Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back from GLGDW

Yes, I am finally back from GLGDW (and vacation). I would like to tell you I walked back from Milwaukee and this is the reason I am blogging my recap three days after the closing session (and it was a fun closing session wasn't it {bg}). The truth is I am extremely busy at the moment both professionally and personally. This is a good thing. The truth is, I spent the last couple of nights assembling some notes from the opening session to send to Whil with all the feedback and links from the Professional Developers Toolkit part. It was the fastest I ever assembled a session whitepaper, and I hope the attendees find it beneficial. All this and catching up with my client work after a 10 day vacation before the conference. You know how this goes. I figure it will be another week of catching up on all the work. All this and it is playoff season for the Red Wings and Pistons. Fortunately, I have patient clients and a patient family.

As others have blogged and posted on various forums and list servers, the conference was a smash hit. The format of the conference was very comfortable for me. In fact, the entire conference was patterned to draw out participation from everyone in the room. This is exactly how I like my sessions to flow - throw out some ideas and let the discussion flow from everyone in attendance. It has always been my contention we all benefit from the knowledge of many instead of the knowledge of one. As one developer told me Saturday, you could not risk falling asleep because you would miss too much. He told me even the most energetic speaker normally only keeps his attention for 30 minutes, but at GLGDW 2006 he stayed awake for the sessions.

So thanks to everyone who helped me present the Professional Developers Toolkit and Best Practices on Error Handling. It was a true pleasure to be a part of this event.

I attended every session. Normally I miss one or two slots because I have something pressing I need to take care of at the conference. I learned a lot from every presentation. This is not unusual, and is one of the big reasons I go to conferences. The inspiration factor is a big deal to me. GLGDW did not disappoint.

I pretty much agree with everything Doug Hennig blogged about (especially about the Thai food we ate Saturday night).

Each of the presenters (both those in the front of the room and the others sitting comfortably in the seats) challenged my thinking in some way:
  • Marcia and her "must/should/could" approach to determining where the code goes provides me with a different approach when I struggle deciding where in the class hierarchy the properties and methods need to go.
  • Tamar keyed in some ideas on how my user interfaces can be better, especially when messaging users when saving and deleting data, and accessibility. It was very apparent she is passionate about this topic.
  • Andy was the only speaker doing two sessions (local and remote data), and was the only speaker who made me open up my machine and test something I thought was incorrect (naturally I was wrong, but this was the idea - he challenged my thinking). I disagree with some of his best practices especially on remote view, but respect his ideas and thought it was an awesome three hours plus.
That was Saturday. Whew.

  • Nancy's refactoring session kept bringing back memories of Steve Sawyer's refactoring session several years ago in Milwaukee. Nancy shares Steve's passion for this topic and did a great job. She brought out a number of "duh" moments and thanks to Doug, made me appreciate my development approach of not using WITH...ENDWITH.
  • Barbara tackled a reporting, which is a topic given much exposure over the last couple of years because of the new reporting engine in VFP 9. The great thing about this session is it was not a how-to use the Report Designer session, but how to generically approach reports and the query form in a generic sense.
  • Cathy may have had the most difficult topic to tackle with Project Management. This is a topic most developers either love or hate. There is no code, no jumping in to VFP to show off this technique or that idea. Cathy provided a number of ideas and concepts which reminded me of all the good reasons project managers make good money.
  • The debugging session was packed with lots of good ideas from everyone. I happen to consider debugging one of the most important aspects of development because all developers spend a lot of time debugging software. Picked up a couple of tips.
  • Doug presented a great session on vertical market apps. This was one session I was very interested in personally because I am involved in building a couple of vertical market applications. Doug did not disappoint, despite struggling with a hardware failure getting his machine to push video to the projector. Rock solid.
Fun way to spend a Sunday for sure.

  • The last day of the conference is always the hardest, but Craig started it out with lots of best practices with respect to the middle tier and COM+. I have not done a lot of work with COM objects and the middle tier (distributed model) apps. I found the session interesting and learned plenty.
  • Rick Borup covered Deployment like no one else can. Obviously this is a topic near and dear to my heart. His approach showed developers that deployment is not something you consider at the end of the development project, but is part of the entire development life cycle. He provided some great best practices in each of the five stages. Top-shelf presentation from a top gun presenter.
I left Milwaukee exhausted and energized at the same time. I cannot wait to download the session materials (Whil has already sent out the message they are ready).

I liked the single threaded format and the single theme, but I know I would not want every conference to follow this format. It would get boring. Sometimes choice is good, and sometimes choice is bad. I know a mixture of formats will serve the conference organizers well.

My only complaint is the hotel Internet access. I had trouble keeping the wireless connected in my room, and tried dial-up, but that was even worse. Fortunately it was the weekend and there was not too much email traffic. If the wireless was better I would have blogged live during the conference.

Thanks Whil and Alexis. You were great hosts and put on a terrific Fox event.

GLGDW was a great way to kick off the year of Fox conferences. If you missed this one there are several more coming up in the fall.

So what are you waiting for, go get registered and take part in the inspiration. I figure I should be coming down from the adrenaline rush just about the same time I get caught up on all this work.


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