Truly Excellent People and Coding Inspiration…

.NET Fringe took place this last week. It’s been a rather long time since my last actual conference that I actually got to really attend, meet people, and talk to people about all the different projects, aspirations, goals, and ideas about what’s next for the future. This conference was perfect to jump into, first and foremost, I knew it was an effort in being inclusive of the existing community and newcomers. We’d reached out to many brave souls to come and attend this conference about pushing technology into the future.

I met some truly excellent people. Smart, focused, intent, and a whole lot of great conversations followed meeting these people. Here’s a few people you’ll want to keep an eye on based on the technology they’re working on. I got to sit down and talk to every one of these coders and they’re in top form, smart, inventive, witty and full of great humor to boot!

Maria Naggaga @Twitter

I met Maria and one of the first things I saw was her crafty and most excellent art sketches around lifestyles, heroes, and more. I love art like this, and was really impressed with what Maria had done with her’s.

I was able to hang out with Maria a bit more and had some good conversation time talking about evangelism, tech fun and nonsense all around. I also was able to Maria giving us the info. Maria giving us the info.attend her talk on “Legacy… What?” which was excellent. The question she posed in the description states a common question posed, “When students think about .Net they think: legacy , enterprise , retired, and what is that?” which I too find to be a valid thought. Is .NET purely legacy these days? For many getting into the field it generally isn’ the landscape of greenfield applications and is far more commonly associated with legacy applications. Hearing her vantage point on this as an evangelist was eye opening. I gained more ideas, thoughts, and was pushed to really get that question answered for students in a different way…  which I’ll add to sometime in the future in another blog entry.

Kathleen Dollard @Twitter && @Github

I spoke to Kathleen while we took a break across the street from the conference at Grendal’s Coffee Shop. We talked a lot about education and what is effective training, diving heavily into what works around video, samples, and related things. You see, we’re both authors at Pluralsight too and spend a lot of time thinking about these things. It was great to be able to sit down and really discuss these topics face to face.

We also dived into a discussion about city livability and how Portland’s transit system works, what is and isn’t working in the city and what it’s like to live here. I was, of course, more than happy to provide as much information as I could.

We also discussed her interest in taking legacy shops (i.e. pre-C# even, maybe Delphi or whatever might exist) and helping them modernize their shop. I found this interesting, as it could be a lot of fun figuring out large gaps in technology like that and helping a company to step forward into the future.

Kathleen gave two presentations at the conference – excellent presentations. One was the “Your Code, Your Brain” presentation, talking about exactly the topic of legacy shops moving forward without disruption.

If you’re interested in Kathleen’s courses, give a look here.

Amy Palamountain @Twitter && @Github

Amy had a wicked great slides and samples that were probably the most flawless I’ve seen in a while. Matter of fact, a short while after the conference Amy put together a blog entry about those great slides and samples “Super Smooth Technical Demoes“.

An intent and listening audience.

An intent and listening audience.

An intent and listening audience.Amy’s talked at the conference was titled “Space, Time, and State“. It almost sounds like we could just turn that into an acronym. The talk was great, touched on the aspects of reactiveness and the battle of state that we developers fight every day while building solutions.

We also got to talk a little after the presentation, the horror of times zones, and a slew of good conversation.

Tomasz Janczuk @Twitter && @Github

AAAAAaggghhhhhh! I missed half of Tomasz’s talk! It always happens at every conference right! You get to talking to people, excited about this topic or that topic and BOOM, you’ve missed half of a talk that you fully intended to attend. But hey, the good part is I still got to see half the talk!

If you’re not familiar with Tomasz’ work and you do anything with Node.js you should pay close attention. Tomasz has been largely responsible for the great work behind Edge.js and influencing the effort to get Node.js running (and running damn well might I add) on Windows. For more on Edge.js check out Act I and Act II and the Github repository.

The Big Hit for Me, Distributed Systems

First some context. About 4 years ago I left the .NET Community almost entirely. Even though I was still doing a little work with C# I primarily switched stacks to other things to push forward with Riak, distributed systems usage, devops deployment of client apps, and a whole host of other things. At the time I basically had gotten real burned out on where the .NET Community had ended up worldwide, while some pushed onward with the technologies I loved to work with, I was tired of waiting and dived into some esoteric stuff and learned strange programming techniques in JavaScript, Ruby, Erlang and dived deeper into distributed technologies for use in application construction.

