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German DevCon 2006 – Day 3

The “conference exhaustion”, compounded by the still lingering jet lag is definitely taking its toll on the brain. The good news is today is the last day of the conference, the bad news is today is the last day of the conference. I believe this is a typical conflict for conference attendees, and is definitely the case for me.

First session was The Power of CursorAdapters by Venelina Jordanova. I honestly have not played with CursorAdapters very much because the Visual FoxExpress framework I use for most of my applications does not really include them in the design. I like the concept in theory, but wanted to learn more about them. Venelina took us through the fundamentals, explained how they are an object to access day from a variety of sources, detailed property and methods, and demonstrated the CursorAdapter Builder. She then showed us some of the conflict resolution and how to address potential pitfalls with this object. Unfortunately I had to leave a bit early to prepare for my session and missed the section on Error Handling, but I see her notes are very good.

I presented the Using and Extending the VFP Data Explorer session next. I thought the session was going well until I realized I miscalculated the amount of time remaining by 10 minutes. I spent more time on the drag and drop section of the presentation than I normally do because I thought I had too much time remaining and was trying to balance things out. By time I realized the mistake it was too late to rebalance and unfortunately had to rush the last couple sections of the session. Definitely not my best work and hopefully those in attendance take a look at the white paper to get the “rest of the story”.

The next three sessions I attended were foreign language sessions.

The last session before lunch was Christof Wollenhaupf’s session called JavaScript for the VFP-Entwickler. I knew Christof would be speaking fast German and I was right. Fortunately he went through a lot of code examples (normal for his sessions) and I know how to read JavaScript. I actually learned a lot from his excellent examples. I think it is cool how you can add methods to an object in code. He also showed a real cool developer tool bar add-in for Internet Explorer. I have one for FoxFire, but this tool from Microsoft has a neat ruler tool. First you click on the beginning point, then move the mouse and watch the ruler show up. This ruler is not just horizontal. It goes vertical and diagonal as well. It shows the pixel count so you can line things up and measure where you might want to place other text or objects on a Web page. Great session that surpassed my expectations.

Marcus Alt from Microsoft showed us “Data Dude” in his session called Database, Deploy, Test mit Visual Studio Team System. There were only four of us in this session, and I was the only English speaking person in the room, yet Marcus was kind enough to translate when he addressed something complex. “Data Dude” is the code name for Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals. It is a product used with Visual Studio .NET to interact with SQL Server. When I talk about interaction I am talking about working with database design, creatingand maintaining tables, views, stored procs, and the usual Enterprise Manager like tasks. But “Data Dude” is much more. It is a package that helps you create test data, create test scenarios and run the tests, and take schema changes from your design database to a test and/or production database. This indeed looks like a cool product, but also sounds expensive and so far it is one demo. It does what developers currently are using two or three tools to accomplish. Still, it is not even a v1.0 product yet (although it is expected later this month). This product has already gone through seven CTPs. I was able to follow Marcus’ session quite easily based on the demos and technical buzzwords he was using as he was talking. He even handled the answers to my questions in English. Class guy, and super session.

The last regular presentation of the conference I attended is Beth Massi’s Introduction to LINQ. I mentioned the rest of my sessions were foreign language sessions: well .NET is a foreign language to me {g}. I last saw LINQ in its infancy more than a year ago during the MVP Summit in September 2005. It seems much improved, even though Beth was demonstrating from the May 2006 CTP (which is the most current). Beth showed us numerous examples of how LINQ works with objects, SQL Server, and XML. This is not all at once, this is running LINQ queries (via a syntax that is SQL-Select like) and getting back an object with the data. Interesting prospect and interesting approach, and definitely a little foreign to those of us use to working with cursors. It is way different than working with ADO and seems to require less code. I believe this has a way to go, but it definitely is coming from Microsoft. The Fox Team is highly involved in this effort. One language, one approach to querying different types of data. I asked some serious question about this technology. The first is: are there any bleeding edge .NET developers wrapping the LINQ technology into business objects? Beth is not aware of any at this time as the technology is too new and is still developing. The other question was: does she see VFP developers using .NET interop to using LINQ based objects? I personally don’t see developers using this for the SQL Server data access as we already have techniques, but I can see us working with XML a little easier in the future and possibly integrating with other .NET solutions. Beth was very good.

Rainer closed out the conference with a 75 minute closing session filled with humor, prize giveaways, and a peek into the future. He has already scheduled this conference for next year and is very hopeful for surprises from Microsoft with respect to VFP and future versions of VFP.

The speaker dinner was fun. The food was exotic. The discussions left me in tears and pulled muscles in my abdomen from all the laughter. I ate with Alan Griver, Beth Massi, Doug Hennig, Craig Berntson, and Jeff Zinnert. We had a great time. We finished up about 12:30ish and then headed to the hotel watering hole where I had my annual beer (see Jeff, no way for you to blackmail me).

This was a great conference in just about ever aspect. Rainer is very experienced at doing this. He brings in great speakers, has picked great topics, has a perfect facility and food, and terrific support from his friends and employees. Everything went like clockwork. I really hope he invites me back again next year.

I now have to get ready for my return on Monday back to reality. Actually, thanks to the wireless here at the conference center and Skype I was able to address client calls and keep my business running while I was 4500 miles from home (as the plane flies). Those Fox developers in Europe should seriously consider this conference, and those in other countries including the USA should consider a trip to Germany next year for one of the best conferences on the planet.

Thanks for reading.

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