WebDD 2009 - a review

A tad later than I would have liked, but finally here’s my review of the superbly organised event that was WebDD 2009. Held at Microsoft UK’s Reading campus, it was held on Saturday, with around 200 delegates enjoying a free day of Web goodness. Hats off to the organisers on delivering another full day of great info for free, with Phil Winstanley and David Sussman working hard to make sure everything went smoothly.

ASP.NET 3.5 – Miss Something?

Dan Maharry (http://blog.hmobius.com/, @hmobius)

I like the idea of a session taking an older* technology and reviewing it to ensure everyone has spotted all the useful bits and has got up to date with the service packs and add-ins that they may have missed. Apparently it was Dan’s first presentation but it didn’t really feel like it, and he knows his stuff, having co-authored the O’Reilly book ‘Programming ASP.NET 3.5 Details and Downloads’.

Thanks to Dan I’ll be downloading the Lightweight Test Framework from the ASP QA team, available on codeplex; http://aspnet.codeplex.com/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=22739. Dan also mentioned that Steve Sanderson (ASP.NET MVC author) also has some good blogs on how to use it; http://blog.codeville.net/2009/03/27/first-steps-with-lightweight-test-automation-framework/

* older is by no means a derogatory term, this means code which is actually released and can be deployed rather than a preview, CTP or beta in a state of flux


What’s good in .NET 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010

Alex Mackey (http://www.SimpleIsBest.co.uk, @alexjmackey)

I’m not sure when Alex managed to get a chance to breathe during this presentation. Nearly 100 slides in the deck and he did a superb job of attempting the impossible; highlighting all the new stuff which we will have to play within in the next year or so. A walking, talking RSS feed for .NET 4.0/VS2010. Keep an eye out for his APress book ‘Introducing .NET 4.0 with Visual Studio 2010’


P0wn3d! (Or how to redirect your friend’s website to katyperry.com)

Barry Dorrans (http://www.idunno.org )

Security sessions are always amusing for how the room becomes more subdued the more weaknesses in application development are exposed. You can almost feel the self doubt increasing as time goes by. It’s also great when specific comments get the biros scribbling hurriedly.

I liked the idea of using the PrincipalPermission attribute to decorate methods, especially in code that might be shared by a team of programmers. Defence in depth is always a better solution than the false assumption that you have constructed a single impenetrable barrier around the entire application.


An Introduction to jQuery

Andy Gibson (http://www.andy-gibson.co.uk, @ARGibson)

With the ASP.NET team encouraging the use of jQuery via blogs as well as decent intelligence docs within VS2008, I was looking forward to this introductory talk. I was not disappointed. This proved to be a great jQuery tour for people comfortable with solid javascript skills but not necessarily experience with jQuery.

As for jQuery itself, anything that makes my life easier on the client and is multi browser is a winner in my book.


ASP.NET MVC best practices

Sebastien Lambla

Seb managed to survive a complete BSOD on his Mac Book Air (Apple hardware, tsk!) with good grace and without it completely derailing his talk. It did mean the detail was somewhat compressed, which was a shame as this was a very relevant topic.

Best practices are hard to get right with the ASP.NET MVC framework partly because the default project structure and a much of the demo code that comes with the framework doesn’t actually do a good job of demonstrating good practices.

I know why the standard demo code takes a simplified view – best practices can result in quite complicated code to understand. Especially true when you add IoC containers which can be quite intimidating for programmers who haven’t had the experience of struggling to create their own mock objects and marshalling their creation.

It’s not quite the JFK quote, ‘We do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’. More like ‘We do hard things at the start, because in the long term it makes everything else easy’. We sometimes need hard to understand demo code if the end result is a greatly improved solution that is more reliable and easier to update with confidence.



Mike Ormond

Well done to Mike for giving up a marvellous sunny day which could have been spent on the allotment, to be stuck in a room with us geeks.  There were some good peeks at the next version of ASP.NET 4.0 and he coaxed a VS2010 interim build running under VirtualPC into life to provide some good demos of what will be possible in the next version of Visual Studio.


Post conference

Post conference it was off to Revolution, where the staff were again horrified by my request to add Tabasco Sauce to my Sol beer (honest, it’s really nice. I know you don’t believe me either). Then it was onto Pizza Express for a great finale to the evening. Seb Lambla was on great form as usual and it was good to be able to chat with Andy Gibson and Andrew Westgarth, both of whom travelled quite a distance to present at WebDD. I’m happily returning the favour, travelling up to Glasgow for DDD Scotland on May 2nd. I’m less happy that I’m up against Andy Gibson with what I think will be another popular jQuery talk.

Thanks to all for a great day.


Afterthought; WebDD - a replacement for ReMix?

Someone at the conference did comment that due to the economic situation ReMix might not happen this year, and that WebDD might be a ‘partial replacement’. Unlike the first WebDD I attended, this second event did not have the content to attract designers, so I hope no one at Microsoft thinks that this is a replacement for ReMix. Microsoft do need to capture designer mindshare and get developers out of the mindset where design is an afterthought – that’s the duty of the ReMix events and with Silverlight as a potential platform it’s needed more than ever.

Print | posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 10:54 PM

Comments on this post

# re: WebDD 2009 - a review

Requesting Gravatar...
"A walking, talking RSS feed for .NET 4.0/VS2010" erm guess thats a compliment!

Yes agreed the light weight test framework looked pretty cool. My twitter name is alexjmackey by the way :)
Left by Alex Mackey on Apr 21, 2009 9:24 AM

# re: WebDD 2009 - a review

Requesting Gravatar...

RSS feed was meant as a complement. It was hard to describe the huge amount of information you had to convey, and the way it was done allowed the audience to note the bits they would investigate in depth later. A bit like seeing a set of RSS headlines and then opening only the interesting items.

Thanks for correcting the twitter account name - now fixed. It was a bugger trying to ensure all the name, URLs and names were spelt correctly. Was always bound to miss one.

Left by Liam Westley on Apr 21, 2009 9:49 AM

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