It Gets Difficult

Going from LAMP to .NET is not the only big challenge here. No, I am on the big rollercoaster. Everything I've ever known is out the window. Everything I see is new. It is the most amazing thing. One thing is the use of frameworks. I've never, ever really done it before. Big change in mindset to open my head to other people's ideas with the knowledge that I am stuck with them for the foreseeable future. All this MVC? Probably not the biggest change, but still, I've taken it on at a level that I never considered before. ORM is going to kick my ass. I'm getting ready to be serious about it, but each time I dig, I find the layers of complication exploding and shrink from the immensity. I don't know if it's the right thing to do but I do know. It is. But I'm not sure because it looks so hard.

But this all adds up to a whole new consideration of architecture because, this time, I'm not making a website, I'm writing an application. There are a lot of increased responsibilities with that. Domain driven design. Test driven design. Unit testing. We haven't even talked about actually accomplishing the business needs.

We did a technical review of the project yesterday. I'm happy to say that it went well. I spent three hours telling the boss and the rest of the team why I have been doing all the things I've recorded in this blog. Some are not really web types and so I got to review my understanding of MVC. I talked about the alternatives I've rejected. Discussed the organization of my code, it's structures and my plan to move it forward. The rest of the folks were nice about it and I got a green light to move forward with this architecture.

I'm still really in R&D mode. If you look below, you'll see that I've basically implemented a category/detail demo. It uses .NET MVC to operate the database and JavascriptMVC for the user interface and control. This is strictly a business app and does not have to work for the random public. That means I can write the app in Javascript and use C# as a data service. This is very cool.
At present the app data flows one direction, outbound. My next step is to get some new data and send it back to the server then database. Time to close the loop.

I spent today putting my fingers to the keyboard, sighing. Pausing. Waiting. Getting a cup of coffee. Putting my fingers on the keyboard. Sighing. ... It turns out that there a lot of considerations for this next step. Not only have I been taken away from the safety of still just trying to figure out what to do and placed in the category of, We like it. How long will it take, but I now have to push through territory I already own.

On the outbound journey, I was pioneering. Everything that worked at all was a gift. Simple and barely working was all I want. Now, though, I have a lot of the structures in place and feel like I need to improve everything on the way. That is, it's nice to figure out how to send data back to the database but I don't really want to invest the time without also making progress toward the good solution.

Bottom line on this blab is that I spent all day to realize that my big issue is the one I have always known is the most important single one: data structures. I am stymied because I don't know what sort of objects I am going to pass between C# and Javascript. Objects, obviously. In JSON, of course, but what objects and where are they.

After a while, I started to experiment with the objects I am receiving from the database already. (I had, of course, done so before but really just grabbed the bits I needed to display). It turns out that doing a LINQ query for a set of categories also brings along a set of details, just as one would hope. I can get that and, I suppose, operate on it. That is, as the user enters data, I can store it in that object and eventually send it back to the server. I will have to write a method that plucks it apart and saves the stuff that's changed, make it persist.

Persist!!! That's what nHibernate does. I cycle around my nightmare and try to find a chink in nHibernate's armor. That puts me into despair and, when I'm in despair I procrastinate. In this case, I read a lot about nHibernate and it's handy band of added tools. But, it also caused me to pass through SOA (service oriented architecture) and SOAP. Suddenly I think, maybe I'm resisting the wrong thing. Maybe this should be a SOAP interface. Grab me a WSDL, instantiate a few objects, talk to the database via SOAP.

Is is that making a mountain out of a molehill? My head is going to explode.