IMPRESSIONS FROM DEVINTERSECTION CONFERENCE2016 05 10
Author: Mantas Galeckas
Developer conferences are a great way to keep up with technologies and learn something new. I have been to a couple of conferences in Lithuania such as TechDay, but I have wanted to participate in a big scale conference. A little research showed me that the biggest Microsoft developer conferences take place in United States of America. One of them was DEVintersection, which took place on fall 2015 in Las Vegas. My employer, Baltic Amadeus, was cooperative and made this wish come true. So at the end of October 2015 I packed my bags and set destination to Las Vegas for a week of interesting sessions and meeting new people.
DEVintersection is a recurring conference, which have been held since 2011. It takes place two times a year – in spring and in fall. It is said that DEVintersection is like having five conferences in one place, because the sessions are split into five groups – ASP.NET, SQL, Microsoft Office and Sharepoint, IT Edge for IT Managers and AngleBrackets (front-end technologies). You can move between these intersections and go to any session you want. This sometimes leads to irritation, because there are so many good sessions running at the same time and you sometimes want to be in several places at the same time. The conference attracts many IT professionals, highly-ranked Microsoft employees and Microsoft MVPs.
Throughout three days of conference I saw 3 keynotes and 9 technical sessions.
The keynotes mostly introduced the new directions which Microsoft is going with the open-sourcing of .NET framework, new Azure features and so on. Most of the keynotes had the marketing scent to it, so it was a little bit boring for a technical person like me, except for Scott Hanselman’s keynote speech about the new .NET Core, which was more on a technical level filled with demos how to run ASP.NET website on Mac or Raspberry Pi. Also, there was a panel of Microsoft MVPs, where the people in the audience could ask them questions. The main topic was the future of Microsoft Azure and its implementation of Docker containers to host applications.
Technical sessions were more interesting than keynotes. All speakers were competent about their session topics and tried to give as much information as they can in an hour. As a developer who needs to work not only on .NET side of application, but also with SQL databases and front-end technologies like Angular, I tried to go to sessions from all of these areas.
The ASP.NET sessions that I have attended were a bit disappointing, because they felt like they are introductory level. Whether the session was about new C# 6.0 features or ASP.NET code scaffolding tools for Mac, they just have introduced the thing and did not get that much into details. But it was interesting to listen to Phil Jakipse’s approach on SOLID design patterns and how they should look in code.
The best sessions for me were about SQL. They were intended for more experienced database administrators, so the technical level was quite high, I barely managed to keep up with it, but it was more interesting than listen to introductory level talks. Firstly, Tim Hadney talked about common SQL server mistakes and how to avoid them. I really liked this talk, because I recognized some mistakes that we had in our environment. Also, Tim was one of the speakers who encouraged people to contact him with questions about SQL Server. I took this opportunity after the conference, and Tim, even though he did not know the answer, pointed me to the guys who specialized in the particular area. Another talk was from Kimberly Tripp about indexing strategies, which helped me to better understand the more advanced SQL Server features like Columnstore Indexes. Finally, Brent Ozar introduced us to his SQL diagnosis procedures, that help to find the weak spots in SQL Server performance.
Overall, a couple of sessions were a bit disappointing, but all the other sessions were professional, well-prepared and interesting.
OTHER PARTS OF THE CONFERENCE
In my opinion, sessions are only one half of experiencing the conference. The other half happens at a separate hall, where sponsors have their place to introduce their products and people go to network and socialize. It is fun to talk with other software developers from around the world, joke with them about technologies and the routine of developer job and discuss the sessions. Moreover, speakers come to this hall too and you can talk to them and ask questions. I had a chance to exchange a few words with people whose blogs I have been following for quite a long time and had an opportunity to thank them and show my appreciation of their work in person. Also, I have met many new people with their interesting mindset and started following their work too. It was nice that I managed to meet one more person from Lithuania. Finally, I had a chance to talk to sponsors from the companies who made the tools we use every day, like ReSharper team or Telerik team. There were not only marketing people, but many developers, and you can ask them questions and get some inside news from them. Of course, there were also many sponsor gifts. I brought home a whole bag full of brochures, stickers, pens, notebooks and other nice stuff. Also, I was close to winning Raspberry Pi 3 or a yearly subscription of Pluralsight, but the luck was not in my way on both raffles.
Since the conference took place in Las Vegas, there were some comic situations. For example, four guys came from the same company and three of them did not see the fourth guy in any of the sessions. He probably thought that it would be more interesting to experience Las Vegas, not the conference.
Overall, all the experience in the meeting hall was fun and valuable.
The week in Las Vegas was an unforgettable experience and I enjoyed every moment of it. It was valuable to change the scenery, relax a bit from work routine and concentrate only on sessions and networking. If I have a chance to go to a similar conference again, I will definitely consider using it.
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