Guest Blog: All Your Base Are Belong To Us: Enterprise Developers & Database Versioning

This week’s blog is from Jon Cwiak (Blog | Twitter), senior software engineer at Humana, Microsoft Certified Professional at building things, and Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET speaker. He’s going to introduce us to Database Versioning.


Every once and while you stumble on an internet meme that haven’t seen in years. In the late 1990’s the internet gifted us a popular catchphrase the swept the world. “All Your Base Are Belong to Us” came from a video game called Zero Wing from 1989 with a poorly translated Japanese to English phrase in one of the opening scenes. I stumbled over this again the other day and it got me thinking; not only about video games but about databases. Are developers really getting “all of your base” when it comes to their database & development process? I don’t think they are.

Like the video games from the late 80’s early 90’s, thinking about a database outside of source control seems so dated….until you have a conversation with one of the many “dark matter” developers as Scott Hanselman so prophetically coined. Enterprise developers in large shops are often insulated from the state of the art or simply work for shops that don’t embrace change as swiftly as the rest of the interwebs. Enter database versioning; during conversations it often amazes me that the data tier of many application are often not in source control and/or may linger on shared servers; dark places where it’s so easy to change something…. but also so very easy to drop that really important table you’ve been designing, or stored procedure your colleague has been tuning. When asked about versioning, developers react as though tables, views, stored procedures, etc are something other than code. No friends, database backups are not a form of source control.

Database versioning is nothing new; Tooling has been around for your favorite database platforms forever but somehow developers have not fully embraced these tools or realized that they can go faster and develop with less fear if they embrace such tools. Over the years, the solutions on the Microsoft stack have evolved from copies of text files in Visual Source Safe to modern SSDT & TFS. The following is a brief history of the tools and why you want to reconsider what you’re getting from you “base”.

Visual Studio Puberty Edition

Back when Visual Studio was going through “the change”, we had Database Projects. These projects allowed us to put code in source control, get cool features like deployment and round tripping, compare database schemas and so many other neato features. But these features were limited, had problems with enterprise deployment scenarios, and were often not very good for multiple developer use cases. Development in 2005/2008 was downright medieval; it’s time to grow up.

 Figure 1-Medieval Development with a VS2005 Database Project

Figure 1-Medieval Development with a VS2005 Database Project

Visual Studio Young Adult Edition

Visual Studio grew up, went to college, got a job, and entered the enterprise. Enter Visual Studio reasonably current (2012/2013); These editions of VS now come armed and ready to rock with the SQL Server Data Tools platform….and oh what a difference it makes. SSDT is the replacement tooling introduced for VS2010 to replace the aging Team System Database Projects. SSDT provides rich integration with Visual Studio while allowing itself to be updated out of band as new fixes and features are shipped. Gone are the days when VS versions had to match SQL Server targets; SSDT now supports targeting to allow you to deploy to SQL Server 2008 and better. Deployment is better; Migration is better; Life is better.

Figure 2- Visual Studio in the Enlightenment Era SSDT

Figure 2- Visual Studio in the Enlightenment Era SSDT

You and Your Team

If you’re not already treating your database with the respect it deserves please do so and put it under source control. If you’re using TFS, Visual Studio Online, Git via VS Online or something else, consider using SSDT to source control your assets. Using this (or any other tool) lets you and your team develop faster, with less fear, and react to scenarios where you need to deploy “the whole stack” to a new environment (including disaster recovery) using source control as the source of truth. SSDT helps me get the most out of my “base” and hope it does for you too.

Want to Learn More?

Check out the SSDT blog at

Guest Blog: Say Hello to Nancy

This week’s blog is from Adam Driscoll (Blog | Twitter), software engineering manager at Dell, PowerShell MVP, and Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET speaker. He’s going to introduce us to the Nancy framework.

Nancy is a lightweight framework for building web applications in .NET. It’s easy to get up and running and can be extended to develop complex web apps with minimal overhead. In this post we’ll look at how to get a simple Nancy instance running and serving web pages.

First, create a new console application in Visual Studio. Next, open the Package Manager Console and type ‘Install-Package Nancy’ and then ‘Install-Package Nancy.Hosting.Self’.


We now have Nancy installed with the self-hosting module referenced. This will allow us to stand up our own Nancy instance outside of any other web server like IIS. Next, we need to create a NancyModule. Nancy modules define how the Nancy server will respond to requests.

Nancy modules are automatically discovered. In this module, we handle requests coming into the server at the /beer endpoint. We will return a Beer view that dynamically populates a list of beers.


The Beer.sshtml file is included with the project as Content and copied to the output directory.


Using some simple syntax, we can auto-generate the HTML markup for creating a list item for each one of the beers created in the module.


Finally, we need to create the Nancy self-host when the console application runs. We also need to tell Windows to open the ports and reserve the URL that we are specifying. If this is not done, the server will receive an Access Denied error and we will not be able to navigate to the page.