However some in the community didn’t stop moving the ball forward, and at this conference I got a great view into some of that progress! I’m stoked to see this technology and where it is now, because there is a LOT of potential for a number of things. Here’s the two talks and two more great people I got to see speak. One I knew already (great to see you again and hang out Aaron!) and one I had the privilege & honor to meet (it was most excellent hanging out and seeing your presentation Lena).

Aaron Stonnard @Twitter && @Github

Aaron I’d met back when Troy & I put together the first Node PDX. Aaron had swung into Portland to present on “Building Node.js Applications on Windows Azure“. At .NET Fringe however Aaron was diving into a topic that was super exciting to me. The first line of the description from the topic really says it all “Distributed computing in .NET isn’t something you often hear about, but it’s becoming an increasingly important area for growing .NET businesses around the globe. And frankly it’s an area where .NET has lagged behind other runtimes and platforms for years – but this is changing!“. Yup, that’s my exact pain point, it’s awesome to know Aaron & Petabridge are kicking ass in this space now.

Aaron’s presentation was solid, as to be expected. We also had some good conversations after and before the presentation about the state of distributed compute and systems within the Microsoft and Windows ecosystem. To check out more about Akka .NET that Aaron & Andrew Skotzko …  follow @AkkaDotNet, @aaronontheweb, @petabridge, and @askotzko.

Akka .NET

Alena Dzenisenka @Twitter && @Github

...

…Lena traveled all the way from Kiev in the Ukraine to provide the .NET Fringe crowd with some serious F# distributed and parallel compute knowledge in “Embracing the Cloud“!  (Slides here)

Here’s a short dive into F# here if you’re unfamiliar, which you can install on OS-X, Windows or whatever. So don’t use the “well, I don’t use windows” excuse to not give it a try! Here’s info about MBrace that  Lena also used in her demo. Also dive into brisk from elastacloud…

In addition to the excellent talk that Lena gave I also got to hang out with her, Phil Haack, Ryan Riley, and others over food at Biwa on the last day of the conference. After speaking with Lena about the Ukraine, computing, coding and other topics around hacking and the OSS Community she really inspired me to take a dive into these tools for some of the work that I’m working on now and what I’ll be doing in the near future.

All The Things

Now of course, there were a ton of other people I got to meet, people I got to catch up with I haven’t seen in ages and others I didn’t get to write about. It was a really great conference with great content. I’m looking forward to round 2 and spending more time with everybody in the future!

The whole bunch of us at the end of the conference!

The whole bunch of us at the end of the conference!

Cheers everybody!   \m/

An Aside of Blog Entries on .NET Fringe

Here are some additional blog entries that others wrote about the event. In addition to these blog entries I’ll be updating this entry with any additional entries that I see pop up – so if you post one let me know, and I’ll also update these talks above that I’ve discussed with videos when they’re posted live.

RSVP for the Geek Train to .NET Fringe

Cascadian Flag

Cascadian Flag

The .NET Fringe Conference guests coming from northern Cascadia (north of Portland) will have the excellent benefit of taking the Geek Train to the conference. It’s also only $10 friggin’ bucks!

RSVP link here | RSVP link here | RSVP link here | RSVP link here | RSVP link here

Departure

We’ll depart Saturday, April 11th at 2pm, with an ETA into Portland at 5:50pm.

Itinerary

  • 1:40pm Arrive at train station in Seattle to join group for boarding. **
  • 2:00pm Departing Seattle King Street Station (i.e. you better be on the train)
  • 2:10pm We’ll be seated and get setup for…
  • 2:15pm We’ll break into teams of ~4 or so people (or however many of us there are we’ll break out to a reasonable size groups).
  • 2:17pm I’ll announce hacking goals and ideas for the teams and we’ll launch into coding. More information will be announced soon, but suffice it to say we’ll be planning a hack around geo and logistics based solutions! The solutions hacking begins!
  • – – – much hacking and enjoying of the trip occurs here! :) – – –
  • 5:00pm We announce who’s completed what and we’ll demo and discuss the app awesomeness of what we’ve managed to come up with.
  • 5:50pm or before we arrive in Portland and the fringe fun shall begin.

