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Whither Alt.Net?

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

The lack of visibility for the idea of “Alt.Net” of late has led me to ask myself the question whither Alt.Net. Or perhaps is alt.net withering? A couple of years ago the alt.net meme had real traction in blogs and events. It had become a cri de coeur for the disaffected members of the .NET community. For many who felt there was a ‘better’ way, that solid principles and practices that alleviate the pain of some software developers ills were available if you looked up and far enough around, the knowledge that like-minded people were out there gave a sense of strength and purpose. We were not alone in the dark, others like us were out there. At the first altnetconf we ran in the UK, inspired by those in the US, what was overwhelming was the feeling of ‘community’ between like-minded people who suddenly found others they could communicate with about the ideas that burnt so very brightly within them.

At the time there were warnings and criticisms of the new community. Some reasoned it would become an ‘echo chamber’. Other critics suggested that it could be ignored as those involved would just burn out leaving only silence.

Today as I ponder the state we are in I wonder if the critics have not triumphed in there soothsaying over the enthusiasm that once fired our souls. Blogs wane in fire and passion. We seem tired from the fight.

I for one say “Do not go gently into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

What is in a name?

First I want to step aside from the question about name. David Laribee’s original manifesto set out the stall of ideas clearly whatever you want to call it.I think that all these remain true, but perhaps the heart of the movement for me is that “You’re not content with the status quo. Things can always be better
expressed, more elegant and simple, more mutable, higher quality, etc.”

Call it what you will. The point is not the name, but the passion for better software development. Objecting to the tag should not blind you to agreement on the ideals. I accept people might not like some of the baggage associated with alt.net. But let’s move on and accept that we all agree on the need for a movement that expresses the desire to be ill-content with the status quo, to rebel against the orthodoxy, to rage against the machine.

“There’s a time
when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick
at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part,
and you’ve got to put your bodies on the gears and upon the wheels,
upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it
stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the
people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be
prevented from working at all!” – Mario Savio

Is the movement needed any more, and should we just declare victory and bring the troops home?

Scott Bellware recently bemoaned on Twitter that .NET developers doing
web development should be using MVC and not webforms. He pointed out
that attempts to pander to some developers by suggesting that WebForms
and ASP.Net MVC were separate but equal were disingenuous “As more good
web devs move to MVC, the WebForms camp looks ever more like
paint-by-numbers web development. The shifting demographics of web
development in .Net should be a clarion call for everyone to go back
into learning mode. The paint-by-numbers crowd is feeling the heat of
all the learning that Microsoft told them they didn’t have to pay
attention to. The amazing thing: rather that pour on the learning,
ungodly efforts are being spent on perpetuating uninformed
justifications. Dumb. No. Squarely. Definitively. ASP MVC and WebForms
are not equals. Here, I’ll say it: better web developers use MVC. The
ultimate destructive force in .Net development: Microsoft convincing
developers not to worry about deepening their skills”.

This is not academic. I regularly meet people through London .NET user group that tell me this or that senior developer has blocked use of ASP.NET MVC at this or that company because it would require learning something new. People are still struggling with this issue at development shops all around us. The ‘senior’ developer invested in maintaing his position through better knowledge of a framework or tool over transferrable skills like patterns & practices shuts down introduction of new technologies by junior developers out of fear that it might level the playing field and bring their authority into question. I hear from junior developers that entrenched senior developers unwilling to learn try to kill attempts to adopt TDD/BDD because they
do not understand and worry it will undermine their authority. Further
hint, your authority has already been undermined with those junior
developers who have long ago worked out that your fear and ignorance is
keeping you from implementing. They already understand that it is not genuine judgment that it is not
needed in a given circumstance or you have adopted and alternative like
Design By Contract.

I still hear people suggest that TDD is too expensive, and yet complain that developers are not producing quality code and they have too much re-work. Hint the cost of re-work is greater than the cost of doing TDD to prevent re-work (or the cost of manual testing to prevent defects exceeds the cost of TDD by a large margin). I still hear people object to story tests but complain about developers building software that does not match customer expectation. HInt, the cost of adopting a BDD approach to building the right thing is less than the cost of re-work from incorrectly fulfilled requirements.

People talk about having adopted agile at an organization but are often practicing cargo-cult agile, scrumerfall or waterscrum or worse agile as no-process at all.

