Monday, April 27, 2009


It would not take even a Dr. Watson to notice that this blog has been idle for over a year. It might, however, take a Sherlock Holmes to discern the reason why. So I will sum it up with a word:


Shortly after the last post, I began playing around with the new version of Microsoft Visual Studio, which included LINQ and all the new lambda programming goodies. I realized they made obsolete many of the issues I had discussed in the previous entry.

Concurrently, I decided to port a professional expert system engine I wrote and maintain to the new version of Visual Studio. It was written mainly in C++, with .NET interface code in C#. As I went along, I found myself thinking: “Perhaps I should just re-write the whole engine from scratch, using the newest C# technology.”

And so I did. And interspersed with other projects, etc., it took the better part of nine months to complete the engine, and another couple of months to work out the kinks and get it hooked up to the external components (UI, etc.). It was a lot of fun, but it did interfere with my blogging, to say the least.

In retrospect, it was a good decision. I learned the new lambda elements of C# in a way that would have been tough using a less whole-hearted approach. I also learned possibly more than I ever wanted to know about C# generics, lol. I want to share some of the things I discovered in subsequent posts in this blog, but for now I’ll just share what I consider the most important discovery:

Every programmer, it seems, hates exception handling, and I am no exception. So, when I started the re-write, I decided that I would, for once in my exception handling life, be good and pay attention to it from the ground up. So I started my re-write by crafting a set of classes to let me handle and pass exceptions and returns. They were not intended to replace the existing .NET exception handling, but rather to work hand in glove with it. Also, I began a discipline of handing errors and exceptions fully and correctly in the code at the exact moment I was writing the code. No more “I’ll save error handling for a rainy day.” It took a few weeks, but it stuck; it’s now a habit and I don’t fear error handling any longer.

Best programming discovery I ever made.