Daniel Hoelbling-Inzko talks about programming

What I've been up to

I just noticed that I started a new job almost half a year ago and didn’t mention it on my blog.

So it’s probably time I share what interesting stuff I’ve been doing lately.

New job

I now work for Life a software development company in Klagenfurt that’s situated inside the Lakeside Park. We focus on R&D in areas like ERP systems, natural language processing and other business solutions.

Although I still believe Lakeside Park is one of the ugliest buildings ever designed, from the inside it’s not that bad. It’s also located right next to the University, so I can attend courses in between work (a huge plus).

While I am mainly developing a CQRS-style business application I also did a lot of smaller projects for customers like WWF/AI.


CQRS is a new architectural style coined by Greg Young that makes use of a few older patterns like Event Sourcing and CommandQuerySeparation as described by Fowler and Meyer. The style has been around for some time in the .NET space and Greg Young did a wonderful job of explaining it in a lot of screencasts and documentation he put up on his CQRS site.

The main idea behind CQRS is an eventually consistent architecture that does not rely on a big entity-relationship datamodel but rather on EventSourcing. EventSourcing means that you are storing every state transition inside your Domain as a distinct business event. So any model can be generated off this string of events that represents the currenct state. The benefit is rather huge because you can use heavily de-normalized models to read data from, while always issuing well-defined commands to mutate state.

I’ll blog on this in the future, but I strongly urge you to read up on cqrsinfo.com.

Still, it’s not an easy style to grasp and I had to let it sink for a few months before I could make heads or tails of it. In essence it’s so simple that you can explain it rather quickly, but it requires a pretty fundamental shift away from the CRUD style architecture you might be used to and finding out how to effectively work with this new “style” while being productive doing it takes some time.

Fortunately, just when I started to get into the right mindset for this way of working a project came in that required almost exactly the kind of traceability and flexibility Event Sourcing would give us, so I decided to go with a full CQRS stack.

CQRS in itself has worked out quite nicely so far. There is a lot of infrastructure I had to create, although fortunately Jonathan Oliver has created the EventStore project that at least spared me the work of rolling my own EventStorage system.

Since I’ll be working on this project for the rest of the year you can expect a few posts on the internals of the system and my thoughts on CQRS and eventual consistency in web applications.


Although I hate to admit it, I was always a web developer. I still suck at design as much as anyone else, but I was writing web applications all along, trying to convince myself that I was doing back-end stuff while hacking together the occasional HTML input form.

No more, I finally gave in and acknowledged the browser as the one platform I am probably targetting 80% of my work for, so I decided it’s time man up and really learn JavaScript.

I kind of knew JavaScript, it’s C based after all.. And I kind of knew my way around jQuery but never took the time to properly learn what makes this language so great.

So I got myself the brilliant book JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford and took a few nights to watch his great presentation Crockford on JavaScript that made a lot of things about the language clearer.

Funny thing: Right after I started getting a firm grasp around JavaScripts/EcmaScripts quirkyness I had to help out getting a project out the door that was entirely done in JavaScript as it was using the Sencha Touch JavaScript library to run on the iPad. (Note: ExtJS/Sencha are really incredibly ugly JavaScript frameworks – Use jQuery whereever possible)

Ruby and Rails

This goes hand in hand with the last point. After realizing that I’ll be doing MVC for a pretty long time I decided it’s time to really take another look at Rails and how it’s been doing while I was following ASP.NET MVC.

While I had looked at Rails earlier, I usually had given up trying to figure out how to install it on Windows and had just looked at the samples to conclude: “Same as .NET but with a bit of code-gen”

And oh boy was I wrong! While ASP.NET MVC really manages to get a lot of things right (at least for a MS framework), Rails3 is simply lightyears ahead.

And it’s not so much the core functionality I was usually looking at. It’s the subtle little things you don’t see in the samples but really learn to appreciate while working.

It’s the empty folders everywhere that give your code a very clean structure. Everything has it’s place.

