Enter Rebus.fm

little_rebusbus2_copy-500x500Since the inception of Rebus more than four years ago, I have been a happy user of this small messaging library targeted at being intuitively easy and natural to configure and use.

I am not the only one who has been using it, though. Over the course of Rebus’ lifetime I have had contact with several companies who were using it to solve their business problems, and I have always been delighted to hear about both good and bad experiences with it.

Now I have decided to take it to the next level: I will now begin to offer commercial services as a complement to Rebus from my company, Rebus.fm:

rebus.fm logo

Rebus has always been and will continue to be absolutely free and open source (with the MIT license).

This just means that serious Rebus users can receive a higher degree of commitment from me in the form of support and guaranteed bug fixes, and also in the form of supplementary tooling in the future.

This does not mean that I am ending my close cooperation with my employer, d60. We will continue to work together and support each other, which also means that I can welcome d60 as the first “Rebus.fm partner” (but I’ll talk some more about that later…. :o) ).

If this sounds interesting to you, I suggest you go and read some more about Rebus.fm at the Rebus.fm homepage. And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or comments.

Why I have already stopped working on NServiceBus again

In my previous blog post I announced that I had joined the NServiceBus core team on September 1st, and at the time of writing, I have been working with them part time for two months.

I have already decided to stop working on the NServiceBus core team again though (as of November 1st), and in this blog post I’ll try to explain why.

In the beginning, I was really excited about getting to work with the awesome team that Udi Dahan has assembled to work on NServiceBus, and of course also to get to work with Udi himself, whom I admire and whose work I have followed closely during the last 5 years or so.

I knew that joining the NServiceBus team would mean that I would have to give up working on Rebus at some point, but I thought that that would not be a problem for me.

When work started though, I did have a slightly uneasy feeling, and it was hard for me to get excited about the actual work we were doing. I originally attributed that to the fact that I was working part time and thus had to do a lot of catching up every time I finally had time to work.

But I have come to realize that the reason I was not that motivated was that I was missing Rebus. And I realized that I felt odd because I was being the least enthusiatic person on a team where everyone else radiated pure excitement.

I really really want to be excited about the work that I am doing, and I know that I am usually capable of mustering tremendous excitement whenever I get to focus on some project or task that makes sense to me – but I’m afraid that I would not be able to generate that level of excitement for NServiceBus.

Therefore I thought that it would be most fair to everyone that I would stop working on NServiceBus and leave that space for someone who can be truly passionate about it.

This means that I’m back doing full time Awesome Stuff at d60 again, although my role will probably be twisted slightly away from consulting towards something with Rebus and messaging, some R&D, some Windows Azure, and possibly some other stuff that I will probably get back to in future blog posts 🙂

Exciting times!

Preface

Back in 2011 I had worked with NServiceBus for a couple of years, and I was very happy about using it. I became sad though, when NSB version 2.5 was announced, because Udi had decided that NServiceBus would go away from the ultra liberal Apache V2 license, to requiring a paid license to use it in production.

I wasn’t sad because I thought that NServiceBus wasn’t worth the money. I was sad because I knew that the money aspect – just the fact that there was a money aspect – would suddenly become a barrier for me to introduce NServiceBus into future small to medium-sized projects.

I also realize that the money aspect was probably the one thing what was missing for NServiceBus to be looked at with greater seriousness by many companies worldwide, so – from a business perspective – I totally understand the move. It just didn’t fit my plans of building cool distributed stuff, made entirely from free frameworks and libraries.

Taking matters into my own hands

Therefore, on September the 11th 2011, I made the initial commit to the Rebus repository and laid the ground for what I wanted to be a kind of “lean NServiceBus little brother”, an NServiceBus stand-in that could be used in small systems until they became serious enough to warrant the license fee.

From the outset, Rebus mimicked NServiceBus’ APIs, and would even be able to read and understand NServiceBus endpoint mappings, so as to make porting systems back and forth between Rebus and NServiceBus easy.

