DevLink 2009 – Good News Everyone!

17 Aug


DevLink 2009 has come and gone. Thanks to the hard work of John Kellar and crew it was once again awesome.  John and DevLink were the inspiration for CodeStock, and this year managing a 3 Day event with 730+ attendees proved he’s still the master and I’m the padawan apprentice (whether I’m following the light or dark side is a up for debate).

The conference overall ran smoothly.  I would have liked Open Spaces to run all three days instead of just two, but I’m an Open Spaces junkie.  On the second day the caterers, McAlister’s Deli, brought only 400 boxed lunches and had to go back to get the rest.  I still find this amusing and I’m smiling as I write this, being a conference organizer I know what it’s like to have a vendor drop the ball (at CodeStock, the printers forgot to put logos on the back and I found out the day before the conference).  To be clear, it’s amusing when it happens to someone else, not to you.

I had the opportunity to record a great episode of Feel The Func with Jennifer Marsman and Brian H. Prince, discussing Azure, Give Camps, and women in technology.  Jennifer and Brian are two very passionate Microsoft evangelists, and I’m lucky to be located in their region.  For Azure, we focused more on the impact and befits of the technology, rather than the implementation to cover the “business side” of things – though a podcast of 3 developers can’t help but get into some implementation.

My talk, Lucene.Net: Search We Can Believe In, went much better than in Atlanta.  I completely rebuilt the session around the concepts and usage, and focused less on the code – the opposite of the original talk which took a “code first” approach.  More proof that the talk fits the topic, not the other way around.

There were several ideas and takeaways I have from the conference, which I keep in a list:

  • Speaking with Alan Stevens and others, an idea emerged for a variation of a GiveCamp where developers gather for a weekend, break into teams, select an open source project and then work on as many bugs / feature list items as they can.  FYI, it’s quite common when talking with Alan that ideas emerge – highly recommended.
  • I got a number of ideas for handling SIGs (special interest groups) inside of an established user group community.  From separate meeting nights to splitting the main meeting night into two parts (main time and SIG breakout time).  What was common among all the community that have started SIGs was that both parts – the main group and the SIG – grew.  It’s not a zero sum game.
  • I was recommend to check out by more than one person.  Anything that makes conference registration better is a win.  Josh Holmes also described his favorite idea – a “tag cloud” name badge – that we will look into for CodeStock 2010.
  • I got a good, hands on demo of Live Mesh and it’s features by Jeff Blankenburg.  Some of the features of Live Mesh can solve some of the issues we have at FuncWorks sharing designer assets (developer use source controls, but designer tools rarely support any form of source control or content sharing).
  • Sara Ford, Project Manager for CodePlex, held an excellent open space on being an Agile project manager.  I was impressed to learn the CodePlex source code is managed on an internal CodePlex site – the ultimate in dog fooding.  Some key takeaways for me was it’s easier to add tasks to an interation than remove, so start off lean and that capacity planning is not needed and generally causes more problems than it solves.
  • In a lunch chat with Darrel Hawley I learned of the The Philosophy Podcast which covers classic philosophic works and also the meanings and interpretations behind the works and authors.  Looking forward to adding this to the podcast rotation.
  • In the same lunch, I got the idea that maybe there is a talk I can give based on the book Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software.  This came up because of a joke at a party involving little endian (yes, there were only geeks at the party, why do you ask?) and wondering how many developers would be interested in hearing about the history of code.
  • Last, while I didn’t manage to record a second podcast with Brian H. Prince on XNA and Creators Club, I got a good deal of feedback on some of our (FuncWorks) current games in development that lead to a much better interface revamp in one game.  More on this as I blog more on my time in XNA and 3D.

Looking at the above, you see the great value I had in attending DevLink 2009.  The big shows might be great for seeing what a vendor has coming out next and some condensed training, but you can’t beat the value of the community conference!

(ed: The main lobby was named “The Farnsworth Lobby” which should explain the title).

  • I thought the same thing when I saw the name of the lobby.