Friday, August 10, 2007

Tech.Ed 2007 Gold Coast Day 1

So Tech.Ed 2007 came and went on the sunny Gold Coast and over the next few days I'm going to be sleeping and blogging (not necessarily at the same time). Here's my recap of the first day:

The keynote speech was given by Michael Twigg, the Production Resource Manager of AnimalLogic, an Australian animation firm that makes special effects for movies, TV, and commercials. Some of their achievements include effects work for the Matrix (the ghost twins), 300, and Happy Feet. It was an interesting example of IT in an industry I'm not familiar with.

They can spend months designing a shot that will be used for two seconds. As one example Michael showed us how many levels of matte painting, 3d effects, and live shots that all had to be pasted together to create a two-second shot of Xerxes' army crossing into Greece for the movie 300.

We also learned the surprising fact that all their servers run Windows NT! Well, at least he didn't mention the "L" word (no, not that "L" Word - the other one).

The first seminar I attended was "Lap Around Visual Studio 2008" by Tony Goodhew, the Product Planner for the product. Tony described the major goals of the product version, namely language advances, web development improvements, and increased support for AJAX and JavaScript, and CSS.

He covered some of the neat new features in VS2008, including framework targeting, nested master pages, the CSS property windows, split pane view, and LINQ to SQL.

Other things he touched  on:

  • Hitting CTRL while using IntelliSense makes it translucent so you can see the code that is below it.  Highlighting code while hitting CTRL-K-D formats it, which  is useful when you are pasting XML or HTML fragments into a page.
  • Tony also talked about XAML and how Visual Studio is the developer's platform, while XAML presentation can be handled in the new Expression suite that Microsoft has released. XAML separates the concerns so both roles can work in parallel and neither overwrites the other's work.
  • There is a service editor in Visual Studio for WCF projects. Not sure if this is included in the previous WCF extensions toolset but it looks quite useful.
  • There is support for local data caching using the SCCE-based local data cache. This is intended to help provide a standard solution for applications that may have infrequent access to a network. Tony demonstrated how to setup the wizard driven cache and then showed an app connecting and disconnecting to prove that the local cache would synchronize properly.

"Project 2007 Timesheets and Reporting" was the next seminar on the list. It covered the various options for using Project 2007 and Project Server 2007 for creating timesheets, assigning and tracking human resources, and presenting and reporting on this information. 

As expected, the new version of Project Server 2007 uses WSS 3 project sites to host Project actions, plans, and reports.

When an employee logs in to the Project Timesheet site, he is presented with a series of links, grouped into "Tasks", "Timesheets", "Approvals", "Status Reports", and "Issues and Risks".

Each employee has a "My Timesheets" view, which seems to be a list using a custom content type. The content type allows him to create a new Timesheet entry, and the items in the entry can be divided up into project- and non project-related tasks (for administration, research and development, or other purposes). There is also the obvious notion of billable and non-billable hours.

Project Managers and Timesheet Managers get top-level approval and rollups of all the timesheets and project plans, as you would expect from such a tool.

Managers can also view predictions of future timesheet entries, for instance when an employee submits a request for leave. On the My Timesheets screen there is a handy little icon that shows whether a vacation request has been approved or not (it looks like a KPI).

Next I attended a seminar called "Web 2.0 Programming", by Microsoft's Director of Web 2.0, Michael Platt. I found this to be so insightful and it dovetails so well with a couple of other seminars that I am going to blog about those separately.

After the last seminar of the day (using Dynamics CRM 4 for handling events - basically hooking CRM up into your business platforms) I headed off to the K2 Underground Party, hosted at Onyx just down the road from the Conference Centre.

At the party I finally had a chance to meet some of the people whose names I have heard or blogs I enjoy reading. I met Jey Srikantha and Chris O'Connor, aka "Grumpy Wookie" (who turns out to be a fellow Ontarian by birth!) , and I also met Anthony Petro who I had previously interviewed and Chris who worked on programming K2 against the SharePoint object model (I'm sure he enjoyed it!).

Some of my colleagues from Dimension Data - Jeremy Hancock, Ben Johnston, and Alan Coulter - were also there, and we caught up with some former team members, amongst them K2 Insider Bruce Swiegers (who blogs at and Ian Newark, who is a Business Development Manager at K2 now.

It was a good group of people and lots of fun. Best of luck to K2 with their product; it seems like they are seeing a lot of interest from the dev community so far. I even saw one Tech.Ed attendee covered head to toe with K2 Underground stickers - I guess you could say he is committed (or should be)!


  1. Was great to meet up with other dev'ers - I'd totally under-estimated the networking aspects of the event.

    I went to the Tony Goodhew session too - was a great quick-lap event - and that Web 2.0 was a good "thinking" style session.

    And - as for the K2 party - that was great fun ! (even walked home along the beach).

    Catchya later...

  2. Yes, I guess when you stuff so many developer types into a building there is a definite vibe and lots of undercurrents of ideas flowing around.


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