I’ll have more information posted here along with some other ideas about what the hackfest will include, so stay tuned and also be sure to follow @dotnetfringe, and check out all the speakers to start figuring out your plans!

Geek Train from Seattle to Portland

April 12th-14th is the epic .NET Fringe Conference. For those coming from Seattle for the conference, there’s going to be a geek train, there however one major decision that needs to be made. What departure should we board to get to Portland. This is where I’ll need your help to decide. There will be a mini-hack, wifi, food, and likely we’ll actually get the entire car to ourselves with enough of a crew. So sign up, vote, vote often and frequently for your preferred departure time! I’ll see you on the train!

Along with the departure, the trip, events for the trip and more information will be posted on the .NET Fringe site soon, along with additional ideas here.

Nordic.js and .NET Fringe

Ok, so many of the conferences out there you’re going to get fed the company line. You’ll probably experience some odd behaviors and people pushing product on you. If you’ve got the same feeling about conferences as me, and you’d like to experience these things at a conference:

  • A diverse audience of many different people from many different places.
  • You’d like to talk to others that are passionate about the future direction of technology and what we can create with that technology!
  • Listen and watch presenters provide insight to technology, ideas, and spaces that I don’t regularly get to hear about or discuss.
  • Meet many new friends, build my cohort of coders, and learn from each other.
  • Have a good time, relaxed, and not under the pressure of being sold things.

…then these conferences are for you. Seriously, I wouldn’t and won’t ever direct anybody to corporate conferences anymore except maybe in super rare occasions. The conferences to attend are the grassroots, community organized conferences like these two! There are too many other truly awesome conferences where the future is being discussed and made RIGHT NOW! There’s a few lined up that I’ll be attending and am currently working with as an organizer. Here’s the top two RIGHT NOW!

Continue reading

Coding on Orchestrate.io & Orchestrate.js & Orchestrate.NET

First context, then I’ll dive in.

Orchestrate

http://orchestrate.io/

Orchestrate is a service that provides a simple API to access a multitude of database types all in one location. Key value, graph or events, some of the database types I’ve been using, are but a few they’ve already made available. There are many more on the way. Having these databases available via an API instead of needing to go through the arduous process of setting up and maintaining each database for each type of data structure is a massive time saver! On top of having a clean API and solid database platform and infrastructure Orchestrate has a number of client drivers that provide easy to use wrappers. These client drivers are available for a number of languages. Below I’ve written about two of these that I’ve been involved with in some way over the last couple of months.

Orchestrate.NET

https://github.com/RobertSmith/Orchestrate.NET

This library I’m currently using for a demonstration application built against the Deconstructed.io services (follow us on twitter ya! @BeDeconstructed), a startup I’m co-founding. I’m not sure exactly what the app will be, but being .NET it’ll be something enterprisey. Because: .NET is Enterprise! For more on this project check out the Deconstructed.io Blog.

Some of the latest updates with this library.

But there’s still a bit of work to do for the library, so consider this a call out for anybody that has a cycle they’d like to throw in on the project, let us know. We’d happily take a few more pull requests!  The main two things we’d like to have done real soon are…

Orchestrate.js

https://github.com/orchestrate-io/orchestrate.js

With the latest fixes, additions and updates the orchestrate.js client driver is getting more feature rich by the day. In addition @housejester has created an orchestrate-brain project for Hubot that uses Orchestrate.js. If you’re not familiar with Hubot, but sure to check out the company robot that can dramatically improve and reduce employee efficiency! Keep an eye on that project for more great things, or create a Hubot to keep a robotic eye on the project.

Here are a few key things to note that have been added to help in day-to-day coding on the project.

  • The travis.yml file has been added for the Travis Continuous Integration build. This build runs against node.js v0.10 and v0.8.
  • Testing is done with mocha, expect.js and nock. To get the tests up and running, clone the repo and then build with the make file. The tests will run in tdd format.
  • Promises are provided via the kew library.

