Home » Uncategorized » CodeStock 2009: Day 2, Part 2

The second half of the day was much better than the last half of day one and first part of day 2…

How I Learned to Love Metaprogramming
Kevin Hazzard

As I mentioned to Kevin after his session, he took me back to the days of my computer science classes in college. Kevin has a terrific style of teaching complex topics so they are understandable to most people sitting in the room. I have no experience with the .NET dynamic language runtime (DLR), but following along the theoretical process Kevin discussed was really cool. I am sure I did not learn everything I was suppose to from the session, but I had no expectations of this to begin.

Great speaker and interesting material.

jQuery 101
Rod Paddock

Rod is another one of the .NET rock stars who has roots deep in Visual FoxPro and not afraid to let the crowd know it. I have seen Rod speak many times. Rod has been an excellent speaker for years and each time I attend his sessions, regardless of the topic, I walk away smarter. Even when I do not agree with his perspective or his approach, I get his take on it and it helps me define my position.

This was the second session I made the trip for and was not disappointed. In this session Rod took the developer from possibly knowing nothing about jQuery to knowing you could return to the office and start using it right away. Immediate value. One of those sessions that pays for the conference. I was excited about jQuery to start with based on community excitement and talking with several developers about using jQuery. Rod reinforced this feeling in spades.

My favorite part of the session was one of Rod’s simple demos. One of the attendees in the audience showed some skepticism with respect to how simple it would be to accomplish it without jQuery. You could see the spark in Rod’s eye, as if he was being set up for something great. Minutes later he demonstrated the aha-moment, which was cool to watch how he put all of it in motion.

For me it really opened up the possibilities for rich applications on the Web and the how simple it is to implement cool Web stuff inside an app. It is not just a set of controls like you might find in the AJAX Toolkit, it is a powerful programming library.

Takeaway: jQuery is a no-brainer decision for Web development no matter what other technology is involved in the Web app, and a book called jQuery in Action is a must read in the near future. It was also nice getting a chance to talk to Rod in person since I use his FoxForum.com almost every day to help Visual FoxPro other developers.

Web UI Warfare: Choosing Between ASP.NET Webforms and MVC
Rachel Appel

This session was the battle of the Web presentation approaches between Webforms and MVC. The thing I liked about this session is the fact that there are two approaches with no clear or defined winner, and that is okay. Often I attend sessions where the speaker inadvertently tells me I am a moron because I decided on a different approach, or the opposite one they prefer. What Rachel did in this session is discuss the pros and cons of both and noted how you can use both in the same project. Picking the best of the technology as it is appropriate for the job at hand. Wow, what a concept. Rachel can be a bit brash in her discussion, but sometimes that works, and for this session it did.

Final Thoughts
The college atmosphere is fine, but scattering sessions across two buildings was not optimal for two reasons. First is the layout is anti-networking. The biggest benefit for me to attend any conference is the networking with other developers. I was able to talk with others, but not nearly as much as I do at other conferences. I met several new people, but mostly at dinner one night and at the Stevens After-party the other night. It was not a complete loss, but I am sure I would have made even more friends had the sessions been held in a concentrated area where people would have been more likely to hang out. The other disadvantage of the two-building layout is the fact it was a bit of a pain if you decide the session you initially pick is not for you and want to try out a different one. It might take 5 to 10 minutes to walk across the way, up and down stairs to the other session. The open spaces sessions were off in the corner, which I know is not conducive to the “program” where you want to suck people in as they walk by and overhear something interesting.

The conference also reinforced something about conference session scheduling: I really like the repeated sessions. I found I missed something and heard later it was good. No chance to see it when it is offered only once. I know more sessions can be offered without repeats, and this is cool, and something you can do when you are not paying for everyone’s travel and lodging. Still, I prefer repeats so I can better schedule what is important to me.

Overall I was a little surprised by how many people I know in the .NET community. Some of them were even open to listening to a VFP-guy. Some of them were surprised that Alan Stevens is speaking at a conference I organize and it is on this foreign technology called Visual FoxPro. Imagine the look on their face when I showed them some Fox stuff Alan has in his family room. The horror {g}. Alan is one of the few who have established themselves in a growing .NET community, but are not afraid to let people know how cool Visual FoxPro still remains today for project development.

Also found some things to possibly bring to Southwest Fox. I walked away with some new friends and a renewed energy to learn some new technology. That might be the best takeaway of all and the part that made it completely worthwhile to take four days away from hot projects and billable work.

I definitely will keep CodeStock on my radar for next year. Maybe I will even submit some sessions abstracts.

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