2011 Review

Just had to get a quick end of year post up. Yep, it’s new years eve, I’ve just finished watching Rise of The Planet Of The Apes (not bad), had too much beer (not good), and thought it would be a good idea to ramble on here for a while. At the very least it’s a good excuse to use my shiny new quad-core iMac so here goes.

2011 for me wasn’t too bad. I started a blog! I even started a new job in March, got stuck into NServiceBus for a good while and really enjoyed it. It’s a great framework for reliable, durable messaging and I thoroughly recommend it. On the subject of messaging, one really interesting library that I’ve spent a little bit of time looking at is ZeroMQ, a socket library that has the familiar messaging patterns at it’s heart even though it’s not a servicebus. Wow, that thing is fast! I’ll definitely be evaluating it in more depth over the next few months.

Toward the latter part of the year I got into Android development using Eclipse and Java. I wrote an order tracking application in my spare time and then unveiled it at work where it was received as I hoped it would be. This led to further ideas about where we could go with mobile dev. The obvious conclusion being that you can’t do mobile only for one platform so some time was spent evaluating the best way to target the iPhone as well as Android. In then end it looks like the fantastic work that’s gone into the Mono framework and MonoTouch and Mono for Android in particular means that we can make the best use of our existing in-house C# skills to get mobile apps out there way quicker than we ever could have done if we’d had to learn each platform from scratch. That’s not to say the time writing the Java version was wasted, it wasn’t. In fact, knowing key Android Concepts such as Activities and Intents are still crucial when using Mono. This knowledge helped me port the Java version to Mono in record time – about a week – and I’m already about 50% of the way into a MonoTouch iPhone version.

My current favourite Git hosting provider (www.bitbucket.org) also released a free Git Gui tool for Mac OS X in the Mac App Store called SourceTree. I have to say, that despite being used to the command line when working with Git, SourceTree is so damn good I just have to use it, and best of all, it’s free so that’s another recommendation.

Goals for next year include really attacking Android and iPhone development. Mobile is definitely where it’s at/going to be, and I think Mono is the best tool to take me there in the shortest time. I may even get into targeting the Mac App store with it too. I wouldn’t mind learning a little bit of Ruby just for the hell of it. I’m trying to get my 13 year old daughter interested in programming and thought Ruby might be a good place to start, especially with KidsRuby. Looks like a really cool way to get children involved.

Okay, where I am, it’s 11:30-ish. Half an hour to go until I have to start putting those plans in place. Time to get another drink.

Happy New Year.

2011 Review

Happiness is…

…being able to use Git even when you thought you we’re stuck forever with Team Foundation Server at work. All thanks to Git-Tfs, a bridge between, yep you guessed it, Git and TFS! I’d already been using Git locally for code I was working on by myself and pushing my changes to a mapped drive that gets backed up every night but it was pretty awkward in terms of interacting with TFS and well, there isn’t really a solution when it comes to fetching other people’s changes. But now there is and I’m a very happy developer. Having experienced some considerable pain with the source control aspect of TFS recently I began to wish for something a little less problematic. Binning it altogether would be nice but probably unrealistic. Thankfully, Git-Tfs means I no longer have to care so much.

It’s easy to setup. Once downloaded and unzipped, you add the location to your PATH environment variable, open up git-bash and perform a clone of your TFS repository:

git-tfs clone "http://teamfound:8080/tfs/<your tfs collection name>" $/<your project name>

This creates a copy of the latest build with all the project history (which can take a while depending on project size). At that point you’re good to go with your usual local repository git workflow such as branching and merging etc. When it comes time to get the changes back into TFS you can either do a checkin with a message as you would normally:

git-tfs checkin -m "some message"

or

git-tfs checkin checkintool

which brings up the usual TFS check-in dialog. And the part that fell down for me with my previous method – grabbing other people’s changes – is now easily achieved simply with:

git-tfs pull

That’s just about the gist of it. I can only describe this tool as a god-send so I hope it continues to get updates and improvements. It’s definitely worth looking at if you’re in a similar position where you’d rather touch TFS as little as possible and, well, if you’ve never used Git then maybe this will give you the excuse you need to start.

Happiness is…