Scottish Developers August Newsletter


I hope you’ve all managed to have a great summer as we enter into our Autumn schedule.

The big news in the Microsoft world this month is that SQL Server 2008 was released to manufacturing (RTM) and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 along with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 was also released.

We are currently trialling a new events systems, so we’d be keen to hear what you think of it. The events pages will now be on Event Brite. You will be able to see all the details about an event there and register for it. There will also be an RSS feed of all Scottish Developer’s upcoming events too.

As always, we are on the look out for new speakers. If you would like the opportunity to do a presentation on a software development topic from 10 minutes to 90 minutes then get in touch with me at

Colin Mackay, Chairman, Scottish Developers


25-August-2008 @ 18:30 in Glasgow (Glasgow ALT.NET UG)
Monday Night Coding Session

The Glasgow ALT.NET user group will be meeting in McGinns at 18:30. First timers are welcome, there will be a sign to point you to the group. The topic will be on creating an IOC container.

9-September-2008 @ 18:30 in Glasgow (Scottish Developers)
An Overview of ALT.NET Technologies
FREE – Registration optional

Most of the patterns and practices that come out of Redmond A.K.A Microsoft are purely to get a response from attendees of conferences like MIX. The same old drag and drop demo ware is both untestable and unmaintainable. Examples of such demo-ware are the CAB application block, SCSF (smart client software factory), ObjectBuilder (a very poor IOC container) and the Entity Framework which many believe to be the catalyst for the ALT.NET movement. The recent ASP.NET MVC framework appears to be an acknowledgement from Microsoft that they want to embrace some of the ALT.NET concepts. The discussion will outline some of the following techniques and frameworks by way of a code review. Attendees are encouraged to participate with questions throughout the duration of the discussion. Some of he concepts and frameworks include: * Test Driven Development (TDD) * Nhibernate (Object Relational Mapper) * Castle Windsor (Inversion Of Control or Dependency Injection) * AOP (Aspect Oriented Programming) * ASP.NET MVC Framework * JQuery (a write less JavaScript library from a very talented team).

8-October-2008 @ 19:00 in Edinburgh (BCS)
The Three Ghosts of Microsoft Security
FREE – Registration Required

In this talk Stephen Lamb will take us through the history of Microsoft security, bringing us up to date on where Microsoft is at today and point out the direction of security improvements coming down the pipeline. He will also discuss how Microsoft responds to security incidents and explain the process to release updates and patches to fix vulnerabilities. Come along to hear why Microsoft software is now some of the most secure on the planet.

29-October-2008 @ 19:00 in Dundee (Scottish Developers)
Look! There’s my data! Virtual Earth san Javascript
FREE – Registration Optional

The Windows Live team have recently made available ASP.NET Server side controls for Microsoft Virtual Earth. In this talk Colin Angus Mackay will show you how to use this control to visualise your data, from sticking some simple pins down for store locations, to drawing thematic maps. All this without writing javascript.

Further Afield

SQL Bits III (Hatfield)

Frank Kerrigan talks about SSIS (Glasgow)

VBUG Conference (Reading)
TechEd Developers (Barcelona)
Developer! Developer! Developer! (Reading)
Functional Programming in C#3.0 (Dundee)

Andrew Westgarth on ASP.NET development on IIS7 (Glasgow)

Current Jobs

Blue Dot: Project Engineer, .NET Development Lead / Glasgow / Salary based on Experience. More Info…

Speaker Interview – Paul Cowan

Scottish Developers: Where are you from and how did you get interested in software development?

Paul Cowan: I am from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I was about 11 or 12 when I wrote my first programs in BASIC on a Dragon 32. I wrote my own textual adventure game as there were very few games for the Dragon. I then did not program again until I was about 30 when after years of getting hacked off working for my family business in Belfast, I did an MCSD course covering VB6 and SQL Server 7. That was in 2000.

SD: You are a major proponent of “ALT.NET”. What does that actually mean?

