I’ve recently returned from a trip to Redmond. I was at the Lang.NET conference sponsored by Microsoft. Overall it was great. Microsoft took care of us like royalty and the people and conversations were incredible. With all the big brains around I felt even more retarded than normal, I was definitely an amateur compared to a lot of the people who were attending. The only thing that was unfortunate was that I managed to get a cold just before going out there, which was mild at first, but caused me to miss out on a lot of the free beer supplied (and lots of breweries I haven’t had a chance to try out yet too!) as well as miss the 3rd day entirely! I was really looking forward to seeing the VSX presentation and get a chance to talk to someone about NBusiness and get some integration questions I have been kicking around answered. Also, based on the description of Don Box’s speech I’m really sad to have missed that.
I met a guy there named Ted Neward. He was going to hook me up with a chance to meet with Ken Levy to talk about VS integration. I had to miss it because I was too sick and had completely lost my voice but I have his email address and will probably be sending him an email with a few questions and ideas.
Besides Jason Bock and I there were at least two other people from Minneapolis, Wez Furlong from the PHP group as well as Charles Nutter who works on JRuby for Sun. There was another guy there from Sun named John Rose who had a lot of interesting things to say about the similarities between Java and .NET and also knew a lot about creating programming languages. He talked about a lot of interesting things with me at the Rock Bottom brewery. It’s really encouraging to see that it’s possible to collaborate and discuss topics such as programming languages even between competitors. It seems that programming languages might just unite nerds more than divide them after all.
Overall I’d say that this symposium really revealed an intense focus towards dynamic languages right now. Perhaps it’s just the language enthusiasts who are the most interested in dynamic languages. This was an overwhelming focal point for this event. It’s all very cool stuff and I’m completely sold on the idea of using a dynamic language for developing unit tests first then writing your application. I’m not completely sold on the idea of a dynamic language everywhere however. It seems like it’s perfect for the top tier of an application, where things change the most and need to be the most flexible, but the lower you go a nice strongly typed library with strict encapsulation is probably preferable.
I was able to see Anders Hejlsberg (C#), Jim Hugunin (Iron Ruby and the DLR), Erik Meijer and many others speak. The videos should be on Channel 9 any day now. Here is a channel9 interview that took place with some of the speakers called Erik Meijer, Gilad Bracha, Mads Torgersen: Perspectives on Programming Language Design and Evolution but this was not one of the actual presentations. I also recognized John Lam (Iron Ruby) and Miguel De Icaza (Mono) in the audience but I missed their talks because I was sick.
One other interesting thing was getting to talk to a guy from Intentional Software. Now this is real brain bending stuff and if you haven’t heard of intentional programming before I suggest you go look it up because it’s a fascinating idea… probably best left for another post.