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DevDays 2009 Done and Dusted.

Mar27

Written by:
2009/03/27 08:52 AM RssIcon

DevDays 2009 is finished. Just returned from the Johannesburg event and came away feeling little bit enlightened but also disappointed somewhat. It was no doubt the largest DevDays yet. Well the largest that I have been to. With over 1200 attendees, and three tracts to choose from, we were sure spoilt for choice.

My DevDays 2009 stared of on a bad note. Got stuck in the never-ending Johannesburg traffic. With the continual roadwork's, the lanes in most areas have been reduced to two, sometimes one, lane. Coming from Alberton in the south I decided to take the N1 north, or concrete highway. Bad choice.  There was an accident near Gordon road, which slowed traffic down to a halt. You can imagine, everyone now trying to squeeze through one lane. Then there was some other hiccup just before William Nicol off ramp.

Needless to say I was a bit late for the opening Key Note address. My disappointment started at the front desk where all the bags and notes and stuff were finished. I have got to wonder about this. We were all required to register weren’t we. So surely Microsoft and the organisers knew how many people were going to attend. Just add about 10% to the total, for the odd gate crasher, and you should have enough.

I did not get to see the whole key note address. But what I did see, gave me mixed emotions. Some of the stuff demonstrated we, or at least I, already knew about. In fact most of the demonstrations that I saw, were about Silverlight and WPF. Which we saw last year. The only difference is that we saw different ways to use and apply the technology. So yes, it gave us some ideas as to how to perhaps create exciting applications, by being inspired by what others have done.

I mainly stuck with track 1. Once again, we were demonstrated the basics of WPF and Silverlight. Which I can understand would benefit those who have never seen it before, but it is in no way brand new technology. Silverlight and WPF have been out for a while. Yes we got to see some ways on how to skin, style or templatise some things. We once again were introduced to XAML, and Expression Blend. But surely we could have seen some of the new stuff in Expression Blend 3. Maybe the presenters could have talked about the new things happening in Silverlight 3.

DevDays would not be DevDays if we never had the odd crash and Blue Screen. I believe, but never attended, that the XNA presentation, that it went really bad. Laptop and Studio  crashes were the flavour of the day. I know that you cannot foretell what might happen in the future when planning an event. But you just have to wonder, how often these guys practiced their routine. If it was me, I would have done it on a clean PC if I even thought it might give problem. Then practice, until I am blue in the face, and knew my routine inside out. Avoiding any possible areas that might cause a crash. But then again, who knows, this might indeed happen to me when I do a presentation. Sure hope not.

Swag. Well what can I say. Once again a bit of missed emotions. Seems that last year the presenters gave out more prizes, than this year. I mean I walked away with a bag full of swag last year. This year, I was happy to leave with a complementary Microsoft pen. Although there was that training prize of about R50 000. Which I thought was a really cool prize, but never knew about it until the end. Perhaps it was advertised in the beginning of the opening key note address, because I never got to hear about it throughout the conference. Apparently one had to fill out some forms in order to be enter the draw. I never heard about it so I never entered. Sad. For me and the advertisers. I would think that if you were putting up a R50 000 prize, you would want to get as much exposure as possible.

The closing key note was not that bad. We saw some new stuff being implemented in Visual Studio 2010. Which is very exciting. But once again, a lot was focused on Visual Studio 2010 Team system suit. Which I would never be able to afford, or even need. Some of the new IDE enhancements that were shown are already present, and more, in the current 2008 versions with the help of third party addins like Devexpress. Yes its great that some of this technology is being embedded in the core product, but its nothing new. To me its just a copy of what others have already achieved. Give us something new.

I was quite impressed with the advances in unit testing. But once again, we were demonstrated that from Team System suite, and get the impression that this functionality will not be in either the standard edition nor the professional edition. Although I have been known to be wrong on occasion.

Anyway, I believe that the event could have been better. For me, it was an up and down affair. Similar to a roller coaster. You come away feeling somewhat excited, but at the same time get that feeling of Déjà-vu. When I got home I was not too overwhelmed with the urge to suddenly start programming. Yes I did get something out of it, but not what I had expected.

What was your experience with DevDays 2009. Did you leave excited, or deflated? Share your thoughts.

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4 comment(s) so far...


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Re: DevDays 2009 Done and Dusted.

I was the unfortunate presenter of the XNA presentation. For the record, I went through those demo's 4 times before the actual talk, as does most of the speakers for the event, and I successfully presented it for both Durban and Cape Town without a hitch. These things do happen, and no one feels worse about it then the presenter. We are notified and start prepping for these events 3 months in advance. As for the rest of your experience, I have passed the link to your entry on the organisers to look into. The topic choices are in line with the topic of the US events however the track owners are made aware of issues like the one's mentioned in your post.

Thanks for your feedback.

By Diago on  2009/03/30 05:46 PM
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Re: DevDays 2009 Done and Dusted.

Willie,

I feel for you, Really do. I know what its like, have had this happen to me on occasion. I just wonder how, when we practice so many times can things go wrong. Its just a computer that does what we tell it to do.

If you had noticed, I did mention that we can not predict what would happen at an event, and hoped that it would not happen to me. Could you imagine what Bill Gates would have done in that situation. A few heads would have rolled, and some would be out of work. But anyway tough break.

BTW, I attended your other presentation. Much better. I sure enjoyed your honesty in your talk. About you not knowing much about your topic at first, but having to do research, made us, at least me feel human.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/03/30 06:51 PM
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Re: DevDays 2009 Done and Dusted.

Hi, Robert
We're always happy to hear honest feedback. My role at Micrsosoft is to decide on topics for the breakout sessions.
Some guys attend DevDays to be excited by the Beta's and the CTP's. Others want to know what has been happening since the last DevDays, since DevDays is the only developer event they attend. You're definitely of the former group. The latter group is more in line with the pace of technology adoption in South Africa. We made the call to use the breakout sessions for existing technologies that haven't been shown at DevDays before - remember last year we had no DevDays - and use the keynotes for WOW and new stuff.
It would be worth our while to do some research on the percentage breakdown between the two types of DevDays audiences.
Our goal remains to be the best local developer event.

By Eben de Wit on  2009/03/31 10:29 AM
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Re: DevDays 2009 Done and Dusted.

Eben,

I realise you can't cover everything. I also realise that you will not please all the people all the time. Your idea of some sort of research before the event is a brilliant idea.

I understand that you also try to follow the USA in what you present. But SA is different. We want you guys to give SA a different event. If you are going to follow the US, then invite the US presenters.

But don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the event. Will be back next year. But just thought it lacked the WOW factor.

Bring back the WOW factor.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/03/31 10:33 AM
 
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