Our adoption transition has made it a while
since I did anything truly geeky, but I've made up for lost time in the last two weeks.
First, a recap. After five+ years of gardening our AS400
, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
, and Microsoft SQL Server
systems, in March 2007 I inherited no small thing: developing enhancements for our company's business-to-business ordering web site. The project was originally implemented by a third party in ASP.NET
and Visual Basic.NET
using Visual Studio
2003. Besides cleaning up some database and HTML problems and posting a few new images and links on the public side, since March I have climbed a massive learning curve to add a search feature to the catalog pages, a purchase order number entry field, and the ability for our customers to submit retail price changes through the browser.
My executive sponsor decided mid-November that upgrading to the .NET Framework
2.0 and Visual Studio 2005 was a key priority, opening the promise of a more attractive user experience with technologies like AJAX
. Within minutes of researching the cost, I discovered that the bleeding edge release of Visual Studio 2008 and Framework 3.5 was scheduled for the end of November, literally one week away. While hunting for upgrade information, I also re-discovered the Indianapolis .NET Developers Association user group
and found they had scheduled an Install Fest for December 13 where Microsoft would give away a free copy of VS2008 Professional to each registered attendee! Thirteen years in I.T.
has made me paranoid, so I'm not the early-adopter type, but who can turn down an $800 Christmas present? I watched the downloads page
and grabbed the 90-day trial as soon as it hit, spent a few days converting and testing the solution from Framework 1.1 to 3.5, and can successfully compile and view the site just like before. (Note: Using the upgrade wizard to go directly from 1.1 to 3.5 was a mess; when I went from 1.1 to 2.0 then to 3.5, everything worked as expected
Since VS2008 is so new, I found zero books -- though as of today Visual Studio 2008 Unleashed
is listed on Amazon.com and Stephen Walther's ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed
is imminent. The hunt for online VS2008/3.5-specific resources so far has been futile, though I did find a lot of good videos, tutorials
, and books on .NET Framework 2.0. The most accessible resource I've found is Carl Franklin's DotNETRocks
podcast; I liked the recent episodes so much that I've started listening from episode one.
Tonight, I attended the IndyNDA
user group meeting, primarily to get the free copy of Visual Studio Pro, but with growing confidence that it is exactly the kind of environment I need to build personal momentum. The parking lot was completely full--as was the hallway and the Stahl Conference Room in the beautiful Gene B. Glick Junior Achievement Center
. People really came through to contribute a pile of unopened toys toward Toys for Tots
. Microsoft footed the bill for a delicious fully-catered dinner of lasagna, and we were never in want. Folks of all shapes and sizes installed their Visual Studio 2008 while I caught up with two friends. A ton of door prizes were given away: books, software, shirts, mugs, X Boxes
, and other goodies. (Having won a $50 CircuitCity gift card at my JD Edwards user group
meeting earlier the same day, I was content with the Visual
in the back room, which I explored because of the vast array of chocolate-chip cookies. It was a fun time, but educational and a perfect ice-breaker for my next visit. I have already decided to start attending the monthly ASP.NET special interest group meetings the first Thursday of each month. I extend the warmest thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers who make events like this possible; it's great to be a part of such a generous support system.
There are some key features in Visual Studio 2008 that will be a great help in the next phase of our web ordering system:
So there ya go. If you want to geek out with me, download and install the free Express version of Microsoft Visual Studio
, play around with it, and we can talk shop in our spare time. And remember that no matter what you do for work or pleasure, you can probably find a local user group who can help--or who can use your