If you’re opening up the project in WebStorm, it’s great to setup the mocha tests with the integrated mocha testing as shown below. After you’ve cloned the project and run ‘npm install’ then follow these steps to add the Mocha testing to the project. We’ve already setup exclusions in the .gitignore for the .idea directory and files that WebStorm uses.

First add a configuration by clicking on Edit Configurations.

Edit Configurations

Edit Configurations

Next click on the + to add a new configuration to run. Select the Mocha option from the list of configurations.

Mocha & Other Configurations in WebStorm

Mocha & Other Configurations in WebStorm

On the next screen set a name for the configuration. Set the test directory to the path for the test directory in the project. Then finally set the User interface option for Mocha to TDD instead of the default BDD.

Edit Configuration Dialog

Edit Configuration Dialog

Last but not least run the tests and you’ll see the list of green lights light up the display with positive results.

Test Build

Test Build

Junction Two Weeks on Tuesday on Friday Bi-weekly Review : Issue #003

…and another update on Junction.

The review slipped past me this week. A little food poisoning will do that to a person. But I’m kicking again.

A Quick Summary

The RSS/News Feed section of the app has been built and put into action. So if you pull the latest code and run the application, navigate into the news section you’ll get the Basho Blog feed. This definitely needs cleaned up a bit from the UI perspective but the main elements are there.

Next steps are…

One of the things the team is aiming to knock out next is to get some MVVM (Mode View ViewModel) architecture setup to build against versus what we’ve started with, which is just the basic skeleton of things thrown together. It works, but it’ll be nice to have some clean architecture behind the application to work with.

I’m aiming to put together a blog entry on troubleshooting the build server for Junction and also the how-to on setting up the RSS/News Feed Reader section of the app in the coming week also. Subscribe to keep up with the latest in Junction news and also all the other tidbits on the blog. Cheers!

TeamCity Setup for Junction Build, Plus Implosions

I wanted to get a continuous delivery process setup for Junction that could help everybody involved get a clear and quick status of the project. The easiest way to do this for a Windows 8 .NET Project is to setup a Team City CI Server.

This article covers what I went through to get the server up and running. In the next part I’ll cover troubleshooting that I went through to get a Visual Studio 2012 Window 8 C# Project building correctly on the server.

Finally, the last part is a small surprise, but suffice it to say I’ll be getting a completely different language and tech stack up and running which you’ll likely not guess (or maybe you will).  ;)

Setting up Team City 8.0.3 (build 27540) using Tier 3 and a Windows 2008 Server, or not…

Setting up a Windows 2008 Server with Tier 3 is super easy, as you’d expect with a cloud service provider. Log into your account, click on “Create Server” to bring up the create server dialog.

Create a New Server screen. Click for full size image.

Create a New Server screen. Click for full size image.

Click image for full size.

Click image for full size.

Next enter the information and select a Standard server.

Select how much horsepower you want the build server to have. Click for a full size image.

Select how much horsepower you want the build server to have. Click for a full size image.

Click next and then make the last few selections.

Server Tasks. No need to change the defaults here. Click for full size image.

Server Tasks. No need to change the defaults here. Click for full size image.

Click Create Server and then sit tight for a few while the server is created. Once the server is created navigate back to the server information screen (I’ll leave you to get back to this screen).

Server information screen. Click for full size image.

Server information screen. Click for full size image.

On this screen click on the add public ip button to bring up the IP & port selection screen.

Adding a public IP Address. Click for full size image.

Adding a public IP Address. Click for full size image.

On the public IP screen select the HTTP (80) and RDP (3389) ports to open up. Click the add ip address button and again sit tight for a few. Once the server has the IP set then we can log in using RDP (Remote Desktop or on Mac try CoRD).

Next install the .NET 4.5 SDK. For the latest, it’s best to install the latest windows SDK that is available for Windows Server 2008 also.

Team City install

In the instructions below, you’ll notice everything is now Windows Server 2012. That’s because after installing everything on a Windows 2008 Server I stumbled on a very important fact. I’m working to put a build together for a Windows 8 Store Application, which requires a Windows Server 2012 (or Windows 8) operating system to build on.

