Live From VSLive!: Five Questions With Paul Sheriff on Architecting ASP.NET
In his VSLive! preconference workshop on Monday, .NET author and consultant
Paul Sheriff, president of PDSA
gave his full-day "Architecting ASP.NET" presentation to a ballroom
full of attendees. We caught up with Paul right after his talk to find out more
about the challenges -- and opportunities -- in architecting ASP.NET.
What do you think the biggest mistake is that people make when architecting ASP.NET?
Paul Sheriff: Probably just not wrapping up enough stuff in
Microsoft's tools in ASP.NET. Sometimes I need to store my settings in the config
file, and sometimes I need to move it to the registry. The problem is if I'm
using the configuration manager to do the retrieval in those settings...I have
to change everywhere that I've used that. Had I wrapped up the settings -- put
a wrapper around the configuration manager call -- I could have changed the
code in one place.
That's pervasive everywhere: ADO.NET...exception handling, configuration management. You need to wrap up more and more so you have the ability to change it in one place.
What's the most challenging aspect of moving from 1.1 to 2.0?
P.S.: There's nothing really revolutionary from 1.0 to 1.1 to 2.0. [Microsoft] made things easier. The biggest challenge that I see from most corporate developers is they're coming from desktop development -- coming from VB 6, coming maybe even from Windows Forms in .NET -- and now they have this whole state management thing to worry about. That's what I think trips most people up. Dealing with, 'Gosh, I do this page, I grab this data and now the data is gone.'
Even today, I covered a lot of stuff in my session that I consider fairly basic, but a lot of people are seeing for the first time....I think it's [because] there's so much in there. They learn one way, and that's it -- that's all they do. They don't go on and learn about the other ways that might be better.
What is your favorite feature or tool of ASP.NET 2.0?
P.S.: In 2.0, it definitely has to be GridView. In the previous
versions of .NET, we had the DataGrid. With the DataGrid, we had to write code
for sorting and paging. It wasn't a lot of code, but you had to write it. [With
2.0] even the selecting and built-in editing in GridView -- it's all done. No
code. That saved a lot of coding right there.
There's one other [feature] that I think deserves mention and that's the object
data source. The object data source now lets us -- without any code -- substantiate
an object. It lets us take a business object that we've already created and
bind directly to that. That was something we didn't have before; we always had
to go through a data source.
Those two things right there just made our lives a lot easier.
You work with ASP.NET all the time. Is there anything in ASP.NET that still surprises you?
P.S.: There's not too much that's surprising. I think in every
version that comes out we get some better utilities -- I think that Microsoft
gets better [at helping us]. In certain areas of .NET 1.1 it took 10 lines
of code to do something. Now it takes zero in 2.0. So I think the surprise is
really coming with each version, and they're good surprises.
What do you think the biggest misconception is about architecting ASP.NET?
P.S.: I don't think it's a misconception or mistake...I think
it's the lack of architecture. It's that people haven't thought about
architecture, haven't thought about wrapping things up, haven't thought about
the provider model. I think that's the biggest problem we see out there. I go
into a lot of shops to clean up...and I walk in and there's code all over the
place, and a lot of the same duplicate code all over the place. That's lack
It's more that people don't think ahead of time; they don't think about building
classes, creating things that are generic that they can reuse. They're just
so heads-down coding on the business problem they're trying to solve, they're
not focusing the big picture.