We hope, for all those who attended TechEd in Orlando this year that you enjoyed it, and we hope it was a success for those learning more about Software Factories. It was certainly fun talking with many folk about where we are at now and where it's going. BTW, the space shuttle Atlantis had a launch at Cape Canaveral about 2hrs away from Orlando on the Friday. I hope you didn't miss that either!
Anyhow, back to earth. It's all very well being at the forefront of this initiative, but it seemed apparent that many are still struggling to get on top of the current MS toolsets & technologies (GAX, DSL, VSSDK) and how factories hang together in general. Clearly, to sum up, there is a higher than ever demand for improvements in the tooling available to create and execute factories to overcome this hump for most today.
The event kicked off with Don and Peter giving an open chalktalk session on factories to give people a chance to warm into it and pose their questions. Don then followed this up later with another chalktalk on the Web Service Software Factory where he showed off some of the latest innovations in the new version of the factory, with a few 'wow moments' from the participants. Catch up with those advancements on the codeplex site. Let's not forget: readable's, reusable's, actionable's and executable's!
For the main part of the event we got stuck into meeting many folk interested in this space and swapping experiences. I always find these times very fruitful, since in teaching others how to view a problem and solution you invariably learn many different ways of expressing the same concepts, and in that process, having a much deeper understanding yourself.
[I think you will find that interview posted in next week or so. I'll update this post when that content becomes available]
In the interview I promised the listeners some links to follow up with, so I am going point you to the Software Factories Swicki where you can find all good things on Software Factories.
Towards the end of the week, in our session on 'Building Your Own Software Factory' (ARC303), we aimed at conveying intermediate-level guidance on how to qualify, plan and build a factory, specifically the process part. Then demonstrate how to get started immediately from scratch using existing assets like an existing solution or a reference implementation. The feedback for this breakout session was a little varied, mostly very positive, although some commented that the content assumed too much previous knowledge of GAT and DSL, and others requested more detailed info and demos of the tools. Some didn't like the fact that most of the tools available today are from 3rd parties or open source community projects. Which is all in itself sobering testament to the lack of tools from MS in this space - believe me I hear your pain.
[For those who missed the slides at the event, you can find them at the TechEd download site (requires your attendee login)]
Finally, just before the closing of the event, we had an interesting chalk-talk on factories (in general) where we invited all the present TechEd factory experts to an expert panel to discuss various topics. This was so we could answer the most difficult questions from a varied set of view points. The panel included:
- Don Smith (Product Manager, patterns & practices)
- Gareth Jones (Lead Developer, DSL Tools)
- Michael O'Connell (Unisys)
- Suhail Dutta (Program Manager, VS Team Architect)
- Steve Eadie (EDS)
There were many good points raised and explored, but again, most of the discussions centered around the tooling and technologies involved in building factories. Also, the techniques and value of encapsulating guidance and domain knowledge into factory tools. There were many good experiences shared especially from our partners Steve and Michael based upon their real world experiences. Special thanks to them.
Personally, I am looking forward to the day when we can assume a common platform of factory tools, and the parts of a factory itself, how they hang together and inter-operate, are well understood. Then we can move onto discussions about advanced factory application, design and effective use of factories together as solutions for the betterment of the development ecosystem.
For further information, clarifications or follow up questions, please feel free to comment.