Friday, June 03, 2005

Things to Learn

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -- Ferris Bueller

The art of software development moves fast. We're still a young discipline compared to engineering and we're still learning new and better ways to create software. Last year I sharpened my saw by adding mock objects, dependency injection/inversion of control, WinForms, and "BuildMaster" skills to my toolset. I spent a ludicrous amount of time on StructureMap though and let other new skill development and learning slide.

Here's the things I want to learn more about this year:


  • Ruby and Ruby on Rails. I'm still a little dubious about the dynamic typing, but too many people are effusive about Ruby's potential to ignore this very much longer. If nothing else, Ruby should grow into the language of choice for scripts and what I call "NAnt-ey" tasks.
  • Ajax. I did a lot of IE specific Ajax development several years ago (before Google named the concept) and had quite a bit of success with it (a mission critical supply chain application and a dispute resolution workflow system, both still running). At the time it wasn't really a good platform choice because of the lack of developer familiarity with the techniques (plus IE5 had *huge* memory leaks with heavy DHTML manipulation). Because of the new hype from the Google apps and cross browser testing tools for DHTML like JSUnit and Selenium, Ajax development is looking like a viable choice now. I'll blog more on my experiences with this now that it is actually relevant.
  • Acceptance testing tools like NFit and Selenium. I love the concepts, but I think the NFit implementation could be better.
  • Finally finish reading Domain Driven Development
  • NHibernate. When .NET first came out in beta in 2002, I had dreams of creating the ultimate O/R mapper for the platform (use emitting for the mapping and use parameterized sql for better performance than NHibernate's purely reflective approach). I even wrote an article for C# Today on using reflection for O/R mapping. Alas, I didn't have the skillset then and I don't have the ambition today. Especially when NHibernate is there with an active development community and poised to become the de facto standard for O/R mapping in .NET. I know they have their proponents, but I don't count persistence generation tools like Neo, LLBGen, or Codus as O/R mapping.
  • Aspect Oriented Programming. I'd love to add some runtime AOP support to StructureMap.

My StructureMap tool actually started its life as an O/R and data access layer tool. What's actually there on SourceForge is just a refinement of what was supposed to be the configuration framework for the rest.

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