Narelle has dusted off her blog and posted some new content after a short break of 5 years!
Subscribe to her feed if you’re interested in a bit of craft and the odd recipe or two.
Over the weekend I had the chance to sit down with a friend who is studying a computer science degree and give some suggestions on their software engineering assignment. What made this interesting was that the assignment was in Java.
I hadn’t used Java since the early days of Java 1.0/1.1 when we used it to create some browser applets to be used in teaching electrical engineering at UniSA, so I wasn’t sure how much help I was going to be.
As someone who spends most of his professional life using Microsoft tools, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most concepts I use with C# and Visual studio have equivalents in Java language and IDE (NetBeans in this instance). That Java and C# are similar shouldn’t be any surprise, but I certainly gained an appreciation of how C# has learned from it’s older brother. It was only an hour or two so the comparison is certainly not extensive, but it is interesting to observe some of the subtle variations:
- Having to deal with exceptions that might be thrown (or the Java compiler fails your build)
- Properties seem to be just a convention of methods named getXXX/setXXX
- Importing namespaces and having to append .* on the end of the namespace
- Coming to grips with Swing and AWT (versus coming to grips with GDI/WinForms/WPF!)
- Inheriting a base class uses ‘extends’ instead of ‘:’
- NetBeans had familiar features including refactoring, project references, breakpoints and step through debugging, intellisense (kind of)
I think there’s probably more the same than different, and I can understand how you could reasonably easily swap from one environment to another.
It did cause me to wonder how these languages and environments are going to change over the next few years. It does seem ironic that in many ways Microsoft may have some advantages in being able to innovate their language more easily than Oracle/Sun. On the other hand I think it is very healthy for there to be competition to encourage new features that will improve the development experience in both camps.
In the end we made some good progress on the assignment, though in my opinion it seemed it was trying to force the use of a particular design pattern into a scenario which didn’t really need it, which probably ended up being more confusing and less useful to the students.
Last week I got to do something quite different – I taught the course 2310C: Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to a group of software developers. I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer at the start of March, so I’m now able to teach a range of Microsoft courses. LobsterPot now has SQL, BI and .NET training comprehensively covered (contact us if you want to make a booking!)
I really enjoyed being up front teaching – an interesting contrast from just sitting at a desk in front of a screen. One of the first things I learned was how useful Win+P is for switching my laptop/data projector from ‘duplicate’ to ‘extend’ display modes. The PowerPoint slides were in ‘extend’ mode with the presenter view on my laptop screen, but for code demos I would switch back to ‘duplicate’ so I’d be seeing the same thing as the students.
The other useful thing was having a Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000. This was a gift for taking part in the Demos Happen Here competition (along with a bright orange t-shirt). I’d worn the t-shirt a few times but the mouse had been sitting in a drawer feeling neglected. Last week it got a good workout though - really handy to swap between ‘mouse’ and ‘presentation’ mode to flick through the PowerPoint slides.
The course 2310C is a fast trip through various features of Visual Studio 2008 and ASP.NET 3.5, and is not a bad introduction to most of the things you’ll need to get started doing web development. I’m pleased to observe 2310D looks like it will be available next month – with updated lessons on Silverlight 3, ASP.NET MVC and ~ADO.NET~ WCF Data Services.
This week I’m booked in to do three .NET 4.0 exams (they’re beta/pre-release which means there’s no charge but also means you need to wait a few weeks to see if you pass or not). Passing those should mean I’ll be able to teach courses on Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4. I’m also planning to do some SQL 2008 Business Intelligence exams (70-448 and 70-452). These will not only be a good way for me to improve my SQL BI knowledge, but should be useful in LobsterPot getting the new ‘Advanced Competency in Business Intelligence’ (though if you’ve met Rob, you’ll know he’s a one-man walking advanced competency in BI already :-)