March 2009 Blog Posts
I’ve been relatively quiet on my blog lately in part because of all the work on ASP.NET MVC. However, the ASP.NET team is a relatively small team so we often are required to work on multiple features at the same time. So part of the reason I’ve been so busy is that while we were wrapping up ASP.NET MVC, I was also busy working on a core .NET Framework feature we plan to get into the next version (it was a feature that originated with our team, but we realized it belongs in the BCL).
The goal of the feature is to help deal with the very common task of handling string input. In many cases, the point is to convert the input into another type, such as an
float. However, how do you deal with the fact that the string might not be convertible to the other type.
We realized we needed a type to handle this situation. A type that would represent the situation after the user has submitted input, but before you attempt the conversion. At this point, you have a string or another type.
For more details on the
StringOr<T> Community Technology Preview (CTP), please see details on lead developer Eilon Lipton's Blog (he’s a big fan of cats as you can see). He provides source code and unit tests for download. As always, please do provide feedback as your feedback is extremely important in helping shape this nascent technology.
Related Blog Posts
Simo beat me to the punch in writing about this, After many long years being hosted on SourceForge, the Subtext submarine is moving into a new project hosting port.
We’ve finally moved off of SourceForge and onto Google Code’s project hosting. Our main site (primarily for end users) is still at http://subtextproject.com/ and I’ve hopefully updated every place it points to SourceForge to now point to Google Code.
Image stolen from Simo’s blog. ;)
This was a very tough decision between CodePlex and Google Code. CodePlex is a great platform and I really like what they’ve done with being able to vote on issues etc… They seem to be innovating and adding new features at a rapid clip. I host Subkismet, a smaller project, on CodePlex and probably would choose it for a brand new project.
My one big complaint with CodePlex is that we really want native Subversion access, not a subversion bridge to TFS. For example, I was able to run the
svnsync command to get the entire SVN history for Subtext into Google Code. That’s not something I could do today with CodePlex.
One other thing I really like with Google Code is that it’s fast. When you go to our project page, and click on the tabs, notice how fast the transition is. Click on an issue and see how fast you get there. Make a change and save it and it just snaps back. I spend a lot of time triaging and organizing issues etc… so this snappiness is really important to me.
Another great feature I love is how well code review is integrated into Google Code. For example, you can use the web interface to look at any revision in our repository. Take a look at r3406 for example.
Click on the diff link next to each file that was changed. For example, the diff for AkismetClient.cs. You get a nice side-by-side diff of the changes. You can double click on any line of code to leave a comment. Scroll down to line 160 and take a look at a comment. Don’t worry, I was the original author of that file so I’m not offending anybody but myself with that comment.
So there’s a lot I’d love to see improved with Google Code, but I’m pretty happy with the usability of the site overall. It’s a far improvement over SourceForge where I started to viscerally hate managing issues and doing any sort of administrative tasks over there.
We’re now using Google Groups for our Subtext discussion list and we have a separate group for notification emails such as commit emails. I’m going to leave the tracker and file releases on at SourceForge for a while longer until we’ve moved everything over. Unfortunately, there’s no automatic import from SourceForge for bug reports. But if you’re interested in keeping tabs on the progress Subtext is making, feel free to join the groups.
After my critical post of the Mix website, I found this other site, http://sessions.visitmix.com/, which should have been prominently linked to from the main site because it has a working search bar and is fairly usable and flashy!
I gave two sessions on ASP.NET MVC at Mix.
As you can see, we tried to have a bit of fun with the session titles. If you’re not tired of hearing me talk about MVC, you can also see an interview I did with Adam Kinney on Channel 9.
I will be posting my demos on my blog sometime soon hopefully. I want to give a few of them the full blog treatment. Partly because all of my demos are built live and I don’t keep the final product around, so I need to redo the steps. And I’m lazy. There. I said it.
Recently, I tried to accomplish a simple task on a website which frustrated me because what should have been simple, was not. All I wanted to do was go to the Mix website and quickly find links to my sessions so I could post them here. Even I should be able to figure this out.
