DevLink 2012 (Chattanooga, TN)

The DevLink organizers did another fantastic job of pulling off another awesome event. Well done! Wow, the tribe in Tennessee is alive and well, tons of passion around the community.  I ran into a lot of community-based guidance from other user group leaders and coders about many topics and ideas to take home and put in motion.

I came up looking for a few things this year, more guidance on Win8 Contracts, and Win8 in general. I got a few different views from different speakers each focusing on different contract aspects.  Something else was to see if any new patterns emerged in how folks used or consumed xDD, OSS, and some of the non-OSS.  Lots to choose from here, and again the speakers delivered.

Vendors were pitching some of the same stuff, and a few new wares I’d not heard of yet like PubNub (think cloud-based RabbitMQ).  I missed their product talk but I’m sure I’ll see more of this in the future – Twilio was two seats down from PubNub, both tables were busy with folks digging in to these messaging technologies in between sessions.

Open Jams – I missed all of them!  I have to work on this. One talk that was given was about leadership presented by Alan Stevenson (Nerd Hive Industries).  “Pretty pretentious talk” was how Alan described it.  It drew out many stories, comments, and reactions from the audience and it was standing room only, and very well received.  One of the underlying premises that he later called out during the talk was there’s always a way around conflict.  He’s right.  He’s admitted he’d done it the hard/wrong way in the past and shared how he manages his employers, peers, and support folks starting the same day he arrives at the gig.  Setting expectations is important, managing them more important, valuing everyone is most important.  It was comforting to hear pieces of this same message two weeks ago at Agile 2012.

I could go on and on and build a giant post, but I’ll stop with an invitation to you to come (back) to this event next year.  You won’t leave empty-handed or empty-headed.  Great stuff – thanks #devlink

Making Art

Recently I’ve been reading LinchPin by Seth Godin. Its a great book and I’m really enjoying it from the perspective of what he recommends to try and, or, apply to a situation has just worked for me. I was intrigued with his idea of making art. It starts early in the book with a quote by Steve Jobs, “Real Artists Ship”.

Shipping can happen in a few minutes, or longer depending on the context of what’s being shipped. Its your server at the table, car mechanic, barista – anybody who moves into your circle throughout the day and delivers something to you.  Everyone can make art, but you just have to watch for it.

If you’re not making art, then you’re pretty much reading “the manual” – you’re doing what the manual says, no more and hopefully no less.  Probably an over-simplification, but it’s close to what I believe Seth was trying to get across to the reader, me.

On a recent trip, I saw art and I saw someone doing “the manual”. The art came at a layover in Atlanta while ordering a coffee. The crew behind the counter made up a song my “Tall Americano” while they were making it, it was so cool. Art is cool, right? Then on the plane a stewardess wasn’t having anything close to a good day that I can see. She did “the manual” with all of the stuff she needed to do before the plane left the ground. That was it. No art, but she gets grace because it’s not an easy job to do, and more demanding than most guest facing jobs I would imagine.

But there it was, both examples in the space of a few hours. Go, make art, it’s a beautiful thing.

Making Art

Making Art

Windows 8 Accelerator Labs

Windows 8

Windows 8

This week the Microsoft office in Tampa hosted a three-day Windows 8 accelerator lab for anyone wanting to port or create an application to the latest version of Windows Phone or Windows 8 Metro.  I think most folks stuck close to the C# / XAML flavors for their applications and a lot of applications were updated, ported, or created by the group.

I was able to attend for a day and a half and worked on creating a Windows 8 version of an application I’ve had on the shelf for a while.  The app I was converting was a Mango flavor but instead of creating an updated version I decided to create a version that would run on Windows 8 instead.  I had a lot of challenges at first but leaning on the documentation help quite a bit.

The biggest things were moving items from Windows Phone isolated storage to Windows Storage (that’s the namespace) on Windows8, and then there was navigation.  Some of the built in templates handled navigation out of the box without disrupting the workflow I had in my in my original Windows Phone application.  I focused on those two because they are tied together, it’s a matter of knowing (or better, trying to understand) when the application moves from one view to another.  Once it does, the application needs to understand when, and if, it needs to save what’s been entered.  The other opportunity here is understanding where to save what was added or changed.  This was the majority of my challenges for the work I completed over the last day and half of the labs and it was very educational to be sure.

Hats off to Jim Blizzard for being the MC and host of the event, he did a great job (as did others but I didn’t get their names) walking around the room and answering questions and handing out advice for the challenges folks were having.  At different times of the day folks gave demos of the work they had completed or started, and for that they offered them a new Windows Phone, not a bad deal.  Many folks trying their hands at using XAML, even one Android developer that created a Windows Phone app on the last day that she demoed to the group.  One person hadn’t worked with XAML before and created a roving repairman application by just using the developer documentation and the application templates that are available.  They Windows 8 templates are few in number, but they are definitely just enough code to get you started.  There a numerous samples that can help with starting out on the application type you want to build if you just want to get something quick and dirty up and running.

The review process is a bit more “picky” in that you can vet your own application before you submit it to the marketplace so you can fix any of the obvious problems the review process might notice, but that’s ok, it’ll save the time you tap your foot waiting for the acceptance email and help you focus on the problems your  solution might have.  I looks like the static analyzers (FxCop / StyleCop) built into Visual Studio has to help you write better code, only you get a quick pass or fail notification for how your application is built.

I really enjoyed this event by taking the time to dive into Windows 8, but as I was driving away from the MS office I could help but think that Windows 8 is the new Silverlight target for applications, but its deeper than just spinning up a C# / XAML application like we did for Silverlight that runs in a browser, this one has a much larger platform to run on.   The project templates target much more than just a Silverlight solution, there’s the HTML5 flavor that runs like a website, so if you’re a web developer and you don’t mind traipsing through some Windows namespaces for your client-side code, you might like this next version of Visual Studio (2012 RC dropped today) for your development desires.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

 In Between Orlando and CincinnatiThis week I decided to spend the week after Christmas and New Years with my daughters in Ohio.  So today I’m  traveling and when I took this picture I was somewhere in between point “A” and point “B”.  I’ve really been looking forward to this trip, as are my daughters and my grand-daughter.  Should be a blast.  Happy New Year everyone!