Out with the old in with the new(er)

With 2016 drawing to a close and 2017 already in full swing for me, I thought this was a good opportunity to reflect on how 2016 went and what 2017 has in store for me from a technological point of view.

2016

If asked how 2016 was from a professional perspective I’d probably try to sum it up as follows “Technology continued to roll out at an ever increasing pace, not only was new technology appearing faster than ever before, existing technology stacks started iterate and churn under our feet!”

Nearing the end of 2016 was where I finally admitted defeat and realized that I can’t keep up with everything and I while I sure am greedy and to know everything about everything, it was getting to the point that I was becoming a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ dare I say a full stack developer! I’d actually like to think I’m master of some, but certainly it was a big effort to stay on top of everything.

What did I get up to?

Azure : I got certified in Azure this was without doubt my most prized professional achievement of 2016, I’ve been using Azure for years and I feel quite confident in acclaiming it to be the best public could in the world today.
I’ve also started work on a state of the art data distribution network using Server-less architecture. I finally got down and dirty with Swagger/API Apps/LogicApps/AzureFunctions.
I got a lot better at networking, Load balancing resiliency, Azure/AWS causes a, devops inner persona to ooze its way to the top.
I listened with baited breath to the Azure Weekly Azure Podcast to see what was new (and always scratched my head when Cale got excited about BlockChains, perhaps next year I’ll look back and kick my self for not being an early adopter, it does seem to be an area that’s heating up).

AWS: I got certified as an AWS Solutions Architect, it was great to get a better understanding of AWS and indeed for a few offerings they I’d choose them over Azure. Got heavily involved in AWS CloudFormation and helped regain some control on AWS madness.

Google Cloud: I spent a few weeks playing with it just to see how it’s coming along, at least now I’m somewhat informed but I’d only consider myself as a beginner (I’d consider GoogleCloud a beginner also , unless they put in a massive investment into the portal and services, they simply can’t compete with Azure and AWS.

Docker: I can create images, start stop then understand volumes, I didn’t get as far as any of the clustering techniques such as swarm but I see huge value in Docker!

AngularJS: Architected and delivered a cutting edge data visualization system based on Angular 1.x, typescript,sccs,gulp. 
Introduced AngularJS in to multiple smaller projects.

Typescript: This is a fantastic language, and now especially with all the bells and whistles in v2.1 (not least async/await for es5 targets). If you are writing any Javascript you need to learn this no one will ever convince me that a dynamically typed language is better than a statically typed language for starters, but with all the new Standards based features now baked in, it’s certainly taking the industry by storm, I can’t see how Babel will continue to fight for its place in the world alongside it.

Ionic2: I wrote another mobile app, I’ve done this in many languages to date, I started out with iPhones and xamarin c#, moved to objectiveC and java, and finally settled back on the Typescript/Angular2 based Ionic2 framework. It’s a pleasure to deal with, and with my other investments in the underlying stack it has become a natural fit.

Java8: Finally spend some time getting up to speed on the new jdk and it’s offerings. While not strictly Java8, I’m including Sprint Bootstrap, Wildfly10 Application server, CDI, JaxRS etc in this section.

Camel: Gained a basic understanding and working knowledge of the Camel EAI framework.

ActiveMQ: I debated about putting this one on here, all queues fulfil the same core requirements to pass messages right? But I did approach ActiveMQ from three different sides camel/c#/java, so that was interesting.

.NET 2017 I’m now informed about what’s coming down the line. Some interesting thing like C#7 (which I will admit I had to read twice before I saw the value in the language changes), better support for the web stacks (although I’d admit with a tear in my eye that I’ve moved to Jetbrains software and am unlikely to come back to VStudio unless it’s an ASP based backend).

Client Products: Not only the development stacks have been changing, products in use by my clients have been moving at a rapid pace also and given they pay the bills I dedicate a fair amount of time to understanding them in depth.

Resource Consumption:
DNR -Listened to nearly every episode of DotNetRocks.
Hanselminutes - Funnily enough I found DotNetRocks as I used to subscribe the Hanselminutes; I say used to, as I’ve finally given up on Hanselminutes it appears to have moved in a different direction in the last year or so, don’t get me wrong, Scott is a great guy one of the best technical speakers in MS if you ask me, I even follow the weekly ASP.net stand-ups which he’s in, it only the podcast that I gave up on in December.