I got a sudden flashback to OS-X and iOS land there for a second, but leapt in and wiped out the image I’d just built. Since I’d built it in a cloud environment, it merely meant spending a few seconds to get a new OS instance built up. So after a few clicks, just like the instructions above for building a Windows 2008 Server I had a Windows 2012 Server instead. There are, however a few steps to follow once you have a good Windows Server 2012 install. Once you have a good Windows 2012 Server up and running it should have a public IP, some memory, compute and storage capabilities. In the image below I didn’t give it a huge amount of horsepower for a few reasons.

  1. It’s just doing builds, not computing the singularity.
  2. If it can build on this, I’m doing good keeping the project clean.
  3. I want to keep the build fast, keeping it on a weak machine and still having it fast also reinforces that I have a clean project.
  4. I don’t need a successful build every second, the server gets used only during pushes by devs. If we get up to dozens of devs hacking on this, I can easily spool up and get a faster, more hard core heavier horsepower option up and running.
Windows Server 2012 w/ Public IP, 1 Proc, 1 GB RAM and 40 GB Storage. Click for full size image.

Windows Server 2012 w/ Public IP, 1 Proc, 1 GB RAM and 40 GB Storage. Click for full size image.

When Windows Server 2012 boots up the first thing that will launch is the Server Manager. We don’t really need that yet, so just ignore it, close it or move it to the side.

Windows Server 2012 Server Manager. Click for full size image.

Windows Server 2012 Server Manager. Click for full size image.

The first thing we will need is Internet Explorer, so we can download Chrome or Firefox. Internet Explorer is wired up with high security so the first thing it will do is explode with messages about sites not being in the right zone. It is, hugely annoying. So add each site to the zone and head out to the web to pick up Chrome or Firefox.

Internet Explorer security configuration explosions. Click for full size.

Internet Explorer security configuration explosions. Click for full size.

In the following screenshots I didn’t actually download Chrome or Firefox first, but instead downloaded TeamCity. I advise getting Chrome or Firefox FIRST and then downloading TeamCity with one of those browsers. Life is dramatically simpler that way.

Team City - add another site to the site list for security clearance. Click for full size.

Team City – add another site to the site list for security clearance. Click for full size.

Team City downloading. Click for full size image.

Team City downloading. Click for full size image.

I know one can turn off the security settings in IE, but it’s just dramatically easier to go and use one of the other browsers. Just trust me on this one, if you want to turn off the security features in IE, be my guest, I’d however recommend just getting a different browser to work with.

Once you’ve got your browser of choice and Team City downloaded, run the installer executable.

Installer Downloaded w/ Security Scan in IE. Click for full size image.

Installer Downloaded w/ Security Scan in IE. Click for full size image.

Executable downloaded.

Executable downloaded.

Installing Team City.

Installing Team City.

Leave the components checked unless you have some specific goal for your server and build agents.

Server & Build Agents Options.

Server & Build Agents Options.

In one of the subsequent dialogs there is the option to run the server under the SYSTEM account or under a user account. Since this is a single purpose machine and I don’t really want to manage Windows users, I’m opting for the SYSTEM account.

SYSTEM Account.

SYSTEM Account.

After everything is installed navigate in a browser to http://localhost. This will automatically direct you to the TeamCity First Start page.

TeamCity First Start Page. Click for full size image.

TeamCity First Start Page. Click for full size image.

At this point you’ll be prompted to ok the EULA.

Signing one of those famous EULAs. Click for full size image.

Signing one of those famous EULAs. Click for full size image.

Then you’ll be prompted to create the first Administrator user.

Creating the administrator user.

Creating the administrator user.

From there you’ll be sent to the TeamCity interface, ready to create a new build project.

TeamCity Tools is marked by a giant pink arrow, Great ways to integrate TeamCity into your workflow. Click for full size clarity!

TeamCity Tools is marked by a giant pink arrow, Great ways to integrate TeamCity into your workflow. Click for full size clarity!

Click on Projects at the top left of the screen and you’ll navigate to the Create a Project dialog. Click on the Create a Project link to start the process.

Creating a project. Click for full size image.

Creating a project. Click for full size image.

