I’m still recovering from the jet-lag, after the almost 15hrs of travel time back from Seattle, were I attended both the ALT.NET Conference and the MVP Summit. In this post I’m going to tell you my thoughts on the weekend of discussions that happened at the ALT.NET conference. Thoughts on the MVP Summit will follow in another posts.

The ALT.NET Conf way

They were 2 days full of valuable contents and valuable discussions: there were 4-5 parallel sessions each hour, on the most various topics: from what can be done to make the opensource community on .NET grow, to MVC pattern in C++, to Mono on the iPhone, to public code review, to collaborative design of new projects and to demo of projects (NHProf and Ninject2).

I had already experienced other discussion-based session at the Italian ALT.NET conference, and the one I attended in Redmond totally confirmed my opinion: this is the best way to provide value to the attendees that already know the topics, but also to the one that only know a little. I don’t think I’ll be able to attend “traditional” sessions on topic I know any more. And I think I’ll have to bring something of what I saw there at the next Italian ALT.NET Conference in June.

ALT.NET Conf personal highlights

Going back to the various sessions, what came out from the community related ones, is that .NET is too complicate to get started with for the average developers: it’s not that easy to download new libraries and all their dependencies. Also it came out that customizing opensource web applications is not easy as it is in other opensource communities, for example PHP.

To solve the first issue, a new project is spontaneously born during the conference: Rocks. It should be a kind of gem for .NET. The idea behind it is nice, I hope it evolves to a finished product as it will really help new developers to get started with using opensource .NET libraries.

Another interesting discussion happened with Sergio Pereira, about why most people don’t like to talk at local community events, how to organize and manage user groups and how to encourage people to talk. Stats say that people fear talking in public more than they fear death and getting injured. Talking to local groups, to known people and using the open space format seems to be less intimidating. And this kind of format might also help the people that don’t want to talk because they don’t have the time to prepare a 1 hour long slide-based presentation. Even if very few people showed up (actually only Sergio, me and Scott Hanselman close to the end) this was one most profitable discussion I had at the conference.

Another session that was really valuable to me was the one where Sampy, the architect of Oxite, came to talk and comment on what happened with the PR fiasco and what they did after the first release. And it ended up that they probably would have not refactored and made the codebase better if the community wasn’t so rude with comments.

Most of the sessions were videotaped, and some were even streamed live. On the ALT.NET Seattle wiki there is a page with the links to all the available videos.

Was it worth?

Sure it was, even if by attending this I missed the opportunity to visit Seattle and take some rest after the long flight from Italy. It doesn’t happen everyday to be able to meet and discuss with people like Palermo, Nate Kohari, Ayende, Scott Hanseleman, Miguel De Icaza, Justin Etheredge, James Avery and all the other smart guy that showed up at the ALT.NET Conf.

Looking forward to meet everybody again next year (hopefully) and I hope I can apply the same conference format for a future Italian ALT.NET conference.

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