Other recommended podcasts:
Angular In Action
Javascript Jabber
RunAs Radio
Azure Podcast

2017

As you can image it takes a lot of time to get proficient in any of the above stacks I’ve mentioned . I’ve been trying to stay on top of them all and I’ve now reached the point or realization that need to let some go (think of Kate Winslet prying Leonardo DiCaprio’s icy fingers off that board she was on, it’ll be oh so sad). I’m going to narrow down the field, I’ll still keep in touch with them and if I encounter anything I don’t understand then I’ll make it my business to understand it, I simply won’t actively go pursuing them all. I’ve been burnt before with that approach, I learn Sliverlight after all, it wasn’t all bad as I wrote a windows phone app and many WPF apps around the same time, so the experience transferred nicely, it’s just that I’m not writing much WPF these days so I’ll put effort back in that direction only if and when needed.

Q: So the question remains: Where am I going to put my extended effort this year? 
A: Azure first approach. Azure will be the primary topic of my blogs whether the implementation is in C#/JavaScript/Typescript/Java I don’t really care. If the backend is .NET or Java, again I don’t really care but I do intend on blogging on practical usage cases for Azure services, I may even create a video or two!

Happy new year!

Efficiency Yield

Talking to an ex colleague of mine this evening about some use cases for yield, it’s quite a handy little keyword, i often use it for splitting a large collection into smaller ones (Chunk).

image

Efficiency

I was presented with another use for yield.

Take a third party API that takes an IEnumerable of objects that are expensive to create,

image

 

 

 


we can see that there is an early imageexit strategy so we may not need all items in the enumeration.

 

 

 

 


Now lets say we have 3 implementations of this interfaceimage

trivial i know, but assume we don’t know if they return null or not at compile time.

 

 

Now here’s a nice way of passing all of the above to a third party API and only incur the construction hit as and if when they get enumerated.

image

Using the trivial logic outlined here, ExpensiveFactoryC will never get constructed.

To Xammer or not to Xammer

Xamarin vs XCode

Anyone that reads this blog regularly or knows me, will know that I’m a C#/Java guy primarily, but I do love all other languages, especially javascript and objective-c  (my objective-c is just about passable, mainly because I’ve only written 3 iOS applications). I was in London this week and I got an early preview of a new service, it looked pretty good so I was thinking of how I could write a few of my own clients for this. I’ve the luxury of being in a position to take a few approaches .

Client options

  • Html5 Desktop Client
  • iOS native client
  • Droid native client (I’ve never strictly speaking done one, unless you include my hello world post two years back)
  • PhoneGap/KendoUi iPad/Droid apps (I’m doing the phone apps for my Expenses service with these technologies).

Decisions tree

My first instinct was to go the PhoneGap with KendoUI, I actually did the initial layout and had a look in the Android Emulator and it was pretty nice (as I was in London I didn’t have my MacBookAir with me and I didn’t have the Visual Studio Phone Tools installed either so eclipse/android it was with that painfully slow emulator). The problem I encountered with this approach was that CORS was not enabled by default and I use visual studio to develop design debug (PhoneGap can do CORS once the site is white listed).

My next option was to write the native clients, when I arrived back home I quickly ensured I could connect to the server with basic authentication, I used objective-C firstly, I didn’t use any 3rd party libraries and the end result appears a little verbose (a better iOS developer will probably cry when they look at these screenshots and tell me use AFNetworking or blocks etc (which I used in my BrianKeating.net companion app).

XCode Version

image

Make the initial request and delegate to the view class.

 

image

Here i set the username and password for the request when/if challenged.

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 22.15.41

Here i allocate a place to store the response if it’s was a success and save to data into urlData.

image

Here I list all the key value pairs in the JSON returned (something I  don’t actually show in the c# version.

The attraction of XCode/Objective-C to me is that it’s a different toy to play with.

