5 min. read

Yesterday I attended a meetup at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge! Despite being in a different city, it was only a few short miles from my overpriced apartment in Boston.

Networking and Pizza

This meetup was more organized than most, and included an actual schedule. The first order of business was eating pizza and networking with other developers. I chatted with a developer who works remotely for StackOverflow, and another dev who is currently looking for a C++ gig.

Being my first meetup in the area, I didn’t know anybody, so it was good to talk to a few people at least. During the networking portion I was mainly distracted/bemused by the sights of Shawn Wildermuth and Miguel de Icaza just…hanging out with everybody. It feels stupid to admit, but I guess I didn’t realize that developers who have attained a “rock star” type reputation are still only rock stars in the relatively small world of software development. They don’t have handlers. They don’t appear from backstage all of a sudden when the lights dim. They enjoy the free pizza just as much as you do.

Hello World

The primary objective of this meetup was to record an episode of Shawn’s Hello World Podcast, which is currently on tour visiting a bunch of cities across America along with a handful of international stops. The podcast uses an interview format where Shawn talks with developers who speak about their roots and history in the development field. In this instance, the subject of the episode was Miguel de Icaza.

Miguel talked about his roots in open source, and how contributed as a hardcore OSS developer for a long time. He eventually moved into the world of closed source software, only to be bought out by Microsoft, who then proceeded to open source his product and give it away for free in an exercise of ridiculous irony.

An interesting tidbit from the podcast was that Miguel considers Gnumeric, a spreadsheet application, to be the most beautiful code he has ever written, and he’s not above admitting it. On programming forums, you’ll often see people asking for examples of beautiful code that they can learn from. Maybe this could be a good example.

The podcast was recorded live at the event, but based on the upload schedule, it should be available on Shawn’s site within the next few weeks. I highly recommend giving it a listen once it’s available.


After the podcast, Shawn did about an hour-long demo/introduction to ASP.NET Core. If you’ve seen any of his Pluralsight courses, you’ll know that he is somewhat of a subject matter expert when it comes to web development on the Microsoft stack, so I was very excited for this part.

After seeing Shawn’s presentation, it has never been more clear to me that ASP.NET Core is effectively Microsoft’s response to the development style of Node.js with Express. This is not a bad thing. In fact it’s great! C# is a beautiful language, and JavaScript…isn’t. Bringing the design ideology behind Express to ASP.NET is a great thing in my opinion.

With the standard ASP.NET MVC project template, you’re given a massive pile of included features that you don’t even know what they do, and virtually every resource for learning the framework kind of just rolls with it. It reminds me of people starting with Java as their first programming language, and being told to just ignore most of the language features you’re required to use just to get a simple “Hello, world!” printed to the console.

So Shawn started his demo from basically nothing. All he had was a console application which listened to web requests. During the talk, he slowly added and configured pieces of middleware from Nuget, demonstrating the flexibility of the new framework. Even fundamental things that you’d assume are included by default were actually added to the base web app:

  • Application configuration
  • Support for serving static files
  • The .NET Framework itself

These were all included as Nuget packages and tied into the web application as middleware. It was a pretty compelling demo, and like the podcast, the code should be available in the coming weeks at Shawn’s github repo for the tour.

Overall, this was a fun and interesting event. I definitely hope to go to more like this in the Boston area. I met other local developers, I learned new things, and I even got some free pizza out of it. What more is there to ask for?

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