Once you’ve entered the name, project ID and description click on Create. This will bring you to the next step, and to the general tab of the project. On this screen click on Create build configuration.

Project Setup. Click for full size image.

Project Setup. Click for full size image.

Now create a name, enter the config id, and click the VCS Settings >> button to move on to the next step of the process.

Build Configuration. Click for full size image.

Build Configuration. Click for full size image.

In VCS Settings leave everything as default and click on the Add Build Step >> button.

Click for full size image.

Click for full size image.

Now select the Visual Studio (sln) option from the Runner type and give the dialog a moment to render the options below that. They’ll appear and then enter the Step Name, Visual Studio type needs to be set to Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 and then click on Save.

Setting up the Build Type. Click for full size image.

Setting up the Build Type. Click for full size image.

From there you’ll be navigated back to the Project Build Steps screen. On that page you’ll see the build step listed. We’ll have one more we’ll need to add in a moment, but for now click on Version Control Settings again.

Build Step displaced, click on Version Control Settings Again. Click for full size image.

Build Step displaced, click on Version Control Settings Again. Click for full size image.

On this page click on the Create an attach a new VCS root.

Attach a new VCS root. Click for full size image.

Attach a new VCS root. Click for full size image.

Now select Git from the dialog and wait for the page to populate the form settings and options.

VCS Root Options. Click for full size image.

VCS Root Options. Click for full size image.

Now enter the correct Fetch URL to the Git repo (which on github looks something like https://github.com/username/gitrepo.git and is available to copy and paste from the right hand side of the repo page on github), enter the appropriate default branch to build and an appropriate VCS root name and VCS root ID. Once that is done click on the Test connection button.

Test Connection. Click for full size image.

Test Connection. Click for full size image.

Click save and now navigate back to the Build Triggers screen by click on the #5 option on the right hand side of the page. You’ll be navigated back to the magical Version Control Settings screen where you now have a few more options available and a VCS root available.

Version Control Settings. Click for full size.

Version Control Settings. Click for full size.

Now an Add New Build Trigger dialog appears to add the trigger. I set it to trigger a new build at each new check-in. The TeamCity server checks frequently to see if a commit has been made and will initiate a build. Another way however to setup this is to not add a trigger and instead go to Github (if you’re using Github) and setup a push trigger from Github itself. That way every commit will initiate a build instead of the TeamCity Server, which knows nothing about the actual status of the repo until it checks, giving a more timely build process to your commits & dev workflow.

Build Trigger. Click for full size image.

Build Trigger. Click for full size image.

The added build trigger. Click for full size image.

The added build trigger. Click for full size image.

Now, one more build step. Add the NuGet Installer (which is included with the TeamCity Build Server, check the docs for TeamCity 8.x for NuGet Installer and NuGet for more information). For our purposes once you’ve insured that the NuGet Installer you need is available add a new build step. Select from the Runner Type NuGet Installer and the respective form will populate below.

NuGet Installer. Click for full size image.

NuGet Installer. Click for full size image.

Once the step is added, click on Reorder Build Steps under the Build Steps list and a dialog, specifically for reordering the build steps will appear.

Reordered Build Steps.

Reordered Build Steps. Click for full size image.

Reorder the steps so that Getting NuGetty (the name I’ve give to it, click for a full size image) will be run first.

The NuGet Settings.  Under the NuGet.exe is where to add the Nuget executable if it isn't already installed and available. Click the NuGet settings for options. Click for full size image.

The NuGet Settings. Under the NuGet.exe is where to add the Nuget executable if it isn’t already installed and available. Click the NuGet settings for options. Click for full size image.

At this time you now have all of the steps you actually need. You’ll be able to go back to the main projects screen and built the project.

When you do this however, if you’ve actually set this up to build a Windows 8 Store Project you’ll get a build failure. Which is a total bummer, but that makes for a great follow up blog which I’ll have posted real soon! For now, these are great steps for getting a modern ASP.NET, Java, Maven and a whole host of other builds up and running. For the solution around the Windows 8 Store Project keep reading (subscribe on the top right hand side to the RSS!) and I’ll have that posted up real soon.

Until next entry, Cheers!  > Adron