MonoDevelop Version

C# is just a fantastic language it’s RAD and Xamarin have done a fantastic job of bringing it to the iOS and Android Platforms. This  screen shot shows the same request to the server as done in XCode, the difference is that this took me about 1 minute where the objective-c version took me about 25 (although i did reuse the storyboard).

image

   

You said Decision?

So how will I proceed? I’m going to ditch the objective-C approach for sure:

Reasons:

  • It’s so much faster! I love C++ but can’t get myself to use it for app dev these days simply because C# kicks it to touch for rapid application development, same goes for Objective-C
  • Because I don’t expect to continue this POC myself and will have to hand it over to someone, and I don’t know anyone else on the team that knows objective-C.

I’m actually still leaning towards the PhoneGap/KendoUI option, I just need to get my grubby hands on the server so i can add the CORS headers (again because I don’t want to do the bulk of my debugging with Phone gap but rather IE/Chrome and I quite like my browser stack (jQuery/Knockout/Breeze etc) but the main advantage is that the the same source can then be used for the Android platform. Sure Facebook/LinkedIn etc have all been moving away from html5 because of the tooling, but I feels it’s the best solution for getting to both markets quickly.

So that is my reasoning, I expect everyone with be faced with much the same decisions and will have to weight the pros and cons themselves.

Retrieving stock quotes in C#

 

I’ve been playing with the idea of writing an currency converter for my new Windows Phone 7. Stumbled across a tweet by Scot Hanselman regarding http://channel9.msdn.com/coding4fun. Turns out someone else beat me to it with the BING “api” (more of a url naming convention really).

So I got a little diverted and write a little app to get stock quotes from google.

Here’s how enjoy…(Using a default ticker of vodafone (.net 4.0)

image

BlogEngine and Silverlight

I've had a few people asking me how did I host Silverlight 3 in blog engine.

Silverlight Usercontrol

It was pretty simple really (when you know how)

Basically Silverlight3 needs an <object> tag.

So I created a user control with the object tag and some script handling for client side errors (actually VS2010 did all the hard lifting).

[code:c#]

<%@ Control Language="C#" ClassName="SilverlightControl" %>

<script runat="server">

</script>


<script type="text/javascript" src="~/Silverlight.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
        function onSilverlightError(sender, args) {
            var appSource = "";
            if (sender != null && sender != 0) {
                appSource = sender.getHost().Source;
            }

            var errorType = args.ErrorType;
            var iErrorCode = args.ErrorCode;

            if (errorType == "ImageError" || errorType == "MediaError") {
                return;
            }

            var errMsg = "Unhandled Error in Silverlight Application " + appSource + "\n";

            errMsg += "Code: " + iErrorCode + "    \n";
            errMsg += "Category: " + errorType + "       \n";
            errMsg += "Message: " + args.ErrorMessage + "     \n";

            if (errorType == "ParserError") {
                errMsg += "File: " + args.xamlFile + "     \n";
                errMsg += "Line: " + args.lineNumber + "     \n";
                errMsg += "Position: " + args.charPosition + "     \n";
            }
            else if (errorType == "RuntimeError") {
                if (args.lineNumber != 0) {
                    errMsg += "Line: " + args.lineNumber + "     \n";
                    errMsg += "Position: " + args.charPosition + "     \n";
                }
                errMsg += "MethodName: " + args.methodName + "     \n";
            }

            throw new Error(errMsg);
        }
    </script>

  
    <div id="silverlightControlHost">
    <object data="data:application/x-silverlight-2," type="application/x-silverlight-2" width="100%" height="100%">
    <param name="source" value="<%Silverlight.xbap%>"/>   // where <%Silverlight.xbap%> is location of silverlight xbap
    <param name="onError" value="onSilverlightError" />
    <param name="background" value="white" />
    <param name="minRuntimeVersion" value="3.0.40818.0" />
    <param name="autoUpgrade" value="true" />
    <a href="http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=149156&v=3.0.40818.0" style="text-decoration:none">
      <img src="http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=161376" alt="Get Microsoft Silverlight" style="border-style:none"/>
    </a>
     </object><iframe id="_sl_historyFrame" style="visibility:hidden;height:0px;width:0px;border:0px"></iframe></div>



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