I’m a huge fan of the St. Louis .NET User Group and a regular attendee of their meetings, but always wished there was a local group that discussed more advanced .NET topics. (That’s not a criticism of the group - I appreciate that they want to server developers with a broad range of skill levels).
That’s why I was thrilled when Nicholas Cloud started a St. Louis ALT.NET group in 2010. Here’s the “about us” statement from the group’s web site:
The ALT.NET community is a loosely coupled, highly cohesive group of like-minded individuals who believe that the best developers do not align themselves with platforms and languages, but with principles and ideas. In 2007, David Laribee created the term "ALT.NET" to explain this "alternative" view of the Microsoft development universe--a view that challenged the "Microsoft-only" approach to software development. He distilled his thoughts into four key developer characteristics which form the basis of the ALT.NET philosophy:
- You're the type of developer who uses what works while keeping an eye out for a better way.
- You reach outside the mainstream to adopt the best of any community: Open Source, Agile, Java, Ruby, etc.
- You're not content with the status quo. Things can always be better expressed, more elegant and simple, more mutable, higher quality, etc.
- You know tools are great, but they only take you so far. It's the principles and knowledge that really matter. The best tools are those that embed the knowledge and encourage the principles (e.g. Resharper.)
The St. Louis ALT.NET meetup group is a place where .NET developers can learn, share, and critique approaches to software development on the .NET stack. We cater to the highest common denominator, not the lowest, and want to help all St. Louis .NET developers achieve a superior level of software craftsmanship.
I don’t see a lot of ALT.NET talk in blogs these days. The movement was harmed early on by the negative attitudes of some of its early leaders, including jerk moves like the Entity Framework “vote of no confidence”, but I do see occasional mentions of local groups like the St. Louis one. I think ALT.NET has been successful at bringing some of its ideas into the .NET world, including heavily influencing ASP.NET MVC and raising the general level of software craftsmanship for developers working on the Microsoft stack. The ideas and ideals live on, they’re just not branded as “this is ALT.NET!”
In the past 18 months, St. Louis ALT.NET meetups have discussed topics like:
- F# and other functional languages
- “How Ruby Is Making Me a Stronger C# Developer”
- Using rake for builds
- .NET dynamic programming
- micro web frameworks – Nancy & Jessica
ALT.NET doesn’t mean (to me, anyway) “alternatives to .NET”, but “alternatives for .NET”. We look at how things are done in Ruby and other languages/platforms, but always with the idea “What can I learn from this to take back to my “day job” with .NET?”.
Meetings are held at 7PM on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the offices of Professional Employment Group. PEG is located at 999 Executive Parkway (Suite 100 – lower level) in Creve Coeur (South of Olive off of Mason Road - Here's a map).
Food is not supplied (sorry if you’re a big fan of the Papa John’s Crust-Lovers’ Pizza that’s a staple of user group meetings), but attendees are encouraged to come early and bring/share beer, so that’s cool.
Thanks to Nick for organizing, and to Professional Employment Group for lending their offices.
Please visit the meetup site for more information.