John Kellar stood on stage in the final minutes of the DevLink closing ceremonies, gazing across the audience and smiling. In front of him, someone was introducing the members of the staff that had helped him organize and execute the conference. Behind me, the applause began. A few people in the back stood and clapped; then two more in front stood up; then I stood and applauded; soon, the entire auditorium was on its feet, cheering those who had put together an amazing conference.
John said he wanted to focus on the entire conference experience to make it worthwhile for the attendees. He succeeded at an amazing level.
Here are some highlights from my experience at DevLink 2009
'Configuration Management with Team Foundation Server' presented by Steve Andrews
The first day, all sessions were three hours long. Steve Andrews showed how to configure the automated build settings in TFS. He dug deep into the details of TFS and showed the various options available for continuous integration and how to customize the process.
'Good ways to use Live Mesh' Open Space
I called this session because I wanted to use Live Mesh as my backup strategy, easing my angst about rebuilding a laptop or PC. Jeff Blankenberg showed me the details of this very cool technology, answering all my questions and showing how he used Mesh to backup and share files. Others looked over our shoulder as he did so, making this a successful Open Space for several people.
'MEF' Open Space
I have been delivering a talk on Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) for almost year. But in this session, I got to ask questions of Kathleen Dollard, who has been working with this framework on a production application and has some very definite ideas about the future of MEF. It’s startling to me how much I learned during this hour.
'Enhance your .NET Application with SSRS' presented by Jessica Moss
Jessica had some hardware issues in this session, but recovered well enough to put on a solid presentation. I was glad to see because I have a customer looking for a class on SSRS and she looks like a good candidate for that.
'Dot Net Rocks' panel discussion
Prior to the closing ceremonies, Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell recorded an episode of their popular Dot Net Rocks podcast. A panel consisting of Josh Holmes, Jim Holmes, Kathleen Dollard and Billy Hollis discussed whether software development was becoming too complex. It wasn't one of Franklin and Campbell's best shows, but it was fun to watch them perform live.
Conferences are a chance to meet up with old friends, meet new friends and exchange ideas. DevLink was particularly good for this because so many people attended from outside my geographic region. The usual suspects from Michigan and Ohio were there, but I spoke with people from Atlanta, Virginia, Colorado, Canada and Great Britain. Hallway conversations were as good as any I’ve had at a conference. We were even able to meet in a more relaxed atmosphere at several organized evening events. The 3-day format made it possible to establish relationships with people through multiple conversations. John Kellar reminded me that this is not an accident and it's the reason the word "Link" appears in the conference name.
Technology and Friends
I recorded thirteen interviews for my show at this conference. I've already released one episode and cannot wait to produce and share the rest.
This was the best-run community conference I have attended to date. From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, there was not a minute that I lacked something to do and learn. Often I had to choose between two or three options. I am already looking forward to next year.