As a note, I’m using the Mix site as my illustration here, but I do it out of love and not mean spiritedness. Mix is my favorite conference, but its website…leaves something to be desired.
It seems particularly interesting that I’d run into this with the Mix site because the whole conference caters to a web design audience as well as web development. It just goes to show that even the best designers sometimes lose sight of what makes a user interface usable in the pursuit of cool flashy design. After all, designers often are trying to impress their designer friends when they should be creating a site that allows its audience to accomplish something?
Let’s take a look at my experience. Here’s the front page. Where do I start?
Notice that there’s no search feature (I already tried Google). Fine, so I click all sessions and get this timeline view. There’s a search button there but when I type “MVC” and hit GO, nothing happens. I also try my last name. No go.
Near the bottom, I click on SPEAKERS and find my name. I then try clicking on one of my sessions which is highlighted as a link, and nothing happens (it’s since been fixed). When I highlight the session, a pop-up which appears to have links shows up, but I can’t seem to move my mouse over it because it disappears before my mouse gets there.
After a moment of pondering, it occurs to me that maybe the video of my talk was not yet available at the time (it is now as I write this). It would have been nice if the site clearly indicated this, but instead, they were providing a link that went nowhere, giving me the impression that the video was available. Very confusing!
Now contrast that to this great post by Greg Duncan.
Notice that it’s the height of simplicity. It’s a list of all sessions (after all, the list of sessions wasn’t all that long) with headings showing you which video format the session is available in. I would have loved to see something like this on the Mix site.
A quick F3 to bring up my browser’s search feature, type in MVC, and boom goes the dynamite, I’ve found my sessions and am happily dissecting my speaking performance in disgust.
Kudos to Greg for putting this together. The fact that he even needed to put this together is a major indication that there’s a problem over at the Mix site.
The problem here is that in the pursuit of cool design, designers sometimes confuse ornamentation with good design. The Mix site has all sorts of flashy elements showing off a mastery of jQuery. Whoopee! And typically, I love those elements because when done well, they can make a site more usable. But in this case, I much prefer Greg’s simpler approach.
There’s not that much data to display, so rather than chop it up into pages, he just puts it all in one page which allows me, the reader, to make use of the familiar tools built into my browser such as F3 to search. Bam! Done! I can move on now.
Keep that in mind next time as you put together your next great user interface. How can you make it simpler and leverage the tools already in the client?
One of the cool products that I’m personally excited about announced at Mix is the updated Web Platform Installer.
I’m not going to lie. Part of the reason I’m excited about it is that it includes the latest version Subtext! The Web PI tool is a really nice way of installing and trying out various free and open source applications out there. It installs everything you need to get Subtext up and running on your local machine.
All you have to do is go to the Web App Gallery, find an application and click the Install button and it will install the application (if you have Web PI already installed). If you don’t have Web PI installed, it will prompt you to install Web PI and then install the app.
In this screenshot, you can see the dependencies needed to run Subtext are already listed.
Subtext 2.1.1 is a very minor update to Subtext with a few bug fixes. The major fix is that the “forgot password” feature now works properly.
This was a little last minute surprise for the Subtext team as I literally put the required install package together in the last minutes leading up to Mix. In the meanwhile, major refactoring work is ongoing in our subversion repository. For example, the trunk now uses a custom Routing implementation (not yet built on ASP.NET MVC, but moving that way) Feel free to join in and help fix bugs and test. :)
Today I’m happy to write that ASP.NET MVC 1.0 RTW (Release To Web) is now officially released.
This was one of several announcements ScottGu made at the Mix 09 conference today, which I unfortunately missed because I was on a plane to Vegas enroute to Mix 09. I was busy back at the mother ship making sure everything was in order for the release.
It’s been nearly a year and a half since I joined Microsoft and started working on it and what a ride it’s been.