And it’s the simplicity of it’s helper methods and little things like respond_to that are so incredibly hard and noisy to do in .NET land. Or the way helpers simply work whereas helpers in MVC usually make me want to tear my hair out (at least if you are working with dynamic models they simply fail).

Or another example of things that are simply there and nobody managed to get off the ground in 3 versions of .NET MVC is the asset bundling that’s been going on in Rails forever. Rails bundles all your javascript assets into one application.js file together to reduce browser load times, while .NET in MVC3 still references 2 seperate javascript library files in it’s default project template.

Rails is doing all the things right that I’ve been struggling with on the ASP.NET MVC platform for years whenever I was writing a simple business app, and it’s damn elegant all the way. It’s solving the CRUD application part so perfectly and with such simplicity that I am pretty sure I’ll be doing a lot of simpler applications in Rails in the future.

Vim and Visual Studio

Part of working with a lot of JavaScript is that you start to feel the limitations of Visual Studio as a JavaScript IDE. It’s simply inadequate and besides some syntax highlighting the whole editor simply falls down when writing JavaScript (not to mention the indentation screwups it does all the time).

So I ended up learning Vim and must say that I really enjoy it.

With the right plugins Vim is one hell of a powerful editor that does not require 600 mb of Ram and 40+ seconds to start up.

Having you editor boot in milliseconds instead of seconds has also had a huge impact on my work, and I have to say it annoys me every day when VS decides to hang up on me for 15 seconds only because I did hit save twice.

New home and cute mammals

I heard conclusive evidence that all blogposts are better with pictures of little furry mammals, so this one has to have them too.

To make that happen I moved into a new apartment with my Girlfriend and got myself two little baby cats that are called “Schrödinger” and “Marie Curie”.



Marie Curie:


I’m getting a new Virus Scanner

Just yesterday I was sitting around with some friends and telling them how great Microsoft Security Essentials works for me and how unobtrusive and easy to use this thing is. I’ve been using it for 3 years now on all of my machines and never had any reason to complain.

Until yesterday my CPU started running wild at 100%..


I guess I have to consider myself lucky to be running Windows7 so the Trojan never managed to get full access to my system, doing stupid stuff like preventing me to access task manager or shutting me out of my system. That still didn’t prevent it from installing itself in my Registry for launch on System Startup (don’t ask how, as always I suspect I clicked one UAC dialog too many).

Well, here it is:


Obviously this is malicious code that is running when my system starts up. Nothing too malicious since it is not requesting Admin level privileges, but it’s still code that isn’t supposed to run and should be fairly easy to pick up.

Well Security Essentials doesn’t think so:


Even after a deep system scan of 6 hours, Security Essentials still mocks me:


Utterly unacceptable.

I still don’t have a clue how this got on my machine. I usually am pretty immune to stuff like that because I (on occasion) THINK while using my computer, and don’t click dialog boxes away without knowing what they were about. But somehow this thing seems to have made it past my usually pretty accurate instincts..

Damn, I really liked Security Essentials Sad smileAnd I really really really hate formatting my PC right now.

Update: I think I managed to kill this stupid virus. Since I’m just too lazy at the moment to pave my PC I’ll just keep an eye on this.

Filed under internet, personal

Using Readability on the iPhone

Disclaimer: This is not a post about programming. No code was harmed during the creation of this blogpost.

As you may have guessed from the title, I got myself an iPhone4 some weeks ago and love it ever since. The browser in particular is great, yet sometimes even the best browser can’t change that a website is badly designed. Too often you can’t make the content out in between all the Google Adwords, the fonts are hideous or it’s a fixed width layout that’s way too wide.

On my PC I just hit the Readability bookmarklet and through magic all the ugly stuff goes away and only the content remains. Well, since Readability is just JavaScript you can do the same thing on the iPhone too, it’s just a bit trickier to install.

