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The ALT.NET UK Conference

I’ve just spent the last couple of days in London at the ALT.NET UK Conference. Well, the conference was today (Sunday) and the lead up to it was the ALTNET Beers on Friday evening hosted at Tequila with the drinks sponsored by ThoughtWorks (who also sponsored the lunch on Sunday). On Saturday was the Open Space Coding Day held at EMC Consulting (formerly Conchango). Finally, on Sunday, was the ALT.NET Open Spaces Conference also in EMC’s offices.

I have to be honest at this point and say that I was somewhat concerned at the lack of an agenda to start with. I travelled down from Glasgow (a cost of over £300 for train + hotel alone) and I wasn’t guaranteed a topic I’d be interested in. In the end, I needn’t have been concerned. At some points I was spoiled for choice with there being two or three sessions at once that I was interested in.

The discussion at the ALTNET Beers was very interesting (despite many of the participants being merrily sozzled by that the time). Seb was excellent at keeping everyone in check during the park bench discussions.

The Open Spaces Coding Day was a completely new experience for me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I guessed we’d all end up doing some coding, but that wasn’t what happened at all. At least in the sessions I was in.

The morning session I was at was on IoC containers, the why and the how. We got some excellent examples of how IoC containers work and why you might want to use them. The person that proposed the topic did so because he was curious about it, yet had never experience many of the “pain points” that IoC is supposed to solve. He was content to use “poor man’s IoC“. My plan, hopefully if I get my internet connection to continue to work on this train. Is to download an IoC Container and play with it this evening. For I too am guilty of using Poor Man’s IoC!

In the afternoon I attended a session on ASP.NET MVC 2.0. It was excellently delivered mostly by Jeremy Skinner. The quality of this session was very high especially considering the code had only been available for 2 days. The session was most a demonstration of what was on Scott Guthrie’s blog a couple of days ago when he announced ASP.NET MVC 2.0 Preview 1.

The discussion was more interesting. One of the new features is the ability to attribute validation (Data Annotation Validation it’s called) onto the model. The model used in MVC is unlikely to be the domain model, but a view-model. Given this case, attributing validation rules here will raise the prospect of the code not being DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself). So, should you use the new attribution or not? Where should the use input be validated?

In the evening we went to a pub a few minutes walk away where the drinks were sponsored by Cognitive Group. I think everyone was very pleased about the free bar that was provided.

On the Sunday morning, a few fuzzy looking folk turned up for the conference day. This was an excellent day for me, it was also the worst day. It was excellent because I proposed a session topic (DSLs What? Why? How? Where? When?) that was chosen and I learned a lot about internal DSLs and a little bit about external DSLs. It was also the worst because the session I proposed clashed with two other sessions I wanted to see. Ah, well… You win some, you lose some. I also attended a very interesting topic on Artisan software or software craftmanship.

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