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Implementing the Entity Framework

Speaker: John Papa - www.johnpapa.net

A deeper dive than yesterday, more demos, and I'm beginning to get a feeling of what EF could do. When V1 arrives it looks like I'll throw out LLBLGen and go with the EF instead. As I see it it is just another O/R-mapper that has some or all functionality as the competitors.

Was it wrong to choose LLBLGen for the current project? No, absolutely not! The EF is still in CTP and there is not a release date yet and the current project will most certainly be done long before the EF will be released and the CTP is far to unstable to use when developing production code.

Will I continue with LLBLGen, as I have became quiet fond off it during the last weeks, or will I move towards EF? Probably the latter, most of all because it will be a part of VS. It uses the design surface as other parts in VS so all will be familiar.

Well, the Entity Framework just bubbled up as one of the top 3 things to try when arriving at home. The idea for now is to combine LINQ and EF to one educational lunch for my colleagues.

Oh, buy the way, if you get a chance to see John Papa on this topic... take it! I've seen him twice in two days and he really delivered knowledge.

Getting the most out of the Business Data Catalog

Speaker: Todd S. Baginski - www.sharepointblogs.com/tbaginski

The second session for the day with a speaker that I saw yesterday. It's funny how I plan the conference - which sessions to attend depending on the topics and the speakers. No matter how well I read all the abstracts and so on I always end up attending other sessions than I've planned. It actually feels kind of agile, defer decisions as long as possible, in this case until the sessions is about to begin. Well, this session was definitely not in my schedule when I planned this week, but because Todd Baginski performed so well yesterday and Dino Esposito didn't, I took yet another detour to the SharePoint track.

And yet again he delivered a cool, humble session with tons of knowledge flowing from the stage in a steady stream.  

Design Lightweight UI Test Automation in an .NET Environment

Speaker: James McCaffrey

Another thing with conferences is that for certain time slots there are no sessions that look interesting. This was such a time slot, but since I'm here I could as well go to one of the sessions. Yet another thing is that, from time to time, you just stroll along and all of a sudden you find your self sitting on a wonderful session, a gem, totally unplanned.

This session applies to both of the descriptions above, I picked it because the other sessions in this slot looked worse and it turned out to be a very useful lecture. James McCaffrey was a really good speaker, funny and interactive with the audience. He showed several methods of testing an application from the UI, methods that were new to me and even better new ways of looking at UI testing in general. Most useful in the future.

And it's time se check out the MUIA library. I've never heard of it but is apparently a library developed by MS and it is there for testing UI. 

PowerShell for SharePoint Developers

Speaker: Neil Iversen - http://justaddcode.com

I have a recent interest for PowerShell and currently works in a MOSS project, this was obviously a session for me, and I didn't got disappointed. This was an interesting session with a lot of stuff that I couldn't even imagine was possible to do with PowerShell. After the two sessions by Todd Baginski I've been thinking about what we could do with the object model to simplify development, but after this session I throw that away and navigated towards solving that with PowerShell instead.

Q&A Closing Session

This was a rather dull session with silly questions and silly answers and I could have used this time to much better. It would have been better to add regular sessions in this time slot.

Summary of day 3

 Four great sessions and for two of them it was totally unexpected, a lot more on my list of things to try out and learn more about.

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Advanced WCF

Speaker Juval Löwy www.idesign.net

I was surprised by the direction the session went. I assumed, based on the title, that it would be lots of details deep down in the call stack within WCF. Ok, there was a fair amount of config file viewing, but most of the time before lunch it was more of a philosophical discussion around how to use WCF in the real world. He gave his view of where WCF is going and it was interesting because he had an angle I've never heard before - WCF is the new .NET.

After lunch he fullfilled my expectations by delivering one code example after another with very complex stuff. In combination with not having any coffee at all during the afternoon it was quite hard to follow, and I might have been off the track for a while.

When it was time to go home for the day, it felt like I had a new view of WCF, both in general as well as in details. It also gave me a theoretical and philosophical perspective on WCF which I haven't expected in the morning. All in all a good day at a conference.

