I spent last week in Seattle attending TechReady. This is Microsoft's internal readiness training program for field staff. It's held twice a year as a full blown conference over 5 days in downtown Seattle. And when I say full blown, I mean FULL BLOWN. There were 845 sessions, 328 hands-on labs, and over 5,800 Microsoft field employees in attendance. This is about as close as you can get to a brain transfusion. There were at least 5 sessions in every time slot that I wanted to go to and since we haven't perfected cloning technology yet, I could only go to one at a time. The goal of all this is really simple - prepare us in the field to have intelligent and accurate conversations about Microsoft's products and roadmap.
With PDC right around the corner some things are hush-hush, so I can't tell you about everything I saw (they'd have to kill me). However, there are always some great people to see and interact with and this year was no exception. Here are the highlights of from my visit:
Anders Hejlsberg talks about the future of C#. Anders is a stud. Anders is my hero. I want to be Anders when I grow up. Seriously! He's been writing compilers since he was a teenager and has a depth of understanding of the craft that absolutely blows me away. Yet despite all these years trying to design the perfect language, he's still pragmatic about only putting in language features that add value to customers. It's hard to believe that we're coming up on the 10th anniversary of C#. Most programming languages reach their full life span at about 10 years, but with Anders at the helm, I think C# has at least another 10-20 ahead of it. If you ever get a chance to see him in person, don't miss it.
Don Smith and team on Agile programming inside the Patterns & Practices group. These guys rocked! First of all, the format for the panel was very cool. Don Smith only spoke when he had nice things to say. Gregori Melnik only spoke about factual things such as procedures, numbers, and dates. And Ade Miller only spoke when he had negative comments to contribute. It was a lot of fun for the panel and the audience and still managed to be insightful and enlightening as well. I'm a RUP guy by training, but I have a new found respect for Agile - assuming it's done properly and not just a smoke-screen for doing whatever the developers want to do. They mentioned a new book coming out that I need to check out - Agile Project Management with Scrum.
Peter Provost on UML in the Architect edition of VSTS Rosario. If you downloaded the April CTP of VSTS Rosario, you know that Peter Provost and his team have been hard at work integrating UML modeling into Visual Studio. Why is Microsoft finally embracing UML? It's simple - customers asked for it. Duh! IMHO, as a tool vendor, we have been passively ignoring UML and all the benefits it provides to teams for far too long. Finally, enough voices have been raised that we are fully investing in UML with our developer products. Stay tuned for an interview with Peter in an upcoming blog posting for more details about what his team is working on.