TechEd US 2008

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TechEd US 2008

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As usual, TechEd 2008 has been a complete whirlwind. This year the conference is split into two tracks, one for Developers this past week and one for IT Professionals next week. Instead of blogging day by day, I thought I would break down the highlights of the week.

SharePint by Night

Monday night Andrew Connell organized a SharePint by Night event at BB King’s. Along with AC, we had John Holliday, Darrin Bishop, Robert Foster, Brad Smith, Eugene Rosenfeld, Robert Bogue, Ted Pattison and bunch of other folks. We hung out, talked some SharePoint (only a little), and drank a lot of Corona’s (well, I did, at least). We had a good turnout and a whole lot of fun.

Office TLC MOSS Booth

One of the (few) advantages of splitting the TechEd schedule was that questions at the TLC stands were more focused and in-depth. I talked to a lot of people about technical architecture, workflow, deployment and upgrade issues, deep code topics and, my personal favorite, moving from ASP.NET into SharePoint development. Traffic was high and people were definitely asking deeper questions than last year when the audience was mixed.

Speaker Idol

For the second year in a row the MSDN Online team organized a Speaker Idol contest. The idea is to find promising new speakers in the greater Microsoft community who have never spoken at TechEd before. The contest was organized into three heats (one each day), with the winner of each squaring off in the finals on Friday. Much like American Idol, a panel of judges (all experienced speakers) ranked each speaker and evaluated their performance. The kicker was that you only had five minutes to deliver a technical presentation, and any development topic of your choice, and impress the judges.

On Wednesday, I presented Introduction to SharePoint for .NET Developers (slides are here). I won my heat against some strong competition from Amanda Laucher who talked about F#. I knew I would have to elevate my game for the finals as there were some good TDD and ASP.NET MVC demos in Thursday’s presentations (which were so good the judges couldn’t decide who to pick so they advanced two speakers to the finals). So instead of going to the attendee party at Universal Studios on Thursday night, I holed up in my hotel room and wrote a presentation and demo on One-Click Code Deployment for SharePoint 2007 (slides are here, code is here). I wrote an image switcher web part that shows a dynamic image pulled from a picture library each time the page is loaded. In the demo, went through the code, showed everyone how to create the feature, build the solution package, script the deployment, activate the feature, and add the web part to the page in five minutes and thirty seconds flat. It was ambitious, there were about a dozen things that could have gone wrong, and it was a lot of info to pack into five minutes. Yet somehow I managed to pull it off without losing anybody.

So who won Speaker Idol and a guaranteed speaker slot at TechEd 2009?

I did! How cool is that?  (Props to Rachel Appel for a quality presentation that didnt’ get picked as a a winner.   You rock, girl!)

MVP Party

The MVP Party for this week was held at the House Blues in Downtown Disney. MVP’s from all disciplines were where and we were entertained by the Blues Brothers themselves (not the real ones, of course, or the recent incarnation with Jim Belushi, but they were pretty darn good). Naturally, as soon as they spotted my hat, they had to drag me onstage to sing a rousing version of ‘Rawhide’ with them. Fun was had by all.


I really missed not being able to attend any sessions. There was some great content but I just didn’t have a chance to get to any of it. The SharePoint juggernaut continues to dominate at conferences but there was some really cool stuff in other technology areas as well. Another regret was not being able to get in on the attendee party, as everyone told me that the new Simpson’s virtual roller coaster ride is the best thing ever. Also, other than SharePint by Night, there weren’t many after hours events with the other MVP’s; for one, there weren’t that many of us there, and for another, a lot of people bring their family down with them and do activities with their kids and spouses in the off hours.

IT Professionals week is next and we’ll have our booth to attend to. With Bob Fox in town it should be a blast!