ALT.NET - Are you ready
for the red pill?
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and
believe whatever you want to believe.
You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how
deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Microsoft is catering for all your needs so why should you leave the comfort zone? Besides, “no one ever got ﬁred
for choosing Microsoft”.
Lots of tools and practices out there not originating from Redmond.
Some open up entirely new possibilities in how we can work.
Some of Microsofts tools are great as well - the important thing is to use the right tool for the right job, not just
the same old tool you happen to know or that a vendor throws in your lap.
To be able to make that choice, you have to keep an eye out for alternative and better ways.
Popular slogan for describing ALT.NET.
David Laribee, the guy who coined the label “ALT.NET”, recently proposed two criteria for determining whether or
not you belong in “this little movement we’ve got going on”.
1. Do you write software or otherwise work in a team using the .NET Framework?
2. Are you interested in learning and improvement?
At the Microsoft MVP Summit, March 2007, Daniel Simmons presented the upcoming Entity Framework.
So, in a little cluster in the center on the right, I called them the
NHibernate Mafia; and it was James Kovacs, Scott Bellware, Jeffrey
Palermo, Jean-Paul Boodhoo, all in a little cluster, and they are
just hammering these guys...
So, these guys -- I mean they buy ORM in a very deep way; and they
are all NHibernate believers -- they are in there. and so, they are
looking at this product in its very early stages, which I get -- they
are just getting started on this, it’s just coming along now, been
thought through a few times, and they are comparing it to NHibernate
and just boom, boom, boom. And Dan, I’d never met him before; he was
sitting in the left, right at the front, and I figured out because
there was couple of his guys in the back that it was him. And when
the session broke, he made the mistake of popping up a couple of
times and answering questions. So now they knew who he was; he had
the target pinned on his head. When the session broke, it took him an
hour to get out of the room. The boys were just on him; and even when
he got out of the room, they were still on him.
(Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin, .NET Rocks podcast #226, April 5 2007)
Entity Framework critique: not object-ﬁrst, not persistence ignorant.
We may have sung a
couple NHibernate arias
at the Summit, but they
were all part of the
greater TDD opera.
Scott Bellware, “On Being the NHibernate Maﬁa”.
It’s not the tools, it’s the
David Laribee: “the meeting between the Agile folks and Microsoft’s ADO.NET team”
“If there has to be a label I’ll propose a new one: ALT.NET”
ALT.NET according to David Laribee
1.You’re the type of developer who uses what works while
keeping an eye out for a better way.
2.You reach outside the mainstream to adopt the best of
any community: Open Source, Agile, Java, Ruby, etc.
3.You’re not content with the status quo. Things can
always be better expressed, more elegant and simple, more
mutable, higher quality, etc.
4.You know tools are great, but they only take you so far. It’s
the principles and knowledge that really matter.
The best tools are those that embed the knowledge and
encourage the principles (e.g. Resharper.)
Next milestone: ALT.NET Open Space conference in Austin, October 2007.
Mailing list created.
agile + object-orientation +
patterns + TDD + DDD
OOPSLA school of software
Mainstream Microsoft !=
“The alt.net mind-set is one that is very familiar to me. It has that mix of agile + object-orientation + patterns +
Test-Driven Development + Domain-Driven Design which is very much the school of software development that I
favor. (Lacking a proper name for it, I'm inclined to call it the OOPSLA school of software development.)
There is certainly a belief that there is a mainstream Microsoft orthodoxy at the moment, one that doesn't ﬁt the
OOSPLA school. And there's some frustration with that. But the point here is that it's not that the alt.net
community thinks that the perceived mainstream Microsoft route should be erased, but that the Microsoft world is
big enough for different approaches.”
MSDN Way: Rapid Application Development (“demoware”), visual programming, data-centric.
APIs and framework details, not design and coding fundamentals.
Encourages a good maintainable design and enables change.
BDD, Behaviour-Driven Development. “TDD done right” + new vocabulary (behaviour not tests) + more.
Popular tools oriented at fulﬁlling the values, principles and practices of ALT.NET.
NHibernate. Object-/relational mapper for persistence ignorance etc.
MonoRail - MVC framework for web applications
ActiveRecord - an implementation of the ActiveRecord pattern on top of NHibernate.
