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WebCamps London – Urban Food Swap

Sun 6th June 2010

The last two days I have been at a really cool course put on for free by Microsoft, Web Camp London. This covered the changes to Asp.Net WebForms in 4.0 and a basic introduction to MVC 2, which is now shipping with Visual Studio 2010. The course was incredably well structured, the Friday was learning, Saturday was doing.

On Friday there was the usual mix of talk/slides/coding followed by the audience pitching idea to work on for Saturday. Twenty two ideas were pitched then voted on and teams formed.

Saturday was when I got the most value. In the small teams we had formed on Friday we got stuck in and coded up the ideas that we had pitched on the Friday. Starting from 'File > New Project' and building up working websites using the latest technology stacks.

Urban Food Swap

In the team I joined we were working on Tom's idea of a website where people who grow their own food can give or trade excess food with people in their area. The team were given six hours and six people, GO!

We quickly whacked out some wireframes, decided on the technology, set up Source Control (Visual SVN free, easy to setup) and set up a shared DB, took a screen each and started coding. The setup was not quite as easy as suggested due to an "interesting" wireless network which filtered an unknown set of ports and dropped connections silently if you did not make frequent requests.

The technology we used:

  • ASP.NET 4 - MVC 2
  • ADO.Net Entity Data Model
  • MS-SQL Server Express
  • jQuery jQueryUI
  • Bing Maps
  • Visual Studio 2010 Express Edition

One very gratifing thing was that we found no impediment using the Express Edition of Visual Studio, it was nice to be trying the new stack without having to fork out for MSDN or Visual Studio licences.

Five hours of coding later, due to some pretty awesome team work and a person with a strong vision (go Tom!) we had a (mostly) working website. Reading and writing from the database, integrating with BingMaps, jQuery datepickers, RSS feeds, and even a IE8 webslice (thanks Nerd Dinner We even had a rare thing - a developer with a sence of aesthetic, so the end result looked very nice and didn't just use MVC default styles.

And a quick touch of what the site looked like, click on images for a larger view Screen shot of Home Page Screen shot of Offer Page Screen shot of Profile Page Screen shot of Request Page

We even got a nice bag for coming first equal in the little competition between teams :)

I hope you enjoyed this article if you have any comments or queries please get in touch.

David Waters


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