I don’t own thirteen computers or thirteen cars, but I have thirteen things on my mind:

  1. At many .NET conferences or community events, one of the hot topics is Microsoft Silverlight 2.0. Many Web-based applications will ultimately benefit from a richer user experience that Silverlight 2.0 can help provide. Additionally, developers will benefit from peer reviews when experimenting and for prototyping applications. It’s easy to “over-do” it with new tools. Too much can be worse than too little. So let there be light, and let there be reason.
  2. I liked .NET Remoting-and I love WCF. You owe it to yourself to learn it, even if you’re not yet using it. Take a piece of one of your apps and build a prototype-and don’t get discouraged when you hit roadblocks. My first WCF service worked great until I tried to host it under IIS. Fortunately, I found a great blog post (search Google for the topic “Custom ServiceHostFactory for WCF and IIS”) that helped. Now it’s in production-life is good.
  3. Having said that, WCF isn’t perfect. When using Web services, did you ever debug a connectivity issue by going to a browser, typing in the name of the ASMX service, and entering some test parameters-just to make sure the service returned a result set? Well, you can’t do that with IIS-hosted WCF services. When I asked an industry voice about this, I received the response, “You should never have been doing it that way to begin with.” Well, I guess that means many folks were doing things the “wrong” way for years.
  4. Remember the old Almond Joy candy bar commercial, with the jingle, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t?” Well, I felt like a nut for not immediately embracing SSIS, and for believing that I could handle ETL processes just as easily with custom code. But I don’t feel like a nut for sticking with my own approach for deploying/updating my .NET smart client apps, instead of using ClickOnce. It’s all a matter of what power you gain and how much flexibility you lose.
  5. Borland or Microsoft, Visual Basic or C#, Oracle or SQL Server: there has always been a good debate in the air. Another debate is Crystal Reports versus Reporting Services. On the feature and functionality ledger, Crystal still gets the slight nod though SSRS 2008 is impressive. If Microsoft ever implements an equivalent of “Keep Group Together” in SSRS, I’ll do a celebration dance!
  6. On the subject of reporting, the company Data Dynamics has been working on some sophisticated reporting tools. I visited them a few months ago and had a chance to see one of their new products called Data Dynamics Reports, a reporting toolkit and engine based on the Report Definition Language (RDL). Check it out!
  7. LINQ is more than just LINQ to SQL. LINQ is also about being able to use common syntax to query collections, XML, or even datasets.
  8. If you do any public speaking, read Rod Paddock’s blog post (I suggest that you search Google on the topic: “Public Speaking Anti Patterns”). Consider it required reading. Preparation won’t guarantee success-but lack of it will ensure failure.
  9. It wasn’t long ago that some viewed the upcoming SQL Server 2008 release as a “glorified service pack”. It’s now much more! (See my regular Baker’s Dozen column in this issue for details on SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server Reporting Services 2008).
  10. You’d almost have to be living in a cave not to know the Agile Development is under the big and bright lights. Jean-Paul Boodhoo wrote a fantastic article in the last issue of CoDe Magazine (QuickID=0805021) on how to integrate Agile techniques into your development processes. (Jean-Paul provided 13 steps and then 3 more steps-maybe he’s a “Baker” at heart). In addition, I can’t stress enough the value of integration testing as well.
  11. Over the last several issues, I’ve primarily been covering database and OLAP topics. Next issue I’ll “return to my roots” with 13 tips for implementing design patterns in both C# and Visual Basic.
  12. Every year, developers continue to take the plunge into .NET. Aside from the learning curve, a major issue for shops is an application framework-and whether to buy one or build one. I’ve used frameworks and I’ve built one (a modest one). If you’re thinking of building your own, here are a few things to think about. Identify your requirements… build in small pieces… use interfaces… and most important, the acid test: Try to find someone else to build an application with your framework.
  13. A year ago I became involved with contract training and am now a full-time trainer. My goal with each class is simple: Arm students to the teeth with information and walkthroughs, make sure they walk away realizing what they have, and try to have a little fun along the way. It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my career. I get to write, I get to develop, and I get to present. A cooler job does not exist!

Well, my time and space is up. I want to thank readers who take time to correspond on content in this magazine. I’m combining my Web site and blog into one site, so check out www.TheBakersDozen.net for my development blog and downloads and article follow-ups.