We have by no means won this struggle. It is still being played out every day, despite the fact that the solutions may seem obvious to us.In some ways we have only reached the point of witnessing the creation of evasions, half-truths,and lies as to why such practices are inappropriate to an organization or covering up incorrect adoption.

Alt.Net was always about challenging these ‘comfortable lies’. As a community we cannot become content to live with
the ‘comfortable lies’.

Sometimes effecting change can seem like a war. There are a lot of
people who have established comfortable positions for themselves as
prophets of a technology and do not want that comfortable home
disrupted. Unfortunately we cannot accept the lure of that comfortable
position without our skills eroding and failing to keep pace with the
wider industry. This necessitates conflict between the prohets of the
new and the saints of the old: “The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” If you have not engaged with ASP.NET MVC you need to be, now. If you have you need to be exploring the new alternatives to understand their implicit criticism.

I don’t think we can declare victory in any sense. We may be tired of
the casualties, but walking away from the fight right now just lets the
other side know that they can outwait us. Someone told me a story recently of an IT department that went agile and became extremely productive. But when the thought leadership behind the change,  the nay-sayers moved in to crush the agile practices and return to their old safe comfortable world. There is a group that reckons it can outlast the adherents of change and return to mediocrity when those agents tire or move on. You just can’t quit the fight if you don’t want that to happen.

Did the movement simply become the new orthodoxy

One criticism raised against alt.net is that it would simply become
the new orthodoxy. It could be suggested that the decline inalt.net activity is because people have simply become comfortable with a new set of orthodoxies: Scrum, TDD, NHibernate etc, that they will not challenge.

However, nothing stands still. The orthodoxies of Agile development Scrum, XP, and Crystal amongst others, are being challenged. Kanban grows rapidly as an alternative to agile storyboards sometimes provoking debate. The notion that we ahve adopted Scrum or XP and can rest on our laurels is to fall into the trap.

Many find
limitations with
ASP.NET MVC’s implementation, which has led to projects like FubuMVC and OpenRasta let alone MonoRail.

Source control seems to be leaving behind the centralized model of CVS and SVN for the distributed model from GiT.

Many of the people involved in championing these alternatives, championed thier predecessors. So I don’t think the movement is doomed to become the new orthodoxy provided it continues to embrace investigating and adopting these alternatives as they emerge. The goal is to do the best we can, and what is ‘best’ will keep changing. Sure alt.net might pause for a period, absorbing one revolution before seeing its shortcomings and starting another, but I don’t believe the community incapable of moving forward, mired in some new orthodoxy.

Did we scratch the itch of ‘people like us’ and just move on to Twitter?

There is a danger that the biggest need we had was to feel less alone, and once we found people who thought like us moved into an echo chamber where we could moan about everyone else. In some ways Twitter is the ultimate example of this echo chamber. We can follow like minded people and hold conversations with them, ignoring everyone else.

I like Twitter, please don’t get me wrong. It has enabled the kind of informal social activity for altnetuk and the London .NET user group that I found difficult to support through mailing lists. But a lot of the discussion around practices, tools, ideas seems to have moved there. Twitter has become a great radar for seeing what folks think is important and interesting out there that merits further research. However, I think there is a danger for the community here for two reasons.

First Twitter is a passable medium for conversation, but not a good vehicle for a comprehensive discussion of ideas. The length of tweets is too limiting, the ability to construct argument too limited. I am as bad as anyone for having spread a reply or opinion across a half-dozen tweets. But we should recognize that Twitter is ineffective at explaining complex ideas. It’s great that snapshot comments have somewhere to go and don’t crowd the blogosphere, but we need to continue to blog or write articles about the ideas for clarity.

Second Twitter relies much more on you knowing about the person with the key ideas and following them. Blogs are easier to find by searching, or by following links. They have far more discoverability. The rise of blogs represented a phenomenal democratization of software development knowledge. Previously such knowledge had often been hoarded by cliques as an exploitable resource through books, training, or consultancy. Blogs shared knowledge in a way that meant best practice ideas were widely available. The danger is a drift back to cliques as bloggers, tired of criticism, return to narrow cliques to disseminate knowledge and practice. Ultimately this becomes self-defeating and prevents wider acceptance of standards and practices.

