Archive for November 2008
I’m now back from TechEd 2008 EMEA Developer at Barcelona. TechEd for me is always great experience and Barcelona is probably the best place in Europe to be at in November.
This was my third TechEd and, although it wasn’t the best one I’ve been at, I must disagree with people who say this year’s TechEd was bad.
TechEd vs. PDC
This year was special because Microsoft held PDC earlier this year. Although TechEd and PDC overlap in content their goals are different. PDC is primarily for Microsoft to get feedback from the developer community about their new product evolution wave. TechEd on the other hand is aimed to help developers build on Microsoft platform.
Taking that into account TechEd is a wrong conference to learn what’s new in the Microsoft ecosystem. To learn new buzz-words you should be attending PDC, or just glance over recorded PDC sessions as I did. TechEd is there to get a pragmatic look at Microsoft’s landscape from industry leading experts.
But anyway PDC steeled from TechEd in terms of content, speakers and attendees.
Choose Sessions Wisely
When I asked some people at TechEd how do they like it, many have said they could not find interesting sessions to go to, or were disappointed after attending such. Well, that differs from my own experience and would answer: "Choose sessions wisely!"
Here is a list of some of my tips to choose a session to go to:
- Choose Speakers, Not Titles
Speaker matter. Really. People like David Chappell, David Platt, Pat Helland, Udi Dahan and Roy Osherove made TechEd this year in my opinion. Their content is always unique and presentation skills are outstanding.
- Look At The Level
There are sessions of levels 200, 300 and 400 at TechEd. If you did read a couple of blog posts about XYZ, don’t expect to lean something new about it from a 200-level session, except the speaker is David Chappell or the track is ARC. Architecture track is too abstract to assign any level to it, IMHO.
- Look For Experience, Avoid Marketing
I personally consider TechEd too expensive to learn what’s new in the version Z of product Y. In contrast it is the best opportunity to learn from the experience of the experts.
- What Do You Want To Ask?
When choosing between two sessions I tend to go to the one where I’m going to ask questions. The other one I can watch recorded.
- Do Your Homework
Try to read as much blogs on the topics of your interest before the conference as possible. Then you can skip introductory sessions at all.
Here is what I’ve attended (except the keynote and lunch sessions):
- David Chappell
- An Overview of the Azure Services Platform
- Claims-Based Identity: An Overview of "Geneva"
- A First Look at "Oslo", "Dublin", and WF 4.0
- Pat Helland
- When You Have Too Much Data, “Good Enough” is Good Enough
- Building on Quicksand
- RIAs and Emissaries
- Metropolis: Buildings and Applications
- Green Computing through Sharing: Reducing both Cost AND Carbon (General Session)
- Miha Kralj
- Architectures: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- How IT will change in next 10 years and why you should care
- Udi Dahan
- Intentions & Interfaces – Making Patterns Concrete
- Web Scalability via Asynchronous Systems Architecture
- Reliability, Availability and Scalability – How to have your cake and eat it too
- Avoid a Failed SOA: Business and Autonomous Components to the Rescue
- Roy Osherove
- Designing for Testability: Bridging the Gap between Design and Testing in Object-Oriented Software
- The future of unit testing
- Rockford Lhotka
- How to manage technology and not have it manage you
- Mario Szpuszta
- Security Architecture for Heterogeneous Environments in the Real World – The Identity Meta System and Federated Identity applied to a Real-World Scenarios
- Vittorio Bertocci
- Identity and Cloud Services
In general, this year’s TechEd looked a bit cheaper, either because of PDC or the economy situation in the world, I don’t know exactly why. Less well-known names, boring exhibition and ask-the-experts booth, poor lunches, etc.
Another drawback is communication. For some reason all the portal and communication tools MS builds for TechEd fail. Attendee search was counter-productive. Almost nobody used community groups. There were thousands of interesting people and no way to find somebody you would like to talk to. Some additional Open Space-alike activities would bridge the gap, I think.
The German Country Drinks party on Wednesday was my worst time at TechEd. It was a buffet in a bar with very loud dancing music so that everyone had to shout. There was no introduction, no activities. German Microsoft just brought a lot of German-speaking people in one place and provided some food and drinks. Maybe it was a cultural impedance mismatch, but I would expect some networking out of such event, and not just drinking with people you already know. Not surprisingly most of the people gone before 22:00.
Anyway, the week at TechEd was great. I learned a lot, talked to many interesting people, and had fun!