The Coding Monkey

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Talk About a Blown Weekend

I felt like last weekend was cut short. Saturday was definitely the most gorgeous day out of the two, and I spent the entire thing indoors at the WI-INETA Deeper in .NET conference. I suppose I shouldn't complain, since it was free, and 4 out of the 5 speakers were pretty good. I even got a free book out of the deal (even though I'm getting a ton through BlogCritics these days). So why am I complaining? Well, why don't' I just give you a review of the speakers that were there.

Michèle Leroux Bustamante: She spoke first thing in the morning about WCF (formerly Indigo, not the World Curling Federation, Matt). It was a pretty good talk, and she was definitely knowledgeable and well prepared. The problem is... well... she didn't explain what problems this would solve for us. WCF is supposed to finally bring together web services and .NET remoting under one unified architecture, but to be honest, I don't have many problems with the current architecture. I think talking about what problems exist that will be solved is crucial, since WCF is still in early development stages. Really, the code samples I saw looked an awful lot like current Web Services and .NET Remoting. So what's really changed? The hosting environment? Big whoop.

Scott Hanselman: Scott was next, and had I left after his talk, I would have been a very happy camper. His talk was supposed to be about a "Successful ASP.NET architecture using dasBlog as an example", but he really didn't talk to much about dasBlog. What he did talk about were internals in ASP.NET, serialization, debugging tips and tricks, and all sorts of other really random cool goodies. I came out of there with about 2 pages worth of notes. He went off on so many tangents, that he might as well have thrown away his slides, but that was OK. His tangents were incredibly good. He was also incredibly funny.

Julie Lerman: This was the only talk that I considered bad. It wasn't that she wasn't enthusiastic, but she just presented her material (ADO.NET and SQL Server 2005) very poorly. She's a self confessed "data geek", which few people are. Most of us (me included) view databases as a means to an end, while she views them as an end unto themselves. Most of her examples didn't actually serve any purpose other than to say "look, this works", without showing why you'd want to use this new feature. Everyone in the audience was staring at their watches waiting for her talk to be over.

Bill Hatfield: Bill gave an interesting talk on AJAX, and the new .NET components for developing AJAX applications called Atlas. It was a decent talk, with good real world examples. I think he mislead people several times when he claimed that there would be "no round trip to the server", which is completely false. The point of AJAX isn't to eliminate round trips to the server. Rather, you only go the server to replace a small portion of the current DOM, instead of making a round trip to the server to replace the entire page. He didn't explain this well at all. He also leaned on the "I don't know because this is beta" crutch too much when answering questions. If your talk is on a beta product, then you should know the ins and outs more than he did. A few times during his talk, people from the audience were telling him how it worked.

Jason Beres: This was the last talk, and was interesting if nothing else. Though I have to say... turn down the volume! His talk was on WPF (formerly known as Avalon). Being a thick client programmer, and having worked on SVG previously, this was an intriguing topic. What I found most disturbing was the fact that he confessed to having no real knowledge on the topic except what he picked up from someone else's slides and examples, which he learned in two days. With that said, he did a very good job presenting everything had learned, but it still seemed strange.

So if the majority of the talks were good, then why was it a waste of my time? Because most of these technologies are still quite a ways off, and will be changing quite a lot between now, and when they are officially released. Frankly, very few companies are willing to take the risk into bleeding edge technologies. Had they had more talks like Scott's, and had Julie's been better (both were on current technologies), I would have felt better.

As it was, I would have rather been out enjoying the sun.


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