Recently, I was luckly enough to be sent to the Gold Coast for a week long event known as Tech Ed...

Holllllllllllly crap was it awesome. I feel like the words on this screen dont come close to conveying the awesome that was TechEd 2013. There were 3000 dev & IT professionals at this conference, and the energy from so many like-minded people crammed into one convention centre was electric.

My days were completely filled with sessions, of various technical levels, from 8am til 6pm almost every day and I came away from most of these sessions filled with inspiration. I can honestly say I havent been that motivated or excited about development in my entire career.

Some of my favourites were;

  • Developer Kickoff - Stuff We Love by Ed Blankenship, Andrew Coates, Brady Gaster, Patrick Klug, Mads Kristensen (Presentation here).
  • SQL Server 2014 - Features Drilldown by Dandy Wayn (Presentation here).
  • Whats new in Visual Studio 2013 by Mads Kristensen (Presentation here).
  • The UX Doctor Will See You Now by Shane Morris.
  • Adding Powershell Support to Enterprise Apps by Mitch Denny (I sort of have a tech-crush on Powershell. Its so shiny and awesome...) (Presentation here).
  • Building Real World Cloud Apps with Windows Azure by Scott Guthrie (Presentation here).
  • Integration in the Cloud: A Deep Dive Into Windows Azure BizTalk Services by Bill Chesnut (Presentation here).
    There were so many awesome sessions this year, some of which I havent mentioned... You can find the complete list of sessions, with recordings on the Microsoft Channel 9 Website, with the TechEd specific section being here. If you didnt managed to get to all the sessions you want, most of the sessions will have recordings so you can listen/watch anything you missed!

I thought I'd share my thoughts and impressions regarding my favourite sessions.

Dev Kickoff - Wow, Visual Studio 2013 has some seriously awesome shit under the hood this time round. A constant SignalR connection with the browser... no more hitting F5! Save the changes in Visual Studio and SignalR will pump it through to the browser, so seeing changes to the page suddenly becomes alot less tedious. This relationship also works the other way around... using the new Dev tools will allow you to make basic changes on the browser, and have these changes reflected, in real time, in the code. I swear its using System.Magic or something.

SQL 2014 - The natural query syntax feature that was demoed to us excited me. As I'm sure alot of developers out there can agree, writing reports can be a pain in the ass. This sort of functionality exposes the data to the user in a friendly way, allowing basic ad-hoc queries (and even some slightly more complex ones) in real time. The In-memory functionality for certain tables is also fascinating... performance goes through the roof compared to traditional IO bound transactions.

Whats new in VS2013 - This took the taster that was given us in the Dev kickoff and fleshed it out nicely. Brand new HTML editors left right and centre, Intellisense functionality added to many more places, and more importantly contextual intellisense. This is particularly bad in the current HTML editor as it tends to just give you a braindump of everything. So very, very shiny.

UX Doctor - This was a really great presentation. Shane Morris tempted the demo gods and went completely unscripted. He live-reviewed (is that even a term?) three applications volunteered to him as part of his presentation. I came away from this actually thinking about design and user experience principals and started picking apart other applications I use frequently. Quite a departure from my normal day-to-day stuff, so this was refreshing.

Cloud Apps with Azure - Special mention goes to Scott Guthrie. This guy not only seriously knows his stuff but has an amazing presentation style, which was engaging and enthusiastic. To be honest, I didnt really know who he was before TechEd (I'd heard it mentioned once or twice, but silly me hadnt paid attention) and was quite surprised by the amount of general interest in just having lunch with this guy, let alone attending his sessions. Thankfully, I did attend both of his sessions (a 3 hour highly technical demo, with zero demo glitches, what a champ) and came away FREAKING impressed with Windows Azure. Seriously. Wow. If you havent used Azure much, I highly recommend you take it for a spin. Its ok... I'll wait.


Awesome, riiiight?!!

The Azure BizTalk Services presentation was also fantastic. I have (for some reason which I still dont quite fathom) an intense interest in BizTalk, so being in a room with a BizTalk MVP (yes, they exist!) and about 20 or so BizTalk developers was such an awesome experience (Yes, I know Im using the word awesome alot, but I dont care. It was a week **full **of awesome). Bill Chesnut has an astounding amount of knowledge of BizTalk as it stands in Azure, not to mention on-premise BizTalk. He managed to fend off quite a few of our questions with grace (as I think the room was a bit shocked) as Azure BizTalk Services itself is a bit of a strange one, with some seemingly odd limitations, but I have a feeling that due to the (now monthly!) release cycle of Azure, more functionality will be coming our way. To be honest, it will have to if Microsoft are serious about it as they are about everything else Cloud related. As it stands right now, I'd have a hard time recommending it over on-premise BizTalk.

So there you have it... A brief summary of my time at the most amazing conference ever. If you ever manage to score some tickets, I strongly urge you to go. As a developer the benefit to attending a conference like this enormous. Not only is the community outstanding, but everyone is there for the same reason you are... We all love tech. We make it our livelihood and hobby both, and are passionate about the things we love. So do yourself a favour, score yourself some tickets and soak in the geek :)