Conference 2016

After the first item below, “Agenda,” this page lists, in reverse chronological order, all of the messages that have been sent out regarding the 2016 A-Shell Developers Conference. 

ADC 2016 Agenda

In the turmoil of trying to organize good seminars, and then presenting them, it’s easy to overlook the recording of same. So below is the agenda published before the conference that shows the things we intended to discuss.

  • Best Practices.  This is less a topic than a theme, and one that is not only impossibly broad but runs counter to the stubborn habits of old programmers. Nonetheless, and in parallel with the other topics, we’ll try to identify, analyze, debate and promote best practices whenever possible. If you have any particular thoughts or questions about best practices in any particular area not on the agenda, please let us know, preferably in advance.
  • LIBXL – XLS interface library.  This is a relatively new A-Shell library which is of general interest, not only for what it does (read/write XLS files) but for how it is structured, allowing it to be used as an example of the following two topics.  We’ll look at a few examples of using the library directly, as well as indirectly via the CSV2XL.SBX routine.
  • DYNLIB.SBR – dynamic external library interface. This is a mechanism for tapping into external shared libraries (.so under Linux, .dll under Windows) to expand the range of capabilities of A-Shell and your application.  We’ll look at a couple of examples of where it works well and where it doesn’t, and consider whether it’s worth integrating into the language more directly.
  • “Class-Structured” A-ShellBASIC Libraries.  We’ll first review the anatomy of a BSI (see associated doc), then look at the techniques / benefits / issues related to creating useful ++include libraries modeled loosely on OOPS classes. This will involve both programming philosophy/aesthetics as well as use of specific A-ShellBASIC and APN features, along with examples from the LIBXL library.
  • Raspberry Pi.  A brief show-and-tell of the new ultra-mini, sub-$100 Linux server that fits in your hand. We’ll actually use one as a server for code-sharing, demos, and exercises— and we’ll then give it away as a prize to one of the attendees based on some obscure and probably unfair mechanism to be determined.
  • System deployment strategies, technologies, configurations and licensing.  The era of the traditional standalone server at each site with a fixed set of full-time operators has given way to an explosion of different scenarios and related issues. There’s a lot to discuss here, from technologies (cloud services, VMs, Docker containers, web services) to pricing/licensing. Does the server/node paradigm still apply? This is an opportunity to see how others are adapting, share tips both on the business/pricing side and the technology/deployment side, and to advise us on how we can help through new licensing models, packaging, platforms, etc.
  • Web- and Network-Related Topics.  Web services, XML, JSON, protocols for communicating between remote servers/services.
  • New A-Shell Features.  Survey of recent developments, with particular focus on the new Collection (aka Container) types: ORDMAPM and MLIST; passing arrays by reference, B6 / I6 data types, improved memory management, indirect/callback functions.
  • Miscellaneous Topics.  Survey of some of the more interesting side developments, mostly stimulated or developed for or by a specific application/developer, but possibly of interest to others, including: signature capture, launching ATE from a web page, ATE custom splash and login dialogs, key-sequence-compatible file encryption.  Participants are invited (maybe even beseeched) to share anything interesting they’ve been working on with the group.
    • Getting customers to report problems efficiently/effectively.  Print screen improvements / cfg tips? [Joe]
    • Compiler options to help avoid accidentally using features than may not be compatible with some part of the intended user base. [Steve]
  • Hack-a-thon.  To get some practical experience with some of the newer data structures and techniques, etc., as well as to provide an opportunity for participants who mostly work alone to mix it up with their peers, and with a nod to the US Presidential elections, we’ll divide up into groups to design and implement a small working voting system, and then use it select the winner of the Raspberry Pi prize.
  • Workshop / Clinic.  Time and interest permitting, on Saturday participants are invited to bring their laptops and pet problems, peeves, puzzles, projects, and anything else to informally work on with Jack and each other.

Conference Message #11 and last, 05  November 2016

Hello again, Conference Attender–
Here’s one final message here just to make sure all the loose ends are tied up.


Thanks to those who contributed a few pictures—Steve, Herman, Ralph—and to Denis for most of them. You can see the whole set here:

As you may know, several folks from the group went on to Key West after the conference. Pictures from that part of the adventure, again courtesy of Denis, are here:


If you need to get in touch with anybody who attended the conference, please contact MicroSabio. (We don’t publish any personal info on the internet.)


