Last week was the Heartland Developer Conference in Omaha and, as usual, it did not disappoint. This was my fourth year attending the conference and I always enjoy the sessions that happen. Also at the event was a demo Microsoft Surface table that I got to play around with; and the Microsoft booth had Rock Band 2 set up. I was able to get in one quick jam during the conference; thanks to whoever sat in on the drums...
Some of the more interesting sessions I attended this year include:
- Rod Paddock on "AJAXing Your .NET Applications": Very good presentation, especially for the more novice AJAX developers, like myself. The biggest payback was seeing his demo of the Fiddler tool. Very cool stuff!
- Dennis Kirlin on "Estimating in the Abstract": This was one of my favorites. Dennis' presentation was unique in that he presented a number of agile concepts and practices without using any of the associated buzzwords. By doing so, the presentation sounded refreshingly new, even to those already familiar with the concepts.
- Javier Lozano on "The Zen of ASP.NET and MVC": I attended a presentation with the IADNUG earlier in the year over this same topic, and it's amazing the number of changes that have occurred between the earlier CTP and the recent beta release of the MVC framework. I was unimpressed with the former, but Javier's presentation won me back. Now if only they could get the thing out of beta...
- Clint Edminton on "Modeling in Visual Studio Codename Rosario": This demo was cool until he told us that these features were for the Architect Edition of Visual Studio Team System. Does Microsoft not think that developers use UML? At least they now acknowledge that developers do interact with databases.
The other interesting thing to note was the increase in agile-specific topics, including sessions on using Scrum with Team Foundation Server, and the aforementioned Agile Estimating session. I'm looking forward to what is to come in 2009.
Day 2 of the HDC is over and I'm back in Des Moines after two days worth of cramming my brain with a load of technical info. It was a whirlwind of material, and I'm sure half of it has already fallen out of my head; I'm just glad I took a lot of notes.
Day Two started out pretty good. Scott Guthrie graced us with his presence today with a boatload of information over the latest technologies coming out of Microsoft. His keynote this morning was over Silverlight and he did a good job with demos showing the differences between versions 1.0 and 1.1. He then spent about 2.5 hours in the afternoon covering the new features in Visual Studio 2008 "Orcas", and... I mean.... wow!.... It makes me want to dump the VS 2005 IDE by the curb - it is that tastey.
Otherwise, I sat in on one other good presentation from an IT leader at Farm Credit ServicesÂ of America and her company's leap to agility (specifically Scrum) two years ago and what they learned along the way. It seemed like very 101-level material from an agile aspect, but it offered a great testimony from a good-sized company who had successfully made the transition from a Waterfall to Agile software methodology.
Now, it is time to rest and recover...
The first day of the HDC is over, and it started out awesome! I got in Wednesday afternoon and was invited out to dinner with a few really talented individuals. I had a great chat with Mike Benkovich over his recent MSDN Events in Des Moines, my interest in Microsoft's Team System, and the recentÂ Bears vs. Vikings game.
The first day of sessions did not disappoint. Ron Jacobs started off with a great keynote over using TDD jointly with the MVP pattern to make both testable and loosely-coupled solutions. I then sat in on sessions over practical TDD usage; an overview of Visual Studio Team System; an introduction to the movement that is ALT.NET; and some practical tips on effectively refactoring database schemas.
I will admit I'm impress with how much more focus is being put on agile development and TDD in particular this year. I think almost every session I attended today had some mention or discussion on writing unit tests for your code. Last year, there was only one session over TDD and it was extremely 101-type material. I'm glad to see more presenters mentioning TDD and agility in their talks.
Oh, how times are a-changin'.