Here is how a badly readable site looks with Readability (note that it does not remove images that belong to the post!):

Before – After Readability


As you can see, the width of the layout is too wide to be easily readable in portrait orientation.

Step 1: Go to http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ on your iPhone

Select all the text from the textbox on the right and copy it:


Next, just hit add bookmark on the site and save the Readability site.
Now go into your bookmarks and edit the readability bookmark.

Delete the previous address and paste the code we copied earlier.


Et voila, whenever you want to see a page clearer, just open that bookmark and it will convert any ugly site into a rather pleasant read.

Filed under internet, personal, tools

Barcamp Vienna 2010

I just booted my PC after 4 hours of drive through heavy rain and thunderstorms back from Vienna where I attended Barcamp. I have to say it was just fantastic! All Barcamps I attended before had a very diverse crowd, but usually lacking developers thus the social media enthusiasts usually dominated the attendees.

Barcamp Vienna was different, maybe it was the awesome location at Microsoft Austria headquarters or just the fact that it was in Vienna.. But I met more coders there in 2 days than in the last 2 yeas in Klagenfurt.

Coolest thing, I even met a Subsonic developer: Saintedlama! That was really awesome and funny when we met during breakfast randomly chatting about our stuff and I noted that I’ll be presenting dotless when he said: “Wow that’s you? I wanted to contact you for some time now about dotless. I’m working on Subsonic btw.. " (Imagine my jaw dropping right there.. ). He showed me some really cool demos of the simple repository they introduced in SubSonic 3 and it’s uses with MVC.. and I have to tell you: wow.. Using a ORM was really never so easy..

Anyway, I really had a great time either chatting up really interesting people or doing my two presentations.
On Saturday I talked about dotless while on Sunday I talked about Git. Both talks went great in my opinion, but if anyone was there and has additional feedback on my presentations I’d be glad to hear them. I uploaded both slide decks to http://www.docs.com and you can find them here:


dotless – CSS done right



At any rate: Thanks to Max and Rolf for organizing this awesome event and to Microsoft for so generously hosting it!

Filed under barcamp, dotless, git, personal

Presenting dotless at Barcamp Vienna


Next weekend (29-30th of May) I’ll be attending Barcamp Vienna and plan on having a talk about dotless and it’s advantages over regular CSS. Since my last dotless presentation at Barcamp Klagenfurt was a pretty huge success I guess I’ll keep to the basic structure of the talk and also go into some detail around the organizational stuff that’s involved when managing an OSS project.

Since I expect the crowd in Vienna to be more technical than the usual web2.0 enthusiasts/blogger mix we see in Klagenfurt I also plan on maybe delivering a talk on the best SCM there is: Git.

Since the whole thing is hosted by Microsoft I expect a lot more .NET developers to show up, so it should be a fun and interesting weekend.

See you there!

dotless Presentation slides from Barcamp Klagenfurt

I just finished my presentation about dotless at Barcamp Klagenfurt and promised to upload my presentation slides to Slideshare.

The feedback for the talk was quite good. Turned out better than I hoped. I just hope that the slides do make some sense without me talking alongside.

Presenting .less at the Barcamp Klagenfurt 2010

Barcamp Klagenfurt 2010

Time goes by way faster than I’d like it to and the Barcamp Klagenfurt 2010 is coming up really fast. (6-7. February)

While usually I was quite hesitant to choose a topic due to the diversity of the attending crowd (unfortunately not really enough real technical topics represented there), this year I think I can bring something very interesting to the camp: .less.

The advantages are obvious, with a crowd of bloggers, artists and also technical people talking about something as ubiquitous as CSS, and ways to improve it, will surely resonate well, allowing me to be a bit technical without raising too many question marks above my audience’s heads like last year (where I talked about IoC and Windsor).

As for the talk itself, I plan on first going over general features of Less (since we are a port I can also point people over to the Ruby version if they are more comfortable with that than with .NET ), and then into a tiny bit of detail about how .less works internally.

