TechEd Europe 2013 – Friday

The last day of my TechEd event was cut in half because of an early flight home (I had a wedding to attend to on Saturday) so this post will be rather short on the sessions of the day and then I’ll conclude with a summary of my conference experience.

I attended three sessions, the first was about 3D DirectX development with Visual Studio 2012. That’s a kind of unusual subject for TechEd but was interesting for me as a general developer. I’d like to see more of this kind in future conferences. The second was a session about news in Entity Framework 6 and that was also good. This was actually a repeated session from earlier in the week since the first one was full.

Mark Russinovich

The last session I attended in this year’s TechEd was this annual edition of Mark Russinovich’s Case of the Unexplained session series: Windows Troubleshooting. These sessions are truly amazing and if you ever get a chance to attend one of them I can warmly recommend them. Mark is one of the best speakers I’ve seen in our industry (together with Scott Hanselman), entertaining and incredibly knowledgeable. A short description of this session that he describes real-world use of the SysInternal utilities (of which he is the creator) to find and solve Windows problems such as crashes, performance problems, hangs, etc. As Windows users we all experience these kind of problems so these sessions are both useful for getting insights to problems that can occur and also to get tips of how to use the SysInternals tools. I’ve experienced a few of these sessions before and they’re always very useful. This was the best session in this edition of TechEd so it was a great way to end this year’s edition for me.

With that it’s time to wrap up TechEd Europe 2013 with some thoughts about the experience. This year, there was about 5 000 delegates according to officials, which can be compared to the 10 000 count of TechEd North America. It’s a much smaller conference than TechEd NA but there were still an abundance of sessions to attend, generally about 15-20 in parallel for each time slot. That’s lot indeed, but if you look in more detail about the contents of these sessions you find that most were targeted at the IT pro community. There were also one or two Business Intelligence sessions for each time slot leaving perhaps room for 2-4 developer sessions. Most of these remaining developer sessions fall into two categories:

  • Windows Azure technologies
  • Microsoft SaaS offerings such as Team Foundation Services, BizTalk Services, and the like

This makes for a very heavy cloud focus on the developer parts of the conference. There wasn’t much about Windows 8 development, Asp.NET web development, Javascript (which is otherwise mentioned everywhere in the industry these days), etc. Also, there wasn’t much on software architecture or best practises (except a little about Azure, of course). To me, being a an architect and developer, this makes TechEd a less relevant conference than I’d hoped it to be. There was some consensus (at least among some of us delegates) that the IT pro side of things have been given more priority at TechEd than before. I don’t know if this is deliberate from Microsoft or if it just turned out this way, but in either case I will probably choose another conference the next time I get the chance to attend one.

This year the Build conference took place at the same time as TechEd Europe. Build is very focused on the developer and it’s starting to feel like a better match for my work role than TechEd. The planning seems very strange to schedule two Microsoft conferences of this large scale at the same time but I suspect there are explanations we aren’t informed of. Earlier editions of Build have taken place in the autumn but I think that Microsoft wanted to announce Windows 8.1 before the summer in order to not loose more ground than they already have. Therefore they needed to squeeze in Build before the summer. Build was also announced much, much later than TechEd, indicating some urgency from Microsoft.

The problem for me as a TechEd delegate, is that it definitely made TechEd feel a bit like a second class conference for developers, as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. That’s not a feeling you want for your delegates if you’re organizing world-class conferences…

However, I attended some quite useful sessions and it was interesting to see what’s happening with Windows Azure and other online services. TechEd is still a useful conference for developers, especially if you have some interest in the IT pro side of things and for me, having some architectural responsibilities and also an interest in systems integration, the conference scope would be a quite good match if only there was a little more general developer content.

That about sums it up, I guess. That’s the final post on this mini series of Tech Europe 2013 reports. Thank you for reading.

/Emil

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