5 AM... I did not sleep well... My inner-geek was acting like a little child that couldn't wait for the next morning to come. While I turned and turned, trying to find my rest; that little rascal - at that point I wasn't calling him rascal anymore - was jumping up and down, awaiting to be released into the ball-park... The ball-park in this story being off-course TechDays 2012!
My alarm clock finally started its morning serenade and I jumped out of bed, ready to hit the showers and to pack my bags. Remarkably enough I found myself in my car within the next 30 mins!
I actually named my inner-geek 'Digit' a while back. So now when 'normal' people tell me that I don't look good with my t-shirt off, or frown when I know the exact release-date of a new Microsoft product, or when they see me read multiple books at the same time; I can say, 'Hey, that's not me, there's a little guy called Digit living inside my head!' This provides me a less ‘in-your-face' way of acknowledging that which I really am, a geek
Digit is normally only allowed out of his shell on those dark weary evenings where I try to decipher code-snippets that flash upon my dual-setup monitor-screens. He's a bit edgy around large crowds, doesn't like loud noises or going to pubs, and is uncomfortable around pretty ladies.
It's possible that by now you have gotten some wild assumptions about me suffering from some kind of multiple-personality disorder; a me, myself and Digit kind of parody. Well, you're probably right But I don't care much, I might even go as far as to calling it a Multiple Geek Syndrome. And I'm seeing it more as a feature, than it is a bug. At the very least, this underlying nature keeps me entertained. But I'm sensing that I'm drifting away from the real story here, so let's start with the reconstruction of the memories I still have of Techdays 2012!
This year's edition should be able to keep all my personalities busy and well entertained. Not only will this be the 10th anniversary - Double Digit - Edit10n; 2012 is also proving to be a great and exciting year for Microsoft. The release the Consumer Preview of Windows 8, the full & international release of windows phone and the release of the beta version of Visual Studio 2011 with ASP.NET 4.5 are only a few examples. I arrived at the Kinepolis complex of Braine l'Alleud after an hour-long drive, where I immediately received my Microsoft badge and bag. While strolling through the welcoming exhibit it quickly became clear that MS had the following key points in store for the next three days: Windows 8, Windows Phone, Azure & Html5. ‘No argument here', I mumbled; and as there wasn't much activity in the Microsoft booth yet I set out for the partner expo.
About half way through the main hall I stumbled upon a robot that was wearing a wig, holding a guitar and was yelling out '.NET Rocks!'. Could it be that I had found the T4T booth?
I'd like to pause for a minute to get the chance to say that; whilst keeping keywords like creativity, boldness, ingeniousness, design & logo in mind; the T4T booth really stood out of the crowd. T4T really does Rock, the cake actually isn't a lie! Please note that I did not receive any payment, pay-rise or other sweets for including this line into the blogpost
The first session I attended was the opening Dev Session given by Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's Azure Project Manager. The session didn't go as deep as I would have wanted it to, but the charisma & personality of the 'The Gu' did account for something. Digit was but a little disappointed...
Then came a session about the Metro Application Platform, given by Katrien de Graeve & Gill Cleeren and I'm not going to spill much time on this. I did not like it one bit. It was actually a copy of the session given at the BUILD conference late last year, where the windows 8 Dev preview was released. But, this time, without those skilled & charismatic speakers they rounded up there. So nothing new and Digit went from disappointment to anger...
After that we were released into the jungle that formed the partner Expo. Home to some indigenous species like JetBrains, Cisco, Samsung and Nokia. While eating a sandwich that I had managed to steal away from other predators - food seemed to be scarce in the jungle - I strolled around making small talk and looking through the different exhibits.
I stopped @ the T4T booth again to try and solve our Nokia Lumia Challenge, which proved harder than I originally expected. The posed question had bubbled out of the deep and dark depths of Dwights mind, our leading .NET wizard. Thus making it understandable that my mind did hurt a bit after trying to solve his little game Well done Mr D.!