MicroKernel and Windsor - Inversion of Control containers.
CruiseControl.NET - Automated Continuous Integration Server.
ReSharper - Great Visual Studio productivity add-in.
NUnit and MBUnit - open source unit test frameworks.
RhinoMocks - Dynamic mock object framework.
ALT.NET in summary
• Continuous improvement
• Principles and practices, not tools
Exactly, that’s the point. Learn from mistakes, history, proven principles/practices.
Still unknown to majority of ,NET community.
Sam Gentile: “ALT.NET is a divisive thing. No matter what they tell you, they are full of negative energy, they sneer
at others that don't buy into their view and sneer at the ‘enterprisey’ folks. I know, I was there. I am not going to
be part of it any more.“
Roy Osherove and others: dogmatic.
Promoting certain tools, categorically denying the value of other tools, e.g., TypeMock.
David Laribee: “we are discarding politeness for the sake of efficiency”.
Sam Gentile is now back on the mailing list and Roy Osherove is still a very active member of the ALT.NET
Alternative != in opposition to Microsoft
Alternative == something that embraces choice.
Scott Bellware: “the ALT.NET movement has to be seen as anti-crap. ALT.NET is anti-Microsoft when it is
necessary, and it’s very pro-Microsoft when it isn’t.”
What if I am alternative (continuous improvement etc) but not agile/OO? Don’t like ReSharper and NHibernate?
That’s ok, but avoid certain topics on the mailing list...
Separate ALT.NET groups or inﬂuencing existing ones? Both.
Jeremy Miller, The Shade Tree Developer blog, sees ALT.NET as a second pole of leadership and thought in
the .NET community, complementary to the traditional leadership, such as book authors, MVPs and INETA
speakers focused on existing and forthcoming Microsoft tools. The void that ALT.NET will ﬁll is information and
leadership on: OOP fundamentals, development processes and practices and alternative tools.
What has ALT.NET accomplished?
So what has ALT.NET accomplished so far?
Difficult to tell if ALT.NET should be credited for individual steps of progress.
But Microsoft has changed since the inception of ALT.NET.
Entity Framework. Advisory council: Martin Fowler, Eric Evans, Jimmy Nilsson and others. New persistence ignorant,
object-ﬁrst version announced @ PDC.
ASP.NET MVC was ﬁrst demonstrated at the ﬁrst ALT.NET conference i Austin.
Microsoft is taking an active interest in the community. Microsoft employees like Glenn Block are active
participants in the ALT.NET community.
The ALT.NET crowd is growing.
Tracks at conferences.
National and local user groups.
Because you care. Because you are passionate about what you do. And because you are a professional developer.
People want to do a good job. In order to do that you have to use the right tool for the right job.
“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a thumb”.
Same tool == same solution, no matter what the problem is
Inform yourself. Read books and blogs, make connections, join the mailing list. Learn on the job.
As Abraham Lincoln said: quot;If I had four hours to chop down a tree, I would spend three hours sharpening the saw.”
ALT.NET Open Space conferences in USA, UK, Sweden.
Swedish ALT.NET user group.
Coding dojos in Stockholm and Sundsvall.
Ask for a group close to home on the mailing list.
Start your own local user group! If you need help you can contact me or just drop an e-mail to the mailing list.
Your local .NET User group.
ALT.NET mailing list, http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/
Ayende Rahien, http://www.ayende.com/Blog/
Jeremy Miller, http://codebetter.com/blogs/jeremy.miller/
David Laribee, http://laribee.com/blog/
Glenn Block, http://codebetter.com/blogs/glenn.block/
ALT.NET Sweden Google Group, http://groups.google.se/group/
Jimmy Nilsson, http://jimmynilsson.com/blog/ (in English)
Torkel Ödegaard, http://www.codinginstinct.com/ (in English)
Somewhat arbitrary list.
Jimmy Nilsson wrote THE ALT.NET book, “Applying Domain-Driven Design and Patterns: With Examples in C#
Thank you for listening!
Thanks to Peter Hultgren, Ulrika Johansson, Pontus Frendin,
Håkan Alexander and Torkel Ödegaard from the Stockholm
ALT.NET User group for helping me with this presentation.