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Tim Hibbard CEO for EnGraph software

David, Steve and everybody else involved did a great job in putting this event together and keeping the chaos at an organized level!!

My talk on AJAXPro went really well.  25 or so people showed up and everybody seemed to understand the power of AJAXPro and several of them told me afterwards that they had projects that could use this technology right now.  I've talked before about why AJAXPro is better than XMLHttpRequest.  It also had advantages over ATLAS (Microsoft's AJAX library) in that AJAXPro can be used with your existing 1.1 projects that have not been converted to 2.0 yet.  ATLAS currently only works with .net 2.0.  Although ATLAS has some great UI features, AJAXPro is the way to go for you 1.1 projects.

After my talk, I attended a session on Service Orientated Architecture Anti-Patterns by Ron Jacobs.  I had never heard of an anti-pattern before.  I obviously know (and have) bad habits, but didn't know the official name for them.  That's the great thing about the software industry, everything has a name, even something like a bad habit has an official geek title!  Ron is a great speaker, his use of humor and vocabulary (geek and non-geek) made it very easy to follow his concepts. 

Lunch was cheeseburgers and chips.   Giovanni Gallucci took a picture of me eating lunch and posted it to his flickr page. It's not flattering!

I was so impressed with Ron's presentation that I went to his "What is a Software Architect" talk after lunch.  My title with EnGraph is Software Architect, granted it was pretty much self granted, but based on everything I read and hear, it is a good description of my role with EnGraph.  But, I wanted to be sure, so I went into Ron's presentation with an open mind, telling myself that if his talk didn't describe my typical tasks, that I would re-title myself.  Well, he described my role exactly.  In his words, a Software Architect is an explorer, an advocate and a designer.  An explorer stays up with the curve of new technology, understands the how new concepts will impact the product lifecycle and recommends timelines of adoption.  An advocate will keep the best interest of the client in mind.  Understanding who your client is is key.  We rarely develop custom software, so our biggest client is our existing product line, and we have to make decisions to ensure that our product line is stable and profitable.  Of course our existing and potential clients impact our product line, because they are the ones that will be consuming the software.  But when a client requests a feature, we have to make sure that the change or feature is good for the product and that it will not negatively impact our other existing clients that use the software.  A designer is just that, a designer.  But it's not just UI, it's also how your objects will complicate with each other and their data sources.  UI development is my weakest skill.  As, Ron said though, it is really the most important part of your software.  Who cares if your objects communicate with each other in the fastest way possible if your end user can't intuitively use your software.  He compared it to the last mile of broadband.  It's easy to put big pipelines of fiber cable between cities, but the last mile of getting it into the users home is the tough, expensive part.  The last mile of software development is between the users eyes and their monitor.

At one point he described a software architect with the almost the same words that I used when I was interviewed by, so that made me feel good that I did truly understand my role, at least according to Ron - who just happens to be an Architect Evangelist, so I'll take his word for it.

Next session, I did an AJAX chalk talk with Joe Stagner, who just happens to work on the ATLAS team at Microsoft.  Needless to say, he knows A LOT more about AJAX that I do.  Still, I contributated some.  It was a good session and I was able to see the ATLAS contol extenders which are just sweet.  They are basically like an control extender that adds functionality to an existing control.  They have a one that adds nice Web 2.0 shadows and rounded corners to an existing DIV tag and another one that does dynamic password strength validation on a textbox.  Because I'm a Microsoft fan boy, I will probably eventually switch my AJAX framework on Where's Tim to ATLAS once it comes out of beta, but that's probably going to be a while, so until then, GO AJAXPro!!

All in all, it was a great event.  I was able to catch up with the guys from Wichita and Little Rock and meet a bunch of new people.  The guys from recoded my AJAX talk and video recorded the keynote speakers, so check them out in the next couple of weeks as they publish them.

Tulsa techfest 2006



Posted on Sunday, October 15, 2006 1:16 PM EnGraph , .NET , GPS , Mapping , Where's Tim | Back to top

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