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MVP Corner: A Baker's Dozen of Reflections

These thirteen random observations on .NET development will get your thought processes ticking.


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any topics flit through my mind; I thought I'd share a few.... 1) Many developers use Web services. WCF is coming, but those pronouncing .NET remoting as dead should talk to those continuing to use it!

Many use remoting and are excited about remoting enhancements in Visual Studio 2005 (secure TCP remoting, binary DataSet serialization). I recently gave a remoting presentation in Boston where the room was packed! 2) Learn .NET Generics. Tod Golding's Professional .NET 2.0 Generics (Wrox) is fantastic. In Visual Studio 2003 I scrapped some ideas for factory classes because I didn't want to introduce reflection. Generics helped and allowed me to increase functionality.

The new List class makes it easier to manage custom collections. With C# anonymous methods, I can write code for a delegate (e.g., the FindAll method) and insert it "in-line" where the delegate is instantiated. 3) What's in the Baker's pipeline? Near-term, the Baker's Dozen will feature design patterns and an update to the July/August 2005 article on distributed applications. Down the road I'll look at LINQ and WCF.



4) Recently, I invested time on ASP.NET 2.0, with help from great resources. Miguel Castro has written many articles in CoDe Magazine. His site (www.dotnetdude.com) has valuable information. Pro ASP.NET 2.0 in C# 2005 by Matthew MacDonald (Apress) is a must-have. 5) Last year we lost Drew Speedie. He was a leader, a character with character. I was fortunate to see his Devcon sessions. No one packed more into a presentation—quickly and intelligibly. He was a consummate professional and one of my heroes; he will always be missed.

6) Not all heroes write code. Jason McElwain came off the bench to score 20 points in a high school basketball game. Jason has autism. His mother said it all: "This is the first moment Jason has ever succeeded and [is] proud of himself. I look at autism as the Berlin Wall. He cracked it."

7) Use stored procedures to boost productivity. Build and test result sets outside the application to increase efficiency. More people embrace stored procedures then abandon them. T-SQL 2005 enhancements make the case even stronger. Recursive queries help e-commerce developers. Ranking functions simplify reporting. The APPLY operator facilitates cleaner integration with UDFs. One T-SQL enhancement can eliminate a dozen lines of older T-SQL code and dozens of middleware code.

8) If you can provide leadership, do it. When I learn something, I try to show others. I got that from my first boss, Michael Antonovich. Mike took leadership seriously. He encouraged people, never berated, and seldom preached. People's goals mattered to him, and he helped people reach them. Those who can lead have a responsibility to do so. The more you give, the more you get. 9) I'm casting my early vote for Product of the Year: Microsoft OneNote 2007.

I take many notes on client and research projects. OneNote 2007 helps me manage notes and information. I've disciplined myself to use OneNote 2007 and I'm finding myself more productive. 10) Goldilocks thought the first bowl of porridge was too hot, the second too cold, and the third just right.

Third-party Windows Forms and Web Forms controls are hot. Base controls are cold. (OK, VS2005 controls are lukewarm.) Where is the bowl that's "just right?" Some developers need the power of third-party controls. Some are content with the base controls. There is also a segment of developers who need more than the base controls—and third-party controls are OK (OverKill). They need an extension of stock controls, maybe a handful of extensions, maybe a dozen—or a Baker's Dozen?

11) I attend CodeCamp and User Group events. My list of blogs and sites grows weekly. APress offers titles in PDF format for half the price of the printed copy. There was so much online information about Visual Studio and SQL Server 2005 prior to their releases that developers learned new functionality beforehand. This trend will accelerate. How can I keep up? I've made a resolution to devote 45 minutes daily to reading and research. Fortunately, I can multitask on my treadmill.

12) Ever hear this? "DON'T START CODING YET!!!" No developer should start an application without specs. But developers (like athletes) should practice. Whether defining interfaces or experimenting with specs, scolding programmers for initiative is like reprimanding pitchers for warming up. Provide guidance and know the difference between bedlam and creativity.

Prototyping is valuable. It puts me in a mental groove, helps me gauge how long tasks will take, and increases my confidence and comfort level. Rod Paddock's editorial on RAD (May/June 2006 issue of CoDe Magazine) is dead-on. 13) My book, Pro VS 2005 Reporting Using SQL Server and Crystal Reports (Apress) will soon be published. It builds a reporting solution in a distributed environment, with chapters on business requirements, stored procedures, Web services/remoting, data access components, ADO.NET, and Crystal Reports. The theme is that the report writer is only one piece of a reporting solution: The goal is to pack enough examples to make each chapter worth the price of the book.

Rod Paddock wrote two chapters on ActiveReports and SQL Reporting Services and also contributed several ideas to the book. Peace and great software.



   
Kevin S. Goff is the founder and principal consultant of Common Ground Solutions, a consulting group that provides custom web and desktop software solutions in .NET, Visual FoxPro, SQL Server, and Crystal Reports. Kevin has been building software applications for 17 years. He has received several awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for systems automation. He has also received special citations from Fortune 500 companies for solutions that yielded six-figure returns on investment. He has worked in such industries as insurance, accounting, public health, real estate, publishing, advertising, manufacturing, finance, consumer packaged goods, and trade promotion. In addition, Kevin provides many forms of custom training.
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