Scot Guthrie would fill up another hour giving his second session of the day, talking about MVC 4. It will now - among other things - feature WebApi & mobile support, automatic clipping an compression of js & css files and a new, really good-looking, html template. Sweet stuff!
Next up was a session given by Brian Keller about Application Lyfecycle Management. He showed some really neat features that will be shipped with the new version of Team Foundation Server later this year. The coolest and most exiting however being the TFS 2011 Express Edition, making Microsoft's source control platform available to everyone!
The last session of the day was Steve Sanderson's talk about Single Page Applications, and it really knocked my socks off! When I saw his session on the program I was thinking to myself, 'Hey, this could be kinda cool, let's see what this is about'. And by the time Steve was done, my jaw was hanging into my lap and I was just... floored about how easy it is to do some really complicated - or what used to be really complicated - stuff with the new knockout and upshot libraries.
The SPA principle is quite simple actually. A certain online Encyclopedia describes it as follows: 'A single-page application (SPA), also known as single-page interface (SPI), is a web application or web site that fits on a single web page with the goal of providing a more fluid user experience akin to a desktop application.'
The Gmail & Hotmail web interfaces are perfect examples of this architecture; and to support it, Microsoft's will be shipping knockout.js, upshot.js & history.js alongside MVC4. I'm so glad to see that Microsoft is finally turning strategies, supporting and promoting freeware ideas & technologies, instead of competing with them with their own libraries. Mind-boggling Stuff!
Thus ended my first day of TechDays and Digit seemed fairly satisfied. The afternoon made up for lost times, and it seemed that it couldn't get any geekier than this. I had a couple of drinks with Bart before we went to our Hotel to get a well-deserved good night's sleep.
Day 2 started as early as day 1. We hadn't had as much players for the Nokia Lumia contest as we would have liked, so we decided to hire a hostess to assist us is in this delicate task. She was a real beauty; and Digit never showed his face near our booth again
The first session of the second day was Matt Milner's take on jQuery Templates and Data-Link. He basically held a technical show-off featuring a few jQuery plugins Microsoft released into the public. jQuery Templates bring declarative HTML templates to the browser, where Data-link brings data binding. Put these two together and you have a very powerful client-side programming model. It made for a good start of the day.
Next came two sessions given by Alex Turner, Program Manager for the Visual Basic and C# Compilers. They proved to be a real treat! He basically sat there and using code snippets he showed the advances he made in Project Rosalyn, exposing the compiler using an API. In his second session he showed the performance enhancements in the new Async language features shipped in ASP.NET 4.5. The technical skill level went through the roof while Alex ran through JIT & Compiler code, explaining what the CLR does behind the scenes given a set of instructions. I have to admit that the phrases ‘Well Mr. Turner, you kind of lost me there' and ‘I don't, Urg, uh.. Wait, you.. go back.. WHAT ?!' slipped by my lips a couple of times. Luckily the people around me experienced similar problems
After that it was Kevin Dockx's turn to talk about possible architectural approaches when using WCF RIA services. A great speaker, an awesome topic; good for one fantastic session!
I attended the Microsoft Partner Drink after that, which gave me the chance to talk to some Microsoft employees. It also gave me the chance to connect to a certain classy lady at a local pub later that night, but this not the time nor the place to discuss matters like that. And, you know, a true gentlemen never tells I did had a lot of fun though!
The third day started way to early and I have to admit that I had a hard time following the sessions that fateful morning. Evidently that had everything to do with my lack of sleep and nothing to do with my ventures the night before
Fortunately I now had two T4T colleagues to accompany me. Digit had someone to talk to and I had someone to keep me awake when times went rough.
The deep dives were nice, but for me they were mostly a repetition of what I saw the previous days. The sessions of Peter Himschoot really stood out, as he gave three amazing web-development related sessions. Going way deeper than his predecessors did, and doing it in style. It was a joy to watch.
And with that my TechDays adventures ended. They were filled with wonders & magic, amazing people & charismatic speakers, T4T Robots & T4T babes, Double Digit Supporters & mind-blowing looks, .Net wizardry & Html cooks.