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PDC09: In Review

My thoughts and observations of this year’s Microsoft PDC conference in LA.


Day 1:

Just registered for the conference.  They had many reps available to move attendees through the registration process.  We arrived early, and had to stand in line for 15 minutes, while all the reps stared blankly back at us; “We don’t open until 7.”  Wow.. Great Customer Service.


Let me take this moment to comment on the Conference bag this year.  ITS A CHEAP PIECE OF CRAP.  Literally, it looks like a “reusable” grocery shopping bag, except its so thin, I don’t think it will make it through the conference before it rips; something that’s likely to happen at the most inopportunity time, I’m sure.


ok.. I’m on to the “Big Hall” to hear the opening key note.  More to come.


Pre-Keynote update:  Having just wandered through miles of hallway, I’m thinking that adding a BUILDING MAP to the updated session list would have been a great idea.   Just a thought.


Key Note: Yep, its all about Azure.  Ray Ozzie announced the beta of MS PinPoint, a discovery and procurement site for azure hosted, 3rd Party developed applications (Think AppleStore for your services that you want to sell to others).  Included is an offering, code named “Dallas”.  Dallas is a PinPoint channel that’s all about data.  Want to get access to the US Census data?  Go to The Dallas channel on pinpoint and subscribe to it.  Data is available as data feeds, Restful services, and can even be consumed through ODBC connections.  Any publically available data can be offered through the Dallas channel, and includes the ability for trail and full subscriptions.

other big announcements; VS 2010 has some pretty great debugging and tracing tools. They have included some of the productivity features included in ReSharper, and have a new tool IntelliTrace.  More about this later.

Want to develop Azure services, but run it all locally?  Next year, MS will announce Windows Server 2008 AppFabric.  That’s the ticket. (If they include the .NET services in the fabric, where does that leave the current on-premises solutions like the Biztalk ESB???)

The other big Azure announcement, is a connectivity kit that allows your Azure hosted services to reach into your local premises data stores (using IPv6 and IPSEC tunneling).  NICE!!!


More to come.


What’s New with C# 4.0 (and some interesting vaporware)…

VB & CS Teams will now synchronize their feature sets (am I the only one who sees a problem with this?)

Dynamic Typing, Declarative programming and Parallel execution, all locked into 4.0 CLR.  You can download the beta bits now.  I must admit I’ve been staying away from Parallel extensions, but they look REALLY interesting and I plan on digging into them a bit. 

and then we saw a demo of some interesting stuff that they “might-possibly-some-day-release-in-a-future-version—but-maybe-not”.

Opening the compiler.  Lets you write your own custom extensions for the compiler and use compiler native types.  This might be good for Tool developers, and opens up the possibility for some interesting aspect oriented stuff, but I don’t think there will be much mainstream interest here.

Simplifying Parallel asynchronous operations.  Using the 4.0 code base its possible to control when threads are returned to the pool during a parallel execution, but its not easy.  They demo’d some simple extension methods which make it OH SO NICE.  I’m hoping this makes it into the 4.x feature set.

I’d write more, but I’ve got to rush off to


Lessons Learned Migrating Applications To Windows Azure

This was a panel of companies that had migrated some of their systems to the cloud.  They included B-2-C solutions (like Domino’s Pizza), B-2-B solutions, and Enterprise-only solutions.  The common thread across these early adopters was the desire to support peak loads without having to invest in a self-hosted infrastructure.   All the companies had significant hand-holding from Microsoft, and as of the PDC, none of them had yet gone live.  I didn’t view this as a slam against Azure, but rather the tale of companies cautiously embracing the bleeding edge technologies.


Overview of Sharepoint 2010 Programmability:

Having no sharepoint development experience, I thought this might be an interesting presentation for me.  I was right.  Two big take-aways from this presentation.  Number one; if you developed any sharepoint parts, or integration components for earlier versions of sharepoint, you were either insane or foolish.  Sharepoint 2010 takes a big step forward in the development tooling and extensibility.  Sharepoint can now give and receive data from any number of sources.  Want to expose your SQL Server data as a sharepoint list?  No problem.  Want to use your Sharepoint documents as data sources in your .NET application?  No problem.  Need a restful interface to view your Sharepoint data?  No Problem.  Integration isn’t limited to data however, as they demonstrated Silverlight UI’s sitting in front of Sharepoint.  Apparently you can even host sharepoint in the cloud (although that might be a session for tomorrow).

Point #2) If you ever have to make an hour-long presentation of highly technical data, it might be wise not to drink a six-pack of red bull immediately before hand.  The  presenter was so wired, and went so quickly, that even when I wasn’t getting creeped out by him, I didn’t have time to internalize the words coming out of his mouth.  I think at one point he shouted out “I Am Cornholio!” but maybe I just thought I heard that.

EF 4.0 and Beyond (or as I like to call it, Entity Framework 4: STFU)

The theme of the session seemed to be “We introduced Entity Framework, you all said it sucked.  We asked what we needed to do to make it not suck.  You told us.  We did those things, now you need to stop telling us it sucks.”  Adversarial?  Yeah, but hey, at least we’re getting a better product out of it.  They demoed Entity First Design, Support for automatic lazy loading, template generation using T4,  POCO support, offlined objects with dirty tracking, improved control over saving entities and eventing, and FK references.  They also previewed a code only EF model, that generated a data context without a EDMX file, and provided a strongly typed API for controlling model and context behaviors.


Connecting applications with the BizTalk enterprise service bus

The first session of PDC 2009 that I walked out of.  Not because the session didn’t sound interesting, or because the featured product was bad.  The presentation was divided between two presenters; the first presenter spoke to the architecture of the service bus and the extensions and providers of the Biztalk ESB toolkit. So far, so good. The problem was the second presenter.  He was so poor he alienated most of the attendees.  Multiple people left the session soon after he began to speak.  It sounded as if he hadn’t planned out his presentation, and his accent made it impossible to discern anything useful.  At one point I think he said something about a Zebra.  I’m not kidding.  For a $2,000 registration fee, Microsoft should ensure their presenters know how to present.   I joined the parade of fellow developers making an early exit.

Partner Expo Reception

The evening’s social event featured an open bar, tasty eats in the vendor expo.  Good Food, Cheap SWAG, and all the technical jargon I could grok.  Geek-On, Baby!

Print | posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:23 AM | Filed Under [ General Geekiness ]


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