Friday, June 08, 2007

Tech Ed Day 3


Wednesday was exciting and choc full-o-goodness.  I spent a lot of time talking to people inside Microsoft.  If you've never been to Tech Ed, you may not appreciate how valuable this interaction is.  There are representatives of every team inside Microsoft standing around for the sole purpose of interacting with customers.  This is a terrific opportunity to find out about features and technologies you may be interested in. 

I attended one breakout session on test driven development.  It was the best session I've seen this week, and I will be sharing the slide with my peers when I return to the office.  This is a difficult practice to sell to people with little experience.  There were some good examples used to explains the benefits of a TDD approach.

At lunch, I had a great discussion with Noah Coad and Abhijit Rao about encouraging change at the developer level.  We agreed that developers must experience the pain of suboptimal practices before we embrace best practices. 

Back in the developer area, I sat down with Sam Guckenheimer to discuss organizational change around development process.  Sam said that most decisions to pursue CMMI or ISO process certification are motivated by the desire to pursue business opportunities that require those credentials.  This correlates with my experience.

Sam agreed that this is not a technological problem, but an organizational change issue.  Sam recommended the book Leading Change for guidance in implementing change at that level.  I'll most likely constrain my efforts to developer practices, but it's good to know about the resources.

I took a few minutes to visit with Bill Vaughn at the SQL CE booth.  I didn't realize that CE could be hosted in an ASP.NET session.  Bill asked why I might want to do that.  My reply is that my blog runs on flat xml files currently, and SQL CE would handle more performance and scalability than this solution, while maintaining the xCopy flexibility.

I spent some more time configuring my laptop, and a VPC to demo some tools for Ken Levy. I had a problem forming a network connection between the laptop and the running vpc image.  After fooling with it for a few minutes, I realized I could get expert help.  I found the VPC kiosk, and a MVP there, got me straightened out.

Once I had things running, I found Ken Levy and demoed my extensions to the Visual FoxPro IDE to connect to Team Foundation Server.  I showed the Version control tool I built for my employer.  Ken understood this tool immediately.  Next I showed the work item editing control I built using the Windows Forms Interop Toolkit.  Ken wasn't familiar with the toolkit, and it took a minute for him to see what I was doing, and what the potential uses are for the interop user control.

Ken then called his boss and Amanda Silver, a PM for Visual Basic, over to show them the potentials for this toolkit.  Ken then jumped into brainstorming about how to render WPF inside this control.  Next, we talked about how to provide tools for VFP developers to move to .NET.  We agreed that I could use the VSX tools to build some familiar tools in Visual Studio, so that Fox developers can get up to speed faster.  This conversation was probably the climax of Tech Ed for me.

Next I sought out the Entity Framework team.  I met with a couple of PMs and grilled them on the features, and future extensibility.  I'm pleased to report that we were all on the same page.  They have an excellent mapping solution, and planned integration with synchronization services and reporting services.

Before I left, I stopped by the WPF stand.  I asked Rob Relyea about hosting WPF inside a winforms user control.  I learned about the ElementHost and ControlHost.  Next, I asked about generating dynamic XAML and rendering it at runtime.  The answer lies in XamlReader.Load().  I also saw part of the "Booyah" video from MIX.  This is exciting because I can generate dyanmic XAML in VFP and render it inside of an Interop User Control.  I look forward to sharing this at Southwest Fox.

With my head full of exciting possibilities, I left the convention center to prepare for the Microsoft Influencers Party.  This party is a way Microsoft acknowledges people who promote their technologies in the community.  This includes user group leaders like me.

I wanted to visit the Corona Cigar Co. and get a nice smoke for the evening.  I found the most amazing cigar store/wine bar that I have ever seen.  I picked up a few smokes, and made plans to return on Friday.

The party was at Margaritaville, and it was packed.  I had dinner with Douglas White and Bill Vaughan.  We had a good time shouting our conversation over the sound of the live band.  :-)

After dinner, I made my way out to the patio to enjoy my cigar.  There I ran into Dustin Campbell, whom I met at last evening's flying adventure.  We had a great time smoking cigars while discussing agile practices and functional programming until they closed the upstairs including the patio.

The evening carried on at the Red Coconut where I enjoyed the company of Keith Elder, whom I had never met before.  There were many others there including Peter DeBetta,  Paul Ballard, Cory Smith and many others. I hung out far too late, and I paid for it the next morning.



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 Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tech Ed 2007 Day 2


Tuesday started with a good conversation with a member of the SQL Server Replication Services team over breakfast.  I love sitting down at a table with someone in a blue Microsoft shirt and asking what they work on. 

I was too late to bother with the first session of the day, so I headed over to the Hands on Labs.  I started a session on the new Acropolis application framework.  This was a totally new technology to me, so I spent most my time reading the manual.  I saved my partial session for later resumption.

There were lots of great sessions to choose from, but I settled on Joel Semeniuk's "Best Practices for Team-Based Software Development."  Joel is an excellent speaker with lots of great insight to share on this topic.  The room was packed, and I sat on the floor, but it was worth it.  I'll be sharing the slides from this session as soon as I return to the office.

I grabbed my lunch in a take-out box, and headed to a Birds of a Feather sessions called "Exiting the Zone of Pain: Static Analysis with NDepend."  This was an interesting discussion on a topic I was familiar with, code profiling metrics, and a tool I was not familiar with. 

It was during this lunch session that I bumped into Cam Soper for, at least, the fourth time.  It's obvious that Cam has excellent taste in parties and sessions. :-)  This time, we finally exchanged business cards.

I tried to attend Joel's interactive discussion after lunch, but it was packed again.  My Acropolis session from the morning took too long to resume, so I took the opportunity to work on a Hands On Lab on WPF.  I completed a couple of exercises, and enjoyed getting more familiar with the new GUI coding model.  I'll do more later.

For my last session, I attended "Developing Data Driven Applications Using the New Dynamic Data Controls in ASP.NET", but I left just as it got started to deal with a weird technical difficulty.  I'll find out more about these new controls later.  They look very interesting.

Shortly after lunch, I ran into