So, a little more adjusted to the time zone, not wakening up 4 am to watch the ceiling for an hour before going down to the Fitness Center. Today I just woke up 6.30, got a shower and then went to GWCC to meet up with Martin for breakfast.
Eventually there’s a timeslot where kind of no session seem that appealing – this was one of them and early in the morning as well. Should I pass or should I go to the Hands On Lab area to try one of them out? I did pick a session and it was
COS304 - Using Windows Azure Storage (Jai Haridas)
Actually worth going to this one, he did a good job explaining the differences between the way of storing data in the cloud: Blobs, Drives, Tables and Queues. Good demos made me understand how I’m supposed to use this in real life. He got in to all of them in enough depth so I got a felling for what they could do and what they couldn’t do – and when to use what. I really liked this session and did not at all regret going here.
DEV313 - Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework 4 and Beyond: Building Real-World Applications (Jeff Derstadt & Jonathan Aneja)
We’re using EF4 right now in my current project so I thought that it would be a good idea to go to some of the EF4 sessions. In this one there were a real world example from NBC. It’s nice to see that we’re not the only one to struggle with (against) EF4 – but in all a satisfactory session. One of the gems to bring home was the compiled query stuff and the ability to serialize it as JSON.
DEV338 - NuGet: Microsoft .NET Package Management for the Enterprise (Scott Hanselman)
This one wasn’t either on my original schedule, but after all the talk the first day about NuGet I just was forced to see this. On the other hand it was Hanselman so I could have picked anyway. Well, as usual he delivered a good – or actually very good – talk, an this time without demo crashes. There were some mocking on Twitter after his crash in the Monday session.
Now, I’m completely aware of what NuGet is and what it can do – 75 minutes well spent. I’ll have to start using this when I’m back home, I guess I have to show some demos for my colleagues before they accept this, but now I’m well prepared.
DEV337 - Moving Your App and Skills from WinForms to Silverlight and WPF (Pete Brown)
Despite of the level and of the title, this felt like a 200-level talk and even if there were lots of demos the technical content was way to simple. He brought up obvious thing when shifting from WinForms to Silverlight and/or WPF – and it felt like he just jumped over the hard stuff.
DEV323 - A Taste of F#: Today and Tomorrow (Don Syme)
Not all that much new, but a decent talk. The today-stuff was more focused on beginners – I have been playing around with F# since early 2008 way before PDC 2008 so all the points of simplicity and the async/parallel reasons didn’t bring anything new to the table. And the tomorrow stuff was focused on FrebaseData – interesting for sure, but not that’s more a cool thing that a language innovation or a language development. Always nice to listen to Don Syme, though.
On the pre-conf day it feels like the conference is going to last forever, but all of sudden it is the last day…
DEV302 - Identify and Fix Performance Problems with VS Ultimate (Benjamin Day)
When I do performance coding, I do think the “fix” is the more interesting part. The “identify” is simply the boring stuff I have to go through to get to the “fix” part. This talk was totally focused on the “identify” part – and therefor for me, totally boring. And not much new stuff either, the last day could definitely have started better…
DEV335 - Improving Your Microsoft ASP.NET Application Performance with Asynchronous Pages and Actions (Tiberiu Covaci)
Ah, a fellow Swede… Good session that matched the title perfectly. Lot of things that I have been unaware of – or at some point in time had been aware of but now forgot. Yet again the full history of Begin/End, Async/Complete to the new async keyword. I don’t know if the speakers look at each other topics or if the track chair look – but this was my third session where this full history. Now, I like asynchronous programming so it really doesn’t matter that much to me – but could we use the time more effectively?
The twist in this talk was the asynchronous page directive in ASP.NET, and that was completely new to me – or perhaps as in the previous talk, something that I have been aware of but forgot because I never used it. Since I usually tends to do back-end or server stuff the async thing is on my radar, but it wasn’t really for page code. Now I have to have it there as well.
MID302 - AppFabric Caching: How It Works and When You Should Use It (Jon Flanders)
I might say that this was one of the reasons for going here. I’ve been working with AppFabric cache the last month at my current project. The bottom line for this session is that I think I got it all while working with it. Now, that might be feeling like wasting time to go to a session like this, but it’s actually kind of nice to get a confirmation that there isn’t anything else.
DEV377 - Ask Scott Hanselman
My only interactive session this year, with my favourite: Hanselman, and he delivered one more time. There were no specific topic, instead the audience asked questions from organizational questions about MS to specific technical details about lots of stuff – and lots of jokes as well.
Before the last session I ran to the exhibit hall book store to see if there were any books on sale and I bought two with 20% off.
DEV351 - Busy Microsoft .NET Developer’s Guide to the Microsoft Cloud (Ted Neward)
He started with a declaration that he would present any demos, that this would be a Power Point only talk and that anyone that was uncomfortable with this could leave if they wanted to. I remained in my seat somewhat sceptical, but it turned out to be one of more interesting talks of the week. Not the usual “hallelujah, do this and everything will be fine”, on the contrary he told us to be sceptical and careful about putting applications and/or data in the cloud.
An end session that gave us something to think about on our way home
As a developer I tend to think that Teched keynotes usually are to much focused on IT-pros, and usually not all that exciting. But this year I was surprised how interesting the keynote was. They had a shorter (?) big keynote for everybody and then we were split up in different Foundational sessions – it worked out pretty well.
