Just got back from Tech-Ed so I thought I’d blog about the overall experience and then some of the sessions I attended.
The Centre Convencions Internacional (CCIB) was a good venue for the conference. Although, like a number of these places, it’s not in the nicest part of town. However, inside the facilities were good, and the general layout was easy enough to navigate around. If I had a complaint, then it would be more to do with the session scheduling than the venue itself. The rooms were of differing sizes depends, I’d assume, on the predicted take-up of the session. The problem here was two-fold; 1. How they predicted the attendance, 2. The use of small rooms. The prediction of the attendance seemed to rely on the pre-conference questionnaire but this was flawed. Attendees were asked to say which session they’d attend per time slot. But in most cases I had 1-3 session I’d attend, and it would depend upon my mood at the time which I’d actually attend, but there was no-way to convey that. The second problem was the when a medium size room was free, the smaller sessions should have gone into them, instead they were left empty whilst the smaller session became full, very frustrating.
The Exhibition Hall
Nicely laid out with many of the usual suspects. Also included a (very grubby) X-Box zone, Speaker Idol and book store. The Communications area was just about the right size and the Ask-The-Experts was large although full of minority applications with not enough emphasis on the core areas.
I have to say that I think the Exhibition hall is a bit of waste of time, but hey its a way to load up your bags with junk that you’ll transport hundreds of miles to dump in bins throughout the EMEA region.
The big disappointment was the book store. It seemed to me that it was the books they were desperate to get rid of rather than those to support the conference.
Key Note – Windows Vista, the 2007 Office System and AJAX
Hmm, this started poorly and went into the world of the bizarre when a little girl from Pakistan was paraded in front of the conference because she’s passed some MCP exams. Although that should be applauded I can’t help but think that given her 101 demo of a calculator this speaks volumes about MCP exams and little about, "inspirational" stories. Still she seemed a nice girl but I hope she enjoys her childhood, she’s got the brains to do this computer thing for the rest of her life.
Then the marketing kicked in. A nice demo of the presentation services and AJAX but unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of years there was nothing new to see, I felt pretty disappointed. The most cringey part was the, ‘pauses-for-applause’ that was greeted with silence. I’m not sure if this was the usual European sanity vs. American over-enthusiasm or the that everyone was just as underwhelmed as me.
SQL304 Upgrade Benefits of SQL 2005 for Developers
Didn’t survive this session. I was hoping for some real ammunition to move to 2005 but basically got a list of the new features.
DEV351 ASP.NET Developer and Designer AJAX Bliss with Visual Studio and Expression
Didn’t survive this session. After 30mins of watching a demonstration of how to change properties of a element in an IDE, I walked.
ARC305 Connected Systems – Communication, Flow, Rules and Logic
Hurray, a full session. Interesting enough talk showing the thinking behind the WinFx changes. Inspired me to consider changing some parts of the application I work on.
OFF301 Windows Sharepoint Services v3: Using Feature and Solution Definitions…
A bit long winded and disjointed. Groups of ‘theory’ and code but not used a such a way as to explain each other, not really helped by the constant audio bombardment of Todd Bleeker. Still got a few ideas but was worried about the overly complicated and immature nature of customizing Sharepoint.
OFF309 .NET Development on Sharepoint Technology
The previous Sharepoint session had piqued my interest in learning more about. This session was much better, although I didn’t learn a great deal that I have not already read or seen, it was a much better session.
OFF002 DEMO Building Collaborative Solutions with Sharepoint Services..
Quite a nice demo, I think attending this would have provided a decent overview of Sharepoint. It should some very touches, I especially liked the ability to derive a new field type – although the demo was a but flaky in parts. Another session that inspired me to make changes to our application, but also outlined areas where our application shines.
DEV348 Extending .NET with Custom Providers
Great session, even though I’d read a bit about the providers I’ve never had the chance to really use them. Jeff Prosise did a great job of showing how to use them, and also pointed out the typical pitfalls. This is what Tech-Ed should be about, not simply regurgitating on-line book material but actually sharing experiences. Although it was tempered by some absolutely dumb questions from the audience – I felt for Jeff here, how he resisted just telling the guy to get out I don’t know.
After the session I asked Jeff a question (of course not a dumb question 😉 ) about site maps per user and I thought the answer was at best weak, but then I’d guessed they’d be no answer to it, but then why not just say that?
DEVWD34 Applications for Windows Sideshow
Serendipity played a big part here. I wanted to attend an AJAX whiteboard session (had some gripes about the Microsoft implementation) but managed to go into the wrong room with three people in it. I thought it was strange to have so few people in a popular topic but without and slide showing me the name I was none-the-wiser. Eventually lots of strange digital devices were brought out, very odd. Then the title was announced and I felt too embarrassed for the speaker to leave him with just three people so I decided to hear him out. It was very interesting and I think it would be useful for practical applications. So I’m hoping to do some demos of this soon. I thought the speaker could have been a little more enthusiastic but again, learning about something brand new is inspiring and what I attend Tech-Ed for.
SQLWD02 – The Doctor is in: Tell us what hurts in SQL 2005
Good chance to talk to some SQL experts. The only problem was that I (and a few others) wanted to talk about specific issues whereas I got the feeling that they wanted to know about things that weren’t potential bugs but more about things that were slightly annoying. Anyway got a few things off my chest, although I think some of the advice was downright strange, but hey they’re the experts.
DEV411 AJAX Patterns with the Microsoft AJAX Library
A decent enough session. For the first time a session that actually pointed out some of the bad bits of the AJAX libriaries (something I’ve been banging on about for a while). Again the stuff you’d hope to hear. However, again, the session had fallen foul of internet, I knew pretty much all of it already. So although it was a good session I didn’t get much from it.
DEV319 Visual Studio 2005 – Advanced Data Access Techniques
Although there were some interesting points from this, I liked the way you could say that a field was a detail in a master/detail from the UI, the presentation was pretty dull. I left this one early.
Why do I go to Tech-Ed? I would say for the following reasons;
- Learn about new things
- Talk to the Experts rather than the forums
- Have some time to learn and think without the pressures of day-to-day work
- Be inspired
One of the biggest problems for me was that the internet is now a mine of information about new products. For example, I’d already watched a number of presentations from the PDC on the web and frankly the depth of those sessions blew anything Tech-Ed had to offer out of the water.
Talking to the Experts was good, but I found them to be very defensive, what I’d prefer is some decent open conversions rather than experts clamming up and toeing the company line. I understand why but it’s still annoying.
But having said all that, I do feel inspired in a number of areas, although I’ll have to say that I wonder what would happen if I just took myself off to a nice hotel for a week with a laptop and an internet connection. Would I learn more and be more inspired?