Now it’s time to test the Nancy module. When run the first time, the Nancy host will prompt for elevation as it executes a couple netsh commands to open the routes to the server. Subsequent runs may not require this elevation. Once the host is up and running we can navigate to the endpoint with any HTML browser or client.


Nancy has much more to it than what was covered in this post. I suggest you run over to the Nancy Wiki for more information about this neat little web framework.

You can talk to Adam and learn more at Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET on Saturday, February 28, 2015 – sign up today!

15 Conferences To Attend in 2015

The Tech on Tap Brewmasters and attendees are both eager students and teachers, so we’re always looking for more opportunities to expand our knowledge. Here are some of the conferences and experiences we’re looking forward to in 2015!

DeveloperWeek – February 6-12. San Francisco, CA. Learn about HTML5, Javascript, Ruby and more. Participate in a Hackathon. Have fun!

Visual Studio Live – March 16-20, Las Vegas, NV. June 1-4, Austin TX. More locations and dates, too! A great conference for .NET developers looking to hone their skills.

SQL Saturday Madison 2015 – April 11. Madison, WI. All SQL Server, all day, for FREE.

PowerShell Summit North America 2015 – April 20-22. Charlotte, NC. Three days of deep technical education on PowerShell.

Wisconsin VMUG User Conference – April 28. Middleton, WI. A full day of VMware training from local and national experts – and it’s free!

Build – April 29-May 1. San Francisco, CA. This is the conference for developers to learn what’s new and upcoming!

Ignite – May 4-8. Chicago, IL. Microsoft’s newest conference builds on TechEd, covering topics from Azure to Yammer. Bonus: Chicago is close for most of us!

Intersections – May 18-21. Scottsdale, AZ. DEV intersection, SharePoint intersection, Office365 intersection – there’s something here for everyone.

TechWeek Chicago – June 22-28. Chicago, IL. “Techweek’s mission is to showcase, celebrate and enable emerging innovation ecosystems.”

ThatConference – August 10-12. Wisconsin Dells, WI. “Summer camp for geeks” focuses on Mobile, Web, and Cloud – and they have a killer party at the indoor waterpark!

VMworld – August 30-September 3. San Francisco, CA. Want more VMware training? This is the biggest and best conference to get it.

IT/DevConnections – September 14-17. Las Vegas, NV. Sessions on Windows, SharePoint, Azure, SQL Server and more, from independent speakers.

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – October 14-16. Houston, TX. The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Education and inspiration!

PASS Summit – October 27-30. Seattle, WA. The largest SQL Server conference in the world, with almost 200 sessions across three days, plus all-day pre-conference sessions.

AWS Summit – Various dates and locations. Direct-from-Amazon training on their cloud offerings.
Microsoft virtual conferences – Tech Days

What conferences are you excited about? Are you attending one that isn’t listed here? Tell us about it!

Tech on Tap 3.1 – Nothing but .NET


The Tech on Tap Brewmasters are putting together another event.  This time we’re taking on Microsoft .NET and hope you will come out to learn with us on Saturday February 28th 2015 from 11 am – 5pm at the Stone Cellar Brew Pub.


On February 28th we will be featuring the following sessions

11:00-12:00 LINQ – .NET’s Nifty Little Query Syntax – Adam Driscoll

1:00-2:00 Learning to Weave: AOP and Other Threads – Jon Cwiak

2:15-3:15 How do you know if the Cloud is right for you? – Larry Palmbach

In addition to the sessions, the Stone Cellar will be providing a Brewery Tour after lunch.

Click the link below to register for Nothing but .NET and join us for a day of learning and beers.


Register today!

Upcoming Tech On Tap Dates for 2015

The Tech on Tap brewmasters are at it again.  In 2015 we are planning the following events:


4.1 Nothing but .NET – this session was moved from last year, but we are planning to tackle .NET on February 28th 2015

4.2 Cloud Technologies – we will be looking at the cloud on May 16th 2015.

4.3 Microsoft SQL Server – SQL comes to Tech on Tap on October 10th 2015.

We will be putting out more details of each of these events as they get closer and some details get shored up.  We look forward to seeing you at the Stone Cellar.

Meet your Speakers – Adam Driscoll

Adam Driscoll is a software engineering manager at Dell and a PowerShell MVP. He has experience working with Microsoft .NET, Android, SQL, and C++ but focuses primarily on PowerShell API development. Since PowerShell is fast becoming the automation tool of choice for both Microsoft and IT administrators, he finds it is exciting to contribute to the platform as it evolves and advances. Adam is the author of several Visual Studio extensions including PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio. PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio adds PowerShell language support to enable features like syntax highlighting and debugging within the IDE. Adam is also an avid blogger, author of Microsoft Windows PowerShell 3.0 First Look and contributing author to PowerShell Deep Dives.

What will Adam be presenting at Nothing but .NET?

LINQ – .NETs Nifty Little Query Syntax

Language Integrated Query is a powerful query syntax built into recent versions of C# and Visual Basic .NET. LINQ is capable of being utilized with any number of data stores and is commonly used with objects, XML and databases. In this session we will explore the basics of LINQ with examples alongside standard programming constructs. As we compare these methods, we will identify the caveats and pitfalls to prevent common mistakes. Finally, we will investigate the custom provider framework that is available to interface with other data stores such as Entity Framework.