The Rest

Thanks again for coming and contributing, we couldn’t have done it without you. And of course wouldn’t have wanted to!

Thanks also to the spouses who came along and helped create the great atmosphere we all enjoyed; please forward this message if applicable.

Best regards,

Jack & Ty

Conference Message #10, 16 October  2016 (post-conference)

Hey All–

Thanks for another great 2008 A-Shell Developers Conference. Everybody seemed to have a good time, lots of ideas were shared and explained, everything seemed to go well. We appreciate that everybody came and participated, and that you all felt it to potentially be worth the required investment of time, money and energy. We hope you were right! Here are a few final points.

Pictures. We usually collect all the pictures that everybody has taken and put them into a folder/page where they are accessible to all. So please get us your pictures via email, links, shared Dropbox/OneDrive/GoogleDrive, whatever. We’ve posted a few from Denis on this page, but am looking forward to receiving more from anybody who took pictures. I’ve also posted a link to the pictures on the “Conferences” page on our website.

Agenda. The final version of the agenda for the meeting—i.e., the printed one handed out by Jack on Thursday morning—will be posted to the 2016 Conference page when I can manage, which will likely be Thursday or Friday.

Schedules. Jack and I are both traveling for the next few days (in different directions), so are not in a great position to deal with normal business activities. We will both be watching email, however, and will both be back at our desks later in the week.

Thanks again for a great conference, maybe we can do it again in a couple years.

Best regards.

Conference Message #9, 08 October  2016

Hello again, conference-going A-Shellers

Thanks to the diligence of some of our (in)voluntary beta testers, a few issues with the 6.3.1531.0 update have been identified and resolved, along with a couple of enhancements, in 6.3.1532.0.  So here are the updated links (which can be installed on top of the 6.3.1531 version if you’ve already done that).

Latest A-Shell (6.3.1532.0)
A-Shell/Windows (Web Install Package)
A-Shell/Windows (C version, Monolithic Install Package)
ATE (Web Install Package)
A-Shell/Linux -el7 (full cpio install package)


Conference Message #8, 07 October  2016

Hello again, conference-going A-Shellers

We have for you a few final notes before the conference.

1. Software Updates. We are requesting and strongly recommending (or perhaps that’s “recommending and strongly requesting”) that you have the latest and greatest versions of A-Shell and APN installed on the laptop you bring. You should also have an environment set up for testing, examples, playing around, etc, preferably somewhat separate from your regular development environment. The easiest way to accomplish this is to run a full installation to a separate directory tree. We will NOT be taking time during the conference to deal with set up issues, so please be prepared when you arrive.

Also, it would be a good idea to peruse the latest 6.3 release notes, particularly the new multi-level list (MLIST, version 6.3.1522) and the indirect/callback functions (version 6.3.1528). We’ll be spending some time on them at the Conference, but there’s a lot to absorb and it will go down easier with a little familiarity.

Latest A-Shell (6.3.1531.0)
A-Shell/Windows (Web Install Package)
A-Shell/Windows (C version, Monolithic Install Package)
ATE (Web Install Package)
A-Shell/Linux -el5 (full cpio install package)
A-Shell/Linux -el7 (full cpio install package)

APN (1.0.28)
Standard Windows Install/Upgrade Package


2. Our agenda hasn’t changed, and we are not likely to issue another before the conference. The discussions will be ordered largely by interest and enthusiasm, and Jack will set the topic order based on what seems right at the moment. Here is the link, again, to the list of topics.3. Daily Schedule. On all three days, we’ll start at 9:00 a.m. Please get to the conference room early to get set up and warmed up—calisthenics of course—so you’re ready to go at 9. On Thursday and Friday, we’ll finish at 5 p.m. AND reserve the hour from 5:00 to 6:00 for spill-over and  finishing up. Please schedule dinner for 6:30 or later. On Saturday, we plan to wind things up about noon—but please stay flexible.

4. Meals. You’re on your own, schedule-wise and financially, for all meals except the banquet on Saturday. You may eat with friends or ad-hoc groups or whatever, but MicroSabio has nothing planned. The exception to that MIGHT be lunch, where the seminarians may go for a group lunch at someplace close and convenient. Lunch details to be announced.