The danger of Twitter becoming an echo chamber is far greater than the danger of blogs becoming such. So I believe alt.net needs to continue to blog to reach out beyond the echo chamber. But more than this, alt.net represents confort and support to other people making the journey. All those developers looking for someone to say ‘I believe in being the best developer that I can’ too’. That moral support can mean a lot to people struggling with obstinate colleagues and managers. It can mean a lot to point to a group and say “but I’m not the only one that thinks this way”.

Was struggle replaced with co-operation

We might be hopeful and consider that it is possible we moved from opposition and rebellion to cooperation and inclusion. Did we achieve its goals and simply become incorporated in the mainstream. Is the rise of ASP.NET MVC, MSTest, POCO options for EF just a sign that the movement has been incorporated in the mainstream? Whilst I think engagement is positive, after all it is the only way to succeed and driving change, I don’t think that engagment means there is no need fo alt.net any more, because I think the movement was about more than just a few “poster-child” issues. I also don’t think it is about rebellion against co-operation with MS or anyone else. I think it is about driving forward the quality of our own practice.

Software Craftsmanship

Many of the ideals of Alt.NET seem to be shared with the Software Craftsmanship movement. In some ways Software Craftsmanship seems to be the generic form of the alt.net movement. For me key texts in Software Craftsmanship are those like The Pragmatic
Programmer
, Software Craftsmanship the New Imperative, Clean Code, Agile Principles, Patterns and Practices in C#, Test Driven Development By Example to name just a few. Indeed the XP
movement could be seen as a call to craftsmanship. 

I talked about the asset of looking back to craftsmanship for models when talking about master builders instead of architects back at the beginning of 2008. One quote from Goldthwaite is worth repeating

“a mason could operate as an architect only if he became head of a
works staff. …he had to prove himself also as an administrator and
supervisor who could be responsible for procuring materials and
equipment, hiring and supervising workers, and, in general, directing
all the technical operations of the construction enterprise”.

This idea that a journeyman becomes a master by understanding the
whole enterprise is particularly appealing as an ideal. You cannot just
focus on code, you need to understand the whole enterprise of
construction.

I think that the manifesto is something that many who consider themselves alt.net would agree with. It is also an indication that the passion to improve on a community’s existing practices does not reflect unique problems in the .NET community but is parter of a wider agenda in the software development community to improve the standards of our industry.

I’m not proposing dropping the alt.net moniker in favor or Software Craftsmanship. The Software Craftsmanship movement has specific goals and practices which align with alt.net, but it is not alt.net. What I am suggesting is that the alt.net movement intersect with broader movements like software crafstmanship. I think that engagement with broad movements like Software Craftsmanship would help many of us to broaden our horizons to the initiatives within the wider software community to improvement. Attending dojos or katas for different languages would help us all. I don’t think alt.net engagement needs to be replaced by Software Craftsmanship engagment, I think membership of both communities should not be orthogonal or exclusive in our minds at all.

Wither ALt.NET?

So I don’t think Alt.Net needs wither or be replaced by something else. I think its spirit ou’re not content with the status quo. Things can always be better
expressed, more elegant and simple, more mutable, higher quality, etc.” remains alive. I think the value in a community that supports those who practice that within the .NET community remains, even if needs to re-invent its passions on a regular basis.

 

 

 

 

About Ian Cooper

Ian Cooper has over 18 years of experience delivering Microsoft platform solutions in government, healthcare, and finance. During that time he has worked for the DTi, Reuters, Sungard, Misys and Beazley delivering everything from bespoke enterpise solutions to 'shrink-wrapped' products to thousands of customers. Ian is a passionate exponent of the benefits of OO and Agile. He is test-infected and contagious. When he is not writing C# code he is also the and founder of the London .NET user group. http://www.dnug.org.uk
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  • http://ra-brix.org Thomas Hansen

    After reading your attempt at creating goals for ALT.NET at Rob’s blog, I can see that clearly the problem with the ALT.NET “movement” is that it doesn’t have a *GOAL*. I consider myself to be [*WAY*] inside of the definition of what’s an ALT.NET guy, though to invest time, resources and such into something that doesn’t have any other types of goals than “positioning goals” seems futile if you ask me.

