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Mark Embling

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper 8

Like many other developers from around the UK, I was at Microsoft's Reading campus on Saturday for DDD8. I have already had the chance to read several blog posts reflecting on the day and I echo the sentiments - it was (as always) a positive experience with interesting talks and the chance to meet people in real life and put a face to a (twitter) name.

Before the Day

Registration opened a couple of weeks before the event (on January 15th if I remember correctly) and all the spaces were taken within about 12 minutes. I believe this is a record for any DDD event so far. Thankfully I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get a space, despite the problems affecting the registration system which made it impossible to tell at first. All credit goes out to the organisers who did their very best and have already said the registration system is going to be addressed in the future, so I will say nothing else negative about this minor pain-point, but instead thank them for working so hard on setting up this event for us all.

Talks

As always, choosing which talks to go to was not easy. All of the talks sounded good, but in the end I picked the following ones to attend:

  • Ian Cooper - Real World MVC Architectures
  • Neil Robbins - Hello Document Databases
  • Jon Skeet - C# 4
  • Gary Short - Not Everything is an Object
  • Barry Dorrans - A developer's guide to encryption

The first session of the day for me was Ian Cooper's talk about real world MVC. He covered various anti-patterns which he'd run into such as the "fat controller" and leakage of logic from one layer into the other. He also covered the need for a service layer in larger systems. A lot of what Ian covered were issues which we've run into at work ourselves, so it was good to hear how others have gone about handing the same sort of scenario, and the best-practices which have come out of it.

The second session I attended was Neil Robbins' talk on document databases. This was a session I was very much looking forward to as the "NoSQL" movement and document databases in general are an area I've become interested in lately. Neil focused on CouchDB, which was also interesting because I have looked mainly at MongoDB. It was interesting to see how they have both addressed the problem in different ways. It was also nice to see Ubuntu CDs being handed out at Microsoft. All in all, I very much enjoyed this session and it has prompted me to take a closer look at CouchDB as well as continuing my MongoDB explorations.

After a break, Jon Skeet was up talking about changes and new features in C# 4. This was a very popular talk, proven by the fact they had to open up Chicago 1 & 2 into one large room and still it was full. This was my first Jon Skeet talk experience and it did not disappoint. Jon covered optional parameters, generic variance (which I still found confusing despite his very good fruit-bowl/banana explanation) and a lot more. He was also the only person I've ever seen to use images as slides.

After lunch (the traditional brown-bag type kindly provided by Microsoft), I attended Gary Short's session entitled "Not Everything is an Object". He covered why the OO paradigm might not be the most suitable for all problems going forward and the benefits which can be found in a functional approach. He illustrated all this using Clojure, a functional language based on the JVM. This is something quite new (and more than a little alien) to me and well worth taking the time to look at once I can spare some.

The final session of the day for me was Barry Dorrans' session on encryption for .NET. This was Barry's last DDD talk before he departs for the US and a new job at Microsoft (a fact which was pressed home throughout by various fun pranks played on him). As always, it was a good talk and covered many different aspects of encryption and hashing, and illustrated them through demo code which we saw running.

Conclusion

I think most attendees will agree with me that DD8 was a great success and well worth the trip. I got a lot out of the day, from the great sessions and from the ability to meet and talk with other like-minded devs from around the UK, and put a real face to some twitter names (and meet a few more besides).

I'd like to thank all the speakers who's session I attended for giving their time and knowledge freely. I'd also like to thank the organisers and everyone else involved in making the day happen. Events like this are invaluable for bringing developers together and enabling the sharing of knowledge.

Now it's time to look forward to WebDD and DDD9.