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More developer guidance from Microsoft

If you haven't yet discovered the Microsoft Patterns & Practices Web site, you're missing a good thing. Over the last year or so, these folks have pumped out a tremendous amount of advice for developers and systems administrators, on topics from security to application architecture, as well as plenty of sample code. When you've got an afternoon to spare, you should drop by the site and poke around. Meanwhile, here are two interesting recent publications you should be aware of.

Application Interoperability: Microsoft .NET and J2EE offers 355 pages of guidance on making the different systems in your enterprise play nice together. Anyone who's bounced around the industry a bit knows that a single-vendor architecture is extremely unusual in a company of any size; most of us are faced with integration problems on a regular basis.

The book starts with an overview of its contents, and then provides a chapter that will be helpful to most developers: it introduces the two platforms. The section on .NET is written for the experienced J2EE developer, and vice versa. If you're about to embark on your first interoperability project, this chapter will help you get your bearings quickly.

From there, the book concentrates on three main integration scenarios:

  • Integrating .NET components at the presentation tier, while keeping J2EE at the business and data tiers
  • Integrating .NET components at the business tier, while using JSP servlets at the presentation tier
  • Implementing asynchronous interop by using one of several message queueing components

You'll find each of these scenarios explained in detail, complete with sample code and implementation instructions.

The other title, Improving .NET Application Performance and Scalability is so new that it's not even on the Patterns & Practices site yet. How can I be reading it then? The answer is that it's being developed in an open workspace on Microsoft's collaborative GotDotNet workspaces site. You can not only read the draft, but you can comment on it and perhaps contribute to the final product.

While I do not believe that every line of code in every appliation needs to be optimized (it's easy to waste a lot of money squeezing out unnecessary performance increments), it's certain that sooner or later you'll run into a performance issue that does need to be fixed. When that happens in .NET code, this manual may be the key to a cost-effective solution.

After introducing performance concepts and fundamentals, the book talks about how to design and architect applications for performance. It then follows up this general advice wich chapters on specific technologies: ASP.NET, Web services, data access and so on. The next section talks about a crucial issue that many developers miss: testing and tuning. If you don't test your applications (before and after making changes), you'll never know if your changes are helping, yet many developers skip this basic step.

The final part of the book is a set of "How To" sections covering such topics as the use of the CLR Profiler, monitoring the ASP.NET threadpool, using the EIF, and so on.

These two books are a small sampling of the offerings on the Patterns & Practices site. If you're designing and building serious .NET applications, you owe it to yourself and your clients to make use of this solid resource.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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