There’s some controversy about this ALT.NET name I threw out several months ago. Folks either love it or hate it. It must be the word alternative. In my mind alternative does not equal against. Think “alternatives in” over “alternatives to.”
The genesis of the ALT.NET idea is that there are alternatives to things like the DataSet and the DataAdapter (really it’s that concrete). Originally the object lesson was NHibernate. That’s to say that NHibernate is a better alternative to the in-built technologies that come with the stock .NET framework. In this sense, ALT.NET means finding the tool that matches your values. So, I value maintainability and testability (two sides of the same coin) so I choose to stay in the OO paradigm: I choose NHibernate.
That’s a bit of a digression. The only point I want to make is that it’s just a name.
Lao Tzu wrote about the relative importance of names in the fourth century BC:
Tao ch’ang wu ming
Tao endures without a name.
Though simple and slight,
No one under heaven can master it.
If kings and lords could possess it,
All beings would become their guests.
Heaven and earth together
Would drip sweet dew
Equally on all people
Begin to make order, and names arise.
Names lead to more names–
And to knowing when to stop.
Know when to stop:
Tao’s presence in this world
Is like valley streams
Flowing into rivers and seas.
Many of us in the development community (.NET, Java, Rails, otherwise) are trying to find a better way, the Tao of Software Development. On this journey names are largely unimportant, or – better put – aren’t the most important thing. What is critical is finding and progressing on our way.
If you don’t like the name, change it! How do you change it? Convene a session at ALT.NET Open Spaces in October. All the same let’s not waste too much time in debating names.
As we move along this way, let’s make room for all. If kings and lords could possess it, all beings would become their guests. How do you treat a guest? With open arms, hospitality, and generosity. In a sense, here, everyone is a guest, no one who wants to be included should be excluded. Even though space is limited at the Austin event we’re going to make a big effort to open the proceedings the the larger community by using blogs, podcasts, Flickr, Twitter, etc.
I’d love to hear any and all suggestions about how we can do that!