Entries from April 2008 ↓

Own Your Own Micro-ISV: DotNetInvoice is For Sale

I write this post with mixed emotions. I acquired DotNetInvoice (an asp.net billing system) 15 months ago, fixed loads of bugs, added 50+ features, provided support, turned the customer base around (they were close to mutiny), and grew revenue by 6x. This program has become part of me as much as any code you work with for over a year. My intent was to turn it into a full-time Micro-ISV, but it appears that life has other plans.

I’ve come to realize over the past year that the time I’ve spent developing and supporting DotNetInvoice (DNI) has virtually replaced the time I used to spend working on my blog. Long-time readers will notice that my posting frequency dropped pretty substantially at the start of 2007 (due to my acquisition of DNI).

Debating this internally for the past several months has forced me to evaluate my goals and plans for the future. Through this I’ve decided to invest more time into growing this blog, and into an opportunity that I’ve been chasing for years (more to come later)…all of this means I have to make sacrifices to create room in my life.

So I’m selling DotNetInvoice.

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Next Stop, Boston!

It appears that making our way back to California wasn’t in the cards this time around. In two and a half months I’ll be moving from New Haven to Boston. My wife got a rather prestigious job offer in Boston and given that it’s the #2 startup hub in the country it wasn’t too hard to convince me to move. I’m already scoping out a sweet apartment near the “T” (what they call their subway) a few miles from the “Hahbah” (what they call their harbor).

I guess it’s time to transition to another town; to learn the train system, roads, and locations of the grocery store, post office, and good places to eat. After 9 moves in 7 years we’re getting pretty good at it.

I’ll be attending user group meetings and entrepreneur meet-ups to break into the “scene,” so if you’re in the area I hope we can connect.

[tags]boston, relocation[/tags]

Microsoft MVP Summit 2008: Days Three and Four

I don’t typically blog about specific technologies, since the focus of this blog is the human side of software development, and whether you use C# or Python is irrelevant. That said, I use .NET on a day to day basis, and this week’s Microsoft MVP Summit has been quite an experience, so I am wrapping up my experience in this third and final post on the subject.

Day Three
Day three included another round of in-depth sessions presented by the product teams who are building the technology. That’s the coolest part – the Q&A portions were highly technical and people who are actually writing the code behind new ASP.NET features were answering our questions.

Highlights included:

  • ADO.NET Data Services (Astoria) – The Astoria team has done some amazing things, including supporting Atom and JSON out of the box using a REST interface. Activate this feature, slap in some security code, and you have a full REST API to your database. Awesome.
  • Building Web Apps with Cloud-based Storage – This talk covered SQL Server Data Services from an ASP.NET developer’s perspective. I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under, but Microsoft will soon be entering beta with their Cloud-based SQL Server storage service, similar to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service.
  • Looking into the .NET 4.0 Crystal Ball – The ASP.NET product team talked about possible improvements for 4.0 and allowed us to spend 100 Euros between various features (since a dollar isn’t worth much anymore). I can’t talk about specific features due to our NDA, but there are some well thought-out improvements in the works.

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Microsoft MVP Summit 2008: Day Two

Here are the stand-out sessions I attended today (and what I see as the three big technologies Microsoft will be promoting to developers in the coming months):

  • ASP.NET Dynamic Data – “Why have I never heard of this?” This product is a well-designed, highly configurable scaffolding engine for ASP.NET Web Forms. Essentially, you create a database, generate the Linq to SQL or Entity Framework data model, and ASP.NET Dynamic Data generates your admin screens. The key is the next step: nearly everything is configurable via code (look & feel, behavior, etc…) It’s really well-designed, and something I’ve been trying to find for years with no luck (and believe me, I’ve tried tons of code generation and scaffolding tools over the past 4 years). Scott Hanselman has a good write-up of ASP.NET Dynamic Data here.
  • Deep Dive into ASP.NET MVC (Phil Haack and Scott Hanselman) – Scott Hanselman is hilarious, and has a knack for explaining complex concepts in plain English. Microsoft is pushing ASP.NET MVC, and while it’s also still young, I think it has the potential to be the dominant non-enterprise ASP.NET development model within 2 years.
  • Silverlight 2.0 Overview (Scott Guthrie) – Silverlight is an interesting technology that seems like it’s going to have an impact on web development, but not for a year or two. It’s still a very young product, and while useful for displaying media and really cool, interactive demos, it’s still too young for me to get too excited about. I’ll start putting some time in when 3.0 comes around.

Off to day three…

[tags]asp.net, mvp summit, microsoft, silverlight, mvc[/tags]

Microsoft MVP Summit 2008: Day One

I’m in Seattle at the Microsoft MVP Summit. If you’re here and want to grab coffee, drop me an email using the contact link in the right navigation.

Today was a series of open sessions, with topics suggested by the MVPs over the past few months (using a private Wiki, no less, which was pretty cool). Open sessions had minimal structure and were intended to get everyone to participate. The handful I attended went off well, aside from the occasional person who felt he needed to spontaneously demonstrate his mad teaching skills.

I have to admit, I tend to view people with skepticism when they grab the mic in a session and sound just a little too authoritative. I felt a little guilty about this and asked around after one session and found out I wasn’t alone. Whew…guilt assuaged.

Sessions I attended include:

  • ASP.NET MVC Framework – the code behind feature
  • So, You Want to Be a Writer?
  • Data Strategies – ORMs and How They Compare.

Tomorrow we start the formal sessions. I’ve spoken to a few colleagues and have some compliments and gripes to bring to Microsoft – if you have any send them over.

[tags]microsoft, asp.net, mvp summit, mvp[/tags]