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In my previous installment of recapping the events from ALT.NET Open Spaces, Seattle, I covered pretty much the opening ceremonies as it were.  The weather was definitely interesting the entire weekend.  Who would believe that we had snow, hail and rain for most of the time we were there in the latter half of April?  Mind you it didn't stick, but if you believe in God, there is something to be said of ALT.NET coming to town.

Coverage Galore

Jeffrey Palermo was gracious enough to capture the opening ceremonies on video for all to see.  Here are some of the videos and they are well worth watching.  Really gives you an idea of how to run a good Open Spaces.  Doc did a wonderful job as a facilitator for the event.  And yes, that's me in the black coat in the background setting up for the event.
Dave Laribee also has a ton of video as well.  Most recently, the Fishbowl conversation about the polyglot programmer has been posted here.  The debate starts with Jeremy Miller, Ted Neward, Charlie Calvert, Scott Hanselman and others.  Really good conversation posted.
So, as you can see from the videos it was a pretty diverse crowd.  And, hey, we managed to get all of 5 women there too!  Peter Laudati posted the schedule here which was initialed by all who wanted to see that particular discussion.

IronRuby Session

Since John Lam wasn't around on Friday for the topic submittal, I so graciously put his name in for him.  Luckily he agreed so we were good to go for the first session.  We didn't have any canned presentations which is nice.  Instead, John focused more on how far IronRuby has yet to go.  It was interesting that he is using the Rubinius specs in order to validate IronRuby.  Also of note, it was pretty cool to see that Spec# has been used for the IronRuby compiler.

Covering Spec#

Unfortunately, the functional programming talk that I planned with Dustin Campbell was put right along side the Spec# talk, so I had to make a choice.  I picked Spec# as it was the first Open Spaces they had done.  As I said before, one of the major things I wanted to talk about was Spec# at ALT.NET.  Both Greg Young and I were pretty interested in getting Rustan Leino and Mike Barnett to show off the technology to the masses.  And what better way than to show a bunch of geeks like us this technology.  Anyhow, Mike and Rustan did a really good presentation to show off Spec# to a mass audience.  For those not familiar with Spec#, I did a whole series on this on my old blog here.  Basically, the intent of Spec# is to provide Design by Contract specifications in your classes and have that exposed to the outside world.  So, no more guessing about the preconditions, postconditions and invariants of your system, instead, we can be pretty explicit about it.

The problem that they are facing is that Spec# is not just an additive to the C# compiler, instead it's a separate compiler that is compliant with the C# 2.0 specification.  The problem is that C# 3.0 introduces a few more items, albeit mostly syntactic sugar for the most part, and yet Mike is really one of the only guys doing the Spec# compiler.  So, making it C# 3.0 compliant is a pretty daunting task.  Instead, a future focus is on making language neutral pieces available to all .NET languages just as we saw briefly in the System.Core.dll assembly under the Microsoft.Contracts namespace.  The point of inviting them was to help bring their cause to a wider audience.  Anders Hejlsberg and Mads Torgersen need to put this on their mind as to how to incorporate, and I'll make sure it's widely known.

It was great to see Scott Hanselman quite excited about the technology and hopefully you'll see more of it from him soon.  Also, stay tuned to InfoQ for more Spec# related items as well.  I intend to cover things again shortly to talk about some other new things in Spec# as well as the new release.  Stay tuned for that...


Phil Haack and Brad Abrams hosted a discussion on ASP.NET MVC which was pretty positive overall.  There has been a number, around 5% that Microsoft has been throwing out there as a number of people that would be adopting ASP.NET MVC over traditional web forms.  The audience was rightly skeptical of such a number and wish that they would cut it out.  Instead, it could have the effect of scaring away people from adopting this framework as their choice for ASP.NET web applications.  I can totally understand that the numbers could be there due to the ISV market which make controls for ASP.NET web forms which is something that the MVC framework doesn't support.  Another request was to support open source javascript frameworks better.  But overall, Phil and Brad were pretty receptive and it was an overall positive experience.

Are We Innovating?

Scott Hanselman convened a talk asking "Are We Innovating or Are We Just Porting?" in which that very question was asked.  If you look at the open source frameworks that exist within the .NET space, it's not hard to see what he's talking about:
  • JUnit => NUnit, MbUnit,
  • Hibernate => NHibernate
  • Spring => Spring.NET
  • Ruby on Rails => MonoRail
  • jMock => NMock, Rhino Mocks, Moq
  • And the list goes on...
But when you look at the list the other way around, we really don't see it going the other way.  Is it because that in the Java world, frameworks weren't provided by Sun as they were for Microsoft?  Or was it something else?  The answer of course isn't easy and maybe it's not in the frameworks area that we need to look.  For example such applications as Paint.NET is truly innovative in my opinion.  I wouldn't have half the picture content on this blog as easily without it.  Also, some open source blogging engines work quite well as well.  So, there is innovation, but if you look to recent times, have we caught up?
To Be Continued...

kick it on Posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 7:14 PM ALT.NET , Spec# | Back to top

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