Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tech Ed 2007 Day 1


Day 1 started well.  I realized I could drive to a nearby hotel to park, and then ride the bus to the Convention Center.  Once onsite, I ran into a fellow Knoxvillian and ETNUG member at breakfast.  I did my best to recruit him for the "Best of Tech Ed" session at our June meeting.

After checking email and blogging a bit, I attended a session called "A Lap Around Visual Studio Orcas."  Unfortunately, the presenter's VPC was locked when he tried to do his first demo.   I've seen the presenter before, and he is awesome, but I'm tired of watching people fight VPC on stage, so I left. 

I went down to the cabanas, or whatever they're calling them this year, to talk to some Microsoft people.  I stopped at the dynamic languages kiosk to find out about the future of tool support in VS for dynamic languages.  I explained to the two members of the team present, about the development style in VFP.  During the conversation, Mahesh Prakriya, the PM for dynamic languages, joined us. 

I asked Mahesh if he knew any members of the VFP team, and he happily reported that he was friends with Alan Griver from his time on the SQL Server team.  We went on to discuss the role that iterative execution plays in development with dynamic languages.  Mahesh used the example of Query Analyzer as a tool that supports dynamic execution.  While he couldn't make any promises, he said his confidence was high that Visual Studio would support a dynamic execution model in the VBx time frame.

I went on to chat with Chris Menegay about the challenges of convincing managers to adopt best practices when using Team Foundation Server.  While we were talking, I was introduce to Juan Perez.  Juan is a very friendly guy, and I thanked him for producing TeamLook, which allows users to access TFS from within Outlook.

Once the vendor area was open, I stopped by to see Eric Sink.  I just wanted to say "Hi", but I ended up discussing the DiffMerge tool that SourceGear produces.  I am very dissatisfied with the diff tool that ships with Team Explorer, so I asked how much SourceGear's tool costs.  It turns out that this tool is fee, and they've just released a new version.  Eric asked me to try it out and email him with my impressions.  Turns out, he blogged about it in detail yesterday.

I lingered too long at lunch, so I missed Don's session on extending VS.  Instead I wandered over to the Hands On Labs, to see what I've been missing the past two years.  I found the labs easy to use, but there were some technical difficulties.  I chose a lab on using LINQ.  I completed the first exercise successfully, but the second exercise required connecting to the Northwind database, and I couldn't find it.  The instructor verified that it was not installed, and sought assistance.  Apparently, that is a flaw in their VPC image, and I won't be able to perform that exercise.  While this was disappointing, I enjoyed the first exercise, so I'll probably try some other labs this week.

Next I attended a session titled "A Lap Around Windows Presentation Foundation."  I've seen a few WPF overviews, but it is still a foreign technology to me.  I was fairly bored until the presenter demonstrated this.  I work on logistics applications, and this animation was the first example I've seen where WPF could add dramatically to our applications.  I left the session early to IM my coworkers about this cool discovery.  I'll try some of the WPF Hands On Labs before I leave, so I can understand better how to produce such exciting data visualizations.

My final session of Day 1 was on the Entity Data Model.  I've read some about this, but I never understood where it fit with LINQ.  My understanding today, is that EDM is an ORM technology that will ship as part of ADO.NET.  This means that I can use stock ADO, and still manage my data without using datasets.  This is good news indeed!  Once the objects are in memory, LINQ can be used to query against the model.  This is good stuff, and I'll be exploring it further during the week.

During the EDM session I heard a quote that was new to me, but the message was familiar.  "Normalize 'til it hurts. Denormalize 'til it works."  Perhaps this could be restated that in practice, theory is only theoretical. :-)

The evening ended with a reception in the vendor area with free food and "beverages."  Here's Geff getting his fair share.