Some highlights during that time:
With ASP.NET MVC, we wanted to release early and often providing a lot of transparency with our design process. We made a lot of changes based on user feedback. All in all, I counted 10 releases:
- December 2007 CTP
- Preview 2
- Preview 2.5 (April CodePlex release)
- Preview 3
- CodePlex Preview 4
- Preview 5
- RC 1
- RC 2
A great way to learn about ASP.NET MVC is to go to the website, http://asp.net/mvc/. Also be sure to check out the free eBook which contains Chapter 1 of Professional ASP.NET MVC. This chapter contains an end-to-end walkthrough of building an application with ASP.NET MVC.
We also have an updated set of documents on MSDN worth checking out.
A great way to install ASP.NET MVC is via the new Web Platform Installer. I highly recommend it. Not only can you install ASP.NET MVC using it, but many other free applications such as one of my favorites, Subtext!
I don’t know about you, but a great way to learn a new technology is to start using it. But to even start using it, it helps to be able to look at a real-world running application built on that technology. Combine that with source code and a walkthrough, and I think you have a winning combination.
That’s where NerdDinner comes in.
NerdDinner.com is the brainchild (and a big child at that) of Scott Hanselman. The concept is simple, let’s get nerds together over dinner so great ideas can flourish. The site is a great way to organize nerd dinners all over the place. The site is live and built using ASP.NET MVC, so go check it out.
But don’t stop there. Now that you’ve seen the site, go check out the source code on CodePlex. What better way to understand how the pieces fit together than to browse the source code for NerdDinner.
And I hope you don’t stop there either. There’s often a tendency to impart too much authority and expertise to an author. But as I’ve learned from writing this book among others, being an author doesn’t require any special expertise, gift, or ability. It just requires a love for self-inflicted pain. My personal pain threshold has been surpassed, so if you hear me talking about writing another, smack me…please.
In the spirit of Nerd Dinners, let’s get the ideas rolling! Create issues and let us know what you like and don’t like and what you think works and doesn’t work. We’re all in this together learning and refining our craft.
Looking at the site and source will show you what NerdDinner.com is, but to learn how it was built, I highly recommend checking out ScottGu’s blog post which presents a brisk end-to-end walkthrough of building NerdDinner.com.
His post is a preview of Chapter 1 of our book, Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0. This chapter gets you started, while the rest of the book (still in production) dives deeper into each of the areas and concepts of the framework. And by the way, the eBook (aka Chapter 1) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license, so feel free to redistribute.
So if you’ve been wondering why my blogging frequency declined this past year, now you know. Getting a release ready for RTM is a lot of work. Writing a book on that release at the same time is pure insanity.
Fortunately, I was in very good company with my esteemed co-authors, Rob “I Feel your pain” Conery, Scott “Five-head” Hanselman, and Scott “The GU” Guthrie, all of whom are completely insane! You heard it here first.
Yesterday, I wrote about troubleshooting Windows MSI Installers and talked about the pain we here feel when an installation fails. Turns out, it’s not always our fault. ;) It appears there’s a hotfix released for Visual Studio which addresses a problem with installing ASP.NET MVC when you have a third party add-in installed. I mentioned the three above because they are among the most commonly used add-ins which run into problems.
You can read about the Hotfix on the Visual Web Developer blog or simply go here to download it.
Note, that this doesn’t solve the problem for all add-ins. For example, someone reported an installation failure when they had Clone Detective installed. Uninstalling Clone Detective, installing ASP.NET MVC, and then reinstalling Clone Detective solved the problem. We’re still looking into why our installers are having problems with these add-ins.
Technorati Tags: hotfix
UPDATE: I updated this post slightly to address some good criticsm from Rob Mensching by removing the MsiZap section. Note that this post does not blame the Windows Installer for the few problems we have with ASP.NET MVC installations. The major culprit tends to be either
devenv /setup or
The point in this post is to provide tools for those who are very careful, know what they are doing, and really want to take a peek at how the installer works. These tools can help provide insight to whether the two culprits I just mentioned really are the issue causing the installation to fail in your particular case. Everything I point out here IS AT YOUR OWN RISK! :)
For the most part, the installations for ASP.NET MVC have been quite stable and we’ve tested the installer at every release and 99% of the problems we’ve run into fall into those two buckets. I did not intend to give the impression that we saved installation testing for the last moment, because that’s just not true. We merely had a last minute requirement change for our installer. RC 2 was a response to that change, not to a bug found. Now back to the post. :)
Having an installer crap out on you when you’re excited to try out a new piece of software is an incredibly frustrating experience. Frustrating both for the user as well as for the product team. Every time I read on Twitter that someone is having trouble installing ASP.NET MVC, a new ulcer throbs in my side.
