Monthly Archives: June 2004

In case you’ve been living under a blog rock…

VB 2005 Beta 1 (as well as the beta of those “other” languages) is now available. Not only that, but VB Express, a lightweight version of the product is also available (and there’s an Express weblog). The cool, new MSDN Product Feedback Center is on-line now, ready to take your suggestions and bugs. And, finally Channel 9 is running a contest for applications written in VB express. Check it all out!

Request for Feedback (or, Your Chance to Influence My Review)

As Chris has mentiond, it’s review season again, which means that employees all over Microsoft are dusting off last year’s reviews and beginning to write up their goals for the coming year. Kind of like New Year’s resolutions, but with money involved. Anyway, one common part of review season is a flood of emails from managers saying something along the lines of,

You are a person who has been identified as having worked or had contact with Bob over the past year. I would appreciate it if you could send me some feedback on Bob’s performance over the year. How has it gone overall? What has Bob done particularly well? What suggestions would you have for improving Bob’s performance? Thanks for any comments.

Not every manager does this, of course, but it’s happened fairly regularly in the groups I’ve been in. And, in general, it’s been a good thing to do – you get a diversity of opinions, you get to see more broadly how effective a report is being, you identify positives and negatives that you or the report might not have thought of, etc, etc. More than a few times, anonymous quotes from the responses my manager has gotten from these queries have shown up on my review and they’ve always been enormously helpful, even if they’re critical of something that I’ve been doing (or not been doing).

As I’ve started thinking about my review this year, however, I realize that I’m in a somewhat interesting situation. A non-trivial amount of my past year has been spent interacting not with people inside of the company, who my manager can email, but with people out in the community. My book has been a significant part of that, but this blog and various newsgroups have played a bit of a role as well. A lot of the impact of those things – whether positive or negative – can be difficult to quantify because the benefits are less concrete. For the internal stuff, I can say “Well, I resolved x bugs and closed down y issues and solved this really big problem.” But all the work that’s gone into the community is a little harder to nail down because it’s so diffuse. Sometimes, I’m not even sure anybody’s reading anymore… until I say something about C#, that is.

So, I’m going to try an experiment. What I’d like is feedback on my community performance over the past year (coincidentally, I’ve been blogging almost exactly a year) from whoever wishes to provide feedback. How has it gone overall? What have I done particularly well? What suggestions would you have for improving my performance? What would you like to see that I’m not doing? Please don’t constrain yourself to comments just about the blog – feel free to comment on any aspect of my community involvement (book, talks, newsgroups, etc). The more specific you can be (”It was very helpful when you said x.” “I really dislike it when you do y.” “I wish that you would do more z.”), the more useful the feedback is.

Since I’m not going to be giving out my manager’s email address (I do want to have a hope of getting a good review), you’ll have to leave anonymous comments either here or on the comment form. Either one is good, although you can certainly feel free to leave the good stuff here and the bad stuff in the comment form… just kidding. I promise (and you’ll have to take my word here) that all reasonable feedback, positive and critical, will be forwarded to my manager to be considered during my review. By “reasonable,” I mean that feedback that is not incoherent, spam, obscene or patently without redeeming value. I also reserve the right to withdraw the request in the case that this request somehow goes horribly, disastrously awry. Since this isn’t Slashdot, I feel fairly confident it won’t, but it’s best to be upfront about it.

So, what do you think?

Best VB bloggers

A few weeks ago, I asked for recommendations for non-Microsoft VB bloggers. Without further ado, here are the lists…

“Community Seal of Approval” Blogs (blogs that got at least one recommendation)

“Not Afraid to Toot My Own Horn“ Blogs (blogs that recommended themselves)

“Honorable Mention“ Blogs (blogs that weren’t mentioned but probably should have been)

If there are any you think I missed, feel free to add more comments!

VBParser samples

I’ve gotten a bunch of requests for sample code to show how to use VBParser, and I have to apologize for not providing that off the bat. It came down to a choice between releasing the library as-is or taking some extra time to put together some samples and then releasing it, and I ended up deciding it was better to just get it out there. I’m planning to work on some simple samples and adding them to the workspace, or others can feel free to join the workspace and do so. [07/12/2014: The sources are now on GitHub.] I realize that it can be a bit difficult to figure out where to start!

I did get trackback from the overflow blog pointing to a sample application that he wrote to explore parse trees, so that might function in a pinch (disclaimer: I haven’t looked at the sample code, so I have no idea how comprehensible it is).

Happy Bloomsday!

The Writer’s Almanac reminded me that today is the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday – the day that the fictional Leopold Bloom spent wandering the streets of Dublin in James Joyce’s Ulysses. I’d like to say that when I read the book in college that I understood even half of it, but I’d be lying. However, somewhere along the line, something weird happened: I stopped trying to actually understand what I was reading and instead just let the words flow through my mind. Once I’d let go of that, I started enjoying the book much more because even though I was no longer comprehending every obscure reference, I was getting a much better idea of the overall meaning. And, in the end, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy was quite affecting. So happy 100th anniversary, Leopold, Stephen and Molly!

(If you’ve never read Joyce before, I’d highly recommend Dubliners before Ulysses. A much more approachable book and the final story, “The Dead,” is a true masterpiece.)

VBParser source code added…

Bill pointed out that I didn’t have a nice zipped up source release to go with the binary, so I added one. [07/12/2014: The sources are now on GitHub.] It looks like people were starting to join the workspace just so they could get the source, so I just declined them for now so people could pick up the source zip if that’s all they wanted. If you want to join the workspace to make contributions, just reapply. The more the merrier!

VBParser Beta 1 released…

When I started this blog a year ago, one of the things that I mentioned that I was working on in my spare time was a scanner and parser for the Visual Basic language. It’s kind of been on the back burner, behind things like VB 2005 and the book, but it’s finally gotten complete enough to release! I created a GotDotNet workspace [07/12/2014: The sources are now on GitHub.] for the code, and there’s a binary release there as well.

I’m calling this release a “beta” because although I’ve run my own tests on it, I haven’t subjected it to enough stress to be 100% confident in it. (Keep in mind: this is just a sample that I’ve worked on in my own time. It’s not an official Microsoft thing, so I’m the developer and tester.) If you find bugs, feel free to submit them to the workspace and I’ll see about getting them fixed. If you’d like to contribute something, sign up for the workspace! For now, the parser only supports the language we shipped in VB 2003. As time goes on, I’ll look into extending it for VB 2005.

The goal of the parser, besides being a fun side project in VB for me, is to be available to anyone who might want or need to scan or parse VB code. I’m hoping it will encourage people to write tools that work with VB code, and I have a few ideas of my own… Once I get some more time to spend on other side projects, that is. I’m not holding my breath…

Interesting take on the VB mentality…

Ted Neward has an interesting take on the VB mentality and it’s meaning in an entry entitled “The problem of “Do It Yourself” and Java”. A small quote:

[…] The VB community has long been a community that focuses on “getting the job done”, no matter what it takes, which of course to the ears of a C++ guy has that evil and despised overtone of “HACK” written all over it. The C++ guy would MUCH rather find the elegant solution, rather than live with code that smells. Unfortunately, this sort of thinking tends to lead towards solutions that are single-shot and specific to the project (if not the company) that creates it. […] It’s a problem I’d never seen before until I started spending more time in the company of those who actually come from that community. […] Don’t believe me? Take some time to hang out with the local VB crowd for a while, and just see how different their approach, styles, and thought patterns are. And don’t, for God’s sake, look down on their way of doing things, or you’ll be missing the point entirely.

The entry is definitely worth checking out!