Sunday, April 4, 2010

Techdays 2010: Wrap-up (part 3)

Looking for part 1 or part 2? Or maybe just looking for my Silverlight demo?

Thursday April 1st, last day in this three day story.

First up, Scott Hanselman about .NET 4. Scott was not as good as on Wednesday, I guess the downside of a great speaker like this is that things that are funny the first time you hear them are already less funny the second time. By the third time you see him, you might even start hating him. His content was good, I learned a lot and in the end that’s what matters.

Bart De Smet talked about the CLR 4. There was some overlap between this session and previous sessions I had seen, but Bart was good as always and told about all those things just that little bit extra. There was a session about MVVM I wanted to see at the same time, remember me to check the video later.

During the lunch the same problem as Wednesday, not one, but two talks I wanted to see. Blogging tips by Scott Hanselman or WP7 development by Charlie Kindel. I chose Scott, but I should have chosen Charlie. Gimme that video!

After the lunch I joined a huge crowd to see Sara Ford giving some VS2010 tips. The talk was even delayed a few minutes because they could get everyone in the room in time. The tips were useful, but unfortunately Sara was very nervous. So Sara, no reason to be nervous, you did great!

Then Peli the Halleux tried to bore us to death with a session about Moles and Pex. No offence, the speaker was fine and his subject interesting, only I was really tired and I already knew most he talked about from TechEd.

After that I decided to take a break in the speakers’ room and start writing this series of blog posts. That's where Arlindo introduced Jeroen and I to Julie. That’s all I’m going to write about that… ever

John R. Durant closed the conference with a few words about developing on top of Office 2010. Good presentation, but I would have liked to see some more code (e.g. the code of the “backstage” example)

This was the last post in this series about the Techdays, I hope you enjoyed it!

Techdays 2010: Wrap-up (part 2)

Find part 1 of this post, about the Students to Business day here.

Now something about the actual Techdays. Wednesday and Thursday, while the other students were back at school, we attended the Techdays. This year’s Techdays where really, really good. Look at the list of speakers: Anders Hejlsberg, Scott Hanselman, Sara Ford, Rafal Lukawiecki, Charlie Kindel, our own Bart De Smet, …

Anders Hejlsberg kicked off the developer part of the conference with a keynote about trends in (and the future of) programming languages. He talked about things like dynamic and functional programming. The video is already available on Channel 9 and I’ve embedded it below. Definitely worth an hour of your time!

Get Microsoft Silverlight

After the keynote I’ve seen Katrien De Graeve and Gill Cleeren’s session about Silverlight 4 and WPF 4. First Gill talked about Silverlight. I liked the fact that he talked about some more business oriented functionalities in SL4 (e.g. printing) too. I would have liked to see Katrien talk a bit longer about WPF 4.

During the lunch I had to choose between two sessions I liked to see. Something about XNA by a former Imagine Cup winner, Timothy Vanherberghen and something about the Surface application in Belgian TV show “De Kinderpuzzel”. I chose to see the Surface application, although in the end I didn’t get to see it. The speaker, Boris Rogge, showed some of the code and ran out of time. It was interesting to hear the story behind the application though. Too bad I couldn’t see Timothy’s talk, but I’ll certainly watch the video. They should hang the person who has invented lunch sessions, during the lunch break, just let me, you know … eat!

Then I went to Giorgio Sardo’s session about HTML5 and IE9. He didn’t show anything really shocking, check out the platform preview and you’re back up to date. One thing I really liked was Giorgio’s opinion about the Acid 3 test. I agree that this test is mostly a marketing thing and that its relevance as a tool to test whether a browser is standard-compliant is very low. The number of test-cases in Acid 3 is low and the things that are being tested are very often rather unrealistic scenarios. What I did not like was that he kept on talking about improving the performance of IE by making it render pages faster. I don’t care you make my page render ten milliseconds faster, I only care a little that you can make a bunch of browser logo’s spin at over 60 frames per second (by the way, he demoed that Chrome only runs the animation at 3 FPS, but apparently the current version of Opera can do the trick just as fast as the preview of IE9, take a look at the screenshot or try it yourself).

