Tuesday, September 27, 2005

MVP Summit here I come!

I'm working from a downtown Seattle hotel with a beautiful view today -- tomorrow the MVP Summit starts. Someone forgot to tell Seattle that summer is over, it's absolutely gorgeous here!

I'm really looking forward to meeting my fellow architect MVPs. I'm interested to see exactly what other "architects" actually do. Connected systems, business applications, products, infrastructure, databases, all of the above? How much code do they actually write? How many developers do they direct? How much influence do they have on the business? Are they typically consultants or employees? What is an architect anyway? Microsoft's vision for architecture sounds a little fluffy to me. I'm hoping to walk away from the summit with a much clearer picture.

Of course, I'm also excited about seeing the new XBox 360 ;-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tragedy Hits the Fox Community

On Friday Drew Speedie and his son, Brent, fell a few hundred feet to their deaths from a bridge in Yellowstone Park while vacationing there. My heart goes out to Irene his wife. Drew was a Visual FoxPro MVP and regular conference speaker and writer.

I remember the first time I ever met Drew was at the Visual FoxPro 6.0 DevCon in May 1998 in Orlando. I remember how funny and engaging he was showing off the VFP Grid. Drew was great at showing you the ins and outs and tips and tricks of a particular feature -- things you never thought of.

The first time I ever met Brent was at an Essential Fox conference (I think 3 years ago) in Kansas City. The first thing that came to mind when talking with him was "Wow, this kid is smart. And just like his father." He was very engaging and had the same wit as Drew during our conversation about Arizona. The last time I spoke with Drew he told me about some beautiful places to visit in Arizona -- I think I'll have to go see them now.

For more information please visit the FoxWiki.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The exciting future of Visual Basic

Make sure you check out the Future Versions section of the VB site for information on LINQ. You can even download a preview of this technology which works with the release candidate of Visual Studio! And if you haven't read this yet, this MSDN paper is a great overview of Visual Basic 9.0. Man! VS 2005 isn't even released yet and I'm drooling over the features of the next version after that! Sigh.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A fundamental shift in programming for most, a sigh of relief and a breath of excitement for us!

Paul Vick formally announced Project LINQ yesterday at PDC. LINQ stands for "Language Integrated Query". LINQ brings standard query operations into the .NET platform. Wow, an object oriented language with rich query syntax... hmmmm... sounds vaguely familiar ;-). This is what I've personally been waiting for ever since I moved into .NET programming from Visual FoxPro work. Paul is right; this does represent a fundamental shift in programming for most developers. When you have a language that supports this style of programming, the architecture of your applications change. You start to think about dynamic data (and metadata) as the engine of your application. It's not to say you can't create dynamic data-driven applications right now in .NET, it's just a lot harder. When you can write elegant queries directly into the editor you tend to favor that expressive style when working with data instead of a rigid strongly-typed object approach. For instance you could write a function that performs some complex operations on changing data but apply it inside of a select query for only the matching pieces of data; and you can do it in 5-10 lines of code instead of 100 lines of for each's and if statements.

Now for the people of the Fox this is the only logical way to work with data inside of an application so I think that's one of the major reasons people stay working with Visual FoxPro. However, VFP is not a strongly-typed language, it's execution is slower and it's based on COM. But because VFP is loosely-typed you can get away with a lot of slick dynamic, scripting-style programming.

What the architects of LINQ are doing is amazing. They are bringing query comprehension to a strongly-typed environment. However, I'm personally excited about the future of VB.NET. VB.NET is strongly-typed AND loosely-typed at the same time. In my opinion that will make VB.NET the preferred data-oriented programming language and the language of the future -- especially for information systems.

I hope that Visual FoxPro programmers will take a hard look at VB.NET if they haven't already. There is a lot of opportunity for you here because we already know how data-based applications should be written using query in the language and we can provide invaluable feedback to the architects of LINQ and VB.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm speaking at the Bay.NET UG on Thursday

I'm speaking on Thursday for the Bay.NET user group down in Pleasanton. So if you rather see me than the Raiders vs. Patriots game (I know it's a tough decision) then come on out!