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German DevCon 2006 – Day 2

Friday morning is the early start here in Germany. I left the watering hole last night before midnight, but had to get up an hour earlier this morning as sessions began at 8:30, which is 2:30am to my body clock.

First up is Lisa Slater Nicholls’ Creating Sedna Reporting Extensions. I did not realize this was part two to her Sedna Reporting Enhancements session she gave yesterday, and is one I did not attend. Lisa started out her session with the hope attendees’ heads would not explode during this session as they did yesterday. I thought the session showed some serious power she and Colin Nicholls are building into SP2. I think the Report Builder dialog extensibility in particular was very cool. This session was packed with a lot of complex ideas. I have not watched this yet, but there is a screencast developed by the Nicholls which details some of the new enhancements for those who did not get a chance to attend this session.

Next up is Andy Kramek and his highly anticipated Metadata to the Max session! I talked to several people who attended this at Southwest Fox 2006 and walked away really impressed. I have talked to Andy outside of sessions about some of the material he is presenting. I work with metadata on a regular basis, but Andy’s session enlightened me on some approaches, which should improve my use of metadata in the future. His session details the pros and cons of metadata, then stepped through three real world examples. The last example is what I was looking forward to since leaving Arizona. Andy shows how he has DEFINE CLASS code residing in a table. His application reads this table and executes the script dynamically. One of the underlying requirements of this app is 24×7 uptime. This means the app cannot be brought down to install a new executable. So to update this app you update the source code in a record of the metadata. This is a really intelligent design in my opinion. The other cool thing he demonstrated is implementing one metadata table with production code, and another one with work in progress code. This allows the team to test “work in progress” classes along side of the production classes without needing to worry about updating the production records. Great session.

The third session was Alan Griver and the Keynote. I almost did not attend this session because I saw the one he presented at the Advisor DevCon. I noticed right away that he was presenting an updated version, and I am really glad I attended. Alan showed many of the same demos to the full auditorium, but he also incorporated some new things. One thing I learned is Milind Lele has released the list of fixes included in the VFP 9 SP2 CTP. This is excellent news and should make a lot of the community happy because there was much displeasure posted on the various forums when this was not included in the CTP release. Alan also demonstrated some of the VFPx projects like the GDIPlusX gradient command buttons and the Outlook 2003 bar.

After lunch I attended YAG’s VFP Data in Visual Studio. It was another repeat of the session he presented at Advisor DevCon. I listened to this session and wrote up part of this blog entry for the first half of my day. Alan is very passionate about this topic and rightly so. One thing I noticed is the slight changes he mentioned from what he presented in Arizona. One of the things is the inclusion of free tables in the new DDEX provider. Previously it was only going to handle DBCs. Microsoft and the Fox Team are definitely listening to feedback, which is always good news.

The middle of the afternoon was occupied by Craig Berntson’s Understanding Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). Craig started out with a 20 minute story about “Bob” and his travel through the software development cycle with an app he architected with different communication technologies. All I remember is Bob’s phone was ringing a lot and he partied hard after each time he fixed numerous problems pointed out by his team and customers. I personally thought Bob should enter rehab {g}. The session ended 25 minutes before the time slot was finished because Craig’s Virtual Machine crashed early yesterday. I went to review the whitepapers in the binder but it appears there are none yet. Too bad. I am hopeful Craig will send it to Rainer for upload later. This is a pet peeve of mine.

The last session of the day I was on my way to see Beth Massi’s session on Application Architecture for Multiple UIs, but I got involved in a great discussion with Andy Kramek about SQL Server 2005 (learned a lot), MySQL, and DB2 among other things. My clients will benefit more from this adhoc session than Beth’s session, and I can probably read her white paper later. Argh – as soon as Rainer posts it!

On the way to my Professional Developer’s Toolkit session I stopped in for dinner. This session is the easiest of the four I am presenting at this conference, but the one that concerned me the most. First of all, several of the presenters battled the data show projecter in the Auditorium. I fortunately did not have any problems. Secondly, this session is just after dinner and evening sessions are usually attended less than the day sessions. At this conference attendees join the meeting at the last minute. I actually think this is smart as they optimize the networking part of the conference and get to munch on the yummy snacks. Lastly, this session is designed to be very interactive. The crowds this year are more interactive than last year, but attendees are still less likely to ask questions and offer ideas during a session than other conferences I attend. The session went well. A bunch of people showed up right at 7:30 and they were great. This is the first time I finished all the material in the 75 minutes. Lots of positive feedback too.

After the session Boudewijn Lutgerink and I talked for a long time about some cool developer tools he is using to do project estimating and a really cool open source Paint program that makes developers without artistic capabilities look like they worked with images all their life. I plan on blogging more about these tools in the future. Boudewijn copied them to my thumb drive so I can load them when my last session is complete.

A great day overall. One more session to go, and one more day to expand the brain cells. Sunday has 5 regular session slots along with the closing session and the speakers dinner.

More later…

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