Finally, I hope to see as many people as possible at Barcamp Klagenfurt! Thanks to the team for organizing this year after year!

Filed under barcamp, dotless, personal

Happy New Year 2010!

It’s been a busy year 2009, and I’m quite pleased with how things turned out.

I had a lot of fun going back to university, working on various open source projects like .less, elmsConnector, Pandora.

I can only hope you enjoyed 2009 as much as I did, and hope 2010 turns out even better. Thanks for reading my blog and have a nice 2010!

Filed under personal

Thanks Lijit!

You may have seen that I use Lijit to power the on-site search for my blog. Since Lijit by default uses a Google custom search to power this (nothing really wrong with that) I became quite unhappy with the results (Google for some reason doesn’t like to index articles but rather indexes categories :(). Since I didn’t find my own stuff through Google, getting the same bad results through Lijit was quite annoying.

So I tweeted this one day:


Well, took about 45 minutes to receive this:


And this very nice Email alongside:


Well, that was 2 days ago. Search results that I get when using the on-site search are back to what I expect them to be and I’m once again able to find my own stuff.

Thanks Lijit. Great service!

Filed under personal, site-news

Wasted innovation: Google Wave


It was pretty inevitable that Google Wave would fail after being hailed as the solution to all our problems. Still, looking at a defeat gives me a feeling of malicious joy.

Let’s start at the beginning: I got my invite almost 3 weeks ago, and after an initial: wow cool. I found out that nobody I care about had Wave.

After another week or so I finally got 20 invites to give out (if you want one send me an email, I’ve got 13 left) and finally managed to get the most important people I communicate to into Wave.

And, we had a lot of fun watching each other’s cursor spit out text live on the screen. Unfortunately, that was the only thing we found useful, and it was only funny for about 20 minutes. After that, we went back to our lives and that’s it. I’m still waiting for a reply to a Wave I sent Kristof almost 2 weeks ago.

So, what’s the problem? Wave technology is revolutionary, the idea is just not. It’s at heart:

Awesome technology looking for a problem to solve

Wave fails in most/all of it’s goals:

Replace Email: Ok, so Email is everywhere and it works (thanks to GMail). I get mails pushed to my Android phone, and all in all: It does everything I want flawlessly and most importantly: EVERYWHERE.
Wave on the other hand: Only inside my browser, no notification tool whatsoever. Pretty much equally useless as Facebook Messaging.

Replace Chat: Instant typing is funny, but using the tool for IM just does not cut it usability wise. Live and Skype are great at that too, and even ICQ had that instant typing thing going some versions back (nobody wanted it). Wave once again misses all the major points here: No mobile client, no notifications, no desktop client.

Replace Message Boards: Try running a public community off Wave: It’s impossible. Since you have to add people to the wave one by one, there is no way to spawn a new thread unless your community is really really small. Public viewing (the main purpose of most messaging boards) is impossible, thus the whole thing is not suited to replace a message board.

Replace Wiki: Again, who cares about a wiki if it’s not publicly available? I know really few people who have a wiki for <5 people, and even those few won’t care for Wave’s wacky and really laggy Playback feature.

Be a collaboration tool: Well, Wave does that pretty well. Only that I don’t really see any online collaboration happening anytime soon, since most people are just too used to sending Word documents or Excel sheets around, they won’t dumb down to using a Wave just because they see each other’s cursors.

Well, and that’s about it. Wave tries to do a thousand things, and succeeds at not one of them. It’s totally useless without having any sort of desktop integration and mobile device integration. And once it has all of that, I still see myself sending more “Hey check your wave” emails than receiving a answer through wave.

What I want now? I want Google to use the awesome technology they created with Wave and bring it over to GMail. I want to be able to drag&drop files to my GMail and have them be attached to my mails. I want this incredible spellchecker inside GMail and I want it now. That’s all. I don’t care for your revolutionary shiny thingy that does everything but nothing.

Filed under internet, personal, tools

My Photography business


dynamic css for .NET