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The Hidden Architect - Building Solutions for Smaller Organizations

Speaker: Dan Appleman - www.danappleman.com

He started with "This is a just slides - no code session" and I thought "Oh, no...". But it turned out to be a really good session.

Dan Appleman is one of my early .NET-idols ever since I read his book "Moving to VB.NET" back in the days of .NET 1.0. As the title suggest he addressed the problem of getting an architecture when you're alone on a project and the customer/employer don't have the money to hire some expensive consultant... but wait, that would be me wouldn't it?

Well from time to time I'm in project where I'm the only developer and many of the things he said pushed buttons on me. He gave some really good advice and in the end this "no code"-session became a moment of reflection on how to handle projects/customers/requirements/ etc when you're all on your own. He shared a lot of "war stories" in a nice way and if most of the previous sessions made me feel like I immediately wanted to run home and try thing out, this one made feel like I more often should calm down and reflect on how this are.

Because all techniques eventually will disappear or be replaced with something new (and better) this is probably one of the sessions that I'll benefit most in the long run.

SharePoint Object Model & Web Services Kick Start

Speaker: Todd S. Baginski - www.sharepointblogs.com/tbaginski

So, time for a detour again...over to the SharePoint track

I really liked the style he delivered it in, cool, humble and letting the knowledge and wisdom he presented stand by it self.

He has created a windows app, "MOSS Toolkit", using the SharePoint Object Model and went through some of the code in that app. He had the intention to share his application with those in the audience who wanted it and had prepared an USB-stick to transfer it to our laptops. The problem was that at least 200 people raised their hands when he asked...big laugh! We'll have wait until he put it on his blog. The parts that he showed was not only useful as is, but also a good example of how to work with the object model against SharePoint and since I guess that I'll approach SharePoint from this direction this session was perfect for me.

Well, here's the link to his code on his blog.

Unraveling the Entity Framework

Speaker: John Papa - www.johnpapa.net

I haven't read much about EF so it was about time to learn what it is, how it works and if it is going to be useful in any way. He did a good job in showing all that and I'm planing to go to another session with him about EF tomorrow to get a deeper knowledge about it.

The Model View Presenter Pattern in Real World Enterprise Systems

Speaker: Dino Esposito - weblogs.asp.net/despos

Now, I've been listening to Dino a couple of times before, and it looked like a great topic, so my expectations where quite high. But as it turned out I am nice by saying that this was not one of his best performances. If I, just for a while, turned off my political correctness filter I would say that his performance sucked.

To his defense I'll say that the world probably has changed in this area after his session was sceduled. It's that MVC framework that MS announced a couple a weeks ago , if you remember. He had tried to turn the focus of this session to compare MVP with MVC in general, and with the MVC Framework in particular. But even if there where some "not so bad" things the session wasn't coherent at all.

I'm sorry to say but in the way this session was delivered and in the shadow of the MVC Framework, this session should better have been canceled.

But anyway, it made me want to go home and do a nice MVP implementation, and perhaps a MVC as well, in the ordinary aspx-way to act as references to the things I'll try out with the MVC Framework.

.NET Rocks! Live!

Speakers: Carl Frankling & Richard Campbell - www.dotnetrocks.com

Guest: Kent Alstad

Subject: Performance Tuning (of ASP.NET)

I admit, I went to this one just to see my favorite pod cast show live. But the subject was really interesting and I recommend you to listen to it when it is released.

Summary of day 2

Not as many highlights as yesterday, but over all a good conference day. The thing to bring home today is Dan Applemans reflections on how to act as a single developer in a non IT-department environment.  

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Imagine over 5000 persons simultaneously turning on their computer during a 15 minutes break and try to check the email via WiFi... I don't need to spell it out that is's difficulties to connect...

Keynote - Development with Visual Studio 2008

Head Speaker: Scott Guthrie - weblogs.asp.net/scottgu

Not that much new, but I have to give them credit for delivering a nice show. Some demos about developing windows as well as web application in VS 2008. Perhaps interesting for those who haven't tried out the beta, but how many of us in the audience haven't? 10-20%?

