The complete sum of my thoughts on an ALT.Net revival

There’s been a lot of chatter online lately about trying to revive Alt.Net or something new like it (see Mark Rendle’s take and Ian Cooper’s among others). I was there for the entire, brief lifecycle of Alt.Net (yeah, I know that it’s stuck around a lot longer in the UK and Australia, but it’s deader than a doorknob here in the US). The sum total of my thoughts on the subject are:

  • It would be awesome if there was just more developer community in .Net that wasn’t driven by Microsoft to discuss topics that just don’t fit into the standard .Net user groups or code camps.
  • I’m still iffy on the new csproj format and wish they had a more coherent story around the dotnet/netcore/netstandard tooling, but I really feel like .Net and C# are heading in a good direction right now overall.
  • Only speaking for myself personally, I feel like I’ve gotten a hand several times from MS folks on my OSS efforts in the last couple years. It might be time to retire some of the past criticism of MS for steamrolling OSS tools.
  • If you’re going to do it, find some way to characterize it as an “and also” addition to the .Net world and community and definitely not an “instead of” thing. Don’t try to make it be a completely separate pole of community and ecosystem compared to the mainstream .Net world. Try super hard to do it in a way that won’t piss off .Net developers that aren’t part of it. Definitely try to avoid any appearance of being anti-Microsoft as an ideological stance.
  • Stay on MS’s good side and try to avoid getting permanently tarred as “why so mean” by them. Besides, it’s almost impossible to get any traction around OSS tools or development techniques in the .Net world without an assist from MS.
  • The Alt.Net open spaces conferences were an awesome experience and I’ve never been involved with any kind of development event that was on that level. I learned a lot, and back then it was very rare to have any chance to talk about topics like Agile development or DDD that weren’t really discussed at all in .Net user groups or in MSDN literature. I think there’s still plenty of use for that kind of thing and I’d be plenty happy to participate in similar events.
  • Count me out as part of any kind of formal “movement,” because I don’t ever want to set myself up to be called an elitist jerk by the greater community ever again. Here and there, that kind of criticism is just the price of being visible as a developer and software developers are a cranky bunch even in the best of circumstances, but the backlash from the mainstream .Net programming celebrities back in ’07-’08 was awful. I know many folks only remember the caustic personalities in, but I distinctly remember the MVP/Regional Director/.Net conference speakers being pretty nasty to us too.

4 thoughts on “The complete sum of my thoughts on an ALT.Net revival

  1. “Alt.Net open spaces conferences were an awesome experience” – I agree, they were great and highly worthwhile. Also have to concur with easing up on the elitist side of things and the ‘anti-‘ segregation – it’s not your dad’s MS anymore, they get it now that other tech worlds and OSS have good ideas as well and leverage is the name of the game. I’ve personally been off MS and .Net entirely for several years and into the linux, node, nosql, cloud, devops, etc with no particular regrets mainly because all tech and stacks have their strengths and weakness. I could just as easily swing back the other way too now that .Net is getting all cross-platform except for the fact that MS inexplicably somehow considers devs a profit center with their ridiculous subscriptions. In general I’d say it also helps if one remains a bit skeptical of all of it, avoid getting emotionally invest in any of it, and really avoid any form of religiosity at all cost.

  2. What would the “alt” refer to these days? Unless I am completely crazy, I feel like most of the stuff we were all talking about back then reached mainstream .Net. Off the top of my head – and at a high level – I am thinking about things like testing in all forms, continuous integration, open source, various architectures (or just building stuff the right way) and software craftsmanship in general. If you would have told me back then that MS would be doing what they are doing now with open source, I would not have believed you. But it’s a whole new world now.

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