5. Banquet. The Saturday night banquet will be at 6:00 p.m. at “Sundowners,” a five-minute walk from the hotel. There is no charge for the meal and a glass or two of wine, MicroSabio is happy to have you as a guest. If you insist on contributing, MicroSabio would be happy to let you buy a bottle of wine at dinner.

6. Dress. The conference is a very casual event, and it’s in the Florida Keys. So “business casual” is the MOST dressed-up that will be permitted, and cabana wear / cruise wear will be welcomed. Shorts okay, sandals okay, pretty much everything okay. This includes the banquet on Saturday. Ties will be cut and suits spray-painted.

7. Sunday. No events are scheduled for Sunday, although informally getting together for breakfast before everyone scatters is likely for those still at the hotel.

8. Transportation. If you need rides to and/or from the airport, we are still in the process of hooking up drivers with riders. We should be able to manage everything, and will let you know those arrangements as soon as they’re settled. Thanks for your patience.

Contact Info.

9a.  Our phone numbers are 805-543-2679 (Ty) and 818-370-8140 (Jack). Please call if you arrive in Florida and have transportation questions/issues, or for any other reason.

9b. Please reply to this message with YOUR cell phone number, so we can contact you if necessary once you leave home/work. This is also a test to see you read the whole message!  🙂

10: Weather.  Hurricane Matthew is moving north away from the Keys, and will hopefully not return—although a return is possible. We do not expect serious weather in Key Largo next week, and there are no plans to cancel or move the conference; it will go on as scheduled. However, the forecast for next week includes several days of light rain, so bringing a raincoat and umbrella seems like a good plan. Here is a Key Largo weather page.

If you have any questions, problems, issue, etc., please let us know. Otherwise, we’ll see you Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

Jack & Ty

Conference Message #7, 24 August 2016

Greetings Conference Goers–

It’s time for an update on Conference affairs, so here are some things to consider in no particular order:

1. We have a webpage (you’re looking at it!) where you can see all the messages that we have previously sent out in case you missed something.

2. If you’re getting this message, then we think you are planning to attend the conference. If you are not, please let us know.

3. Attached is an image showing what we know about everybody’s plans and schedules. If you have something to add, please let us know.

4. If you haven’t already done so, it’s probably time to finalize your travel and hotel arrangements. At the hotel, our reserved rooms and negotiated rate expire on September 9.

5. We hope you’ll share with the group a brief demo of your application, or latest GUI efforts, or new apps you’re working on, or something you’re interested in, or working on, or struggling over, or pretty much anything you wish. This is not required, but everybody’s contribution will be appreciated. If you’re going to present, please plan on 5 to 10 minutes and run through it a couple times before going live.

6. Please take a look at our preliminary agenda here. This is your opportunity to suggest additional topics, cast aspersions on any you don’t find interesting, make comments/suggestions to improve the conference, etc. Any and all feedback will be appreciated.

7. Everybody attending this conference is a valuable and contributing member of our A-Shell community. What you think and have to say is just as important and potentially worthwhile as that from anybody else, so please speak up and get your thoughts, opinions and ideas out there.

That’s it for now, we’re looking forward to seeing you in 45 days or so.

Jack & Ty



Conference Message #6, 24 May 2016

Here are a few points related to the upcoming A-Shell Developers Conference.

1. Place and time again:

2. Reservations: You can secure your room at the hotel by either

Room choices are $179 (island view) or $199 (bay view). We have only a few more rooms for which both rates and availability are guaranteed. If you are planning to attend the conference, we recommend that you make your reservation sooner rather than later.

3. Conference Fees: The conference fee is $300, $250 if received before August 20. We will send you an invoice after receiving your payment, or let us know that you would like an invoice first.

4. All coding demos and examples will be conducted in APN rather than VUE. If you are not yet using APN, this would be a good time to start, both in terms of getting the most out of the conference and in getting the most out of your programming hours thereafter. For details about APN, please see our webpages on the subject (A-Shell…Options & Modules…APN). APN is the future of A-Shell programming, and we strongly recommend it to all A-Shell developer/programmers. Please note that while the conference will offer many opportunities to improve your APN skills, there will not be sufficient time to address basic APN set-up and getting-started issues.