    If you’re serious about reviving ALT.NET, it needs to have a goal that everyone inside of it can agree on, which doesn’t include “look what I can do mom” or something similar. Ideas coming to mind are;

    * Gain higher degree of freedom for developers and end users
    * Create software that runs on everything
    * Reduce the time it takes to innovate and create apps for developers
    * Teach the world how sw really should be built
    * etc, etc, etc…

    These are common goals that mostly all ALT.NET developers could probably agree on, and is in such a regards a common ground which an ALT.NET “manifesto” could be built upon … :)

    PS!
    If you do, count me in … 😉

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Dave

    Agreed bu although alt.net has a value as innovators and early adopters, I think that we need to work hard to take the early majority with us:

    http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/methods_rogers_innovation_adoption_curve.html

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Gill

    For sure an alt.net that fails to engage in teaching and helping seems to lack purpose other than as a support group. And I recognise that a support group runs the danger of excluding the ‘others’.

    I recognise the efforts of many to spread the ‘craftsmanship’ goals wider. I hope that those of us that do make those attempts can be more vocal about the positive side of those efforts and the wins that make alt.net valuable.

  • http://gil-zilberfeld.typemok.com Gil Zilberfeld

    Ian, really loved reading this.

    I’ve been part of the “resented” part of alt.net, being from Typemock, and all that. I do see that the most vocal (through twitter, and blogs) are becoming more zealous over time. It’s not the orthodoxy, since our small alt.net pond is, well tiny. the othodoxy is out there, wit th rest of the world, who don’t even read blogs (which of course, means MS all the way).

    So what now? The fight isn’t there – so we couldn’t even say we are there. If at the beginning, alt.net == not MS, there are not many (save Bellware) waving the flag. We’ve retreated into our cozy little camp, where we’re ranting about the outside world, not worty of entering.

    Sounds awful, right? Because it’s not really like that – that’s only the impression the vocal majority creates. The rest of us help the outsiders willing to enter, lower the bridges, and try to let them in.

    There is no more alt.net. We’re fragmented – the shouters, the practitioners and the helpers. And there’s no one left fight but each other

    Thanks for the post,
    Gil Zilberfeld
    Typemock

  • Dave

    @Ian great article
    The ALT.Net / Software Craftsmanship movement (or whatever the next generation of young Turks come up with) has and will continue to help shape the .Net community over the coming years.

    For the same reasons that MS won’t drop VB, the community can’t expect MS to completely back TDD and MVC for at least 5 years. The problem is that a lot of companies don’t care that their software is poorly designed (in engineering terms), difficult to maintain and doesn’t scale. What most companies care about is that they can employ a fairly low paid resource (in the bank’s case, a very well paid resource) to move boxes around on a screen and change their website. They have already accepted that Joe in IT will take much longer than (s)he originally estimated and it probably won’t do exactly what they want. Don’t forget that most business people think that software development is black magic and that the guy hacking with web forms is doing an awesome job

    If MS took Web forms away tomorrow 80% of developers would be up the creek, they wouldn’t suddenly learn MVC, they would just use an old version of Visual studio.

    Most managers in IT are there because of circumstance, they didn’t want to be team leaders (apart from the paycheck) and don’t care about innovation or value. They are scared of change because they don’t want to get fired for trying something new and then having to explain why it went wrong NOT because they don’t want things to get better – only an idiot would want to stagnate BUT only an idiot takes a massive risk in work when they have a mortgage to pay.

    So thanks to people in the ALT.net community and such like, good ideas get implemented and proved to work, as time passes these become the norm. They may not be implemented as well as they could be but the concept of gradual improvement seeps in.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Ryan I agree that the there is cetainly a ‘barrier to entry’ for folks to practicing the skills we talk about.

    On the issue of control over project decisions, I suspect much of the conflict around Alt.Net comes from the feeling that getting MS to promote these practices would ease adoption> If MS said ‘you should think about automated testing’, ‘you should consider transitioning to use MVC’ many who do not listen might. However I recognize there has been a lot of positive growth in this area and there are lots of individual MS employees doing the right thing.

    As for individuals ability to commit to learning I guess the question is how can we help them better?

  • http://wizardsofsmart.net/ Ryan Riley

    Ian, what an excellent post! One thing that I notice is missing is the fact that most of us our not in control over project decisions, nor are our project leads. I hear a lot of people talking down some of these practices not necessarily b/c they don’t want to learn; rather, they now have families at home they want to see over learning something new on their own. Yes, we could all just pay our way to great conferences, but so many abound now. Which one? The one your company pays for (generally sponsored by MS with an MS focus) or the one you pay for yourself?