A big part of the frustration is the lack of control and insight into what’s going wrong. Jacques (no blog), a developer on the ASP.NET team has put together a troubleshooting guide based on his research into what makes installers tick to help alleviate some of this lack of control. While his focus was primarily on the ASP.NET MVC installer, much of this information is useful for all MSI installers.
Windows Installer Log Files
Log files are not automatically generated by an MSI. To generate a log file, you will need to use
msiexec from a command prompt to install the MSI, for example
msiexec /i AspNetMVC1-RC2.msi /l*v .\install.log
Alternatively you can enable logging by default by configuring a registry key for this. See this article on enabling Windows Installer Logging or if you are using Windows XP, take a look at this article on the same topic specific to Windows XP. Please note that enabling this feature can have an impact on system performance.
The MSI logs are probably the best place to start when trying to figure out why an installation failed. At the very least you will be able to identify the step in the installer that caused the problem.
For example, one common source of trouble is when a required service is not started such as:
- .NET Optimization Service
- ASP.Net State Service
Visual Studio Log Files
The ASP.NET MVC specific context menus in Visual Studio are installed by executing
devenv.exe with the
/setup switch. When the installer executes this command it automatically generates a log file at the location
The log file can be consulted for more details in case this step of the installation failed.
Orca is an editor for Windows install packages (MSI files) and is part of the Windows Installer SDK (the Orca MSI is located at %Program Files%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\bin). While we don’t generally encourage people to edit the ASP.NET MVC installer, for those willing to take matters into their own hands (at your own risk!) Orca can be used to disable some of the steps executed by the installer. When you open the MSI you will see all the tables used by the installer. The feature table is probably the most interesting since it shows everything that will be installed.
Notice that by default, the Level attribute of all the features are set to 1. This means that the feature is enabled to be installed. We have some logic that will disable some of the features based on the information that we gather about the system on which were are installing. For example, the VWDExpress_Feature will be disabled if a user does not have Visual Web Developer installed. Similarly we will disable one of the MvcGacNgenXX_Features depending on whether the underlying OS is a 64-bit or 32-bit version.
Let’s say that you’ve tried to install MVC, but for some reason the installer fails to create a native image for
System.Web.Mvc.dll using NGEN. Using Orca you can disable the MvcGACNgen32_Feature and MvcGACNgenAll_Feature by deleting these two rows from the MSI and saving it under a different name. Of course the best thing to do is to investigate why NGEN is failing in the first place.
Editing the MSI is not really encouraged since it may cause other problems such as failing to uninstall properly.
We automatically GAC and NGEN
System.Web.Mvc.dll during the setup process. Installing into the GAC (Global Assembly Cache) is a relatively painless operation. NGEN on the other hand is more prone to causing the installer to fail.
When installing via double clicknig the MSI, you will see an error message before the installation is rolled back if NGEN fails. The error message itself is not that useful as it will most likely just show a cryptic message and an HRESULT value (You can do a web search for the HRESULT and see whether there are workarounds available). To investigate the failure, take a look at the log generated by the MSI (assuming you had logging turned on when you made the install). Open the log file and search for ExecNetFx (this is the name of the WiX component the installer uses to run NGEN).
ExecNetFx: Microsoft (R) CLR Native Image Generator
- Version 2.0.50727.3053
ExecNetFx: Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
ExecNetFx: Installing assembly System.Web.Mvc, Version=184.108.40.206,
ExecNetFx: Catastrophic failure (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8000FFFF
ExecNetFx: Error 0x8007006d: failed to allocate output string
ExecNetFx: Error 0xffffffff: Command line returned an error.
