With our second meeting in Aarhus .NET Usergroup successfully completed I'd like to take some time to do a summary for those of you not able to attend. Let me first start off by saying that the meeting was a complete success - all the stuff we worried about not working did actually pan out just fine and we had some great discussions as a result. But first things first.
The meeting started out with some news about what the organizers have been keeping busy with since the last meeting. Basically we've been racking our brains on how to structure the meetings, how long to have to go on for, and what we can bring to the table that Microsoft cannot with their Meet Microsoft events.
The conclusion we've come to is that what we can bring to the table is the ability to relate .NET technology to concrete projects and every day problems in a way that Microsoft cannot.
Many of us have probably seen upcoming features from Microsoft which demoed really well but when actually used on a real projects failed horribly. We'll try to remedy this by providing a more pragmatic insight into the inner workings of .NET and related products. As an extension to this we'll continue holding the meetings at various companies around Aarhus and the vicinity of Aarhus. Please e-mail me if you would like to put us up for a meeting in your company. Additionally we'll try to have a representative from the company give a short presentation of the company, what they stand for, and how they do things in an effort to give people different perspectives on how to go about systems development. For me personally this is something I'm looking forward to seeing in action.
Next up we discussed our ideas about meeting structure. A lot of new things we can do with the group were discussed before the meeting but in the end we decided to keep things to the bare minimum and get the basics working before moving on to other stuff. So for now the our activities will be limited to the meetings which will be structured like so:
- Group News
- Presentation on Topic of the Meeting
- Tour de <Company>
The only thing here which isn't obvious is the Nutcracker so I'll spend a little time on detailed what the idea here is. What we want this to be is kind of an open forum where a person can ask a question which we'll spend time on discussing. It can be anything from a specific coding problem to more fluffy stuff like when to use WPF instead of WinForms, how to study for a particular subject, etc.. Only your imagination sets the boundaries for this one as long as it's related to .NET in some way ... and I don't mean a subject which is the great-great-great-great-great-great red headed stepchild of your grandfather kind of related either :)
Even though we're a nonprofit organization with no form of income we've already acquired a couple of assets we can use in the future. The first and most important asset is our domain name which yours truly came up with (direct hate mail here please :)). In the future you can find the usergroup at www.anug.dk. You can probably guess what it's short for too. At the moment it redirects to aarhus.activedeveloper.dk but we'll have a Community Server up in the near future so we have a place to store member lists, files, and of course keep you informed about upcoming meetings.
As I mentioned previously Vertica has been kind enough to buy a projector which we can borrow when we need it.
So how did the meeting go anyway? I've covered the news portion quite extensively but by and large I'll say that we have a success on our hands. I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to get people to participate with questions and commentary about the presentation and especially the Nutcracker had me worried because it relies solely on the attendees providing a topic for discussion.
My worries were put to rest to say the least. During my SOA presentation people asked a wealth of questions and had some great comments to the solutions I outlined in my presentation. All in all I think people took away some valuable information from that portion of the meeting. You can take a look at my slides if you want to either recap some of the stuff we talked about or if you curious about what Hulk Hogan has to do with service oriented architecture :) I wanted to keep the presentation to an hour max but we went a bit long on that due to the questions and observations from the attendees.
After a short break Sune Hansen took the stage with a short presentation about Vertica. He told us a little bit about the history of company and where we are going with a development and something about the tools. Short and sweet and again people actively participated in presentation. Very cool!
Finally we had the Nutcracker which started out a bit shaky and I was just about ready to pull the plug on it when Brian Holmsgård Kristensen came forward with a question on how he should prepare himself for certification on the .NET Framework and ASP.NET. What followed was a great discussion where people told about what has worked for them in the past and a lot of tips and tricks on how to go about it. To me this part of the evening was the best as we really got into the meat of things and people got to interact in a way I've never seen at the Microsoft events.
We wrapped up the meeting and frankly I'd expected people to leave quickly as is customary to the MS events but a large group stayed behind to continue the discussion. We branched out into various groups and I had one guy asking me about Team Foundation Server and how best to implement it on their projects so I gave him a quick tour of our stuff and a couple of pointers on how to get it going. This is really what it's all about: Developers meeting and learning from each other.
We left the office around 23:00 after a solid 4 hours of content. I'm very pleased about how it all turned out and I think we have the recipe for success here we just need to repeat it.
Finally I would like to give honorable mention to Jacob Saaby Nielsen who came up with the idea for the usergroup who missed the initial meeting but was present to this one.
See you all at the next meeting!
[Download the usergroup news slides]
[Download Pragmatic Service Oriented Architecture slides]