Techmentor / VSLive! Orlando 2008

I got back from Techmentor / VSLive! 2008 Orlando on Friday evening and I am still not quite sure what to think.  It was pretty fun, and I learned a good deal, but I don’t know how much I took home that I will actually be able to use.  I also met a few interesting people, and my wife was able to come down to the hotel for a few nights and hang out with me down at city walk and checking out the other resorts.  We stayed at the Royal Pacific and she enjoyed it immensely.  Me, well, it was nice, but a bit overpriced (about $200 a night) and just another place to lay my head… It was nice to get a copy of Visual Studios Standard Edition rather than having to use the express editions at home….. Now if only I could get the full sql server on this machine…. with an operating system that supports IIS… Ah well, one day.

I took a full day class on Windows Workflow Foundation as well as SQL Server 2008 for Developers, both of which were very informative.  I am still not quite sure where I will use Workflow, but it seems like a good tool.  Unfortunately, we do not really program for an n-tier environment.  We have too many developers / managers who are stuck doing things the same way that they were when they learned .net 1.0 (or vb 6).  I do think that I’ll use a lot of the stuff from the SQL class.  I was a bit surprised at the structure of the class at first, although I should not have been, because we spent about half the day talking about ways to access data from SQL through .net.  I should have read more into the "Developers" portion of the title.  Both of the instructors, Andrew Brust and Leonard Lobel, seemed like good guys who mostly new their stuff.  I think I might have done a few things differently, but, overall they did a good job.  I don’t think I would have ever taken the time to look into some of the new types of learn about some of the new structures and variable types if not for this class…. I will definitely be using the datetime2 for everything now instead of regular datetime….

I also took hour long classes on a wide variety of items:

RAD For Today’s Line of Business Application Developer;
Introduction to the Model View Controller (MVC) Framework;
LINQ Deep Dive and Best Practices;
Visual Studios 2008: WCF Deep Dive and Best Practices;
Programming the New Features in SQL Server 2008;
More Best Kept Secrets in .Net;
VS Tools and Techniques for Distributed Data Access in VS2008;
Data Driven ASP.Net Ajax;
Exploring the Ajax Control Toolkit;
LINQ to SQL (DLINQ) For ADO.NET Developers;
SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services and Dashboards;
Doing Something Useful with Enterprise Library 3.0;

I’d say an annoying part was that some of these classes, although they sounded different from the titles and descriptions, had almost the same content.  The RAD, WCF Deep Dive, Distrubuted Data Access and to a smaller extent LINQ to SQL classes all shared at least 75% of their content.  And, as can be expected in a forward thinking seminar, they were all using the newer technology stack.  I suppose that it is good that I saw this stuff three or four times as it will help me remember it better, but I really was looking for a bit of some difference in the content I chose.  The one (or two) thing(s) that I really feel like I missed out on was Silverlight (and WPF).  I don’t think that we WOULD be doing anything with these technologies, but it would have been nice to get a time period free where I could have taken a look at them…

A couple of people asked if I liked this enough to go back in ensuing years… I really don’t know.  I think rather than doing VSLive! again I would probably try a few of the other shows out first.  Put it this way, I generally do not comment much when you are listing things that people might do better on surveys… This time I wrote about 1/2 a pages worth (of small print).  At least one person has suggested TechEd for next year, I might have to try to check that out…

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