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Brian Holmgård Kristensen

Hi, I'm Brian. I'm a Danish guy primarily working with ASP.NET e-commerce solutions using Microsoft Commerce Server.

I'm co-founder and core-member of Aarhus .NET Usergroup (ANUG), which is a offline community for .NET developers in Denmark.

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Midway impressions on Tech-Ed North America 2009

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 Wednesday, 13 May 2009

This is a brief story of my impressions and experiences with the first couple of days attending TechEd 2009 North America.

So after more than 24 hours of travelling from source (Århus, Denmark) to destination (Los Angeles, CA, USA)  I finally arrived at the hotel Saturday evening. I’m staying at a very nice hotel called Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, just across Kodak Theatre (the place where the Oscar Academy Award takes place every year) on Hollywood Boulevard.

Pre-Conference

I was signed up to participate in the Pre-Conference part of TechEd, joining in on a whole-day seminar with the topic “The ASP.NET Performance Tuning Cycle”. Stuff I was really looking forward hearing about since we are focusing a lot on performance improvements at Vertica on our projects. The seminar was held by Richard Campbell and Kent Alstad and man those two Canadian guys were really on fire that day. We came around lots of different areas including how to do load-testing with Visual Studio 2008 Team System (Test Edition), load-balancing, how to analyze the response time of a web-site and much more. Generally a whole lot of good advices on how to look at the whole picture of optimizing a given web-site – where to put the energy basically. On advice I would like to highlight here is to use www.webpagetest.org as an external tool to analyze your web-site.

After a great and educational day in company with Richard and Kent I was all psyched about the rest of the conference. I went to see the movie “Wolverine” after getting back to the hotel.

Day 1 – Keynote, ASP.NET 4.0, SharePoint

First day of TechEd started out with the Keynote speech as one would expect. I must admit I wasn’t that enthusiastic about this particular Keynote and as it turned out I wasn’t proved really wrong on that hunch. The Keynote was primarily held by Bill Veghte, Microsoft Senior Vice President on Windows Business. The topics were all about the IT-stuff going on right know with focus on the soon to come operating systems; Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Not that I’m not interested in those topics at all, I just wanted to see some developer stuff too – unfortunately there was none.

The first actual session I attended was about ASP.NET 4.0 and what’s coming in that release. It was a pretty good one. Jeff King showed some examples of how you are now able to have more fine-grained control over the markup rendered by the ASP.NET WebForms Framework, some better support for SEO-stuff including new properties on the System.Web.Page class for meta-keywords and –description and generally some new controls to do LINQ-based operations (e.g. Filtering and Sorting) on your LINQ-enabled backend datasource.

The last two sessions I attended that day were both about SharePoint development. The first was focusing on tooling for SharePoint development, especially with focus on using the tool VSeWSS 1.3 (Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services). The last session was about how to develop Windows Workflow Foundations to use inside WSS/MOSS applications. This session was held by Ted Pattison, SharePoint MVP and book-writer, and now from my experience a really good presenter. I didn’t get much out of the course technically-wise though since we’ve already been doing a lot of the stuff that he presented.

Next up after first-day sessions was the Partner Expo Reception event which I attended. It can best be described as a circus where all the audience gets magically drawn by all the stuff and weird contests offered by the different vendors. But they had food and beer, and I got a few good talks with some of the different vendors – including a nice demo by a Red Gate Software guy on the soon-to-be-released new version of ANTS Memory Profiler. And yeah of course I got a lot of swag too :-)

Day 2 – More SharePoint, C#, Commerce Server 2009, Parallels, Web Deployment

The second day started out with a morning session by Todd Bleeker on SharePoint Web Part Development Best Practices. Todd had a lot of energy on the stage and that was just really awesome! Even though the session was about Best Practices over half of the audience was rather new to Web Part development which had the impact of Todd having to explain a lot more of the basics taking time from the really interesting stuff. Pretty unfortunate also was that time completely ran out for Todd so he didn’t come around all of his points. All in all I think it was a great session mostly because of Todd’s enthusiasm. And I did get some good advices to take me back home.

I also attended Anders Hejlsberg’s session on “Future of C#”, which I enjoyed a lot – mostly because I think he rocks. To be more specific and professional about it I believe that the future “Compiler As A Service”-feature can really leverage some interesting possibilities to the table, e.g. for an easy way stick-in additional behavior to your code (logging, validation, pre-/post conditions, etc.) to allow cross-cutting concerns to be addressed as secondary concerns.

After having a brief chat with one of the guys at the Commerce Server booth he had me convinced that I should go to their interactive session on Commerce Server 2009 Foundation Services. So I did (later to discover that I thereby missed a Scott Hanselmann session!). Although they had a whole lot of technical problems at this session, I got a pretty good understanding of the upcoming Commerce Server 2009 R2 version including the support of having Commerce Server configured as a true 3-tier environment with Commerce Server as an application server in the middle of this. I’m soon to begin on a new Commerce Server 2009 project which I look really forward to, but seeing that new Foundation API kind of shocks me a little – to me it is extremely verbose compared to the CS 2007 API, and the amount of XML configuration doesn’t seem to have become any less I’m afraid. Perhaps wrapping the new very generic API in a nice fluent and slightly more specific API might just do the trick for me. We’ll see about that.

Next in line was a interesting session on Parallel Computing APIs with .NET 4.0. It gave me a good overview and examples of the possibilities with parallelism that you can get using the new framework that will be baked into .NET 4.0.

Last but not least this I attended a session on Web Application Deployment Packaging and Migration – a look into some new possibilities in IIS about importing and exporting applications and on how to package your solution to allow smooth GUI-enabled installation on IIS. At the session, Faith Allington showed the new Web Platform Installer from Microsoft which I personally think is a awesome tool. Both BlogEngine.NET and Umbraco got some visual attention at this session being on the list of web-applications available on the Web Platform Installer. Faith did really well on this presentation clearly having a lot of knowledge of what she was talking about.

All in all a great day with good sessions by excellent speakers.

Posted on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 05:25:37 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)
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