Rebus turned out to be pretty neat though, and it didn’t take many alpha versions before money was suddenly being moved around by Rebus. And a few versions after that, Rebus would help some people control a couple of power plants. At that point, I hadn’t even had the chance to use Rebus to build something real myself, but other people were happily using it to solve their messaging problems.

Today

Fast forward two years, and I’ve helped build several systems with Rebus, and I get to go to conferences and talk about it, and a big part of my daily work is to help my awesome colleagues at d60 build systems using messaging.

All is peace and quiet in Rebus-land, and then – BAM!1 – I get an email from Udi saying something along the lines of: “Have you considered turning to the dark side?” – where Udi invites me to become part of the NServiceBus core team…………!!

I did not see that one coming.

AND like that, I’m in a huge dilemma – because I really love working at d60, and I love my awesome colleagues, and I love the spirit that we have succeeded in building in the company – so it pains me to think that I would no longer be part of the d60 project.

On the other hand, I realize that this an immensely awesome opportunity to

  • get to work with Udi, whose work I have admired for the last 5 years, and
  • get to work with some of the most talented .NET developers on the globe to
  • help building a messaging library, full time, as my day job – a task that I apparently think is fun enough that I will do it while doing the dishes, while sitting up at wee hours, again and again at our monthly hackernights, etc.

Therefore – a tough decision, but an obvious one. So of course I accepted Udi’s invitation!

So how’s that going to happen?

Luckily, d60 have been nice enough to make an agreement that I can start working on NServiceBus right away, ramping up my efforts over the next 6 months while I ramp down my d60 activities. I will not ramp all the way down though: I’ll continue to hang out at the d60 office and help d60 make cool distributed stuff with messaging, participate in brown-bag meetings, etc. I’ll just spend most of the time working with the NServiceBus core team.

But what about Rebus?

There’s no doubt that I will concentrate my efforts on NServiceBus now.

But Rebus still exists! Noone can deny that 🙂 And Rebus has gained traction in places, in big as well as small companies that will most likely NOT readily replace it with something else, so I expect Rebus to continue to be refined and be maintained by its community for a long long time.

I’ve agreed with Asger Hallas, whose contributions to Rebus throughout the last two years have been invaluable, that he will be the new Rebus lead.

Asger has contributed with code in the form of all of Rebus’ RavenDB integration and several improvements, and he has contributed with excellent insights into the technical challenges of building a messaging library, and our lengthy discussions have brought much awesomeness to the table. I can think of no better person to continue the direction in which Rebus is heading.

I’m a Rebus user – should I be worried?

I don’t think so. If Rebus can make your endpoints communicate now, Rebus will still be able to make your endpoints communicate in the future. Rebus has never had an ambition to become bigger than it is right now, so if you’re satisfied now, chances are you’ll be satisfied tomorrow as well.

I’m still gonna be around!

Also: I’m not going away! I’ll still be around for helping out if you have trouble with using Rebus. I have just been given the opportunity to focus on helping a great team improve the most popular .NET service bus framework, which I hope will teach me a lot about messaging and hopefully turn out to be beneficial for NServiceBus as well.

So, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding Rebus down the road. And in the future, I might be able to answer a few questions about NServiceBus as well 😉

Cheers!

Edit: If you’re interested, check out Udi’s perspective on this.

Developing .NET applications very rapidly

In my current position as an agile .NET dude at d60, I have already found myself in need of rapidly building several small applications and services from scratch.

This way of working reminds me a lot about some of the things that Dan North talked about in his “From months to minutes – upping the stakes” talk at GOTO Aarhus 2010.

In the talk, Dan described how he was part of a team that would rapidly prototype and deliver working systems to some stock exchange or something, and in doing this they would often start from scratch and replace the existing applications, instead of adapting old ones. The advantage is that you get to take some shortcuts when you’re making fairly short-lived applications, you don’t have to carry the burden of old legacy crap, you get to re-do, possibly undo(?) almost every decision some time, and you become really good at building stuff from scratch!