More interesting, at least for me, was the demo on the possibilities for extensibility in VS2008. In the demo they showed an add-in to VS for making custom stuff for World of Worldcraft. It wasn't just extremely cool but it's an opening to get my WoW-playing son interested in programming.

Oh... and they announced "Oslo", a vision on how to combine different existing technologies that exist today, and make their future paths woven together. Not that interesting in my opinion.

A Lap Around VSTS 2008

Speaker: Doug Seven - blogs.msdn.com/dseven

A lot of talk of what you can do in VSTS, that's good but really... 90% of the stuff showed here was already in VSTS 2005. So I thought - "I must be better to read the abstracts and not just the titles for the sessions". But when I looked at the abstract for this session it said: "In this demo-intensive session you will be exposed to many of the new features in VSTS 2008".

This wasn't a bad session, but it kind of not met my expectations based on the title. He's a good speaker and the topic interesting, but for me who have used VSTS 2005 for over a year now it really didn't delivered any new knowledge.

LINQ Deep Dive and Best Practices

Speaker: Kit George

After 5 minutes I thought - "This is not a deep dive - it's an introduction and I've seen Anders Hejlsberg doing this twice, both in PDC 2005 and in TechEd 2006...the man is toast in my session evaluation". I even thought of sneaking out of the room and sneaking in on another session, but I sat in the middle of a row and I didn't want to disturb all the other people sitting there.

But after the usual lambda expression - extension methods - compiler trick - show he actually moved on to some best practices and some deep dive and in the end I was quite satisfied with this session.

I must do a updated LINQ educational lunch at the office when I come home, and I'll use some stuff from this session.

Introduction to the New ASP.NET MVC Framework


This is the kind of session that makes the trip worth it. Worth the money (even if it's not me that actually pays for it) and, more close to me, worth the inconvenience to going across almost half the globe to attend one of these conferences.

I've been aware of the MVC pattern since the mid 90's when I did some Smalltalk programming, and I have tried to have this pattern in mind together with other patterns when programming during the years. Sometimes it actually made its way in to the code and sometimes it didn't for whatever good or bad reason.

I first heard of this ASP.NET MVC patterns when reading Hanselmans blog a couple of weeks ago. I downloaded the video where Scott Guthrie talk about it on ALT.NET, and saved it to watch it during the flight over to DevConnection. Unintentionally I fell asleep on the plane and didn't got the time to watch the film, so much for that plan...but I have to fly back home in a couple of days and hopefully would manage to sty awake.

However, this session saved me countless hours of testing this framework. Don't get me wrong, I still will testing it because it feels like a better way of doing web applications than the traditional ASP.NET-view state-postback thing. But by explaining why and how they save me a lot of hours of thinking and it feels like I could just code along when the bits arrive - I'm really thrilled to try this one out.

I've never listened to neither of them live before, but I regularly listen to Hanselmans podcats (Hanselminutes) and I am reading his blog as well so it feels like I know him. A strange feeling...

The two of them makes a great pair on stage, filling in on each other, give each other questions that moves the session forward. In some way it reminded me of Don Box and Dharma Shukla on Indigo in PDC 2005.

This will most certainly fill out a educational lunch at home, probably more than that. I'll see if I perhaps can persuade my boss that we should do a somewhat bigger test implementation with this technique involving more colleagues- perhaps there's a suitable internal project for this.

I leave the room with a much better feeling than three hours ago, when I wondered if all sessions were going to be as lame as the two first ones, now it feels like it's back to normal conference standard again.

Custom and extending search in MOSS

Speaker: Thomas Rizzo - blogs.msdn.com/thomriz

 When I planned and signed up for this conference, my world was a little bit different than it is now. Then, SharePoint, was mostly an area of interest, now I'm sitting in a SharePoint project. So the concept of being able to choose any session from any of the simultaneous conferences here suited me perfectly. Even if I technically picked a session outside my track when choosing the MVC session that was a part of the ASP track it didn't completely is out of bound in the Visual Studio, .NET and Architect - connections track.

Since I'm not currently directly involved in developing web parts and other stuff in MOSS, but rather more of a back end programmer or something this was the first session that drew my attention.

