Catching Up: I’m Speaking and Writing and Reviewing to start 2012

It’s been way too long, so it’s time I caught everybody up on what’s been going on over here. As you might guess from the lack of posts I’ve been kinda busy, but that’s really no excuse.

Last weekend I just got back from FoxCon 2012 in Toledo. This is a great regional conference for Visual FoxPro developers, although the content is not strictly limited to FoxPro by any means. The attendance to this conference is strictly limited to 30 people so it can maintain a loose roundtable format where tangents are pursued and audience participation is expected. The small size makes it very social as well, and includes a couple of dinners together as well as a party.

Here was the rundown of the agenda this year:

  • Toni Feltman started us off by talking about all the different types of tests that developers need to do. We’re all familiar with Unit Tests, but let’s not forget about UI testing, integration testing, database testing and even more. We talked a little about the tools available in other languages, Mocks (and the FoxMocks tool by Christof Wollenhaupt), and Stubs. A lot of this information was new to me. I did get a chance to review an add-on I had written for FoxUnit a few years ago to retroactively add tests to existing class libraries in Visual FoxPro. I wrote up the tool in FoxRockX Magazine, but maybe it’s time I publish that on my blog as well so more people can find it.
  • Jody Meyer then talked about how she digitized her extensive movie collection catalog quickly by taking advantage of NetFlix’s API within Visual FoxPro. I’m looking forward to reviewing some of this work, especially the oData library she created in Visual FoxPro.
  • Steve Bodnar was up next, talking about the might jQuery Mobile library. He did a nice job breaking down the “data-” attributes of the tags, and the single-page nature of mobile sites. One big takeway from this session was the discovery of
  • Next up, I did a session that did a survey of source-control tools available to Visual FoxPro developers. The trick of course with Visual FoxPro is that much of the source control is stored in binary files, so you have to decide whether you want to serialize them before checking them into source control, and if so, which tools are available. I talked about SCCTextX, VFP2Text from Frank Perez, TwoFox from Christoph Wollenhaupt, and SubFox.
  • DJ Bodnar finished off our day by talking about the MVVM framework and Entity Framework.  Lots of good new information here for Visual FoxPro developers, and we could have spent hours talking about what’s available on the .Net side of things.
  • Rick Borup was first up Sunday morning. If you’ve never heard Rick speak, you’re missing quite a treat. We respectfully call him “The Professor,” because he’s always so well prepared and speaks so knowledgeably about his topics. This time he discussed Advanced Topics in Mercurial for Visual FoxPro developers. It was a nice complement to my session, because I really focused on Subversion but the serialization issues are the same for Mercurial users.
  • Jamie Wright then delivered a fantastic overview of Ruby development. I took a lot away from this session, and will be spending time reviewing everything he talked about. As Visual FoxPro developers do more new web development, those who want to move away from Microsoft after they stilted us are taking a hard look at open-source projects like Ruby.
  • Samidip Basu wrapped up the conference talking about developing for Windows Phone 7. I actually left at noon so that I could get back to Madison in time to catch the Blue Man Group, so I had to miss this session, but I’m sure it was great.

Hot off FoxCon, I’m finishing writing my first chapter of a technical book. I can’t really talk about it yet, but I’m going to be busy for the next month or so finishing this first chapter, writing the second chapter, as well as technical editing chapters by other authors. I look forward to revealing more about it soon.

One book I definitely want to share with you is one I’m reviewing, “Appcelerator Titanium Smartphone App Development Cookbook,” by Boydlee Pollentine (Packt Publishing). I saw an offer to review it on Twitter (I’m @EricSelje there, by the way), and totally wanted to do it because we’ve got a few projects coming up that Titanium will be perfect for. If you don’t know what Titanium is, check out this older blog post or their about page, but in short it’s a tool for compiling HTML5 applications to native apps on a variety of mobile devices. I’ll follow up on this review in a complete blog post when I’m finished reviewing it.

(As a bonus for reading this far, here’s a link to a sample chapter of that book.)

On Wednesday, February 1st, I’ll be speaking at the MadDotNet group about Visual Studio Lightswitch. Luckily this is the same presentation I gave at Southwest Fox back in 2011, but this will be a more .Net-savvy audience so just a wee bit nerve wracking.

Of course we’ve still got our MadFox User Group which has met on the 3rd Tuesday of every month since 1995, and now the Geek Lunch is entering its 3rd year and has shifted to the 3rd Tuesday as well, starting at 11:45. In addition to those I’m attending the MadPass (SQL Server Users Group) and Software Developers Meetup, and hope to get to some MadRailers (Ruby) and Web Developers’ Meetups. I think you could fill every night of the month with a meeting in Madison, but that probably wouldn’t make my family too happy.

So all that on top of my development work, and I’m keeping pretty busy. I hope you’re year goes well too!



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