Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PDC Day 2

Highlights from Day 2 of PDC.

The Keynote:  I got the feeling that this was less about new stuff this year than completing stuff from last year.  A lot of Azure announcements, and a little about server tools, but the message was clear.  Microsoft is banking on Azure for the next big thing server wise.  It released pricing model for bigger instances of Azure, and outlined the plan for supporting tools and infrastructure.  They also talked about Microsoft Pinpoint.  I expect to hear more about that in the coming weeks.  Project Dallas is also pretty cool.

There were a couple of ‘aha’ moments for me:  System Center for Azure rocks, but won’t be available until a Beta sometime in 2010.   The next version of Microsoft’s mobile platform won’t be available until Mix 2010.  They’re falling behind badly but I’ll give them credit for not knee jerking a half baked solution to production before it’s ready.  The other ‘aha’ was around he new data access technologies ODATA.  My catch phrase for ODATA… “There’s gold in them there hills.”  If you can only watch part of the keynote, catch the ODATA portion.

After the keynote, I went into session overload, including:

  • Data Programming and Modeling for the .NET Developer. 
    • The most fun session of the day.  Don Box and Chris Anderson showed off a lot of the new functionality in EF 4.  As a guy who spends a great deal of my day working with EF 1, I’m very tempted to grab the bits for EF 4 now and push it to my clients.
  • Lessons Learned:  Migrating Applications to the Windows Azure Platform
    • Didn’t learn a whole lot here that I either didn’t already know from my own experience with Demo Showcase, or from Chris Auld’s session yesterday.  In retrospect, I should have jumped to a different session.
  • Windows Azure Present and Future
    • Pretty deep dive into the Azure story by Manuvir Das.  Gained some insight into where things are going, but again, I already knew much of it.  I wish I had gone to the Agile Session
  • Evolving ADO.NET Entity Framework in Microsoft .NET Framework 4 and Beyond
    • Awesome session.  Highly worth a rewatch to learn how to use some of the new functions.  Very, very fast pace.  These guys love their jobs.
  • Advanced Windows Presentation Foundation Application Performance Tuning and Analysis
    • I’m going to recommend this to our UI guys to help make the apps that incremental step better to make the difference between sent out and shipped. 
  • Quick stop at the Partner Expo.  Ran into Justin Smith.  Great guy who was really generous with his time back when we were getting ready to ship Demo Showcase and ran into a security issue.  Looking forward to his session later in the conference.  I watched a lot of his presentations from PDC08 when we were getting started with DSS, and I’m going to jokingly blame him and Steve Marx for getting me into this mess.
  • Went to an INETA Meeting.  Informal, interesting round table.  Two themes emerged:
    • a) People perceive that technology is changing faster than ever and that it is impossible to keep up.
    • b) Microsoft is making a mistake targeting big business and highly variable sites with Azure.
    • I disagree with both statements.
      • Technology always changes fast.  We’re just more aware that it is changing than we used to be.  We also need to know about more types of technologies than we used to because a lot of organizations are smaller and you have to know about more of them in order to do you job.  There’s less compartmentalization.  People who want to compartmentalize their work, and focus on just one thing, carve too small of a niche for themselves, and can’t find home in the do everything small companies.
      • Azure is perfect for what Microsoft is asking it to do.  It is not perfect for what the individual devs want it to do.  They aren’t going to make money spinning up VM’s for http://www.joebeernink.com unless they charge a lot more for it to make entry prohibitive for guys like me.  If I am willing to pay the price, I can get almost the same service the big boys do.  So once they start charging for it, I will move to GoDaddy or soemthing like that until I have enough business to justify the load (how long till I have that first book on the NYT Best Seller List?")
    • Scott Hanselmann had the best quote of the night, but I’ve seen it misquoted a few times on Twitter already.  He said that the greatest power an architect has is to break the build.  That is, to put controls in place like FXCop to prevent bad code from being checked in.  What’s being quoted is that the greatest power Jr. devs have is to break the build.  Jr. Devs should never break the build.  If they are truly junior, they should be mentored and guided into checking in code that never breaks the build.  If they are junior, but only due to seniority and not skill, then they need to gain the cred to add to the build process when needed.  If no one in the organization listens, and that situation won’t change, move on.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s keynotes and a ridiculous number of sessions at 11:30 that I want to attend.

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