Conferences like DevLink are about learning and community. DevLink 2010 was at Lipscomb University in Nashville. On Friday, August 6th I met retired Chief Justice Judge Alston, his wife Kiyoko, and Judge Alston’s dog Pecos. Judge Alston was the only blind Judge in Michigan when he retired. Judge Alston told me that he wanted to build software as a service to make it easier for Michiganders to work with the Michigan courts. Judge Alston has one additional challenge, albeit I suspect a minor one, he is blind. Pecos is his seeing eye dog.
Judge Alston told me that a big challenge for him was designing GUIs. We talked about how great controls and components can help any developer create professional, compelling GUIs, which is of course part of my job as a Technical Evangelist, and of course it is true. I also told Judge Alston about GiveCamps. A GiveCamp is where developers get together for a weekend, volunteering their time, jump starting development for non-profit organizations. Judge Alston may not exactly represent a non-profit entity, but I suggested perhaps he could sign up to participate in a GiveCamp and get some help with developing the GUIs for his software. GiveCamps don’t have anything directly to do with DevExpress although DevExpress routinely sponsors them, and telling people about GiveCamps is not necessarily part of my job. However, I think of the opportunity to participate in community events as an opportunity to learn, to help build community, and to help create awareness about DevExpress’ products. This is the reason I present at these events—although seldom on DevExpress products directly---and this is why I like manning the DevExpress booth.
Other Party Software
Another attendee walked up on Friday and said: “I stop by your booth every year and ask you tell me why I need your products”. (I love cocky developers.) My first unspoken thought was well you have gotten by this long without our tools, clearly you think you don’t need tools. Of course, that response wouldn’t help anyone. Instead I gave my response based on my beliefs—although I doubt I convinced this particular individual.
My belief about tools are based on a quote attributed to the geometer Archimedes and a second lesson from my father. Archimedes is attributed with “give me a lever and a place to stand and I shall move the earth”, and my father said “a craftsman is known by his tools”. Collectively my belief is tools can move mountains and with quality tools you can move them in style and adroitly. From over 20 years experience I know that there is no way any developer with no tools can compete with a developer with a set of good tools. Even a less experienced developer is likely to outpace a great developer if the former has good tools. Sure, a really smart guy can build anything, eventually, but building everything from scratch is impossible. For example, if you are using the .NET framework you are already using about 2 million lines of pre-existing code.
Finally, there is no such thing as third party code. There is code each of us writes and code written by others, other party code. Most of the code you and I use is other party code already. There is a single canonical rule expressed in two ways that supports the idea of using other party code. One version of the canon is using existing code is always cheaper than writing code from scratch, and the other version is that intellectual property means more than just writing code. When one writes his or her own code intellectual property has been created and must be owned, and ownership exceeds the cost of initial creation. The code has to be designed, coded, debugged, and updated over time. So, intellectual property is like getting married and having babies, the cost lasts beyond conception; the cost spans a lifetime.
So, when someone asks me why do I need your (DevExpress’) tools, I say you don’t need our tools, but you do need tools. Ours just happen to be the best available. The reason DevExpress’ tools are the best available choice for developers is that the tools are great, the results speak for themselves, and DevExpress provides excellent help, online videos and blogs, and we send evangelists all over the world talking to developers who help us make them better, all the time. With Developer Express you get scores of professional controls and tools for Windows, the Web, Silverlight, WPF, Delphi, and CodeRush and Refactor Pro! The cost to an individual developer is a few hundred bucks. No royalties, no complicated distribution fees, no hidden costs, and no marriage to home grown intellectual property.
My session at DevLink was Saturday at 10:30 am. The session was Comparing LINQ to XML to Dynamic Objects for XML in VB2010. This is a little like comparing apples to oranges because LINQ to XML is for XML and Dynamic Objects for XML is just one scenario for Dynamic Objects; Dynamic Objects are not just for XML. The session went pretty well, even thought my session had a modest turn out. There were 150 sessions to choose from, it was Saturday—the end of the conference—and these things happen.
We had a drawing during my session and one lucky person—Kim Styles—is the winner of DXperience Enterprise and Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN.
Thanks to John Kellar and company for coordinating a great event, and thanks to all of the attendees that stopped by the DX booth. A special shout out to Kevin Pilch-Bisson the Dev Lead for C# for the unsolicited comments about DevExpress’ CodeRush.