As we were ushered in to an imposing auditorium It seemed the three DJs and VJ were entertaining a lonely, featured HP server rack on stage.
Having a tiny special ‘Early Bird’ section down the front did seem a little pointless when I’d hazard a guess that well over 70% of delegates would’ve been signing up for the conference straight away.
The stage was very, well, orange. The black auditorium with its glossy black camouflage ceiling makes the whole place feel like we were about to get a paintball briefing rather than a Microsoft presentation. Loud percussive beats start about 10 minutes to go to fire up the spirits. It did start to work too.
First on stage was Pierre Liautaud, Vice President for Microsoft in Western Europe. His short introduction speech balanced the future ‘magic’ that developers with the right software and support can write against the clear message that Windows Azure platform offered more choice in an economically uncertain time.
He was keen to point out that Windows Azure was Software & Services and not Software As A Service. That the choice on where elements of your system were deployed were still firmly up to you and that they weren’t suggesting that everyone should move lock-stock over to it (funny that).
The main event was Jason Zander’s introduction to Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010. Obviously a true developer, he didn’t care that using a pre-alpha version of VS 2010 (and in one demo a pre-alpha version of Windows 7!) lead to a crash and a few hangs. He just wanted to show off the features and it therefore had an honesty to it that a PowerPoint slideshow would’ve totally lacked.
The video of his keynote is up on TechEd TV and its worth a watch. The four areas he covered were
- Understanding the code
- Building web applications
- Office business applications
- C++ improvements
In Understanding the code (watch the video at 21 minutes on), he introduced the Architecture Explorer. Able to delve into the depths of your code, it builds a clear diagram of the interdependencies in your project. So so useful. VS2010 was also able to generate a UML 2.1.1 Sequence Diagram for a class with a single click, showing all calls to objects and other methods. It’s the kind of overview information that developers looking at code fresh (or when you’ve been away for a bit and things have changed) would love to have. All built into the IDE. Why can’t we have this version already?
He also briefly touched on TeamLab, a feature allowing you to provision test environments with all of the settings you need. This leads to the ability for developers and testers alike to know that the machine that code is being tested on is common and controlled. Filing bugs in this system will also capture all of the Virtual Machine information too so that the developer can load up exactly how the environment was at the time of failure.
At around 31 minutes on the video, watch for the information about how the IDE has been totally rewritten on Windows Presentation Foundation and the add-ons they’ve already done for it. The debugging and historical dialogs are great information tools.
In Web Applications (watch the video from 43 mins on), a lot of the stuff I already knew from looking at the ASP.NET MVC stuff. The web.config transformations directly in the IDE is a welcome addition.
The Office Business applications is IDE support for SharePoint Web Part development and the C++ IDE changes are vast and far reaching but not something I’m interested in with my current skill set and challenges.
It certainly set up the rest of the week and I’ll write more as it happens.