So, this is cool, and I think he said a lot of things that really make sense. But how can you build stuff very rapidly when you’re a .NET developer in a Microsoft shop, and your customer has based everything on Microsoft technology? You would think that a .NET developer would be slow compared to the hip coders working with Node.js, Clojure and [insert hip new technology here]…?

Well, it just so happens that .NET developers are actually pretty lucky in that regard. In this post, I’d just like to go through a few of the things that enable us to deliver stuff really quickly, both .NET and not-necessarily-.NET-things.

Git and GitHub

Like all sensible coding teams, we have moved to distributed source control. We have some pretty skilled Git-people among our developers, so Git was the natural choice. And since we’re not really interested in maintaining our own servers, it makes the most sense to have some hosted Git repositories somewhere – and for that, we got a company account at GitHub, because it’s a great place to host Git repositories.

Git’s branching model is just so extremely fast and lightweight that I’m wondering how I ever managed to get anything done in Subversion. Well, I guess I just didn’t update & commit that often then.

Is anyone still using Subversion? Why?

TeamCity

We have our own locally hosted TeamCity server to check out our code from GitHub, build it, run tests, create NuGet packages etc. Configuring and maintaining TeamCity is really easy compared to CruiseControl.NET, which I used to use – and with the extremely cool feature branch support of TeamCity 7.1, our build server will automatically check out, build, and test my branch if I name it feature-whatever_I_am_working_on when I push it to GitHub!

NuGet

When you want to build stuff rapidly in .NET, there’s really no way you can ignore NuGet – this is how we get to quickly pull down all of the open source libraries and frameworks that we’re using to build cool stuff.

In addition to the free open source stuff, we also NuGet-pack all of our purchased libraries if they’re not already in a .nupkg. And finally, we pack our own shared libraries as NuGet packages as well (actually, TeamCity does this for us automatically on every successful build…), which is how we distribute shared assemblies like e.g. assemblies with Rebus messages.

NuGet has been really easy and smooth in this regard. I’m sorry that I never tried OpenWrap, though – I’m wondering if anyone is using that, or if everybody has moved to NuGet?

Our own NuGet package repository

In order to reduce the friction with NuGet, we have our own NuGet package repository. NuGet.org is just damn slow, and it doesn’t host all of our 3rd party and home-rolled packages.

At first, we used TeamCity to do this, but the NuGet extension in Visual Studio doesn’t remember your credentials, so you have to constantly punch in your username and password if you’ve enabled authentication. This was just too tedious.

Then we hosted our own stand-alone NuGet Server, which would have been OK if it weren’t for the fact that we’re often working outside of our office, and often on other companies’ VPNs. This doesn’t go well with a privately hosted NuGet server.

But then someone had the crazy idea that we should use DropBox as our NuGet repository! This is as crazy as it is ingenious, because we’re already using DropBox to share documents and stuff, so it didn’t really require anything to just throw all of our NuGet packages into a shared folder… which is what TeamCity also does whenever it has packed up something for us, immediately synchronizing the new package to everyone who’s connected to a network.

This way, we can always get to include our NuGet packages, even when we’re building new stuff on a train with a flaky internet connection. As I said: Crazy, yet ingenious!

Free choice of frameworks and tools

Last, but not least, I think a key to rapidly building stuff is to free developers’ hands so that they can use the tools they like to use best and feel are best for the given task.

It seems many companies are afraid that developers might pollute their applications with questionable libraries and bad decisions, but my feeling is that most developers are totally capable of handling this freedom and will respond with a sense of responsibility and care.

Conclusion

These were a couple of things that I could think of that help us build cool stuff and deliver often. As I may have already insinuated, I’m not sure this way of working would work on large monolithic applications that must live for very long.

But then again, in my experience many systems live for too long because they’ve become too huge, and thus too big and expensive to replace – it is often very healthy for systems to be divided into smaller applications that are well integrated, but each application in itself is fairly small and decoupled and thus doesn’t constitute a huge risk and equally huge endavour to replace.

