Paying Attention To DinnerNow.net - Microsoft Killer App Best Practices Tutorial for Everything .NET 3.0

by Jon Davis 31. July 2007 18:01

I've been noticing my RSS feeds to Channel9 plugging some "DinnerNow" thing that sounded like some third party company who was just sharing some architectural trick up their sleeve, so I kinda shrugged it off. After all, how many software tricks are up people's sleeves at sourceforge.net or elsewhere?

But being a big new fan of ARCast.TV podcasts, I came across the Architecture Overview and Workflow piece which I didn't realize until I started listening that it was Part 1 of the DinnerNow bits. Listening to it now, I am realizing that this is something rather special.

DinnerNow, which I've only just downloaded and haven't actually seen yet but I'm hearing these guys talk about it in the podcast, is apparently NOT a Starter Kit style mini-solution like IBuySpy was (which was a dorky little shopping cart web site starter kit that Microsoft hacked together in ASP.NET back in the v1.1 days as a proof of concept).

Rather, DinnerNow is a full-blown software sample of an online restaurant food ordering web service application, one that I had wanted to build commercially for years (along with a hundred other ideas I had), that is top-to-bottom, soup-to-nuts, thorough and complete implementation of the entire solution from the servers, the restaurants, the buyer, demonstrating all of the awesome components of the latest long-released .NET Framework technologies, including:

  • Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) on the restaurant and web server
  • Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) on the restaurant and web server
  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) for the restaurant (kiosk @ kitchen)
  • ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 and JSON-based synchronization
  • CardSpace for user security
  • PowerShell for things like administrative querying
  • Microsoft Management Console (MMC) for administrative querying, graphically
  • Windows Mobile / .NET Compact Framework
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)

Ron Jacobs (the ARCast host) made a good introduction for this with a statement I agree with, something along the lines of, "As architects, what we often try to do is look at someone else's software that was written successfully," and learn and discover new and/or best practices for software from it. In fact, that's probably the most important task in the learning process. If learning how to learn is an essential thing to learn in software architecture, then learn this essential point, that both understanding new technology and discovering best practices is learned by seeing it for yourself.

Update: Ugh. With many technologies being features comes many prerequisites. I had all of the above, but the setup requires everything to be exact. In other words, start with a fresh Virtual Machine with Vista 32-bit, and add the prerequisites. XP? Screwed. Win2003? Screwed. 64-bit? Screwed. Orcas Beta 2 installed? Screwed. And so on the screwing goes. An optional Virtual PC download from MSDN premium downloads with everything installed would have been nice. And I'm not hearing anything from the CodePlex forum / Issue Tracker, not a peep from its "maintainers". I think this project was abandoned. What bad timing, to put it on ARCast.tv now...

Another update: Microsoft did post a refresh build for Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2. I noticed it on CodePlex and they also started replying (for a change) to the multiple discussion threads and Issue Tracker posts on CodePlex. Among those replies were comments about 64-bit support--not supported, by design [which I knew] but they said with workarounds [which I posted multiple reports about] a 64-bit OS target build should be possible. I saw all this a few days ago; should have posted this follow-up update earlier, seems a Microsoft employee posted a comment here first. (Sorry.)

With passion comes passionate resentment when things go wrong. It's a fair give and take; on the other hand, whatever.

Just Arrived: Applications = Code + Markup (Charles Petzold)

by Jon Davis 3. September 2006 00:23

Charles Petzold's new book on Avalon (Windows Presentation Foundation) just arrived at my doorstep earlier today. I get to be one of the lucky ones who pre-ordered this big thing and be one of the first proud owners of the book.

Without having done a thorough reading and only cracking it open, here are my quick observations:

  • It's a big, hardcover book. Not as big as Programming Windows, though, which is still on my shelf.
  • Looks pretty chock full of content, I don't think anything is going to be missed for general introduction to all major facets of WPF.
  • A pretentious title. Microsoft is being "cute" but it hits a nerve in a bad way. To define the word "application" as "code + markup" is stupid, no matter how prevalent Windows Presentation Foundation intends to be in Windows Vista. The word "application" is a long-standing software term that Microsoft cannot just go and redefine--no, not even Petzold.
  • Much more approachable from what I can tell than O'Reilly's book, which frankly is a very bumpy ride.
  • About 60-70% or so of the book consists of code samples, and about 75% of the code samples are written in XAML while the other 25% are in C#.
  • I can see this book as being the new "Bible" of Windows user interfaces.
  • Covers content, docking, events, elements, menus, treeviews, listviews, data binding, graphics, animation, and more.
  • One of my biggest concerns about WPF is that from what I've seen so far of WPF it is very much like DHTML for its menus in that a menu cannot be displayed beyond the borders of its window, and I will miss that greatly. I am curious about Ch. 14 (Menus) to see if my observation was incorrect. (Update: My observation has proven to be incorrect.)
  • Looks like "Orcas" is required to run the samples. Darn. "Orcas" won't be released for .NET 3.0 RC1 for a few more days, so I had to roll back to the June CTP of .NET 3.0 to install the "Orcas" preview, then uninstall .NET 3.0 and install .NET 3.0 RC1.
    Update: Thanks to Rob Relyea's blog (his comments therein), an easier way to install the June "Orcas" preview is: msiexec /i vsextwfx.msi WRC_INSTALLED_OVERRIDE=1
  • 3D stuff does not appear to be covered at all.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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