    The key for seeing change is to see the market change. Until then, we are screaming into the wind. Yes, some of these things are making their way mainstream; however, while they are a step in the right direction, are they everything they need to be to push forward? Probably not.

    The really interesting thing is that we are starting to see a growing split in the types of projects people are working on, though most are OSS. I love OSS, but we are probably losing the most because all of our best work is available for free, and no one values free stuff, especially when it doesn’t come with a support license for a late night, critical call for help with a bug.

    I just don’t see that changing. The only thing we might see is a move back away from OSS to companies that write and sell frameworks or framework elements. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon, either.

    Whither Alt.Net, indeed.

  • Mike

    Interesting article, but it never ceases to amaze me that a large number of members of the technology community still haven’t figured out how, or are just plain too lazy to use spell check….

  • Ollie Riches

    As someone who doesn’t use twitter (much), I believe a lot of the alt.net communication has moved off blogs & the mailing list into twitter, and therefore the reach of the community has lessened IMO.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Jeff Interesting,. I have not really engaged with SO, perhaps I should. It might well mean that the ideas are gaining more currency.

    However, I still see lots of reports of “failure to launch” on the ground

  • Jeff Sternal

    Perhaps StackOverflow has played a role here, at least in promoting the feeling that alt.net ideals are the new orthodoxy, in both a good and bad sense.

    A lot of high-reputation SO users vigorously advocate Scrum, Solid principles, TDD, etc. – which may be reducing the sense of isolation and urgency people felt a few years ago.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Rob Well by the same token why have Ruby or Java user communities. My opinion would be because those people have common problems needing solutions in their ennvironments and platforms. You are right that the two should not be mutually exclusive. There is no reason why you cannot participate in wider personal development in the community. But I still don’t think it replaces a need for advocates for those ideas within the .NET ecosystem

  • http://blog.robbowley.net Rob Bowley

    Previously to Alt.Net, DotNet developers used to revolve around Microsoft led communities and conferences which meant there was very little self-organisation within it or exposure to other ways of doing things. The Microsoft way perhaps…

    There became a need for Alt.Net when DotNet developers who were isolated from the rest of the development community started to realise there was land beyond the sea.

    Whilst all the excitment of Alt.Net was going on the rest of the software community was quietly getting on with it (such as the XP/XTC communities) .

    Alt.Net was needed at the time, but was and I think remains a little naive. Most of the things (TDD, SOLID, Craftsmanship etc.) are relevant to the whole development community which makes you wonder why we need our own and limit our abililty to learn to only incluide those who write Microsoft for a living?

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Wayne

    I don’t think they jumped ship to Rails. I still see a lot of them who remain firmly in .NET. However, many appreciated Rails. What was Monorail and ASP.NET MVC if not an appreciation of Rails.

    Also .NET development is about the CLR (and DLR) in the same way that ‘Java’ development is about the JVM. If you can get Ruby on the CLR (and you can) why reject it as ‘not .NET’

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Derick The danger is that without activists the active do not possess the strength of numbers and are easy to dismiss.

    Consider the environmental movement. For many years those who were active were considered cranks. Only when activists brought the issues they cared about to wider attention did the prospect of real change become possible.

    That is not to denigrate the contribution of the active, but I think that to effect real change you need to unite, publicize and cajole, and that usually takes an activist.

    For my part I am grateful for those activists that brought us alt.net and weathered a lot of crap for their trouble. It would have been far easy for many of them to have lived a quiet life.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Michael I’m a Monorail user not an ASP.NET MVC user out of interest. But in terms of orthodoxy its important to understand OpenRasta, FubuMVC, and frameworks outside the .NET world to get a feel for what works.

    The Castle project is splitting up its pieces more which I think is a positive step towards mix amd match. We use AcvtiveRecord for attribtion, with a repository pattern over an ActiveRecord pattern. I might switch to Fluent NHibernate for mapping, but I also want session management, so might have to take a Castle Facility instead in that case.

    But its all about keeping an eye on the landscape

  • Craig

    This is good, and very thoughtful, but maybe two years overdue? NHibernate “would simply become the new orthodoxy?” Shoot, that ship has sailed, and the high priests sound like grumpy old men these days.