Cloud, cloud, cloud…
Phone, phone, phone…
Much talk about the cloud, much talk about the phone, and except for a short section about System Center – in which I have no interest, whatsoever – there were really nice stuff showed.
The sentence of the day was when Amir Netz demoed new BI-tools in Crescent and sorted/filtered 2.000.000.000 rows of data – “This is beyond wicked fast. This is the engine of the devil, right?” And I must agree, it was beyond wicked fast…
More interesting stuff came when Drew Robbins talked about next version of WP7, “Mango”. Yesterdays pre-conf on WP7 made me eager to start developing for this platform and with the new tool coming out for “Mango” this month it just increase my interest in this area.
Last Cameron Skinner showed upcoming features in VS “vNext”, but I don’t know if they really said when it’s about to be released – I thing it’s not settled yet. Anyway, one of the more interesting features is to be able to suspend my current work – shelf the changes and so on – when the boss comes with an urgent matter. And after having fixed it, be able to resume work exactly where I was before – not just getting back the shelved files, but restoring all windows and so on, so that VS looked exactly the same as when I suspended the work. And this just with one suspend and one resume button. He also showed how it will be possible to do storyboarding in PowerPoint for designers and/or advanced business/requirement analysts – I’ll have to try this one out before I can tell if this is good or bad.
Foundational session – The Microsoft Web Platform
Very interesting walk through of the current state and the close future of the web platform as Microsoft sees it. For me the bottom line was to look at and learn:
Look at really close and learn really well, that is. And of course to continue to improve the skills in ASP.NET MVC and Razor in general, but that wasn’t all that new.
In the afternoon there were ordinary breakout sessions and ad started with:
MID306 - Design Patterns, Practices and Techniques with the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus (Juval Löwy)
Now, I’ve seen Juval Löwy before – in fact an whole post conference day at DevConnection 2007 and this time I was more prepared for his particular style of delivering talks. This one did its job to deliver what the title stated but nothing more.
DEV349 - An overview of the MS Web Stack (Scott Hanselman)
Scott Hanselman is fantastic in delivering technical talks and even if he had his first demo crash in 8 years today he saved it brilliantly. This was about the same content as the foundational session before lunch – but more technical, more demos and because of that more close to my heart. It was interesting to hear that MS now does a lot of optimizations for “programmer happiness” and less work on optimizing the IDE for demo-style file-new-drag-and-drop scenarios.
This talk also emphasized the wisdom of this morning: learn NuGet, WebMatrix and Orchard.
DEV321 - Advanced Blend for Developer: Integrating MVVM and Designability (Pete Brown)
Not bad, but not a 300 level session and not that interesting – I will probably never work in Blend nor will the designers I work with. On the other hand, there were no other sessions in this time slot that seemed more interesting so… it wasn’t so bad that I left in the middle of the talk anyway, perhaps not just my focus topic.
So, it was time for Ray Ozzie with the friends "du jour" to talk about the front end tools - the keynote yesterday was all about the back end.
First of all he talked about the evolution of the PC and continued with looking at the differences as well as the similarities between development for the PC, the Web and the Mobile platform.
After that it was time for a quick walk thru of Windows 7. My first impression was that I didn't see anything new but small pieces of eye candy and then they talked about how easy it was to connect your work laptop to your home network and sharing music etc. so the second impression was that it was targeted towards the home and entertainment market.
I guess they planned it that way, that we should be a little bit confused and disappointed, because now they turned the focus on what it's going to be for developers and more tech centric information. It turns out that Windows 7 will help us developers interact more closely with OS, like Ribbon UI, Jump Lists, Multi-touch, Ink, DirectX etc. The goal is thst it should have decreased memory, disk I/O and power consumption and att the same time have increased speed (especially faster boot), responsiveness and scaling possibilities.
There was no time plan for release, but possibly a beta early next year and they hoped for a "three year release cycle experience" and that will place the release somewhere around late 2009 - early 2010 if my memory serves me right at this moment.
And then came ScottGu...
He started out with some talk about improvements for developers, the new WPF Toolkit that will work on all versions of Windows. He continued to talk about as well as demoing Visual Studio 2010. It looks nice with lots of functionality that I both have missed as well as functionality that I didn't know I've missed but as soon as I saw it I immediately knew that I would use it. There was a lot of talk about ASP.NET 4 and the web development experience in VS 2010 in general - WebForms, MVC and AJAX... and of course Silverlight with the Silverlight Tooolkit and the Silverlight Designer in VS 2010.
The keynote continued with demonstration and facts about the Live Mesh platform and the Live Framework, quite interesting actually. No directly impact on what I'm doing today but the potential is huge so as usual this topic goes to the list of "keep an eye on" or perhaps "should play with". The problem is that both those lists already contains quite a few things already...
The first keynote finished with a quick demo of Office 14, at first no big difference. But then they interactively did simultaneous update to the same document from to PC's and as a further bonus one of the word instances was Office Web which completely ran inside the browser - clearly competing with other online office suites.
After a short break, the second keynote started...
Don Box and Chris Anderson entered the stage and completely blew my mind. The showed how to work with the fluffy stuff from yesterday - Windows Azure. The went through a complete example of how to build services and applications "in the cloud". Short, sharp but deeply enough they took away all the fuzziness about Windows Azure. Brilliant, thank you!