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Talking ALT.NET with James Avery

James Avery just posted a podcast that he & I recorded a couple weeks ago on the state of ALT.NET.  To be very clear, this was intended to be a rebuttal to the previous podcast with Scott Bellware.  Scott did irreplaceable service in the early days of building the ALT.NET community, but at this point I think he and his behavior is a net negative and I’m sick to death of apologizing for him.

Here’s a few of the conversation points from the podcast:

  • I have absolutely no more use for Bellware’s “ALT.NET as Holy Crusade.”  The blatantly anti-Microsoft bashing needs to stop because it’s counter productive.  I was a part of the stupid EF VoNC, but did it and related efforts really make a positive difference? 
  • ALT.NET is NEVER, EVER going to cross the chasm.  Get over it.  OOP is 40 some years old, but yet the majority of developers today are unable to effectively apply OO in their daily development.  You really think a bunch of techniques involving advanced OOP are going to take off anytime soon?  Me neither.  Let’s take care of our own stuff first, advance our own craft, and help anybody who wants to be helped by us.
  • We don’t have our own story straight yet.  We’re still advancing our craft.  By no means have we reached some sort of omega point in our own development efforts.  
  • More than anything, ALT.NET is just a certain aesthetic about how we want to build software, not a moral certainty.  Take the words “evangelizing” and “prosetylizing” completely out of the conversation please.
  • No, Microsoft doesn’t build tools that are suitable for the way we want to work.  At the end of the day, I just don’t think Microsoft understands our point of view at all.  The answer isn’t bashing them though, it’s staying engaged — and making our OSS tooling better and more approachable.
  • No more purposely antagonizing the traditionalist .Net community.  I’ve been just as guilty as anyone else by snickering at folks, calling them “Super Morts” or “Gloryhounds.”  Yes, we’ve also taken a lot of crap from those folks too, but we can only control our own actions.  No, I’m not terribly impressed with the Regional Director/INETA/MVP clique either, but at the end of the day we’re all developers trying to make a living and getting crushed by deadlines and ridiculous expectations.  Frankly, a person is not evil because they still use drag and drop tooling or just because they’re jumping onto the latest tooling from Microsoft.
  • There *is* a lot of great stuff happening in the ALT.NET community.  Positive stuff.  Stuff that is making a difference. 
  • Having a strong ALT.NET community is a positive thing for our own growth.  Growing the base is nice, but I’m more concerned about my own growth.


Oh, and this will be the very last time I make a meta-ALT.NET post of any kind.  Promise.

About Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the Chief Software Architect at Dovetail Software, the coolest ISV in Austin. Jeremy began his IT career writing "Shadow IT" applications to automate his engineering documentation, then wandered into software development because it looked like more fun. Jeremy is the author of the open source StructureMap tool for Dependency Injection with .Net, StoryTeller for supercharged acceptance testing in .Net, and one of the principal developers behind FubuMVC. Jeremy's thoughts on all things software can be found at The Shade Tree Developer at http://codebetter.com/jeremymiller.
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  • http://www.alicommerce.com Frank Wang

    Thank you Jeremy. Just continue your excellent work and ignore the noise.

  • PandaWood

    Thank you for doing this interview and blogging this.
    It makes a big difference.

    I was getting very depressed listening to Bellware. And bored… – if I wanted to listen to someone whine and complain all day, with no factual basis or reason, I could stay at home with my wife 😉 (sorry dear).

    It’s a relief to read this and feel a sense of balance, reality and intellect.

  • http://www.theramblingdev.com Mark Hoffman


    I’m thankful for the ALT.NET community in that over the past few years I have had my eyes opened about better development practices. But I simply want to throttle so many people that are active in it because of their arrogance and hostility towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them 100%.

    I just want to get better at what I do, so that I can be more productive. I’m not an interested in religious dogma or fighting a crusade against Microsoft. I got my own life to lead. If other people aren’t interested in ALT.NET then so be it. I really don’t care and I’ve never understood the open hostility that is often visible in the ALT.NET community.

  • http://www.pluck.com Will Ballard

    Glad to see this point of view emerging. From the point of view of someone who is sensitive to your aesthetic, but is ultimately an employer, let me suggest another approach — focus on how ALT.NET, the use of open source, and lighter architectures can make an economic difference in software development.

    By that, I mean measure, and not engage in logical debate, experiment and measure like an engineer.

    For example, lines are generally correlated to cost/time if those lines are written. Measure less lines of code as a result of these approaches.

    Another example, bugs are time valued in that you sum the number of customers with the bug * the amount of time they are impaired to weigh the scope (not the impact per se, just the scope). Unit tests are bugs not shipped, so you can show a delta in bug impact.

    If you focus on engineering value propositions and not so much philosophy+art in all arguments, you’ll be able to reach more audience beyond your core group of individuals with like minded aesthetics.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/jmiller/default.aspx Jeremy D. Miller


    I didn’t recommend a policy of isolation. I just meant to stop spending so much energy arguing with people who just don’t want anything to do with us or our stuff. *I* think it’s a waste of time to argue with the Kathleen Dollards and Stephen Fortes of the world.

  • http://blog.softwareontheside.com/ Mike

    very interesting. I think there’s probably a balance there. (I didn’t listen to the podcast so I don’t know if this was really what got discussed or not). I don’t think “let’s just keep to ourselves” mentality is correct, but I don’t think saying “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” is the right approach either. a lot of what ALT.NET is about is (for me anyway) embracing tools, practices and ideas outside the “mainstream” MS developer community and be open to good ideas/tools/practices wherever they come from. Hopefully the community doesn’t get to the point where it is so full of itself that it self implodes (where people seem to think Scott Bellware is at).

  • http://mokhan.ca mo

    Thank you!

  • http://www.elegantcode.com Chris Brandsma

    I stopped listening to Bellware 6 months back. I don’t regret it. I think he has some points (sometimes you have to shock people to get them to change), but overall I can’t abide in the message.

    As for evangelism. There is a difference between building the community, and supporting it. Personally, if I find a better way of doing things, I feel obligated to show others. Is that Alt.Net? Or is that just me?

  • http://www.benmonro.com Ben Monro

    Go Jeremy!

  • http://www.chrisholmesonline.com Chris

    Good job Jeremy.

  • http://www.commongenius.com David Nelson

    Its easy to point out the flaws in others, but it takes guts to publicly admit that your own path has gone astray. I applaud your honesty and your desire to move forward in a positive direction.

  • http://randompunter.com Damian Hickey

    > Let’s take care of our own stuff first, advance our own craft, and help anybody who wants to be helped by us.

    Excellent. That alone should be the alt.net modus operandi. And nothing more.

    And S.Bellware… I’ve had to unfollow him on twitter because of that negativity…

  • http://home.infusionblogs.com/kszklenski/default.aspx Kyle Szklenski

    I was starting to wonder if I was the only one thinking Scott Bellware was on drugs. Jeremy, you always hit the nail on the head – good job.

  • http://elegantcode.com Jan Van Ryswyck

    Both the podcast and this blog post are truely inspiring. Great stuff.

  • http://blog.kamstrup-linnet.dk Jesper Kamstrup Linnet

    I also enjoyed the podcast very much. It was really great to get some perspective on ALT.NET.

  • http://paulbatum.com Paul Batum

    I enjoyed the podcast, and agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Thanks for the mention and keep up the great work Jeremy.

  • http://acmebinary.com/blog Kent Sharkey

    Bless you, James Avery (and Jeremy). The current state of the ALT.NET community is what has been actively pushing me away from any .NET development for the last number of months. Hopefully this gets viewed as a wake-up call, and not apostasy.