It turned out that Thomas Rizzo was an excellent speaker who delivered the content very well in a good mix of theory and practical demos. I learned a lot but this will probably not make its way to a presentation back home, but rather being directly applied in the current project.

Developer Express


After two very good sessions in a row I had to make a decision on whether to call it a day or attending a bonus (=vendor) session. Well, he who pays the trip wants me to gain some knowledge so I'd better to attend as many sessions as possible. No that's not actually true, it's more my own mind going in that direction.

Julian's part of this session was totally ruined because his machine had a key that got stuck. And not just any key, it was the Ctrl-key, so nothing of what he had planned worket out at all. In these situations I'll guess it's nice to be in front of an audience that understands...

Mark Miller on the other hand made a brilliant presentation of Code Rush and Refactor. Actually so good that I'll ask my boss if I can buy it when I come home.

My only problem with this session or more precise Mark Miller was this: Last week when preparing for the trip here I downloaded as many pod casts as I could but I'm almost upp to date with my favorite .NET Rocks! so they wouldn't completely fill the traveling time. Because Carl and Richard not only does that but also another show called Mondays, labeled as comedy, I downloaded a couple of episodes to try that one out. This was a hilarious show and I laughed loudly in the plane so that people stared at me. It turned out that the guy on the show with the not so totally political correct language that continuously was bleeped out to avoid law suites was the same Mark Miller standing in front of me on the stage and trying to deliver a serious (well...) demonstration. So I sat there with this giggling feeling remember all the hilarious this he (and the other) said in the show. I'll recommend the episode where Carl turns 40 - but be careful, not everybody have the same sense of humor.

Summary of day 1

Kind of lame before lunch but after that it took off for real. The piece to bring home today was the MVC Framework.

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Improve Your SOA - Designing a secure, reliable and scalable system.

Speaker: Michele Leroux Bustamante

You can read more about her on:

Overall this was a very good pre conference day, with lots of new information and some new angles to problem I've struggled with. She is a good speaker that obviously knows what she's talking about. The demos and her answers to tricky questions strengthens this picture. 

In the first part she surprised me by not giving a general lecture on SOA but instead just quickly went over this part. Then she continued with specifics for implementing SOA with WCF.

Ok, I admit not reading the pre conference workshop abstracts that good. During the first break I looked it up and it clearly says  "This tutorial will show you how to implement architectural pattern common to WCF...".It's nice to be surprised in this way sometimes. For those of us who just reads the titles before choosing, it would perhaps had been more appropriate with a title like: "A deep introduction to WCF" or "How to implement SOA with WCF". Compared to the PDC 2005 pre conference "Pattern & Practices for Designing Service Oriented Applications - In Illustrated Example" by Ron Jacobs, which I attended, kind of sat my expectations this was a much more hands on, technical lecture with lots of code examples - just the way I like it!

Before lunch she looked at

  • SOA and WCF
  • Design and Deployment Consideration
  • Exception Handling
  • Large Messages

And after lunch she continued with

  • Asynchronous Scenarios
  • Transactions
  • Security
  • Building a Router
  • Scalability

For most of the topics she did a theoretical view of why and how, and then discussed details while running examples in VS and I left whit a strong urge to go home and do some experimental programming to get my head around this stuff.

She also mentioned that she did a series of web cast on  WCF. I'll sure look into that when I got the time. And I Ill probably end up buying her book "Learning WCF".

The only, somewhat, negative to say is that she held us for an additional 45 minutes to go through all slides. In my opinion she could have shortened the part on security, not that it's not important but it so large and complex that there wasn't a chance to grasp it all anyway.

Now I'm curious of the content in the post conference workshop that I will attend on Friday: "Advanced WCF" by her colleague Joval Lowy. If this was the easy one how is the advanced going to be?

Executive Keynote - Dynamic IT and the 2008 Launch Wave

Speaker: Steve Guggenheimer

This was exactly as I expected, mostly advertising and talk about things that (eventually) will come. But they surprised me a bit by doing some demos on Windows Sever 2008 and SQL Server 2008. The biggest applause was on intellisense in SQL "Query Analyzer".