5. APN2: As a special APN offer associated with the conference, we are offering an APN license for $150. This license covers all APN use in the past, if any, and covers maintenance and support through December 2017—a year and a half from now. This is a good deal and a good offer which we urge you to take. Please send the $150 along with your $250 or $300 conference registration fee.

6. Transportation: You probably will not need a car for the conference, unless you want one. For transportation to/from the Miami airport, let us know your arrival/departure schedule (the sooner the better) and we’ll do our best to arrange rides (or let you know if it isn’t possible so you can arrange your own). Note that the sweet spot for arrivals/departures will be Wednesday/Sunday mid-morning to early afternoon.

7. We would like to hear from you about topics that you would like to explore at the conference. Please let us know about things in which you are particularly interested, have had trouble with, would like to know more about, or want to discuss for any reason.

8. One of the main benefits of A-Shell conferences past is for experienced and professional programmers to see how other experience and professional programmers do their coding, approach projects, design user interfaces, etc. Your work might not seem like a big deal to you, but it might to somebody else. So please come prepared to give a 5-15 minute demo of some aspect of your application(s). This is not required but would be welcome.

That’s all the news and info for now. If you have any questions, please let us know. Otherwise we’ll be in touch as developments arise.

Best regards,

Jack & Ty

Conference Message #5, 25 April 2016

Hello A-Shell Person and Conference Goer–

We’re happy to announce that we’ve selected a place and dates for the conference. It’s definite and official:

  • Where: Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort
  • When: Wednesday October 12 through Saturday October 15

We have rooms reserved at the rates of $179 (island view) or $199 (bay view) per night, which represents a discount of about $50 per night from their normal rates. We think we got pretty good rates because we made a connection from a long-time A-Shell client to the owners of the hotel.

MicroSabio have committed—not just verbally but contractually and financially—that we will fill at least ten rooms for four nights. So please book your stay for at least that long. Note that the good rates are available to members of our group for three additional days on each end of the conference.

To make your reservations via telephone (internet directions are coming later), you need to:

The hotel says: “Rates cannot be changed upon check-in or at check-out times for guests who fail to identify their affiliation at the time the reservation is requested.” Also, rooms booked through other means (travel agencies, etc.) won’t credit our quota; so please use the system above.

As always, Jack and I are kind of nervous about having financially guaranteed YOUR attendance at the conference. We would appreciate you booking your room soon, which will get us off the hook! It does require a credit card deposit for the first night, but you can cancel your reservation without penalty up to three days before the conference, so there’s no reason not to reserve soon. Another reason for reserving early is that the room selection is limited; the type of room you want may not be available if you wait. In addition, for those who don’t care about a view, there are a few “standard” rooms at $159 (by phone request only) which (we’ve been told) are expected to sell out soon.

As of the moment, we are expecting 16 people, including Jack and me. Three wives are certain, more likely. If your spouse or significant other will be attending, please reply to this message and indicate so.

We are investigating options for transportation from the Miami International Airport to the hotel. It’s about 60 miles. We will try to coordinate ride-sharing for those arriving Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday before about 3 PM, and departing Sunday afternoon.

This is shaping up to be a great conference. We’ve got lots of people coming, the weather should be good (not too hot), the hotel and related facilities look very nice, and there are some great outdoor activities available (kayaking, fishing, reef tours, swimming with dolphins, etc.). We’re glad that you’re joining us, and we look forward to a productive and fun conference.

We’ll send more information as it becomes available, and are happy to answer your questions by email.

To repeat: please book your hotel room soon.

Thanks and regards,

Jack & Ty


Conference Message #4, 13 April 2016

After reviewing a few locations and talking about many, and taking all the feedback we received into consideration, we’ve come up with a date and a place that (a) we’re happy with, and (b) are about ready to sign for on the dotted line.

Before we make it absolutely official and commit to the hotel, we wanted to give you a chance to comment.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re basically looking for comments along the lines of:

A. Sounds fine / Great! / I’ll be there / Looks good / okay


B. I’m now planning to NOT attend because of location.

We’re looking at the Key Largo Marriott Hotel in Key Largo, Florida, on October 12 – 16.

Rooms will be $179/night for very nice room, $199 for very nice room with ocean/bay view.