PC: ALT.NET means many things to many different people. To me, it simply means that there are alternatives out there. Not just tools and frameworks but practices like TDD. Microsoft has only recently got on the testing band wagon. This push came from the open source community. It means an alternative voice. People need educated that there are alternatives out there that come from various different sources.

SD: At what point did you get introduced to the concept?

PC: I got introduced to Castle and NHibernate in a place I worked in London. Working with an ORM and IOC just changed my way attitude to development. Obviously I had never heard of an IOC or an ORM on MSDN or whatever Microsoft propaganda I was reading at the time. Ayende wrote a blog about how to achieve generics with NHibernate and I started reading his blog. Sometime after that people started blogging about ALT.NET.

SD: So what is ORM and IOC?

PC: ORMs or Object Relational Mappers have arisen to ease the pain of converting data between relational databases and objects. They essentially take the pain away from having to hydrate and rehydrate your objects from the database. This mapping can be expressed with xml, attributes, fluent interfaces etc.

IOCs or Inversion of Control containers arose from the pain of having to create multiple object factories to create your components. Think of the inversion in this context as passing the control of the creatio
n of your components to a higher process or indeed a container that holds all your dependencies. Side effects of IOC are separation of concerns, interface driven design, greater testability and component oriented programming. If done right the experience is seamless.

SD: Did you hit any stumbling blocks when your first started using ORM or IOC?

PC: My first experiences of the above were with Castle Windsor’s IOC and the NHibernate ORM. Both sent me on a steep learning curve. The thing that eased my transition was being able to refer to working source code of a project I was working on. NHibernate in particular is a vast framework. The forums did and continue to solve the bulk of any grey areas. Most problems I have had are problems that others have had and as such a recorded posting is there to suggest an answer.

SD: In your session you’ll also be talking about AOP, ASP.NET MVC and JQuery. What are those?

PC: AOP is technically being able to add or introduce new modularised pieces of code into a component without changing the source. I currently use custom attributes to specify the methods I want to intercept so I am actually changing the source but I could achieve the same effect by specifying which methods I want to intercept via a configuration file. I achieve the interception on the back of the IOC container.

ASP.NET MVC is unsurprisingly Microsoft’s web implementation to the Model View Controller pattern. This too is a reaction to keep the vocal minority of ALT.NET onside by producing this framework. The concept is not new and facilitates a better separation of concerns and a greater testing story than is currently available with web forms.

JQuery is a JavaScript abstraction library that allows truly great things with very little code. You can select any number of DOM nodes via a CSS selector like syntax and perform actions against your result set. There is an AJAX story and a multitude of plug-ins that can create various visual and technical themes.

SD: Thank you, Paul, for taking the time to talk to us.

Paul Cowan will be talking about ALT.NET Technologies on the 9th September at 18:30 in Room 6 of the Continuing Professional Development Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. He also runs the Glasgow ALT.NET User Group. If you want to find out more please visit

Sponsor’s message

SQL Know How are offering top quality SQL Server training courses at excellent value. Not only is the price great, but by entering the site from the links in this newsletter or on the Scottish Developer’s website you’ll get an additional 5% off the price. Their upcoming courses include the following

Best Practices in Performance and Availability for SQL Server 2005/2008
Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal 1st – 3rd September 2008 Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Indexing for Performance in SQL Server 2000/2005/2008
Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal 8th – 9th September 2008 Edinburgh

Smart Database Design
Paul Nielsen 22nd – 23rd September 2008 Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Smart Database Design
Paul Nielsen 29th – 30th September 2008 Edinburgh

SQL Server Data Storage Formats: Internals, Performance and Best Practices
Kalen Delaney 3rd November 2008 Harpenden, Hertfordshire

SQL Server Concurrency Control: Locking, Blocking and Row Versioning
Kalen Delaney 4th November 2008 Harpenden, Hertfordshire

SQL Server Data Internals and Tuning
Kalen Delaney 5th – 7th November 2008 Harpenden, Hertfordshire

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