Giving Birth to an Old User Group

Tonight was the first Melbourne ALT.NET meeting. The ALT.NET movement is a few years old, but there’s been some delay (lack of motivation) in getting a Melbourne ALT.NET group running. This is probably in part due to there being is an overwhelming* number of software development usergroups in particular .NET specific ones to get.

*None-the-less more community, more discussion, more learning, more choice, more sharing is always welcome and very beneficial for passionate developers.

A missing ALT.NET Melbourne scene has now changed with Andrew Bienert stepping up and taking the lead.

I enjoyed the evening, it’s great to see people motivated in adding suggestions for the direction of a new group, It’s great to see a new community start to form.

I’d like to offer up my quick summary of how this “planning session” went, and add my opinion here in writing on what I think would be valuable and interesting for this usergroup to offer up.

Critical Mass Already

  1. One thing it has the attention of some current and former senior architects at Oakton (by the way that’s little ‘a’ architects), in part due to the evening being hosted at their head office boardroom.
  2. Large initial attendance (almost 30), even with a drop off the group will have enough people to make it worthwhile, and exciting topics will bring in non-regulars.
  3. Having the ALT.NET brand/classification itself will help too.
  4. Having a wide variety of experience in the community, to begin sharing knowledge, tips and tricks, pitfalls of tools/patterns/approaches/etc.
  5. Stay tuned for a web poll for the group attendees to vote on initial areas of focus, to gauge the level of interest and current understanding.

Topics and Interests

  1. There was general consensus that Test-Driven Development (TDD) as an umbrella topic is of great interest to the attendees.
  2. TDD combined with it’s supporting requirements Inversion of Control (IoC) & Mocking frameworks will be a focus.
  3. General real world considerations, including how to influence architecture design in a positive way as a developer, promoting concepts such as TDD to team members and management.
  4. There was a large list of potential future topics, from DSLs to BizTalk to Azure to ‘Ruby on Rails comparison to ASP.NET MVC‘ to all-things-dot-net to all-things-microsoft to you-name-it.

Presentation Structure

  1. A popular and very promising idea that I’m particularly on-board with is a “Deep Dive” session mash up with the concept of a Coding Dojo, where a particular topic will be introduced, then deeply investigated through real practical application of code.
  2. “Regular” Coding Dojos of known problems. Something that’s new to the majority of us in attendance.
  3. All these are still in proposed state, and will be undertaken over the next few meetings to see how well they work in this community, refined and improved.
  4. Lightning talks, and standard power point presentations.
  5. General discussions, set subjects see where they go, see when they dry up, and begin the next topic. This will work well if the group is marshalled to stay reasonably on topic (leaving such topics as politics, American universal health care and internet filters to the “after meeting”).

The focus for the next 2 meetings is looking to be TDD & Domain Specific Languages (DSLs).

It was a great night, good people, good discussion, if you didn’t come along tonight I urge you to join us in the future.

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