Meet Your Speakers – Jon Cwiak

My name Jon Cwiak. I am a technologist, teacher, and pioneer. I like building things. I have a special affinity for things created with ones and zeros. I work for Humana as a Senior Software Engineer where I help people realize ideas.

I‘ve spent the last 15 years at multiple companies converting ones and zeros into measureable customer outcomes.  Somewhere along the way I got an education in Computer Science and Information Science.  I went on and got a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering.  I am also a Microsoft Certified Professional at building things.

Sometimes I attend technology conferences like Microsoft TechEd, Microsoft Build, That Conference, etc. When not at technology conference, I am usually found lurking at local events such as TechOnTap, Northeast Wisconsin Developers User Group, FoxPass, and others. I spend whatever time is left checking out what nature has built by hiking and traveling.  I also like making things with Legos.

Sometimes there is a spill of ones and zeros. When this happens, I often get asked for help. Along the way I created a way for people to get in touch when they need a proverbial mop & bucket or just advice. You can contact me using Twitter @BinaryJanitor.

What is Jon presenting at Nothing but .NET?

Learning to Weave: AOP and Other Threads

Aspect Oriented Programming is a software architecture paradigm that helps guide where and how to implemented functionality that spans responsibilities. This talk will introduce AOP, cover some real world applications, and explain why you might want to take up weaving!


Meet your Speakers – Larry Palmbach

Larry Palmbach has over 13 years of experience delivering technology services in both Wisconsin and markets across the country. Since starting at STL, Larry has provided technology solutions for businesses big and small. He has used his know-how to provide the very best in Managed IT, Cloud, and Technology Consulting Services. Before joining STL in 2103, Larry worked for Exacta Corp for 12 years, providing technology consulting and staffing solutions for clients throughout Wisconsin. Prior to that, he worked for the Banta Book Group in New York and Chicago. He received his BA from UW Eau Claire in ’94 and now lives in Green Bay with his wife, children and dogs.

What will Larry be presenting at Nothing but .NET?

How do you know if the Cloud is right for you?

Moving to the Cloud means one thing…trusting someone else with your most valuable asset. Your data. Relinquishing that control and putting total trust in someone can be a daunting and scary endeavor. However, at STL we strive to ease your mind and educate you on how the advantages of the Cloud, as you will find, will greatly out-weigh any concerns you may have. These advantages include:

* Workforce/User Mobility

* High Availability of Applications and Systems

* Data and Systems Security

* Business and Insurance Expense Reductions

* Business Continuity/DR Strategies

* Reduced Maintenance Costs

* Scalable/Elastic IT Infrastructure

* Predictable Operating Budgets

* Regulatory Compliance

You bring the tech, we bring the whiteboard (and beer)

Tech On Tap is back for 2014 with 2 events, one short (on a weeknight) and one standard Saturday episode.  For now we will stick to the weeknight event.

On July 24, 2014 we are planning a whiteboard-based networking event.  The idea is to come out from 6 – 9pm there will be snacks and a bit of beer.  In addition we will be hosting whiteboard sessions of 15-20 minutes each.  Signups for sessions are now open and we will be able to accommodate 4 sessions on the night.  The goal is to provide a chalk-talk style discussion about whatever technology interests those who sign up.

If you are interested in PowerShell and can use only a whiteboard to discuss the tech… this is the event for you.  Whether its PowerShell or Photoshop, anything is fair game on July 24th.

Send an email to to sign up for one of our 4 spots today. RSVP for beers and snacks at

As for the Saturday session… stay tuned we will get the details up shortly.


Recap: v2.2

Last Saturday, we hosted a crowd of eleven for Tech on Tap v2.2 – Diving Deeper Into PHP. It was our first foray into a programming language, so it was nice to see a few new faces – and old friends!

The day kicked off with “CI:IRL” from Beth Tucker Long (website| twitter). Beth is an experienced PHP developer, leader of the Madison PHP user group, and editor-in-chief of phparchitect – she knows her stuff! She gave a great talk on Continuous Integration – what it is, what it takes to be successful with it, and when (and when not) to use it. Slides are available here.

Then we adjourned to the Beer Garden for lunch and networking. The food was good, the beer was great, and the discussion was even better.

This did not suck!

This did not suck!

After lunch, Aaron Saray (website | twitter) led us through a group programming exercise! The group was given two challenges and had to tell Aaron exactly what to type. This was a great exercise for the programmers in the room – debating who would do what, and why – and was enlightening for the non-programmers too!

To wrap up the day, we got a tour of the Stone Cellar brewery. This was awesome. We got to walk through where the beer is brewed, led by owner Tom and restaurant manager Steve. We got to ask them questions about their brewing process and what their favorite beers were.

We closed the day with a Q&A with the speakers and one last beer. The Stonetoberfest was, as always, spot on.

Thank you to our speakers and our attendees for another great event!