Small Business Developers Unite!


I can’t believe it’s already Sunday.  I’ve been spending all weekend (and the last few weeks) as a returning member of the VB team emersing myself in the product, specifically getting my head around how I would use VB today to build the types of solutoins when I was writing departmental applications, or applications for small businesses. I remember these days well.  1 or 2 week deadlines were usually the norm, and VB was the only reasonable solution. I remember wanting to “wow” my customers (or my boss) with how fast I could create a great user experience.

With this in mind, I took time to really learn about what it takes to create a modern application on VB today.  I chose WPF as my target projection UI, but I hadn’t played with it in over three years so I had some catching up to do.  I asked for some recommendations around Microsoft and got my hands on Charles Petzold’s Applications = Code + Markup.  At first I thought it was unfortunate that all of the samples were in C#, but it turns out that by rewriting all of the samples in VB.NET, it forced me to not only get up to speed on WPF, but also to catch up on a few language and tool improvements that I haven’t tracked over the last few years.  I highly recommend this exercise for those that have time, and am happy to help if anyone gets stuck.

Now I am focussing on how I can build the applications that I used to build.  It was always easy to build the first 90%, but the reamining 10% edge cases were much tougher.  If anyone else is on this journey I’d love to follow it with you.  Recently I have been working with Infragistics WPF data controls and finding it reducing a lot of work for me. I am sure there are others out there (I’ve started playing with Xceeed’s grid as well).

I am looking to learn from the community what are the pain points in rapidly building applications that are mostly what we call “forms over data”.  Brad Abram’s indicated in his post we are looking immediately for some local inspiration and make some site visits.  If you are able to do this email Brad or myself (

For those that are more distant, as I indicated in my previous blog entry we have opened a Small Business Developer’s Center, and supporting Forum.  This forum I will be personally monitoring closely.  Also note, I am not limiting discussions to WPF or any specific technology.  I’d love to foster a community of small business developers not only code (and certainly not just WPF) ideas or snippets are shared and problems addressed, but also general idea sharing around how to be a successful developer for small businesses.

Time to get back to coding.  It’s funny, I was asked the other day by a couple, “What do you do for fun?” I answered “I write code.”  Ahh, the blank stares of confusion.  No it’s not all I do for fun, but it is on the top of my list (along with wiping out teenagers in CounterStrike Source).

Patrick Dengler

Senior Program Manager Lead



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