I started this year by taking over the lead of a big project for the Belgian government. The project is an e-learning environment created mainly with Flex, WebORB, .NET, MSMQ and MSSQLServer 2005. Daily hundreds of candidates go to Brussels were they are being tested by our software. Typically some 300 candidates start off at the same time to take a test.
So what have I learned this year (some of the things ):
- Indexes are very important because they can speed up things a lot. However they can also be misused!!! So read about them.
- Stored Procedures made it easy to quickly write logic (transaction scripts). However it’s hard to maintain these Stored Procedures and Cache dependencies don’t work with complex Stored Procedures.
- MetaData was a very usefull mechanism to add new logic in Flex without having to change table designs.
- We also used MetaData for tags which wasn’t the best choice.
- I didn’t have a lot of experience in the beginning of this year so things kind of moved in the direction of Transaction Scripts. They aren’t a bad choice but as the project gets complexer, transaction scripts are difficult to maintain.
- SubSonic (o/r mapping tool) did it job very good but I’m not very pleased with the lack of documentation, tutorials and clear explanations. I will certainly look into nHibernate and Entity Framework and see how they work with some of the patterns described in ‘Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture’ by Fowler. In the future the project will certainly need to be scalable so things will have to change.
- Visual Studio is a great IDE.
IIS and ASP.NET
- By default IIS recycles application pools every 29 hours (will come back to that later because this caused a lot of problems).
- HttpHandlers are great.
- Cache is a very important feature if you want to speed up your application.
- Very good choice for our client side development. Application development however is far more complex than writing web pages in .NET. If you need your code to be maintainable you need to know about design patterns, frameworks, refactoring, architecture, … Those things are mainly things you learn after having used them a couple of years.
- We now work with modules but in the future we will have to check out those shared libraries as well. Our application is now 2mb big so some kind of intelligent caching will be needed.
- Prana is great to configure your application externally. Check it out!
- The Flexbuilder Eclipse Plugin is a waste of memory and I hope Adobe tries to improve this in the future. Building our project takes far too long.
- Resource bundles could be made easier.
- Designing a Flex application is a hard thing because you really need a designer who knows some basic things about Flex.
- Implementing Pessimistic Concurrency with Messaging was a very hard one this year!
- Looking forward to create a desktop application version of our project.
- Great product. FluorineFX is the open source alternative, but WebORB has a lot more features. Without a support plan however some things are really hard to debug.
- Authentication and Authorization is worth to take a look at, but it’s important to fully understand it.
- WebORB messaging integration with MSMQ is great to let other applications know what’s happening.
Other tools that have been very usefull are CvsDude, Trac, Mylyn, SubVersion, Charles, SQL Compare, SQL Data Compare, ant, cruisecontrol, Linq, SilverLight (very promising), Spring,…