2011 retrospective and 2012 resolutions

In the same vein as last year, I’ll spend a post summing up on what happened this year, and then try to come up with some goals for the next year.

2011 retrospective

What did I do in 2011? Well, I

  • Wrote 27 blog posts (+ this one = 28).
  • Gave my “Frictionless Persistence in .NET with MongoDB” talk at Goto Copenhagen. Great experience, and Microsoft even recorded it.
  • Gave the talk again as a free geek night.
  • Hosted an Aarhus .NET User Group code camp on MongoDB.
  • Gave the Frictionless talk again, this time at an Odense .NET User Group meeting.
  • Made tiny contributions to Castle Windsor and MassTransit.
  • Started building an NServiceBus-like service bus: Rebus. It already has pub-sub messaging and sagas 🙂
  • Attended Udi Dahan’s “Advanced Distributed Systems Design With SOA” course. Udi was no stranger to me as I have been following his work, but the course presented some extremely interesting ideas on how to build a service-oriented architecture.
  • Spent most of my time monkeying around with code and architecture on the PowerHub project, which is getting more and more serious. Oh, did I mention that the system’s regulation parts have zero downtime? With a nifty master-slave setup with automatic failover, PowerHub can continue to optimize and control local units, even in the face of system and platform upgrades… 🙂
  • Got a new job!!! Yes, that’s right: The 30th of December 2011 will be my last day as a Trifork Software Pilot! On January the 2nd in the new year, I’ll join d60 as a consultant. This fact deserved a dedicated blog post. 🙂
  • Had my photo of a hard-wired hairdryer included in Mark Seemann’s book about DI in .NET (see page 8 in chapter 1). Needless to say, this photo went right into my slidedeck 🙂

If I compare that to my 2011 resolutions, I think I’m only missing a “real” pet project. The closest thing is PriorityQ, which I made as an example app for my MongoDB presentations – it’s a “question collector” that can be used during presentations.

2012 resolutions

This is what I’d like to do in 2012:

  • Gain a footing in my new position, and help out with some of the company’s challenges.
  • Attend a couple of conferences – in passive as well as in active mode.
  • Contribute some more to some of the OSS projects I like – including my own.
  • Put Rebus to (some serious ab)use.

and, most importantly – just like my 2011 resolutions – I’d like to continue to be inspired by communicating with smart people.

Lastly, I will express my feelings in the form of an animated GIF that reeks of 1996: Animated GIF fireworks Now, let’s see what 2012 brings…

New job!!

As I’m writing this, I have spent 4 years and 9 months working at Trifork. That means a majority of my professional experience comes from working there, and I must say that it has been a fantastic time!

Throughout the years, I have been allowed to work on interesting projects, attend conferences, speak, teach, and play, and thus continually be challenged – and almost be forced to grow.

When I read Chad Fowler’s “My Job Went To India” (which later became “The Passionate Programmer”), the “Be The Worst” chapter immediately made sense to me, because I think that pretty much describes me when I started working with Trifork. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and do it – it’s available online.

As Chad puts it: “The people around you affect your own performance. Choose your crowd wisely”.

So, if you’re looking for an inspiring environment and some extremely talented colleagues, Trifork is definitely a great place to be. Especially as a .NET developer, I think Trifork can offer a healthy exposure to Java, ObjectiveC, Riak, Erlang, Ruby, and more non-.NETty things, which I think has helped me become more wholistic in my views on technology.

d60 logoAfter almost 5 years however, I feel it is time to seek new challenges.

So, on Januar 2nd 2012 I’ll join d60, which is a fast-growing Microsoft-based consultancy agency on the outskirts of central Aarhus. d60 is just about equally split between systems development and business intelligence, so hopefully I’ll gain some insight in BI, which I think will help me build better systems. At d60 I’ll continue working as a software development consulatant, and hopefully I’ll continue to communicate with smart people about software development and help building cool solutions to real world problems.