As the US DevDays are every day closer, the buzz begins to raise, just like before the PDC. One major difference between the PDC and the DevDays is that there are DevDays in a lot of countries and geographies, whereas the PDC only took place in the US, in Los Angeles.
I think it would be really interresting to compare the contents and the organisation from the various DevDays events all over the World. And in cas you haven't noticed yet, if you're blogging about the DevDays, you can submit your blog to the DevDaysBloggers web site.
By the way, if you're attending one of the seven free sessions of the DevDays in France, just let it know to the world by putting this small image on your personal page, website or blog:
See you there !
We will have a booth at "Solutions Linuux" exhibit next week, during three days.
Of course, we will demonstrate "Services for Unix 3.5" which is now available for free with some nice demos, but we will also show Shared Source CLI - aka Rotor - running on FreeBSD, the ASP.NET Starter Kits, etc ...
Well, in fact, the correct title should be "English version of DotNetGuru.org", but this one is more eye catching ;-)
Finally, they did it! Sami and his folks have just released an English version of their famous - at least famous in France - www.DotNetGuru.org web site. The English version is here and it contains only a few translated articles for the moment, but in the future, all new articles will be published in both English and French. Welcome guys, and I wish you the same success as for the French speaking version ;-)
That's a very active period, since TheServerSide.com is also launching it's .NET community site, obviously called TheServerSide.NET!
Tomorrow will be the last session of our ASP.NET Roadshow which started in mid-November. This session will take place in Paris, and we expect to see about 250 people. So far, nearly 70% of the registered attendees have indicated that they will come with their laptop. This will be a large install party ;-) For those who haven't got a laptop, we will provide 30 PCs for the "Hands on Labs". We have two subnets with one DSL connection each, and there'll also be wireless networking. The event is "g33k and Blogger Ready" :)) The full Microsoft staff and all the presenters of this Roadshow will be present. After the labs, the day will continue with a cocktail with soft drinks and it will end with a Pizza Party ;-) There will also be some guys from the community, some .NET MVPs and about 20 people from Microsoft France, among which Dick Lantim, author of the best seller book ".NET".
[Update] It was indeed a very cool day. Attendees arrived early in the morning, and the room was quickly full. You can see the impressive number of people who cam with their laptops and installed Visual Studio .NET 2003 to be able to do the labs at the end of the day. Some of our "usual suspects" were also here, like Redo (one the left) and Kevin (in the middle), both MVPs and members of the French Codewise community, here on the photo with Pierre (on the right) who prepared the contents of the demos of this 19 dates roadshow. We had some very enthusiastic comments likes theses ones. Too bad it's over. We hope we will do another tour next year ;-)
I've tested quickly the "PHP to ASP.NET Migration Assistant" and played with it trying to convert some sample PHP scripts to ASP.NET lately. I know that we also have other tools like the one to migrate from JSP to ASP.NET, but since I haven't tested those one by myself, I will also talk about my experience with the PHP Migration Assistant. Also remember that I'm a former PHP guy now working at Microsoft France :)
What is this tool meant to, and who does it targets?
This tool is supposed to be meant for PHP developers who are curious to see which improvements ASP.NET could provide for their applications, and not only from a performance perspective. In my understanding, it is clearly meant towards developers with none or basic knowledge of ASP.NET and Webforms. Hence the tool.
What is the goal of this tool?
Ideally, such a tool is supposed to take a valid and running application written in PHP and convert it into a valid and running ASP.NET Application. Unfortunately, as anybody can guess, automatic translation tools have limitations, and some constructs or instructions won't be automatically translated. So, chances are really low that one ends up with a running application, except for a single line of code "Hello World !" application.
Why do we miss the goal?
Several aspects in this migration tool annoys me. First of all, the design principle that was chosen leads to use a bunch of "PHP compatibility" assemblies, like the famous VB6 compat assembly that comes along with VB.NET. These compatibility assemblies contain emulation of nearly all base PHP functions, and also of the most common functions, like those related to the MySQL database.
For example, to open a MySQL connection in PHP, one could write something like the following line:
$res = @mysql_connect('myservername', $s_login, $s_passwd) or die ("connection problem");
Which would be converted by the PHPCA tool into something like this:
//UPGRADE_ISSUE: Operator '@' was not converted.
generatedAux = System.Convert.ToBoolean(res = System.Convert.ToInt32(PHP.MySQLSupport.Connect("myservername", s_login, s_passwd))) || PHP.End("connexion problem");
Not only is the construct less easy to read, it doesn't show how to use and get the benefits of ADO.NET. Instead, it uses some "non standard" MySQLSupport.Connect() method. It doesn't help the PHP developers to learn all the objects and methods from the .NET BCL. Instead, it exposes through this compatibility assemblies a subset of features that won't allow the PHP developers to take advantage of .NET.
Even worst, since PHP is an embedded scripting language, comparable to ASP 3.0 in VBScript or JScript, the translated ASP.NET code really looks like an embedded scripting language, which does a heavy use of the Response.Write() construct. But this is not ASP.NET, or at least this is not Webforms. And that's what I wanted to highlight with this - pseudo - rant: the PHP Convertion Assistant won't allow the PHP developer to fully embrace our fantastic Webforms model, which does so much envy to our Java fellows :-)
I think we will miss the goal with such a conversion tool. What is your opinion? I'd like to hear counter-arguments of people that would say that the tool has provent to be useful in their context.
I read this morning an article on ZDNet talking about a recent study by Nielsen/Netratings which highlights that browser usage among internet users is decreasing. About 3 of 4 internet users would use internet features through dedicated applications like IM, P2P or Media players of any kind. This remindsme of previous articles announcing that IE6 would be the last stand alone browser distribution, and the strong messages around rich connected apps in Longhorn at PDC03. The trend seems to be confirmed by this study. Does it also means the end of the browser war?
[Update] It looks like Internet Explorer has a future!