Time to unburden my soul. For the past several years, I’ve spent a vanishingly small amount of time investigating and working with technologies outside of the Microsoft stack. Other than grumpily assisting a family member who works with PHP on a few issues he was having working with MySQL, and participating in a Joomla project at last year’s New England Give Camp, I haven’t recently dug in on many other platforms. Oh, I also spent a weekend writing an app for my Android phone, which was fun, but still not sufficient for me to be able to make the claim that I am an agnostic technologist. My justification for my narrow technological focus was that Microsoft was doing such a good job sustaining .NET as a progressively growing platform that I could easily exhaust my intellectual curiosity exploring the added features, technologies, patterns and practices, and community driven implementations right here in good old .NET.
Recently however, my eyes have been opened to the value of stepping back from my IDE and taking a deeper look at alternate implementations. I’ve lately had the good fortune to work with John Zablocki (you can find his blog at dllhell.net), who has prompted me to climb out of all things Microsoft, and take a look around. John is a very strong advocate for open source technologies and the notion that working with other technologies has the potential to substantially enrich a developer’s capabilities. He relocated from NYC to Boston, and immediately established himself in the developer community here by forming a new Alt .NET user group, BeanTownAlt.NET. Alt.NET is a community of developers who, while commited to the Microsoft platform, do not limit themselves to it, and instead will push into other development communities for the best solution to problem. There are other principles that drive the Alt .NET community, and a good sumation was written by Jeremy D. Miller and can be found here.
This community has opened my eyes to the importance of working with other technologies. Recently I’ve spent time working with Node.js, Python, and LightSwitch. I’ve only just begun working with them, but I’ve found them to be extremely invigorating and worth the time to get to know a little better.