dave for a while and missed Jim's session. I was really looking forward to seeing Jim speak. He has been a favorite of mine since I started attending conferences in the early 90's. I have been messing around with his topic for a little bit so I am hoping to read his session white paper now that I have returned home. As you know from reading this blog, often the adhoc sessions outside and during sessions are very valuable. One of the things that came up was a discussion about Mike Feltman's Where do you want to go today? session. Several people recommended I attend it the second time Mike presented it. Normally I would just ask Mike to present the session at DAFUG as both the Feltman's are regular presenters at our local user group. But the next opening is several months away.

Lucky enough Mike presented Where do you want to go today? during the next slot. I really enjoyed it. The core message I got out of Mike's session is quite simple: there is nothing wrong with using VFP and nothing wrong with looking at other development tools and languages to meet your customer needs. The second message, and more important message he gave us is something I have said for the last several years: make business decisions based on business reasons, not on emotional reasons. Hatred and anger are emotions that need to be purged from the business decision process. He started out the session reinforcing the fact that he loves VFP and plans on using it for a long time. Mike presented all the pros and cons of each of the development languages he has investigated over the years and how the job market is for the language. The real interesting thing Mike showed is some help want ad statistics for each of the languages. This is a very interesting set of statistics. Mike tracked help wanted ads for the last 6 months. Java has the highest percentage of ads over this time period and currently shows a strong growth position. .NET was down the list a bit, but more importantly showed a decline in the last six months. In fact, Mike said the chart on help want ads shows a correlation between the growth of Java and the decline of .NET. Java took a dive when .NET was on the rise, and now the reverse is true. A real interesting presentation and one lined with pure common sense and facts to back up the common sense.

Lunch was next and perfectly good food.

Next up is Christof Wollenhaupt's session Crashing VFP and Preventing Crashes. The good news is Christof is finding it harder and harder to give this type of session with each version of VFP. Many of his examples are version specific. Christof's humor throughout this session was great. He would point out how this particular "crasher" is broken in version X, so you can avoid this problem by simply upgrading to version X+1 or higher. I think the part of the session that impressed me the most is how Christof demonstrated determining which DLL (maybe VFP or a completely unrelated program) caused your VFP app to die a brutal death by viewing the Dr. Watson error dump via Visual Studio. How many sessions can pay for a conference before one asks if they can buy another conference registration {g}.

The last session I attended Saturday was my Professional Developer's Toolkit. The room was packed and the group very interactive, which I really, really appreciated. I was the only presenter between them and the end of the day, yet they wanted me to intentionally exceed the 75 minutes to cover more material than I normally can fit into the session (something I guarantee when I start the session). I was really pumped.

The speaker dinner was Saturday evening and as others have noted in their blogs, the food was terrific. Thanks Bob for hosting the dinner. We discussed many things including the learning curve of .NET, and why many of us feel it is not in our clients' best interest for us to learn .NET until Microsoft gets data integrated correctly. I also enjoyed listening to others perspective's on CLR integration in SQL Server, and how migrating to .NET 2.0 barely broke the apps already developed in v1.1. I have been reading many articles on how 2.0 is not backwards compatible and how bad this affects ongoing projects. I am always interested in real life experience and getting the other side of the story. I am sure the truth is somewhere in the middle as is usually the case.

The evening ended with numerous discussions in the bar. Fortunately, the first Sunday session did not start until 9:00am which is a whole hour later than normal.



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