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Stop #2 on the 2010 Michigan Pairing Tour

2010 March 4
tags: , , ,
by Nayan Hajratwala

Yesterday, as part of the 2010 Michigan Pairing Tour, I had the opportunity to spend a day at the new offices of BillHighway in Troy, MI. They have a very nice setup including an area with leather couches, a large screen TV and XBox + Wii consoles.

BillHighway “bills” themselves as a “Quickbooks for Communities”. One of my longtime friends works there, and I’ve had the privilege of getting to know their CIO over their past few years of impressive growth.

BillHighway is primarily a  VB.NET shop. I’ve never spent more than 5 minutes looking at .NET code, and the last time I used VB was about 12 years ago. It promised to be an eye-opening experience.

In the morning I paired with André LaMonde, a VB.NET hacker. We were working on standardizing some of the UI components to be in line with a new Look & Feel for their site. I was briefly thrown for a loop by the unfamiliarity of Visual Studio and strange syntax, but quickly recovered and was able to follow what was going on without too much trouble.

Unit testing is not regularly practiced by the team, so we had some good discussions about some of the challenges that dealing with legacy code bases brings about, and some strategies for integrating tests going forward. We struggled with NUnit for about 15 minutes, then bailed out and were able to get some tests up and running with the framework built into VS 2008.

In the afternoon, I paired with Meghan Letscher. She was very quick and was whizzing around Visual Studio like a pro. We worked on a similar task as in the morning, and delved into a bit of JavaScript & CSS to round things out. After struggling with some DLL permission problems and having fun with caspol.exe for a while, we were able to get some tests running and even managed to do a bit of TDD.

Overall, I had a great time, and picked up some 3l1t3 .NET skillz. I’m looking forward to the next stop!