Sam Gentile on SOA and Indigo at VTdotNET

For the last few months, we have had such compelling topics at VTdotNET that I have seen many many new faces at the user group. In April, Robert Hurlbut came to talk about Unit Testing – a topic important to all levels of developer. He definitely demystified it for me, though I haven’t had a chance to build unit testing into any apps yet. In May, Thom Robbins gave an overview of new goo in Visual Studio 2005 and explained what the heck Team System is (and how much it costs – a very confusing issue).

Monday night was no different. Thanks to INETA, Sam Gentile came and talked to the group about Service Oriented Architecture and Indigo (with wse3 in between). SOA is one of the biggest buzziest topics on the blogosphere. He did not just repeat some marketing definition of SOA. This is Sam, remember? Sam actually analyzed a lot of the debate that is going on and helped us filter through what did and did not have meaning. “SOA is overhyped, therefore ignore it” is one argument that he suggests we ignore. 🙂  He was also careful to state that this was his own take on it.

I think this was the first time I have heard someone talk about SOA where it really clicked, though I am looking forward to getting my paws on his deck as a memory booster. We also had some discussion of contract first, which was great timing from me based on the session by Tim Ewald I attended at TechEd. (Which will be repeated at Vermont.NET on October 17th by Tim!!)

After this, Sam dug in to the hot off the presses WSE3 and showed how we can implement SOA principals using WSE. Sam knew that I had given a detailed presentation on WSE2 at the end of last year, but it was hard to skip over some of the repeated stuff since there were so many people there that were knew. When he got to the topic of the Turnkey scenarios, he heard me sigh and asked me to elaborate the sigh. It turned out that Sam and I had a similar reaction to them. Here is my initial take on them. But I know this is based on my first glance and I should hold off on elaborating until I explore them further.

Finally Sam dug into Indigo, first explaining it from the 10,000 foot view, how it is encompassing the various methods of distributed computing we are doing in .NET today (WSE, Web Services, Remoting, etc.) If you haven’t seen Indigo in a while, it is a very different beast than we saw a year ago. They have really built an object model for it that is not as declarative as it used to be. One fo the things that bugged many of us was that it looks like Indigo is doing the same thing that Visual Studio currently does in letting us pretend we are just writing OO code when building ASMX. Here I am trying to wrap my head around contract first, but as one of the user group members said “it’s RPC all over again”.

I wish we could have let Sam go on for a few more hours, but that’s just never working after 9pm in Vermont! So after we wrapped up, a bunch of us headed over to Ri-Ra’s in downtown Burlington for some more chat. This is one of the few places that has a kitchen open late downtown. We seem to end up there a lot – that’s where we went with Robert when he came, too.

As Sam and Roman report, I went back into town the next day to have a late breakfast/early lunch with Roman and Sam before Sam hit the road back to Nashua. Although this was an INETA event, I still really appreciate Sam making the 3 hour drive each way. We all had a great time. He is a lot of fun to have at our group.

And Roman and Dave Burke are both convinced about WSE finally! I think WSE3 really is going to make a big difference in finally getting more people on board with WS-*.

I have to point out Sam’s pre-Burlington blog post which really had me laughing. Sam thinks Vermont is just filled with hippies. “Break out the patchouli oil” he said!

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