    Fully agree about Twitter. The best mechanism for discussion is *shipping code.*

  • http://frugalcoder.us/ Michael J. Ryan

    Just a minor note that MonoRail predates ASP.Net MVC by a few years iirc. To be honest though, I like MS’s solution better. I am a bit of a fan of Castle’s ActiveRecord pattern implementation, but to be honest with Fluent NHibernate and Linq to NHibernate getting fairly mature, I like them a bit better.

  • Andrew

    Overall, I think you can see that Microsoft has (slowly) at least started adopting many Alt.NET philosophies, granted at a slow pace, but at least their getting there.

    Think back five years ago, and then think about the fundemental changes Microsoft has made. It’s funny because the minority (alt.net) has definitely influenced the majority (insert Republican/Democrat joke here), maybe it’s happening like a frog in a microwave (slow bloating), but at least it’s happening. Microsoft has an IoC container, a testing framework, an ORM ,their own MVC stack, etc., etc. I agree with Scott Bellware’s assessment as well, but at least we’re at a better place than we were a few years ago. At least a developers in an “MS only” Shop have some real options, the gap between RoR and ASP.NET MVC is lightyears closer than the gap between RoR and WebForms.

    Maybe Alt.NET needs a kick in the pants to re-energize itself, but the influense is there.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    @Adam Sure I recognise that searches would be one way to find information appearing on Twitter, but I don’t think that most folks use Twitter for discovery. At best they discover by seeing someone they follow reply to someone they don’t.

    Is that as effective as blogs have been in disseminating new knowledge. My gut is no, but I don’t have any evidence for that assertion so it could be completely wrong.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/Ian-Cooper/default.aspx Ian Cooper

    Fixed some errors (hopefully) including an egregious mis-attribution of quote. Apologies to all concerned and thanks to those who picked it up.

  • http://persistall.com Brian Donahue

    Hi Ian,

    One minor note – Bellware made the paint-by-numbers comment:
    http://twitter.com/bellware/statuses/7737007836

    All in all, I think your post has a lot of truth in it. I think the debate about what ALT.NET is or isn’t has driven away a lot of folks, both inside and outside the movement. Personally, I’ve focused my efforts on my local community, through the Philly ALT.NET group as well as in the larger “mainstream” Philly.NET group to help more people think about software quality/craftmanship and to expand their horizons beyond the direct feed from Microsoft.

    I’ve seen a lot of interest and thirst for knowledge in the mainstream community and find it a lot more rewarding than getting into religious battles on Twitter or the ALT.NET mailing list, etc.

    I also do agree that many “ALT.NETters” are actively debating how long they feel like swimming against the current in .NET vs. evaluating other ever-improving platforms that are available, especially in web development. I know it is something I think about a lot.

  • Mike Stockdale

    Well said, Ian.

  • http://sergiopereira.com/blog Sergio Pereira

    @Wayne, not that many ALT.NET folks jumped ship to RoR. Not everyone has the luxury of easily changing the development platform at work or easily changing jobs.
    What happens a lot is that a great number of folks there do look at and experiment with non-MS stacks, as I’m guessing so do you. It just becomes part of their toolbelt.
    I think it’s a great thing. I believe one of the greatest benefits of learning other platforms is the improvement it causes in your very .Net code.
    Unfortunately not all the good things in other platforms can be replicated naturally in .Net… so there’s bitching about it 😉

  • http://www.twitter.com/adymitruk Adam D.

    One comment about twitter and echo chamber. I set up some search waterfalls on tweet deck to see who’s talking about Entity Framework, Subversion, WebForms, etc. – not just NHibernate, MVC, GIT, etc

    It’s up to you if you want to talk to your clique in a social gathering place. I like to listen in on other groups speak and involve myself if I see the need to help them.

    About Rails. Convention over Config and other new things like CQRS make the technological jump less important.

  • Wayne Molina

    I think the problem, honestly, is that most of the Alt.net guys jumped ship to Rails. I love Rails, but I blame it and the Ruby/Python community for it’s siren song to the .Net community. I’ve seen and read a lot of the most well known .Net guys either advocating learning/using Rails, or bemoaning how C# can’t do XYZ but Ruby can, or simply stating how wonderful Ruby on Rails is and how much cleaner/simpler/better it is compared to anything in .Net.

    Kind of hard to have an Alt.net when the Alt.net guys are saying to use something else; all that will be left is the mainstream .Net guys (the “Morts” as it were)