his is the first in a series of what I hope will be one of your favorite columns for years to come! I am the host of a talk show on the Internet called .NET Rocks! (see advert), in which I interview the movers and shakers in the .NET community. My guests have been known to share little gems of .NET wisdom, offer insights, and even hint at the future (in the case of guests from Microsoft). So, the most-awesome and good-hearted people at CoDe Magazine thought that some of these nuggets would make for a good column in the magazine. Who am I to argue with genius?
Now, for those of you who remember that I used to write quite a bit (two books with Wiley on Sockets in VB and countless articles) you may be wondering why I sort of stopped writing there for a while. The socially acceptable answer is that I have been so busy with my business and my family that I don’t have time to write. However, the real answer is that reading bad reviews on Amazon.com scarred me for life and I am now deathly afraid to write anything down for fear of retribution from the teeming millions. While it’s not entirely untrue, I suspect that this column will at least reduce my therapy bills. So, if you please, don’t flame me otherwise my columns will be full of remorse and second-guessing. Anyway, let me give you a little history of .NET Rocks!, lest ye not be able to straighten out your face.
I started in August, 2002 by interviewing Pat Hynds, the MSDN Regional Director for Boston and a consultant with Critical Sites (www.criticalsites.com), about a project that they had started in Java and later finished in .NET 1.0 in record time. I recorded a phone conversation, mixed it and converted it to an MP3, made a Web site, and put it out on the Internet for people to download. I just sent out a few emails and it took off.
It was an amazing interview, and I just couldn’t stop. My co-host for the next year or so was Mark Dunn, a .NET developer and trainer who had a great radio voice. We recorded nearly 50 shows together interviewing people like Alan Cooper, Scott Guthrie, Ken Getz, Paul Sheriff, Billy Hollis, Rocky Lhotka, Juval L?wy, and other gurus whose articles and books you read and see at conferences like DevConnections and VSLive.
In January, 2004, Mark Dunn threw in the towel due to the fact that he was too busy with real work to do the show, and Rory Blyth became my co-host. Rory’s blog is at www.neopoleon.com. Go read it. He is smart, funny, and also very, very funny. Did I mention he is funny? Not only did we get a new co-host, but on January 30th we recorded our first live show, and all the shows are now recorded and broadcast live over the Internet. They are also two hours long, whereas before they were only one hour.
So, now that I’ve taken up all of my column space with the history of .NET Rocks!, I have very little room left to share some of the best moments. But, fret not! I will be doing this column in every issue from now until they tell me to stop, and each will be filled with interesting transcript snippets from the shows.
To whet your appetite, here are some memorable quotes from the first forty-seven shows that stand out:
Scott Guthrie on the Next Version (2.0) of ASP.NET
Carl: “[At DevConnections you said that] the goal of ASP.NET 2.0 is to reduce the amount of code that people have to write by 75 percent. Are you guys on the mark for that number?”
Scott: “Yeah, that’s sort of one of our big goals that we have for ASP.NET 2.0… [we’re] really focused on developer productivity. We really looked hard at what are the types of apps that people are building today with ASP.NET … and [said] OK, how can we make it easier? How can we make it faster in terms of building your app and deploying and running it? That is one of our goals to try to cut down the number of lines of code you need to write, or more specifically the amount of time it takes to get an app out, by about 70 or 75 percent.”
Don Box on SOAP
Carl: “Who all was involved in the Web service SOAP spec, including Microsoft?”
Don: “So, in March or April of 1998 I got a call from a buddy of mine who was running COM at the time here at Microsoft. He called me up and said, ‘Look, we need to do some XML replacement for DCOM… or at least have a more Web-friendly alternative. Do you want to come up and help out?’ And I jumped on it because I had worked on the DCOM on Unix project. And, while the engineering was actually reasonable, the problem was that there was such a culture shock getting COM to work on Unix, to make DCOM work. I wanted that vision to pan out, but it was obvious that [DCOM on Unix] wasn’t the path to getting there. So, I thought ‘yeah, that’s a reasonable thing to come up and spend some time on.’
“So it was Bob Atkinson and Mohsen Al-Ghosein from Microsoft, It was me- and at the time I worked at Developmentor, and it was also Dave Winer who is pretty well-known nowadays for doing RSS (Really Simple Syndication). But at the time he was building content management systems based on a scripting engine he had, and he wanted again to do this sort-of cross-machine scripting.
“We got together for few days in Redmond, sketched out what we wanted it to look like, went back to our collective corners and got Interop up and running pretty quickly actually. Then we wrote a spec, and it sat for a year and a half without any public movement. Then we reformed the band in September of 1999 and that’s when we really started in earnest trying to push the thing out the door.”
Carl: “So it started at Microsoft…”
Don: “Well, the first meeting was at Microsoft.”
Carl: “And then somewhere along the line, IBM got involved, and some other companies?”
Don: “We did SOAP 1.0 with just the three companies: UserLand, Microsoft, and Developmentor. With SOAP 1.1 Microsoft was able to convince IBM that this would be a good thing to do, so we brought Noah Mendelsohn and Dave Ehnebuske on from IBM for the SOAP 1.1 spec, which is the one that most people are actually familiar with, and that was the one that got submitted to the W3C.”
Alan Cooper on Showing Ruby (pre-VB 1.0) to Bill Gates
Mark: “What was Bill Gates’ initial reaction when you showed him Ruby?”
Alan: “Oh it was great, I have to say it was truly great, I was in a conference room and he had brought about a dozen of his druggies in with him. Most of them did not really get it, and still don’t. So they started to kinda throw rocks at it, and Bill got it right away. At one point one of them made a nasty remark of what good is this anyway. I was inhaling to respond to this and Bill turned around and starts explaining MY program to him. I thought, ‘Yes, this is good.'”
Mark: “That’s so cool, Bill got it immediately then.”
Alan: “In fact, he got it more than I did!”
Carl: “Well Bill has always loved Basic every since the Altair days when he wrote a Basic compiler. He has always had a thing for Basic.”
Alan: “I saw the product as a shell but Bill said ‘this is going to affect our whole product line.’ I thought… thanks for the compliment, doesn’t mean anything, but that is why he is the richest man in the world, because in a couple of minutes he saw that.
“I do want to tell you another thing that happened in that meeting that I’m very proud of. At one point I showed Bill Gates animation, nobody had ever done animation on a Windows screen before. I wrote my own utilities to do sprite animation and I started to drag something across the screen and Bill goes ‘How did you do that?’ What would you say to a question like that from Bill Gates?
“I said the only thing I could?MAGIC!”