Friday, October 28, 2011

ASP.Net – Code Behind and the Times

In 2001 Microsoft gave us ASP.Net.  The successor to what we now call “Classic ASP”. This brought the full power of the Visual Studio IDE to web development. Allowing us to write “Code Behind” in our favorite language, either Visual Basic or C#, for WebForms development inside Visual Studio.

This was a significant improvement to Classic ASP and to the developers ability to quickly produce web applications based on Microsoft Technology.  Up till then we had to use Visual Interdev. And was that a mess or what?

While I was an engineer at FM Global back in 2001, I was on the team that adopted .Net while it was still in beta.  (I know, pretty progressive for an insurance company, huh.) We had Microsoft consultants on site what seemed to be 24/7. We were learning a completely new way to code in a completely new IDE. Visual Studio .Net was simply amazing to all of us.  We were all Visual Basic developers then and being able to code using VB in this new environment was fantastic.

A couple of years later we were building an extranet application for our clients to be able to access their insurance information on the web.  We had been programming in .Net for a while but we were still VB programmers.  We were writing procedural code in an Object Oriented world.  There were some Code Behind methods that were several hundred lines of code long and full of spaghetti.

This is when we started learning about how VB can be a fully object oriented language and about utilizing Agile development techniques to help with the quality of our code.  It all started to come together. Our designs improved because we started to design our code to be testable. Our time to build and release methods were being revamped so we could be more efficient.  We were using code generation tools. It was a time of great learning.  We made our share of mistakes but all-in-all it was good.

Why do I reflect on such times?  I was reminded about these times because I am currently working with a group that is in a very similar situation.  Folks who are mostly COBOL programmers learning ASP.Net for the first time or are early in their object oriented programming learning and none of them have any Agile exposure at all.  I am sharing my experiences with them to help them grasp some of these concepts.

While doing a code review, one finds an asp button with an OnClick event that has 300+ lines of code in it, one is reminded of these times.  I am coaching my team in the craftsmanship of Agile Software Development, Object Oriented Programming and ASP.Net. So it behooves me to try to remember where I was and remind myself that there was a time when I wrote 300+ lines of code in a single method.  Well, maybe not that much but still…

Till next time…

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