Tech Ed Report, Day 1

posted on 2005-06-08 at 01:14:36 by Joel Ross

I arrived Sunday around 6:00 PM in Orlando, went to the hotel and then left to get registered. It was a fairly easy and quick process - no lines!

Brian and I traveled together and we met up with Jim Becher, drove around, and then met up with Drew Robbins, who treated us to dinner that night.

Monday was the first day of the conference (as if you didn't know that). Ballmer's keynote was good, and there was some good content, but it was more infrastructure based, which isn't my thing. I've noticed that most of the vendors tend to be infrastructure focused, and not as many developer vendors.

Anyway, the keynote had a demo of some of the features of Exchange Server SP2, which includes the ability to use push technology to mobile devices instead of the standard pull technology available now. It looks like once again Microsoft is taking what people are currently paying for, and putting it in the box.

The demo showed how you could wipe a Pocket PC automatically after three invalid login attempts (if you lose it, for example). But as a user of the technology, I don't want my Pocket PC wiped if my daughter plays with it too much. Still, the demo was compelling.

Ballmer was a good speaker. Lots of energy. And the production value of the keynote was good. Watch the webcast. It's worth it.

After that, sessions started. I don't want to post a huge summary of each session, but I'll give a brief rundown of what I attended and what the big takeaways for me were.

ASP.NET 1.1 to ASP.NET 2.0 migration

There's lots of different ways to do this - you can run 1.1 and 2.0 side by side, so you don't even have to upgrade your app. You can also run 1.1 compiled apps on 2.0 without needing 1.1 installed. That's very cool. I'm still not sure if I like the "magic folder" idea, but I also don't know exactly why. I'll never use a App_ folder on purpose, so it doesn't affect me, but it doesn't feel natural.

Generating XHMTL out of the box by default is goodness too.

No longer can you modify the standard javascript functions - it's all encapsulated by a handler. You knew modifying those by hand wasn't a good idea anyway, right?

The VS.NET conversion tool is much, much better than what's in beta 2. I haven't used beta 2's conversion tool yet, but it sounds like it's not as good as it could be - which is why they beefed it up.

Building and Using a Software Factory

This should have been called Using a Software Factory. I wanted to find out how to build a software factory to make life easier. Instead I saw how their software factory worked. They spent the last 15 minutes talking about what could be in a software factory, but no real talk about how to make your own. I was disappointed.

Anyway, here's a few things you can include in a software factory: tools, templates, wizards, config files, application blocks, baseline architectures, patterns, documentation, feature models, etc. Those assets can be customized at run-time or install time.

Don't get me wrong - the session wasn't bad, it just didn't give me what I was hoping for. Being able to do DSL models and generate the code for you is very cool, but I wanted to know how to build the generator, not use it.

Visual C# Enhancements

They talked about 4 big features, and a few smaller ones, and how to use them

1. Generics: Pretty straight forward, but there's a lot of power there.
2. Anonymous Methods: This is still kind of fuzzy to me, but it looks cool. I'm sure I'll get my head around it soon enough.
3. Nullable Types: These are cool. I spend too much time worrying about values that can't be null.
4. Iterators: Coolest part: You can define how to iterate over a collection - it doesn't have to be forward - so you could iterate over a subset of items: foreach(Item I in items.SubSet(3, 6)). Very cool!
5. Partial classes: This is the foundation for how ASP.NET does it's code generation.
6. Static Classes: Just a formalization of something you can basically do today.
7. Property Accessors: You can now have a public get and a private set. Nice
8. External Aliases: Cool, but I probably won't find much of a use for this.
9. Inline warning control: This is cool. You can turn of a particular warning for a few lines and still get that warning elsewhere in the code

Accelerating your CMS Development and Deployment

Lots of cool tools talked about - all free. A big announcement that Skelta's workflow tool will be free for CMS. That's very cool - you can visually design your workflow and include people who aren't even CMS users into the process. Some of the nice tools: Authoring console as a context menu, and being able to revert posts.

Monday night, I was invited by Drew to a party at the Nascar Café, and I got to play the role of "geek groupie" and meet a handful of bloggers that I've followed, and put a name to the face:

James Avery: He and I chatted for a while and a good conversation. He's a really nice guy.
Dave Donaldson: We talked just briefly, but he did remember me commenting on his blog.
Dave Bost: We spoke for a few minutes. He's a nice guy - a lot taller than I expected.
Doug Seven: I actually met him Sunday night, but he was there Monday too.
Jeff Julian: He runs Geeks With Blogs. I also met him on Sunday.

So far, so good! I'm looking forward to the rest of the week!

Categories: Development