Last Thursday was the Dogfood Developer’s Conference in Columbus. I’m rather glad I went and here’s a quick write-up of some of the things which occurred, as well as a few interesting links.
Most of my day was spent listening to Jeff Blankenburg talk. Fortunately, he’s a good speaker and knows what he’s doing, so it all worked out. He gave his version of the opening presentation, which focused greatly on Windows Azure (which I touched upon here), and later on, was scheduled to give a presentation on Silverlight. Incidentally, the top section of his blog is all done in Silverlight. Looking at the code was a bit scary at first—well over 1000 lines of XML, which is roughly 1000 too many lines of XML to type out—but Microsoft Expression Blend 2 appears to do a good job of generating XAML.
Before his Silverlight presentation, he showed us a few interesting sites, including Live Mesh. The gist of that site is that there are certain documents which you want to share between your home desktop, your laptop, your work PC, and potentially other computers as well. Live Mesh acts as a central repository for files, as well as a peer-to-peer facilitator (particularly if those two machines are on the same LAN). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is a Linux-compatible client, so I’ll be sitting out on that for now. He also showed off Popfly, which is a game and mashup creator, allowing individuals to create things with relatively little coding. Mashups are fun little things which use publicly available web services to pull data from several sources and present them as one. The example he showed off was to get his friends’ latest 15 tweets from Twitter and display the locations of those individuals on a map, using a location-to-coordinate web service in between. Without using any code, he hooked up three web services and got his set of results to display. Granted, real business applications will be more complex than that and have significantly more business rules, but it’s pretty nice to see that kind of coordination with third-party services. And finally, Jeff’s also the reason that I decided to start using Twitter, as he made a really good point: no matter what problem you run into at work, somebody in a room full of programmers will have run into something either exactly like it or similar to it and will remember the answer or at least set you on your way. The insane practicality of the advice outweighed the relatively small cost of setup and relatively larger cost of search (which I haven’t yet performed…), so I decided to jump into it.
We also got to see a presentation on developing for IE 8. Ronan Geraghty’s blog is a good source for information on that, including features such as accelerators (which I admit I probably will not use too much), webslices (which I will use more often and are similar to Firefox’s Live Bookmarks), and quirks/compatibility mode (which we hopefully will not need to use too long at work, as we’ve been working on developing our apps to be Firefox-compatible). The people who gave that talk threw out some information on the IE process model and suggested checking out some articles in Code Magazine (including this one) to get more information on it. I’m reasonably pleased that Microsoft is finally getting to the point where they are developing a standards-based browser, though there will be a lot of work necessary to clean up all of the wreckage of pre-standards kludging.
Finally, I went to a very good talk on security processes. One of the two people giving the talk pointed out a chart noting that the five biggest software houses produce only about 14% of the bugs, so we third-party folks are doing a great job of keeping that number high and we should give ourselves a pat on the back… They spent a good amount of time talking about the Security Development Lifecycle and threat tracking tools that Microsoft is putting out, and said that some of the tools are ready for prime time, whereas others (particularly the dynamic analysis one) still need some work. Also check out Michael Howard’s blog for SDL details and security notes in general. Finally, if you haven’t done it yet, Steve Gibson (of ShieldsUp fame) has a weekly interview with Leo Laporte over at This Week In Tech called Security Now. Start at episode 1 and move your way up for a college-level course in security…