Category Archives: 9148

Post PDC 2008 thoughts

So back home now after a reasonable journey back from LA all things considered; so I have had a bit of time to reflect, was the PDC good?

Well I think I enjoyed my previous PDC in 2005 more, your first time always sticks in your memory. I think that this might be due to the fact that at the 2005 PDC LINQ was announced and it was a real left field thing, nobody seemed to see it coming. Due to the prior announcements (leaks) there was nothing that was not expected at this years PDC.

This said, it does not mean the the announcements were not important, for the future of Microsoft probably far more important than LINQ was. You could argue that Azure is more of an IT pro announcement, on a day to day basis it will certainly effect them, due to remote hosting of core services, more than developers who will still basically be using .NET via WCF, EF etc. just altering a connection string or two. So an announcement at the Professional Developers Conference was in itself interesting, but where else would Microsoft do it?

On a more step change for developers front, will Oslo change the world? Well in my opinion not yet, but this was a PDC so we expect the new ‘real’ product to be a few years out. Next year’s PDC 2009 I think will see the Oslo and Dublin technologies productify (is that a word?). It is worth comment that a PDC two years running is rare, so Microsoft must have something up their corporate sleeve.

Since getting back I have done the conference survey and I found one question interesting ‘does the fact that the sessions were all available via www.microsoftpdc.com effect your choice to go to the conference in the future?’. I have to say yes, but on reflection it was worth the trip. A conference is more than the keynote and breakout sessions, maybe there is a future in fully online conferences but it is not there for me yet. Whether I want to travel best part of half way round the world is a interesting point; a 2 hour flight to Barcelona did seemed attractive when sitting in Heathrow Terminal 5 prior to my11 hour flight. But I was lucky I suppose, a friend was off to Hawaii for an air compressor conference the same week I was in LA (each to their own I suppose). The location for me does not warrant the travel, the inside of a conference centre is much the same in any country. I suppose a factor here is how much time you spend in the conference against the beach, for me if you are going to a conference it is to learn not have a holiday (or hunt for swag!), but I am not sure all people have the same opinion here. Some people seem to see a conference a reward for work done in the year, so at treat not a learning experience.

So will I be at PDC 2009 – I expect so. Whether Black Marble send as many to the PDC as opposed to the various TechEds I am not sure, this is a discussion we need to have post conference season. We defiantly need to cover both types of conference, as does any forward looking Microsoft partner, but the ratio is the question.

As for me next it is the Vbug conference I am speaking on VSTS; I believe there are still spaces available, maybe I will see you there.

Team System Database GDR Edition RTM Released

While I was at the PDC I missed the announcement that the release candidate for Database Edition was made, I was not following blogs too much. You can find all the download links for the RTM at Gert Drapers Blog, you can also see his PDC session where he made the announcement.

Why did I miss the session you might ask? well I was in Agile development with Team System session – some big improvement in Office integration with TFS

Anyway I have now installed the GDR edition and it is easy and fast, at least if you are upgrading from the previous version. I have not tried a virgin install which I am sure many people will be doing given that any person with Team System Developer license can download the Database GDR edition.

PDC Day 3

The keynote today was all about MSR, interesting as ever. I particularly liked the demos of Second Light (Surface computing that reaches beyond the surface of the physical pc) and Boku (a system to help children program). The latter is close to our hearts at Black Marble due to the work we have done on FPL, another system to teach children to program (watch out for free downloads of this application soon)

It was also interesting to see that there was a date for a PDC 2009 – shows that Microsoft have plenty of new things in the pipeline.

Outside of the keynote, what could be more directly useful to me will be Visual Studio Team Lab, a new SKU for 2010 (sorry still can’t find a link with more details) that will manage the provisioning of test environments: Hyper-v VHDs are stored in a repository and created using pre defined rules as part of a build process. Test can then be run either automatically or manually using the new VS2010 test tools. Test results are then fed back into the TFS work item tracking system including screen shots, error test information – in fact enough information to allow a developer to connect to the Hyper-v pc at the point of error and debug. This idea is something we are working on internally with current VS2008 and Hyper-V tools. Unfortunately we are unlikely to see Team Lab until VS2010 reaches beta, so a good way off – so I am going to have to persist with our own internal projects it seems.

PDC 2008 Day 2 Keynote

Well it was all end user focused today; Windows 7 and experience in Live systems. All looks very nice, given the usually question you have to raise in a connected environment over personal data security. I am sure Microsoft have done a good job of physical and logical data security, but the whole concept of mesh networks opens up a huge potential for social attacks. No developer can protect against the user clicking on an ill advised email or now mesh link; I know I have fixed too many friends PCs with the XP Antivirus 2008 Trojan of late, where they click on a link because an email said their anti virus was out of date, they thought they were doing good.

It was interesting that the major third party demo’s big demo’s were both from the UK: Tesco and the BBC. Is it me or does the fact Tesco plan to offer a WPF application to handle your online orders but also manages family photos see a little scary? Where is there reach going to end?

The second half of the keynote was the Don Box and Chris Anderson show  – excellent as ever. A whistle stop tour of programming against Azure. And all the demo’s coded against the live web sites even worked!.

It made me laugh…

At the PDC expo drinks last night I was asked to show age ID to get a drink! Just me it seems, nobody else from the company.

I thought I was doing well to be carded on my 30th birthday whilst in the US, but 10 years on it getting silly – You must ask how do I keep my youthfully countenance? Wish I knew, but they say it is youth culture here in LA.

So my new aim is to get asked to prove my age to get a drink with an OAP bus pass.

VSTS 2010 at the PDC

Though not really mentioned in the keynote there are a lot of sessions on VSTS 2010 at the PDC; it is going to be a major really major release.

Chatting in between the sessions with other delegates there seems to loads of interest in the new testing features, but we know this is pain point from Alt.net meetings. It will be interesting to see how these new tools deliver, I am sure the manual testing tools will be useful, but I am a bit more doubtful over the UI testing tools. We have all seen the demo promise of these products before and hit problems when we try to use them for real.

I think the improved integration for Office is also going to be important. At the moment we use the eScrum template for VSTS and the main reasons for this are the easy project visibility it gives to non-developer users via it’s web site and the way it manages the relationship between the product backlog and sprint tasks (given the lack of hieratical work items in the current VSTS). With 2010 I am not sure we are going to need the eScrum web site. The ease of reporting (and live work item updating) in Excel and hieratical work items will make this it superfluous, so the basic Agile template in 2010 may will be able to do the job.  

PDC 2008 thoughts day 1

So it seems we are going to have themed days at the 2008 PDC and day one is all about  the Azure services platform. Though judging by the expo stands the key announcements for tomorrow – Oslo and Dublin are out there too. As conferences go it seems a bit confused to me, I guess Microsoft are aiming for three big bangs at three keynotes; but we seem to have had a big bang today and splutter of future items.

However, I might be wrong, there could be stuff we have not even suspected, lets wait and see what we get tomorrow. Don Box and Chris Anderson are usually good value whenever they present so I await their keynote session with anticipation!

So as to Azure, a new move for Microsoft? Well not really it seems the logical next step especially given the offerings of Amazon and Google. It will be interesting how this develops, but on a first quick look Azure seems a very strong offering, I guess it will all be down to price in the end. Oh and if you trust Microsoft to host your business data.