A key factor in choosing this place was that it is approximately one hour by car from a major international airport (Miami), which means everybody can have a minimal number of flights and transportation hassles.

We hope to make a commitment this week, so please reply to this message with an A or B from above.

Thanks and regards,

Jack & Ty

Conference Message #3, 25 March 2016

Greetings again, potential A-Shell Conference attendee—

Since the last message on this subject, thanks to input from you and others, we’ve moved a step or two closer to some actual conference plans.

Including Jack and me, we have nine folks who are virtually certain to attend. There are six others on the “location dependent” list.

Our date range is September through mid-November, with the conference being Wednesday evening through Sunday morning. Here are the choices:

Sep 7-11
Sep 14-18
Sep 21-25
Sep 28-Oct 2
Oct 5-9
Oct 12-16
Oct 19-23
Oct 26-30
Nov 2-9

Please let us know which dates you CANNOT attend.

Due to cost and distance, we’ve ruled out a few destinations. Although Italy, Rio and Mexico sounded good to some of us, we had to cross them off the list for one reason or another.

Our list of possible locations is below. We are not absolutely committed to one of these, but they seem like the best choices. We’ve compared airfares for our travelers, and they all seem reasonable on average. Each place offers some advantages and disadvantages, so personal preference will count for a lot. I’ve included a Wikipedia link in case you want to read up on the places. Please indicate your first, second and third choices.

Key West, Florida

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (A-Shell friends Joe and Chris Leibel are nearby)

San Diego, California

Tampa, Florida

Asheville, North Carolina (home of A-Shell developer Frank DiMario)

Miami, Florida (we’re thinking greater Miami, not necessarily the city itself)

London, England

So that’s it for now. We’re hoping and expecting to get two pieces of information back from you:

1. Dates that you CAN’T attend

2. Three destinations in order of your preference. I guess you should also list any “I won’t go there” places.

Thanks much,

Jack & Ty

Conference Message #2, 23 March 2016

Hello again, A-Shell person–

If you responded to our message (below) of a couple days ago, thanks very much.

If you haven’t responded, please do. You’re an important part of our A-Shell community, and your plans–coming or not–for the conference are important to us. Thanks.

Best regards,



Conference Message #1, 21 March 2016

Dear A-Shell User—

After a few hints and questions from various people anxious to make their Fall schedules, we have begun considering options for the 2016 A-Shell Conference. We have, as of this moment, no specific plans, but hope to be developing some over the new couple weeks.

The conference schedule in years past has been as shown below, and we’re likely to follow that format this year.


  • Wednesday: Travel day. Arrive at conference city, explore on your own, meet at conference hotel for A-Shell mixer (drinks and snacks) at 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: A-Shell seminars and discussions, 8:30 – 5:00, lunch with the others in the seminar. Spouses sight-see. Group dinner possible, on your own also possible.
  • Friday: A-Shell seminars and discussions, 8:30 – 5:00, lunch with the others in the seminar. Spouses sight-see. Group dinner possible, on your own also possible.
  • Saturday: A-Shell seminars and discussions, 8:30 – 12:00. Free time in the afternoon, A-Shell farewell banquet 6 p.m.
  • Sunday: Casual breakfast, conference ends.

We may change this schedule depending on the needs and interests of the attendees, but this is our starting point. Several people have suggested less work and more touristing, and we’re flexible on that subject.


Before making our plans, we need to hear from you with statements that:

a) You plan to attend the conference, or you don’t

b) If yes, then where would you like to have the conference? Places under consideration are:


  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Italy
  • San Diego
  • Southern East Coast (Raleigh-Durham, greater Miami)
  • Philadelphia
  • Midwest (Chicago, St Louis)
  • East coast of Mexico
  • England

c) Your purpose in attending the conference is primarily:


  • A-Shell technical training; please mention topics of interest
  • Business-to-business (attendee-to-attendee) sharing
  • Socializing
  • Other


We are sending this message to you and your firm because it’s important to us that we know your preferences and intentions. You’ve attended a conference in the past, and we’re think you may do so this year. We don’t feel we can make good plans until hearing from your, SO PLEASE RESPOND.

And of course, your additional comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Thanks and regards,

Jack & Ty


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