ExecNetFx: Error 0xffffffff: failed to execute Ngen command:
"System.Web.Mvc, Version=220.127.116.11, Culture=neutral,
The example above is a very difficult problem to troubleshoot, but there are a few things you can try:
- Open a command prompt, go to
%WINDIR%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727 and execute the following commands and then try to install MVC again
- ngen ExecuteQueuedItems
- ngen Update
- Examine the NGEN log files located in
%WINDIR%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727. There are two files, ngen.log and ngen_service.log. The logs may contain information about other problems in the system that caused the failure, for example a missing DLL that may cause an update operation to fail when NGEN attempts to update invalid native images.
- Make sure that the .NET Runtime Optimization service is running
Windows Event Viewer
The installer executes a number of external tasks during the installation process.
- devenv.exe /installvstemplates: This step is used to register the MVC project templates in Visual Studio. (For Visual Web Developer the executable is called VWDExpress.exe).
- devenv.exe /setup: This step is executed to merge all the metadata in Visual Studio and is used by the MVC packages to register the context menus.
- ngen.exe install: Used to generate native images of the System.Web.Mvc assembly. See this article for more details.
- ngen.exe update: Updates any native images that have become invalid.
You will most likely see multiple warning events such as the example below. Visual Studio will log warning events for unknown attributes it encounters in templates and usually just moves past them. These warnings can be safely ignored.
But you may see other events that may cause the install to fail such as the example below:
Solving this problem is easy enough; restart the Cryptographic Service and run the installer again.
Visual Web Developer Express
A few users have reported that after installing MVC, they don’t see an option to create an MVC Web Application Project in Visual Web Developer. If you run into this problem, try the following:
- Open VWD.
- Go to Tools and select Import and Export Settings.
- Select Reset all settings and click Next to complete the wizard.
Third Party Utilities
A number of users have reported problems during the installation of MVC or when trying to use some of the shortcuts inside Visual Studio. In many cases this was resolved by removing certain add-ins:
- Clone Detective
- Spec# and F#
If you review the MSI logs you will most likely see something like the following:
MSI (s) (5C:70) [13:27:26:106]: Executing op: CustomActionSchedule
Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe,Target=/setup,)
MSI (s) (5C:70) [13:28:41:075]: Note: 1: 1722 2: VisualStudio_VSSetup_
Command 3: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\
devenv.exe 4: /setup
Error 1722. There is a problem with this Windows Installer package. A
program run as part of the setup did not finish as expected. Contact
your support personnel or package vendor. Action VisualStudio_VSSetup_
Command, location: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7
\IDE\devenv.exe, command: /setup
MSI (s) (5C:70) [13:28:42:716]: Product: Microsoft ASP.NET MVC RC 2 --
Error 1722. There is a problem with this Windows Installer package. A
program run as part of the setup did not finish as expected. Contact
your support personnel or package vendor. Action VisualStudio_VSSetup_
Command, location: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7
\IDE\devenv.exe, command: /setup
If installing MVC fails in this manner, try the following:
- Create a log file, for example, devenv.log.
- Open a Visual Studio command prompt and execute devenv /setup /log devenv.log. Make sure that you have administrator rights since that’s required by the /setup switch.
- Scan the log file and look for any <description> elements that contain errors. This may point to problematic packages that are causing devenv.exe to fail when MVC is trying to configure its context menus.
Another option to try is the following:
- Open a Visual Studio command prompt.
- Start Visual Studio by executing the command devenv /ResetSkipPkgs.
- Close Visual Studio.
- Execute devenv /setup.
UPDATE: This post is outdated. ASP.NET MVC 1.0 has been released already!
Today we’ve made the Release Candidate 2 for ASP.NET MVC available for download.
This post will cover some of the changes with ASP.NET MVC we made in response to internal and external feedback since our last Release Candidate.
Let me provide the quick and dirty summary, and then fill in the details.
