Ever since David Laribee put forth the ALT.NET Manifesto, the blogosphere has been buzzing about the topic. The buzz has intensified even more since the ALT.NET Conference registration opened up and several of the CodeBetter bloggers (Jeffrey Palermo, Raymond Lewallen, Jeremy D. Miller) posted their thoughts on the subject. I even read that Philadelphia is even starting up their own ALT.NET User Group.

At the same time, the ALT.NET name has come under scrutiny. Some comments have suggested that the name is divisive. Scott Bellware is one of the more vocal proponents of the ALT.NET mindset and he chimed in about his thoughts on the name. I think that any discussion about the name is a waste of bits. The movement is the message, not the name. Even Martin Fowler asked the question, “Why is this stuff alternative?”

By attending the ALT.NET conference, I’m digging for real answers to real challenges.

  • How do we leverage the advantages of agile development in a large organization with a large existing code base for an established application platform?
  • How do you evolve established (read: waterfall) development practices to quickly respond to product change requests?
  • How do plug an agile methodology into a system that is deployed and in-use by over 1,000 customers?

I’m not looking for packaged answers. I’m expecting enlightenment that will inspire me to work hard to change our software development practices, enabling our team to become more effective and more responsive to change. Requirements constantly change through the software development process, and as often as “changing requirements” and “unclear requirements” are mentioned as “problems” in post-mortem analysis, anything that will reduce the gag reflex I feel when somebody says “but that’s a change to the requirements” would be great.

I encourage any software developers reading this to keep an eye on the blogs linked above as the events of next weekend unfold. The roster for next weekend is packed with some great minds and the results should be very interesting.