Four years ago this week I moved in to - what was then - a newly-built office, shown below:
As somebody commented back then it looks like all it needs is a Ladies / Gentlemen sign above each door. They were right - it does have the look of a public convenience to it. The plan was to grow ivy up it as a form of camouflage and soon after it was built I planted ivy plants along its length.
Here's what it looks like now, four years on:
I was expecting that, by now it would be completely covered in ivy. But it ain't. Why not?
Notice the far end (past the office door) is completely covered. Here I planted an ivy plant that was in tub left by the previous owners. As expected it's gone bonkers and achieved the desired results.
The other ivy you can see was bought from garden centres and has barely grown. Not only that but it's not sticking to the wall and I've had to hold it up with the wood you can see, which I'd rather not need to be there.
The ivy nearest to the camera I cut right back the other day, thinking it might need a fresh start. Somebody told me that only new growth sticks to the wall. Maybe the growth I was seeing was from non-sticking existing growth.
I know this is a strange request but it's becoming a bit of an obsession for me now. It's driving me nuts. How hard can it be to grow ivy?! I always thought it was a menace, that, given a chance, consumes everything in its path.
What type of ivy do I need to buy to get the "mile a minute" stuff?
The fact that I'm learning SharePoint development (again) might seem like an about turn, seeing as though I didn't have much good to say about it a couple of years back when I first delved in.
But back then I was using SharePoint 2007, which by all accounts, was a dog. In comparison SharePoint 2010 is a dream to work with. Dare I say it, it's almost enjoyable.
this is some code
My adventures with SharePoint back then were short-lived. Although it was enough to give me a good grounding and understanding of what's involved, but not so much to mean I don't have to re-learn lots of the finer detail of it from scratch again this time round.
So, I already have an understanding of what SharePoint is and what the key design elements are. But I still want to learn it all over again - from scratch - and here's how I'm doing that.
I've always been a believer in learning by messing. "Messy play" if you will. Dig in and get your hands dirty. It's how I've learnt most of what I know about the technologies I currently use. I've never been on a formal training course or to any conference lectures or read many books.
In the past I've been asked by Lotus Notes developers to recommend books to learn web development. I always just said get in there and mess with it and have never recommended any books.
However, with SharePoint this approach doesn't seem as applicable (I've tried in the past to learn SharePoint by playing with it and it gets you nowhere fast).
I've gone against my own advice and turned back to books. Albeit a more modern approach, which you can see in the photo below, where I have an iPad next to my keyboard, running the Kindle app and within easy reach for a left-handed flip of the page every now and then.
I'm working my way through the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Developer Reference and am about 26% of the way through it. It's a good book and I'd recommend it based on what I've read so far.
As I work through the book I'm also following along from inside Visual Studio, using the downloadable source code that accompanies the book.
The book assumes some working knowledge of ASP.NET (in particular "classic" WebForms), which, thankfully, I have and without which the book wouldn't make as much sense as it is doing. If you're going to learn SharePoint and have no experience of ASP.NET and or IIS then you may well struggle a little.
If you're coming to SharePoint straight from a pure Lotus Notes development angle, with little web development knowledge, then I'm not sure how well you'll do. There are many parallels between the Notes paradigms and those used in SharePoint which make the transition between the two relatively easy, but there's no escaping the fact it's a pure web platform you're moving to.
At the same time as reading the above book I'm also reading Programming C# 4.0 (even though SharePoint 2010 supports a lesser version of C#, it's still a relevant read). I'm reading this book on my Kindle, while away from the desk.
I bought a Kindle Touch last week on impulse while in Tesco and I'm so glad I did. I'd always assumed it would be superfluous, seeing as though I have an iPad, but the Kindle is different enough to allow it a worthy place in our house.
It's entirely feasible that you could have been a Notes/Domino (client/web) developer for 10+ years and have little idea what a class is. Let alone an interface or a delegate or what it means to extend classes. If this is the case you're in for a rude awakening. Although the above C# book is good in that it takes things easy and assumes little prior coding experience.
Luckily for me I'm not in that position as I've delved in to other technologies outside of Domino enough times to have needed to learn about the fundamentals of programming. Despite this I'm still reading back through the whole of the Programming C# book merely as a refresher course.
Taking it Further
As well as the two books mentioned above, I have bought a handful of other SharePoint books to work through as well as an exam study-guide, using which I plan to become a Microsoft certified SharePoint developer.
Here are the SharePoint books I've added to my Kindle app so far:
Yeah, I know. I got a bit carried away. O'Reilly had a 50% off for a day deal going on. All in, when including purchasing Visual Studio 2010 Pro and a Kindle and all the above books it's been a heavy investment so far. You can see I'm not taking the idea lightly.
Ultimately my challenge is - as with learning anything new - to do something interesting and useful with the new-found knowledge. Reading is one thing; doing is another. I'm going to create an actual working site in SharePoint. That is probably the point at which it will become interesting for you guys to follow along.