ALT.NET, a year or so later from an observer and occasional participant.
First, check out the altdotnet.org site, and it’s short, concise, and poignant statements:
We are a self-organizing, ad-hoc community of developers bound by a desire to improve ourselves, challenge assumptions, and help each other pursue excellence in the practice of software development.
What have I seen come out of this ALT.NET thing?
(in somewhat chronological order)
- A very successful event in Austin, TX USA in October of 2007 attended by >120 people including participation and presentations by major Microsoft folks including Scott Guthrie and Scott Hansleman (with remote support by Phil Haack, among others).
- A large and briefly successful, but ultimately failed mailing list
- A large and still active, successful Wiki at altnetpedia.org
- Successful recurring events in Philidelpha, PA USA in November of 2007, December, January 2008, February, March, April, July, and TONIGHT (September 15th)
- Successful recurring events in Chicago, IL USA since around November 2007
- Successful recurring events in Washington, DC USA in December 2007 (and on)
- A HUGELY successful event in Seattle, WA USA in April 2008 attended by >150? 170? people with major attendance by Microsoft folks including Scott Guthrie, Brad Abrams, Scott Hanselman, Brad Wilson, John Lamby, and MANY others.
- A mailing list reboot which is still going strong and which usually has great conversations going. I’m still subscribed and try to participate where I can. Ayende, Greg Young, and Jeremy Miller, among MANY others participate regularly.
- A very successful major event in Beni Brak, Israel in August 2008 (don’t know the exact numbers, but it was dozens, from what I see in the pictures)
- Another very successful major event in Calgary, AB Canada also in August 2008 (don’t know the exact numbers, but it looks like dozens also, from what I see in the pictures)
- Another very successful major event in Chicago, IL USA in September 2008 (don’t know exact numbers, looks significant though)
- Another very successful major event in London, United Kingdom just last weekend (Sept 12/13).
- Significant workshops planned for Austin, TX USA at the end of October by people like (possibly) Ayende, Udi Dahan, Greg Young, Jeremy Miller, etc.
- Multiple Microsoft MVP’s providing critical feedback on a host of different projects and packages
- Major contributions by people associated with ALT.NET to various significant .NET-focused open source projects
- Major contributions by people associated with ALT.NET to various open Microsoft P&P guidance projects including Prism, MEF, and the new Architecture Guidance package
And I’m sure I left out a bunch of stuff and I’ll get some angry comments, but rest assured: Dedicated, involved people are planning, preparing, getting sponsors, and contributing to the .NET community at large and the ALT.NET community specifically almost every month (it seems)!
What’s the point?
These are all very positive things and with a lot of significant contributions and insightful, productive conversations about building better software using principles, patterns, and practices with Microsoft-based (though not in all cases Microsoft-authored) tools.
Early on, after the Austin, TX conf. People were really excited and wanted to make something bigger out of this. The enthusiasm and willingness to participate and contribute was amazing. Unfortunately it got a little mired in indirection and disagreement about HOW it should grow bigger. I believed then, as I do now, that the arguments were from everyone being extremely excited about this and actually taking ownership of something they felt was WORTH OWNING! Eventually things settled down and people got into the groove and started organizing smaller events and quietly participating and contributing with a lot more compromising and team-minded attitudes and intentions. Things really started taking off after that happened!
So there was talk about what ALT.NET should be, how it should be perceived, how do you sell it to this manager or that CEO, etc. I think we have enough history now to look back and not talk about what it SHOULD BE, but what it has manifested itself TO BE. In addition to the more general explanation above (i.e. ‘a self-organizing, ad-hoc community’), I think we can safely say something to the effect of:
A group of talented, dedicated individuals who share a deep passion for building great software and constantly seeking better, more efficient, more complete ways of building even better software in the Microsoft .NET space. ALT.NET seeks better practices, better principles, better patterns, better tools, and above all, better quality software by constantly sharing ideas, challenging each other to reach higher, and bettering the state of the art wherever and however possible.
What’s up for year 2?
Who knows? Hopefully more lively and insightful conversations, conferences, meet-ups, presentations, discussions, debates, and, especially, code, code, and more code! I hope that if you’re already involved, that you stay involved and keep contributing and that if you’re not already involved or have resisted for some reason, you give another look and see how you might assist or participate in is currently, and can continue to be, a great idea and way of learning and bettering oneself.