CodeCampOz 2008 Report

I attended an expanded CodeCampOz at CSU Wagga Wagga campus during 25-27 April 2008. There were extra sessions on the Friday afternoon this year with plenty of new .NET technologies to catch up with. What is so valuable about CodeCampOz is that the speakers are practising software development professionals from around Australia. We had a couple of overseas speakers as well this year. The whole event is organised by this loosely coupled group of software developers themselves, although we do have some sponsorship from Microsoft, CSU and some of the leading .NET consulting companies like Readify, Solid Q, SSW and Avanade.

To the chagrin of several instant messaging diehards CodeCampOz 2008 was well covered on Twitter and with the hashtag #ccoz, becoming the most used hashtag during the weekend.  Social media was definitely at the forefront with a whole talk by Tom Gao from EuroRSCG (huge advertising company) on how to build Facebook applications with the .NET Facebook Developer Toolkit. He showed us the Sony Facebook app his company has just deployed.

Other impressive technologies covered in one or more talks were:

  • SQL Server Compact Edition: originally designed for Windows Mobile devices SSCE is now the .NET managed code competition to SQLite (used in Google Gears) for lightweight desktop and mobile apps. A second talk showed how very easy it is to use SSCE for true disconnected apps because it has built-in synchronisation with SQL Server databases when the app becomes Internet connected again.
  • Silverlight 2.0 and WPF: as expected several talks covered the benefits of Silverlight for rich Internet and browser-based apps in .NET. Silverlight now has the long-awaited ui controls that also bind to data sources. The toolset around WPF and XAML in the Expression suite are much improved, and our Norwegian speaker, Jonas Folleso, built a complex Silverlight app from scratch during his talk.
  • LINQ to Entities: ORM was another technology on many lips; one talk attempted a very one-sided playoff of LINQ to Entities/ASP.NET Dynamic Data extensions versus the nHibernate ORM. Even though it is in beta still LINQ to Entities in Visual Studio 2008 really rocks
  • BI extensions to SQL Server: not being a db person I was surprised how attractive from the ease of development perspective the data mining features of SQL Server seem to be.
  • Team Foundation Server: the new version of TFS was demoed by CodeCampOz co-organiser Mitch Denny who always gives brilliant talks. He showed us every step of creating and auto deploying an ASP.NET web app. Every build is deployed to clients automatically for their immediate feedback – this is the way all apps should be developed.

The standout talk for me though was a totally innovative and hugely useful application of bindable and reactive .NET managed code given by Paul Stovell. Basically reactive code classes report automatically all changes to their data members and collections. This allows all UIs displaying the data for example  to be updated in real-time with virtually no extra code, just the hooking up of events. Paul has extended his ideas to changes in databases and many other data sources in a technique he calls SyncLINQ. Basically this is syndication (like RSS) brought to object oriented programming. Mind blowing!

There were other interesting talks tool. I now know much more about database performance from the presentation by Fernando Guerrero, founder of Solid Q. I should also mention the talk by Shane Morris, Microsoft UX Evangelist, who gave developers very useful and applicable advice on working with UI designers. I know Shane from HCI conferences in years past. I can’t wait for Shane’s slides to be available.

All in all the best CodeCampOz for me. Lots of inspiration and lots to follow up.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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