web, css, javascript comments edit

I realize I’m probably the last to get on the boat with this one, but I came across the Yahoo! UI Library this morning and it’s pretty cool stuff. It’s an open-source set of UI components for creating rich web applications. Items I know I’ve had to write that are included:

They have a lot of other neat stuff, too, like menu controls, treeviews, animation libraries… it’s pretty slick. I’m going to have to play around with this and see how it works. It looks promising.

net comments edit

I was talking to Stu this weekend a bit about the recent release of .NET 3.0 and all the things it professes to do. They’ve added some huge features to .NET and they even offer some free online training on it.

But here’s the deal: I do most of my work in .NET 1.1 right now. Financial institutions are slow to adopt new technology and there really wasn’t any super-pressing need to convert to .NET 2.0 when it was released. Granted, we’ll be moving to .NET 2.0 soon and do some work with it for internal tools, but production work still gets done in .NET 1.1.

For the .NET 2.0 stuff, it was pretty easy for me to grasp. They added a few new programming constructs, a few of the things I commonly do in ASP.NET are easier, and the rest of the stuff, for the most part, felt like they just solidified a good existing framework.

For .NET 3.0, it’s a new situation. There are whole gigantic architectural additions that have been added. Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation… valuable stuff, but not trivial in size. Reading through some of the doc and examples, it doesn’t look like it’s super trivial in implementation in many cases, either.

I know a lot of pretty decent developers, but some fairly key .NET 1.1 concepts still escape them. Databinding is a concept I hear a lot of confusion over. Reflection is another one that stymies folks. Academically, they sort of “get it,” but when the rubber meets the road, it’s still pretty confusing to them.

Which brings us to the question: Is .NET becoming too complicated? Previously these large foundation-style blocks seemed to live as “Application Blocks” that the Pattens and Practices group put out. (Which, in my opinion, many times were far, far more complex than the 80% case will need.) You could fairly safely ignore these huge blocks and still be pretty sure you could write a good .NET app. Now they’re part of the framework, so they’re a lot harder to ignore. Was that a good decision?

Back in college, we wrote some simple Windows apps in C++. As such, I had a peripheral interest in seeing how the various class libraries grew up. I can still read the code I wrote for those apps. It makes sense. Have you written a Windows app in C++ recently? Tried to read the code for it?

I’m afraid that’s what’s happening to .NET. New features needed? Sure. I mean, who can question the value of a whole workflow foundation built right into the framework? But the complexity of these things will be such that you’ll have a difficult time finding anyone competent in all of it. Developers will be forced to specialize because there won’t be enough time in the day to keep up with all of the latest developments.

The people I feel afraid for are the developers coming out of school today. Or the developers who will hit the job market five years from now. I’ve been in on .NET from the ground floor, so there’s a lot of background knowledge I take for granted that I’ve gained as I’ve worked in it and been present for these latest developments. I can’t imagine what it will be like coming in at square one right now, trying to write a “Hello World” app in C# and then figuring out where to go from there.

The learning curve is only getting steeper, and it’s just like what happened with C++. They’re great new features, but are they worth it?

General Ramblings comments edit

Two interesting articles I happened across this morning.

First, Slashdot reports that Businessweek.com has a piece on how LEGO bricks are made. There’s a walkthrough and a very interesting article.

Second, Gizmodo is running a clip showing a Chinese supermarket that installed a rollercoaster in its aisles. You sit in the coaster and grab items as you pass. I might have to shop there for the novelty alone.

General Ramblings comments edit

I got home yesterday and Jenn decided we should go cold turkey and get all new ornaments for the tree, once again proving I made the right decision on October 14.

We stopped in at Starbucks for a peppermint mocha Frappuccino and continued on to Target where we loaded up with various sizes of gold and red balls as well as a few accent ornaments we thought were really cool. Brought all that back home, un-decorated the tree, packed up the old ornaments, and decorated the tree with our all-new fixings during the commercials while watching Heroes.

It looks pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I’m really curious how the tree skirt will look when we get it done, but it’s mostly black and gold with a little cream in it, so it should be OK. The tree topper is still the one that came with the tree, but it’s not horrible and we ran out of Target gift cards getting the ornaments anyway.

So I don’t hate the tree anymore. Next step - finishing the tree skirt!

General Ramblings comments edit

The Burger
KingBurger King has this crazy promotion going right now where you can get three Xbox/Xbox 360 games for $3.99 each when you get a value meal. The games are:

Sneak King: You sneak around as the Burger King and surprise people with food. It’s sort of creepy and extremely novel. It gets a little repetetive after a bit, but it’s still pretty fun. This is my favorite of the three.

Big Bumpin’: You and three other players (local or over Xbox Live) drive bumper cars around in a variety of competitions. This is a pretty decent party game, but there are only four courses and four game types, and you don’t pick them individually - there are a certain number of pre-set combinations of course and game type. Not super flexible, but still fun.

PocketBike Racer: You and three other players (local or over Xbox Live) drive miniature motorcycles around courses. It’s basically a slimmed-down kart racing game. You have some weapons that don’t seem to come in too handy and the controls are a little sloppy. Of the three, this one is my least favorite, but I can’t complain much for $4.

They have a whole BK Gamer web site where you can see more about it and the leaderboards for the games. You can even add the Burger King as a friend (Gamertag: BurgerKingGWF). If you get a chance, head out to BK. It’s too novel to pass up.