It is hard to believe that the TechEd 97 denim jacket I received and still wear is now 15 years old. The jacket has lasted longer than a lot of technical topics and acronyms that get tossed out at these big Microsoft conferences. Terms such as SOAP, DNA, and Hailstorm have come and have mostly gone, but TechEd conferences continue to happen each year. While the terms I mentioned are mostly dead, other terms such as .NET, SharePoint, and C# continue to get strong play. With TechEd 2012, I expect we’ll see more about topics such as Windows RT, Azure, and Windows 8. We’ll have to see what the survival rate is for these and other terms that get bantered about.
Tech Ed is really more of an IT Pro conference; however, I go looking for topics of interest to developers. I’ve never been disappointed at the information, training, and general networking that I am able find. It is interesting that over the years, the value of TechEd has remained relatively strong. Of course, while there are hundreds of great sessions at TechEd, that’s not where the value is. Face it, some of the sessions will be online and most of the information will be online soon after as well.
The Value of Microsoft TechEd
The real value in a conference like Microsoft TechEd is in the networking and the chance to meet with people face-to-face. Where else outside of the Redmond, Washington area will you find as many product people from Microsoft in one place? Where else will you have the chance to get a one-on-one demo from a Microsoft product person or a third party component maker? Where else will you find dozens of user group leaders, and other community leaders all in one place? While you can raise a question in online discussion forums, at a live conference, you can ask the question and get a live dialog around the issue. You can see reactions, gauge interest, and dig deeper, faster. It is the informal discussions, the questions, the networking that makes a conference like TechEd worth attending each year.
With Windows 8 about to be released, it will be interesting to see what the vibe is at TechEd this year. Will people be buzzing about the opportunities like they did when .NET was announced? Or will there be the stoic response that topics like HailStorm drew at Microsoft’s developer conference many years ago? Seeing how people react at events is much more telling than some of the buzz you can see online.
Birds of a Feather (BoF) Sessions at TechEd
It has also been interesting being a part of the Birds of a Feather (BoF) events over the years. These events at TechEd have been hosted by INETA. Over time they have evolved from being something that was tucked into rooms at the far end of the convention center that required you had to scout out and find, to where they are today. The BoF events have evolved to being listed in the schedule, given rooms with a better location, and even streamed live online. Last year in Atlanta the BoFs were done in rooms overlooking the exhibit hall. They had really evolved to being first class sessions within the conference.
This year I’ll be facilitating just one BoF session that happens on Monday (June 11th) at 1:15 (Eastern). This session is titled See Me, Hear Me, Touch Me: Using Touch, Voice, and Motion in Apps. A BoF is not a presentation, but rather a discussion. As such, this is open to anyone to participate and add their views, perspectives, or even their questions. Here is the description of this session:
We’ve had the ability to use voice input for years. Windows 7 brought us touch and Kinect for Windows brings us motion. Why are so few apps using these input methods? Have you started to use one of these input methods, only to go back to the keyboard and mouse? Let's face it; these input methods are becoming more pervasive (and even invasive). Do you have a perspective on developer and user adoption? Come share your ideas and hear what others are doing to implement voice, touch, and motion to add value to the user interface. Join us for this open discussion and invite your friends to participate via Twitter using #bof12.
These BoF sessions are going to be streamed live, so you can even participate if you don’t attend TechEd. You can tweet questions and comments as well as watch the streamed video from the BoF room. I’ve included the link above, so feel free to join my session or any of the others.
If you plan on going to TechEd, drop me an email. More importantly, if you are going, take some time to jot down anything interesting you see or learn and either post it in the comments here, in the forums, or write it up as an article for the site. If you are going, let us know!