- Setup will now require .NET 3.5 SP1
- Bin deployment to 3.5 host without SP1 still possible
- New server-only install mode
Now onto the details
Setup Requires .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
The new installer will require that .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 be installed on your machine. For your development environment, we recommend that you also install Visual Studio 2008 SP1, but this is not required.
The reason we made this change is that we were including the
System.Web.Abstractions.dll assemblies with the MVC installer. However, it does not make sense for us to co-ship assemblies which are part of the Framework as this would negatively affect our ability to service these two assemblies.
Bin deployment to 3.5 host without SP1 Still Possible
We are not taking a runtime dependency on SP1 other than our existing dependency on
System.Web.Abstractions.dll. Thus you can still bin deploy your application to a hosting provider who has .NET 3.5 installed without SP1 by following these instructions.
Note that in such a configuration, you take on the risk of servicing those assemblies. Should we release any important updates to any of these assemblies, you’ll have to manually patch your application. However, you will still enjoy full CSS (formerly PSS) support for this configuration.
New Server-Only Install Mode
We’re adding an option to the installer that enables installing on a server that does not have Visual Studio at all on the machine, which is useful for production servers and hosting providers.
The installer will no longer block on a machine that does not have Visual Studio installed. Instead, it will continue the standard MVC installation without installing the Visual Studio templates. The assemblies will still be installed into the GAC and native images will also be generated.
Certain other requirements have also been relaxed. For example, if the machine on which the installation is performed contains Visual Web Developer Express Edition 2008 without SP1, the installation will still proceed, but with a warning prompt. You can also automate this installation by invoking the installer using the command line (all on one line):
msiexec /i AspNetMvc-setup.msi /q /l*v .\mvc.log MVC_SERVER_INSTALL="YES"
As a result of these changes, we realized it would be prudent to have one more public release candidate. As I mentioned, there are very few runtime and tooling changes. Most of the changes are in the installer and we want to make sure that the installer is rock solid before we call it an RTM.
Based on all your feedback from the first Release Candidate, as well as our own investigations and testing, we are confident that the Release Candidate 2 will be solid and lead to a strong RTM.
In case you missed it above, here’s the link to the download page. You can find out what else has changed in the RC 2 release notes.
And before I forget, as usual, we published the source code and our MvcFutures assembly on CodePlex.
Technorati Tags: aspnetmvc
I finally have my registration worked out and I’m officially going to Mix09 this year! Woohoo! Not only am I going, but I’ll be speaking at Mix for the first time, so be sure to come by and say hi.
I’ve mentioned this before, but Mix is easily one of my favorite Microsoft conferences. Jeff Atwood said it well:
MIX is by far my favorite Microsoft conference after attending the ’06 and ’07 iterations...
What I love about Mix is that it ...
- is relatively small and intimate, at around 2,000 attendees.
- seamlessly merges software engineering and design.
- includes a lot of non-Microsoft folks, even those that are traditionally hostile to Microsoft, so there’s plenty of perspective.
I’ve been to every one so far:
I’ll be giving the following two sessions at Mix this year:
MIX09-T50F ASP.NET MVC: America's Next Top Model View Controller Framework
See how to build a simple application that highlights some of the key capabilities of ASP.NET MVC. Also, learn how to improve productivity using some of the cool new tooling features
MIX09-T44F Microsoft ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC): Ninja on Fire Black Belt Tips
See a walkthrough of several tips and tricks for getting the most out of the ASP.NET MVC framework.
The first talk is an introductory overview and the second one allows me to dig in a bit more.
I’ve been working hard on putting together some demos so I will hopefully have something interesting to show off. In any case, if you’re going to the conference, leave a comment and when you’re there, be sure to come by and say hello.
Also, let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover. This should be a fun one.
The third and last day of ALT.NET Seattle was a short one for me. My poor extremely patient wife was not feeling well today so I had to leave right at lunch time. But before I left, I did manage to attend a great session by John Lam and Jimmy Schementi on “Adding Scripting Support to .NET Applications”. In fact, you can watch the session here via Kyte.tv.
