Monday, May 9, 2011

The Report of ALT.NET’s Death Was an Exaggeration

I spent last weekend in Redmond at ALT.NET Seattle 2011 and it was an amazing experience.  This is the 3rd ALT.NET conference that I’ve attended and they’ve all been unique experiences.

A New Breed

There were very few of the original ALT.NET leaders at the conference, but it was awesome to see so many new people picking up the torch.  There was a significant change in the atmosphere from previous ALT.NET conferences too.  The theme of the conference was “practice don’t preach” and it was reflected in the attendees and conversations.  I had so many great conversations with people based on their experiences and practices that they actually use.

James Shore gave an excellent keynote speech about cargo cults and how it’s important to understand the substance of an idea.  This concept was solidified for me in a session about CQRS, which many believe is a cargo cult, but it was the most pragmatic conversation about CQRS that I’ve ever had.  There was as much talk about when not to use it as there was about its benefits.  All of the proponents of CQRS warned about the pitfalls and downside to it and provided a lot of experience based expertise.  I didn’t hear a lot of talks with this kind of tone at previous ALT.NET conferences and it really struck me how the community has evolved.

Not Satisfied

One of the most thought provoking sessions happened near the end of the second day where a great discussion about learning occurred.  If this conversation would have occurred at the first ALT.NET conference that I attended, it would have focused on TDD, Agile and pair programming.  This time around those topics are accepted and we talked about pushing those techniques even further and incorporating organization learning techniques.  It’s great to see how those early topics have been accepted and new ideas can be discussed to raise the bar even higher.

I had so many conversations with people who didn’t care about buzzwords and rhetoric and just wanted to find better ways to develop software.  It wasn’t about who the big names were, just about sharing ideas.

ALT.NET Lives On

ALT.NET isn’t dead, not by a long shot.  Just because most of the original ALT.NET leaders have moved on, a new generation of ALT.NETers have picked up the torch and are running with it.  It may not be as in-your-face as it used to be, but those involved in the community are still pushing the .NET community as a whole forward.  The ALT.NET community has evolved and it continues to provide a huge amount of value to the .NET community as a whole.  It was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to apply all of the new things that I learned.