Ontario MSDN mini-tour wrapup

I’m home from a 3 day junket through south and eastern Ontario. I’d like to take the time to wrap up the three events here. First huge thanks go out to MSDN Canada and their endless support of the community through the speakers bureau. As a user group leader I know that getting speakers from different cities and regions into a local group can be very instrumental to sparking a communities interest in a technology, methodology or technique.

East of Toronto .NET User Group

Big thanks to Chris Dufour for setting going through the process to make this meeting happen as well as providing transportation to and from the hotel for me. The folks at this event really got into the topic (C# 3.0 and .NET 3.5) and they asked a lot of good questions. The group also wins a prize for the biggest coincidental event occurrence I’ve ever heard of. I spoke on the new framework the day that it RTM’d. I’ve put the bits for the code we worked through up here for download. I’ve also done some screencasts on this topic before which can be found here, here and here.

Metro Toronto .NET User Group and the Toronto Visual Basic User Group

Thanks here goes to Graham Marko and Rob Windsor who setup the meeting. After a taxi driver tried to take advantage of my western ignorance (even I know not to try to make a left turn onto Bloor at an uncontrolled intersection at 5pm on a week night), I managed to find my way into the building and get on with the meeting. The session was supposed to be an introduction to Alt.NET and move on to implementing some of the ideas and concepts around it through the use of CCNet and nAnt. Part way through the meeting it became obvious that the attendees were much more interested in OO practices, design patterns, MonoRail and TDD so I went agile and suggested that they vote between those topics and the CCNET/nAnt one. So instead of the original abstract for the talk we ended up with a very different subject for the last hour to hour and a half. As I mentioned in the session, the code that I was using for the demo isn’t ready for release yet. It will happen in the next couple of months and at that time you’ll see about it here and I’ll be letting the UG leaders know so that they can inform you too. So out of that presentation you can only get the slide deck which can be found here.

Ottawa .NET User Group

While in Ottawa I had planned on presenting the same Alt.NET/CCNet/nAnt topics that were originally planned for Toronto. Because of the success I had with the topic change for the second hour of the presentation in Toronto, I figured I’d throw that option out to the attendees in Ottawa too. Although a little shy during the vote on the topic change, most of the people did want to see the same stuff I had presented on in Toronto. To my surprise, when I started the application up to give a quick overview of the business problem being solved, it immediately gave me the yellow screen of death. I’ve often seen people screw around with their code immediately before a presentation only to have it not work at all or as expected when needed, and I’ve always chastised them for their actions. Well wouldn’t you know that I spent 4 hours working on that code between the two presentations only to have the same thing happen. Luckily for me it only took a minute to determine that I was missing a concrete implementation that Windsor was looking for. Another lucky thing for me was that people wanted to see some TDD and this gave me the perfect opportunity to show the process of writing a test that won’t compile, getting it to compile with the test failing, and then making the test pass. It also gave me a chance to make ReSharper dance which was another topic that people wanted to see. In another good coincidence, Orest had a couple of ReSharper licenses to give away at the end of the night to attendees. Like in Toronto, I will be releasing this code but it will happen when I’m confident that it has met the goals I want to achieve. The slide deck is exactly the same as it was for Toronto and can be found here.

Overall the trip was a great experience. The people at the groups were great, the attendees asked some fantastic questions and the topics were welcomed with great enthusiasm. I learned some lessons from doing this for sure. One of the biggest lessons was that there is a huge appetite for the fundamental skills that Alt.NET pushes. Thanks to everyone who came out and generated the excitement in the rooms which had me feeling like I could present for another 2 hours on the same topic even after finishing my allotted time.