Thursday, August 31, 2006

Advisor DevCon - Day 3

The final day. If you have attended any conference you know the routine. Drag yourself from a short slumber and slide into the 8:00am session. If you are lucky and attending the conference you might be able to get up at 7:30, maybe hit the snooze button to get an extra ten minute, then scramble into the shower and head down a couple minutes late. That does not work if you are the speaker.

I did not have this luxury Wednesday morning because I presented my Real-World Visual FoxPro Application Deployment session at 8:00am. I always get the first session of the last day. It does not matter if the organizer's name is Whil, Russ, Mike and Toni, Bob, Rainer, or John. Somehow my reputation for avoiding hangovers has won me the honor of kicking off the festivities of the last day. I really don't mind doing it, but I rarely sleep well when I know I absolutely have to be up early. So in typical DevCon fashion I woke up every hour.

The best part of the 8:00 session is you get the hard core conference attendees. These are the hardy folks who know how to tough it out. These are the folks you want in the fox hole with you when you are doing battle with the evil-doers. I had a good group Wednesday morning. They participated and shared their ideas and approaches for deployment. I learned a few things as usual. It was a good session from my perspective, and all but one eval was very positive. Thanks to all who came out.

Next session was back to see Toni Feltman give her billionth session of Advisor DevCon (actually it was her fifth one, which she keeps reminding me how highly unfair that I only had to present twice {bg}). Toni presented Build Cutting-Edge Web Applications with AJAX and Visual FoxPro. I figured it was important for me to learn more about the use of house cleaning products and how they interact with VFP. OK, bad joke - did I mention I was exhausted? Actually, Toni did her normal excellent presentation showing us how to use existing Web and Web Browser technologies. I have done some reading on this topic and saw Rick Strahl present on it at the German DevCon last year. Toni helped me solidify my understanding. Now all I have to do is find the right project. Five of five stars.

Next up was Craig Boyd and Use GDI+ in Visual FoxPro and Reports. I thought it was one of the best sessions of the conference. I have watched how Bo Durban, Cesar Chalom, and Craig Boyd have written 50,000 lines of code for the GDIPlusX project on VFPX (SednaX) to take the work Walter Nicholls did on the GDI+ Fox Foundation Class (FFC) to the next level (or as Colin Nicholls mentioned in the session, complete the vision Walter Lisa Slater Nicholls designed in the VFP 9 GDI+ FFC). Craig provided the background and the demos to help us understand how we can really extend VFP graphically. This was the most attended session of the conference except for the keynote, at least of the sessions I attended. SIX out of five stars.

I played hookie for the last breakout session and instead had a great conversation with wOOdy (Juergen Wondzinski) about some of the cool projects his German company has going at the moment, and how busy he and his team are these days kicking out VFP solutions. This is something I have been hearing from a lot of VFP developers. Same story: so many projects, not enough time and available programmers to get the job done in the time the clients want it. This is good news for VFP developers and the type of problems we want as business owners and employees. I am very excited for wOOdy!

I also talked with Christa Ayer from Advisor Media about some more articles she wants me to work on for future issues of The Advisor Guide to Microsoft Visual FoxPro. I have corresponded a lot with Christa with the publishing of my series on VFP Builders. Christa has been a joy to work with during the series and has been more than flexible letting me wedge these articles into my super busy schedule. It was nice meeting her in person and I look forward to the upcoming articles.

By the way, in case you are unfamiliar with these "unofficial sessions", they are as beneficial as attending one of the breakout sessions. If you are sending employees to a conference and think they are goofing off when they play hookie like this, put it out of your mind - they are learning valuable information and making important networking contacts. Playing hookie is okay at conferences. Five out of five stars {g}.

We closed the conference with a Question and Answer session. I thought this was much better than previous Advisor DevCon's I have attended. The reason is simple: the questions were positive in nature, and were real-world issues that the people in the room needed solving. Thanks to all who attended and to everyone who provided feedback to the people looking for solutions. I know I learned a few things!

I walked out of the session thinking, wow - that conference flew by. In some ways I am happy to be going home to see my family, but in other ways I would not have minded one more day with the FoxGang and some more sessions. It has only fueled the fire for the rest of the conferences this year. More general thoughts to be posted later.

(updated 4-Sep-2006: corrected Colin Nicholl's comments about the vision of the GDI+ FFC class).


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