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There are a number of local and region conferences that happen on technologies. Over the years, many of these conferences have evolved and changed. Around a decade ago, I attended a multi-track, multisession conference out in Scottsdale, Arizona that had several hundred people coming together to talk about topics such as Active Server Pages. At the time, a friend of mine was presenting a couple of tracks, so it was a chance to see how he did while getting to a glimpse into the hot technologies of the day. It was a low-key event, but full of great technology. This was the early life of the DevConnections conferences.
Over the decades many conferences have come and gone. The conference I attended back then evolved, and today has become one of the powerhouse technical conferences covering Microsoft technologies while remaining independent of Microsoft. When I attended over a decade ago, the attendance was measured in hundreds. Today it is measured in thousands.
It has also grown in the number of simultaneous conferences that occur together, each having their own tracks and sessions. These include Visual Studio Connections, ASP.Net Connections, SQLServer Connections, Silverlight Connections, Cloud Connections, HTML5 Connections, and so on. With nine different focal points, there tends to be topic coverage of interest to developers and IT pros alike.
While Connections happen in several locations, the biggest event seems to happen in Las Vegas. For many years it has been at Mandalay Bay on the Strip. This year's Vegas show is just two weeks away and at the MGM Grand. Not only is it big in size, but it is also big in who it draws for speakers.
A good sign that the conference will be worthwhile for Microsoft developers is indicated who is presenting the keynotes. Scott Guthrie, while having become more "corporate" over the years, still provides great presentations with demos that are almost always relevant. I always appreciate presentations by Jason Zander, VP of Visual Studio. It is great this year to see Scott Hanselman presenting a keynote on Tuesday as well. Between ScottGu, Jason, and Scott H. it is a pretty safe bet you'll walk away knowing where Microsoft is positioning development.
There is a lot happening in the developer space. We are in a transition. With the recent release of the Windows 8 Community Preview and Visual Studio 11 beta tools combined with new releases of ASP being developed, there will hopefully be some insights into what is happening in the development front for future applications. Additionally, with the topics such as the Cloud, HTML5, and big data being predicted as key topics for 2012, there is a lot to learn. The session lists for the conference seem to indicate that there is a lot of information to be provided on these topics as well.
Microsoft didn't do a MIX conference this year. If you are in need of a spring conference with lots of well-know speakers and great content, then it seems like Vegas is the place to be the end of March. If you happen to be going, let me know! In fact, if you do go, feel free to comment on this article any of the cool things you learn or see while there!
For more information on the DevConnections conferences, check out their web site at www.devconnections.com. This year's Las Vegas conference is from March 26th through the 29th.
As a special shout out, if you are into SharePoint, you'll want to consider the pre or post workshops being done by Rob Bogue! He's presenting both an introductory as well as a professional developer SharePoint session!
Note: This site has done business with some of the organizations mentioned in this article.