Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time to learn

Several years ago I worked with a developer that did all of his development with classic ASP pages. It didn't matter what the task was, a classic ASP page was the answer. Instead of writing a console app or writing a .bat file to run an automated file manipulation task, he would reference COM objects from within the ASP page and run it under an account that had access to the file system and then schedule IE to run with that page as a command line argument. And it ran...most of the time. This guy was very comfortable with his classic ASP. During the time I knew him I never saw him write a windows application or a .net application of any kind. Classic ASP uber alles!

I am not like that.  I certainly have my comfort zones.  I stayed with classic ASP during the initial days of ASP.Net.  I didn't fully leave my spaghetti code ways behind until version 2.0 of the framework came out.  Then I left it behind for good.  But VB6?  I dropped it as soon as I tried my first .Net WinForms application.  I cannot quite explain why.  It was different enough that I found myself spending a lot of time relearning old tasks (like adding items to a drop down box and actually seeing the text).  But I could see the potential.  You'd think I would have seen it in ASP.Net from the get go but I've always been a console/backend/windows developer first and a web developer by necessity.

Anyway, version 2.0 of the framework came along and that got me excited about web development.  It seemed like there were a dozen new technologies to learn.  Right about the time I got up to speed on the relevant (to me) parts of framework 2.0, version 3.0 came out.  Then version 3.5...the version 3.5 sp1...and SQL Server 2008.  I threw up my hands and gave up trying to learn it all.  I picked a few things here and there and learned what I could.  When I found something really useful, like Linq-to-SQL, I would talk it up with the other developers in my department and try to get them using the new better ways.  Some took to the new ways, some kept on slogging the .Net 1.1 way.  You can bring a developer to water but you can't make him Linq.

For me, I usualkly learn so much about new technologies while working on a project that by the time it's finished, I want to rewrite the entire thing in the stuff I was learning while coding with the old stuff.

What is this post about?

This post is about all the new stuff that's come out recently(and somewhat recently) from Microsoft.  I was making a list of books I need to buy to get current on things and realized I was going to be spending a fortune.  Here are the technologies that I want to learn about:
  • MVC 2.0
  • WPF
  • Silverlight 4.0
  • .Net Framework 4.0
  • Powershell (So hard to leave my cmd ways behind, but I need to)
  • JQuery (I'm way behind on this)
  • IIS 7.0
  • SQL Server 2008 (somewhat advanced)
  • Windows 7 (It's cool, I like it, but I'm still stumbling around some)
That's a full year's worth of reading right there.  I'm going to have to go back to doing it like I did in the old days when I ways trying as hard as I could to get out of the technical support department and into development.  I'll buy a book (or two) about each technology and read them from start to finish.  I won't remember all of what I read, but general concepts and terms will stick.  Later, I'll be thinking about a problem and think, "Wait a second....I read something about this..." and I'll flip through a book or Google a certain term and find my solution.  The fun parts of reading these 800+ page behemoths is when I come across a better way to do something I do all the time.  I know that sounds strange but, yes, those are the fun parts.  If it wasn't fun I wouldn't be able to do this for a living.

Anyway, time to get reading. 

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