What I do care about, is how fast a browser feels. When I fire up Chrome or Opera or even good old Firefox, I can immediately start typing and the browser will immediately be responsive, making suggestions about where I might want to go. When I fire up Internet Explorer I often find myself waiting for the browser to load that start page I don’t really need to see and while not being able to type or while not (yet) getting any suggestions. I’m talking about seconds, not milliseconds. I’m talking about a long and deep sigh, not about the blink of an eye.

Next was the session called “A day in the life of a Silverlight/WPF integrator” by Laurant Bugnion. If you don’t have a clue what an integrator is, neither did I. Apparently an integrator is someone who takes a design from a designer (Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, …) and turns it into XAML using Expression Blend, Expression Design, a calculator and some rulers. Laurant showed some great features in Blend I didn’t know about (did you know there’s a tool to copy a gradient from anywhere on the screen?). Having that said, I’m not entirely sure whether I like the role of “integrator”. They had designers who used to work with Adobe tools, they started to develop things in Silverlight and WPF and because they didn’t want the designers to learn how to use Blend (a tool built for designers…) they created an entirely new role, the role of integrator. These “integrators” then had to learn the basic features of the Adobe tools and how to use the Microsoft tools only to create a scenario where the designer still can’t control the final result of his design and the integrators spend their days measuring and translating bitmaps into XAML. This doesn’t sound very efficient to me. I like to design (I’m not saying I’m good at it), I like to write code, but I’m afraid I would really hate to “integrate”.

Scott Hanselman then tried to teach us some “ASP.NET MVC 2 ninja blank belt tips”. Good tips, great speaker. Loved it. Giorgio Sardo took the last session slot with a talk about Windows Phone 7 Series (why you can drop that last word). This was (correct me if I’m wrong) the first public WP7 demo in Belgium. It’s pretty hard not to like that.

Then I had Chinese food with Jeroen. (many people told me not write about the food, so I really had to write that…)

Part three coming soon … Move on to part 3

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Techdays 2010: Wrap-up (part 1)

This week I’ve been attending two Microsoft events in Antwerp: the Students to Business day on Tuesday and the Techdays on Wednesday and Thursday. At the Students to Business day I was a speaker (if you are looking for my demos: over here).

Let’s start with the Students to Business day. I was very much involved in this event so please forgive me if I’m a bit biased, feel free to comment or mail me if you have any feedback on this event and/or on my talk.

This day for students started with a keynote by Phillip Vandervoort, Eva Van Laere, Yves Kerwyn, Kimberly Voltero and Luc Van de Velde. Phillip and Luc are experienced speakers and they did well, but of course most students were waiting for some technical content. Eva and Yves did a chaotic presentation of some new features in Office 2010. Unfortunately a lot went wrong during those demos. In my opinion the best part of the keynote was Kimberly’s part: The Power of Students.

After the keynote, the real fun started. First up: Bart Wullems about .Net 4 and VS2010. Good presenter, good content, I liked it and I learned some new things. After the lunch it was my turn. “Five things you’ll love about Silverlight” Right before my talk I was standing next to the stage, looking into the room full of students and, you know, freaking out… But once my slides appeared I just started and everything went well. The feedback I got so far was pretty positive so I’m really glad I accepted the invitation to do a talk. If you’ve got any feedback, please let me know! After my talk Bart De Smet, a young Belgian who currently works for Microsoft in Redmond talked about how Microsoft uses TFS to manage and test large software projects. I liked it, the audience liked it and I’m pretty sure Bart liked it too. Sumit Mehrotra closed the day with a talk about Azure.

After the students to Business day we were invited by Microsoft to go to the Sportpaleis to watch Starwars in concert. I’m not exactly a Starwars fan, but still an impressive show!

Wednesday and Thursday we attended the Techdays. I’ll post about the Techdays later. Go to part 2