Yesterday I attended the MSDN Developer Conference in Minneapolis. This Microsoft conference is advertised as "the best of the PDC in your own backyard". Since I didn't attend the PDC, I don't know if it was the "best" but certainly there was content of interest.
The conference got off to a somewhat rocky start as the weather here had been poor the previous night and the traffic was not moving as quickly as desired. The result was that they started a half hour late to give more attendees an opportunity to arrive (they estimated that half the expected attendees were delayed by the weather.) Then the keynote went an additional 15 minutes over time, so from the beginning we were 45 minutes late! They tried to make up the time throughout the day, but as you can imagine it contributed to some confusion.
I was a bit disappointed by the keynote. The speaker touched on Windows Azure, Mesh Services, and Windows 7, but I found little in this talk that applied to me or my current customers. The Wikipedia Explorer demo was cool, but again probably not something of immediate use to me. Windows Azure is interesting, but it feels to me to be at least a couple of years out for adoption, and even then I'm not sure how many organizations have a need/desire to be "in the cloud".
The session on ASP.NET and jQuery was probably the most immediately useful of all the sessions. I wasn't very familiar with jQuery, but this session gave me some good ideas on how I might find it useful in my applications. It was interesting to me that Microsoft will not only be including it, they will also be providing full support for it. Something I need to investigate is if the use of jQuery will have an impact on DES or if they will play nice together.
I attended the Oslo session without knowing what Oslo was or if I cared. The intent of Oslo is to support a "model-driven approach" to software development. Oslo use seems even more far away than Windows Azure - I suspect that it will take a long, long time before this becomes a reality for real-world applications and not just theoretical and academic exercises. Still, the demos and discussion was interesting.
The session on Visual Studio Team System 2010 contained the most impressive demo (to me) of the entire day. The presenter showed how a bug stored in the issue tracking system could include both a video the tester reproducing the bug AND a debug trace file which the developer could attach to and use to debug the issue encountered (even though the issue occurred on a different machine for a different user at a different date/time.) I think he called this "historical debug trace" and while it was not completely wired up the concept was quite impressive. It was the first time I really thought that team system might have value for some of my customers. Unfortunately it is probably still too expensive for it to be cost effective for many of my customers.
The last session of the day for me was on ASP.NET 4.0. The big surprise for me in that session was that there were no big surprises. Almost everything he talked about was stuff I had already seen and heard about (MVC, jQuery, Dynamic Data, etc.) The two things I learned were: 1) VS2010 will support targeting ASP.NET 2.0 (as well as newer versions), and 2) we will have more control over client IDs. Both of these are useful things to know, but certainly not "big" things.
Overall it was a useful event and I'm glad I went. But I'm more glad that I didn't spend thousands of dollars trying to attend the full PDC.