John and Jimmy covered the topic of hosting IronRuby to provide “end-user” ability to script an application. The classic example is that many 3-D games, Half-Life for example, write their core 3-D engines etc… in C++. However, they often provide a scripting language such as LUA which allows others to script the behavior of objects in the game, as these types of things change often and you want the flexibility to do so in a lightweight language.
The same may be true in an enterprise application where you want to write the whole app in C#, but perhaps allow configuring the rules engine using IronRuby.
I showed up to the session late and asked if John and Jimmy were going to show a demo. Unfortunately, they didn’t have one prepared, so I gave everyone a sneak preview of a demo where I have an ASP.NET MVC app hosting IronRuby in a manner where I think some C# developers will see the value. It was just a little something I’ve been hacking away at in my copious free time and hope to present at the MVP Summit and Mix. I won’t talk about it yet as I have a bit more work I want to do before I put it on my blog.
Before the session Aaron Jensen showed me some really cool stuff he’s doing with Spark View Engine and ASP.NET MVC. After the session, Eric Hexter showed me some neat stuff his company has been doing with T4 templates and ASP.NET MVC. This really got me fired me up with ideas for the next version of ASP.NET MVC to help support such efforts.
One of the coolest things at this conference was the usage of Kyte.tv. I honestly hadn’t heard of it until last week, but everyone was recording sessions live via Kyte.tv. After going home early, I was able to get back online and watch a couple more sessions recorded by Scott Hanselman when my son and wife took a nap. How cool was that.
Day two of ALT.NET is over and I’m already pooped (for you non-English speakers, that means tired, not something else that might come to mind).
Once again, photos by our Chronicler, Brad Wilson. As a testament to how engaging the sessions were, there are a lot fewer photos from day two in his photostream.
The first session I went to was on the topic of Encouraging Open Source in the .NET Space as seen above, which veered all over the place. Many felt the industry is shifting towards more and more Open Source software so those who can leverage that will be better off than those who can.
One interesting idea that came out of it was there’s a need for more education regarding Open Source. For example, understanding licensing is very challenging. It’d be great to have simple tools like a compatibility matrix or a license chooser (ala Creative Commons license generator).
In the meanwhile, I’ve tried to do my best to explain what little I know of software licensing in the past.
Another interesting point tied into our TDD discussion later on in the day related to the fact that for many shops, it doesn’t exist unless Microsoft endorses it.
The next session I attended was “.NET/Mono on the Mac, Linux, and iPhone” facilitated by the always entertaining Miguel De Icaza and Joseph Hill. I’m quite certain that everyone was there because they wanted to pull in $10,000 a day writing the next Fart app for the iPhone using C#.
Later in the day, Karen Liu (a PM on the Managed Languages/IDE team), Euan Garden (PM for Visual Studio Test), and I (photo above) gave a wide ranging session on TDD and Microsoft, which covered investments we’re making across Developer Division to help make the experience for writing proper unit tests better for developers such as ASP.NET MVC, WPF’s Model-View-ViewModel, Visual Studio improvements, Silverlight, etc….
The focus of our efforts has been addressing the need for our tools and frameworks to support all developers who write automated tests. But the bar set by the expectations of a TDD developer is typically very high, and by striving to meet those expectations, we feel all developers benefit.
I showed off a few slides to set the context for what groups we’ve talked to and what improvements we’re seeing start to happen for the next wave of products.
Karen Liu gave a few demos of how Visual Studio 2010 greatly improves the workflow for a test-first developer and Euan Garden led a discussion about the Visual Studio unit testing framework.
We discussed where we’d all like to see Visual Studio take unit testing in the future. There were quite a few voices who said they’d like to see Visual Studio include something like xUnit.NET, much in the same way that ASP.NET MVC includes jQuery, because for the places where they work, for better or worse, it doesn’t exist unless it’s part of Visual Studio. This is a common theme I’ve heard when it comes to people wanting to promote a development tool at their workplace for which Microsoft does not have an alternative.
To me, that’s a great testimonial for how leveraging Open Source in smart ways can make customers happier.