MIX10 Roundup: Developer's Overview


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Ian Smith from irascian.co.uk presents an overview of the recent MIX10 conference in Las Vegas as seen from a developer's perspective.

This presentation was given on 24th March 2010 at the EMC Consulting office in London.

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  • Like most Vegas hotels the complex is the size of a not-very-small city! This means that walking from your hotel room to the conference centre means you get great exercise. The complex is so vast that a tram runs from this hotel to its neighbour The Luxor.This slide is a bit of a cheat (my room wasn’t quite as well furnished as the room shown, and the photo of Blackburn’s room is from an Emirate palace) If anything Blackburn’s room was even more pretentious – oops, sorry I mean ostentatious. Blackburn got his upgrade because he booked privately (ie this was not one of the “prize” upgrades that MIX offered, although suspect they were of similar ‘over the top’ standard). Smith was offered the same upgrade – but at a cost of USD1000 (wasn’t clear if this was per night or for the duration as, being a cheapskate, he declined anything that wasn’t free).
  • Don’t read out the 5th bullet point. See if it gets a laugh from those who spot it!
  • The “elephant in the room” on this list is the much-rumoured “free early version of Windows Phone”. Microsoft created a rod for its own back with the PDC tablet laptop giveaway, setting expectations way too high. It was only late on the pre-conference workshop day, when rumour tweets had got way out of hand, that they made an “official” tweet that this would not be the case!Trying to get the truth behind the rumour vs reality has proved virtually impossible, and the Microsoft story kept changing. Whenever I was given an explanation that seemed valid I was told it was “in confidence”. Lies, damned lies and “in confidence” clarification!
  • 400 people in the Silverlight Bootcamp make this very lucrative for the organisers! Quality varied enormously if my two workshops were typical. The Silverlight Bootcamp was superb (as you’d expect from Taulty) and miraculously managed to assume zero knowledge of subject at start, whilst giving tips and tricks that even the experts were surprised by. The ASP.NET MVC less so, mainly because the speaker assumed everyone would have PCs to follow along (3 had laptops that weren’t suffering from loss of battery power) and seemed to think asking the audience every couple of minutes if the contents were “too basic” helped. I counted 8 people leaving in first 20 minutes. I left at first break as the session seemed to be going nowhere (I’m told it improved after the break) Unfortunate!All workshops were video’ed but currently the official stance is that they will not be made generally available the same way sessions are. This is controversial and community fought to get this changed last year (and succeeded!) Microsoft are on a bit of a “can’t win” here. If they make them available those who paid $300 won’t be happy. If they don’t community will whinge about it. Personally I think Silverlight needs all the support it can get to educate developers and a way needs to be found to get a version of Taulty/Papa’s bootcamp out to the masses. It’s the best introductory training I’ve seen!
  • Too many sessions for me to count (or you to watch!) This is Mike Swanson’s Top 20 based on on-site attendee feedback rankings. You should probably use this as your guide to which videos to view first.Sessions varied enormously in quality. General feedback was that too many sessions were “100” (beginner) level or just plain poor. This year community voted on external speaker sessions but could only pick 10 out of more than 100. It’s disappointing that there aren’t more showing in this list and surprising that not one of the Windows Phone sessions is shown here (I only attended one Phone session, which I thought was good, although not the “Deep Dive” the title implied, and heard mostly good feedback about them so the lack of visibility may be down to sheer number of attendees and a diverse audience).Voting mechanism for non-MS speakers is just plain wrong when speakers are then allowed to completely change the subject they decide to talk about, unless participants are being asked to vote for “rock star” status rather than subject matter. If that’s the case it should be made clear when voting!Personally, I thought Laurent Bugnion’s MVVM talk deserverd a Top 20 place. The only Top 10 session I attended in person was Dynamic Layout and transitions for Silverlight 4” and I’d agree it deserves its place in the Top 10. A mini-session, this was a great example of a well-executed use of the timeslot and presentation of its subject matter.
  • Opinion on the official parties varied wildly. Lots of criticism of them being “too noisy”. Would imagine they’re a nightmare if you’re on your own. I had a great time at the main one.Monday was party “light” (very little on offer, other than private parties that even if you found out about them were impossible to blag your way into, at least if my experience with Silverlight MIXers was typical). Twitter is your friend. An amazing number of informal parties sprung up at very short notice on Twitter from those with upgraded suites and those just without invites elsewhere.Tuesday was crazy – I counted 10 party invites and had to turn down the Umbraco dinner party that I “won” a hotly contested place to. Awkward!
  • The REAL reason why you should attend “in person” rather than virtually.This is my “In order of success” list. YMMV. The Parties are very “hit and miss” and in my case it probably helped that (a) I went to the right parties (b) People knew me or I knew them ahead of time. “The Commons” was best place to meet “rock stars” like Pete Brown, Glenn Block, Brad Abrams etc who would twitter the times they would be there and available. Meal times are an opportunity, although crazily, most folks just seem to hang out with people they already know/work with. Lots of people on their own and ignored by the majority – approach them – you might be surprised at the conversations that result.“Meet the Experts” was my worst networking opportunity. Far too full of “clingy” fan boys (rock star syndrome!) which made it hard (impossible) to get to ask questions. Sat at one quiet table with three Microsofties – only to find they weren’t there to be experts, but to try and meet experts themselves.
  • The Developer/Designer “mix” focus of this event was very wrong. Designers were rightly vocal about the fact that the event seems to be slipping back into being just another Microsoft conference. What differentiated it when it started seems to have gone missing. Microsoft need to address this. With 4000 people it can no longer be ‘intimate’ but it could at least be more “open”. As it is this was very much PDC part 2 rather than MIX – a point many of the organisers seemed to agree with, but which appeared to be something outside their control (Microsoft management, politics, who knows?)
  • None of this matters if your boss is paying – just go!“Exclusive” developer support for Windows Phone was the headline item when trying to persuade delegates to attend the conference. As of Tuesday evening after the conference this had not been delivered, nor had any explanation as to why it hadn’t been delivered been forthcoming. There HAS been vague talk of a post-conference email having details but I am reminded of the promises of “extra’s” made to those who paid extra money for Vista Ultimate! If you’re paying for yourself.... Decide the worth of each of the bullet points and do the calculations accordingly. Don’t underestimate the time to travel, get over jetlag and lost time for bad sessions with long distances between different session rooms – none of which are a problem with the available at no cost video streams that are put online within 24 hours of a session being delivered. A cheap holiday in Cyprus where you attend virtually might be much better value (guess what I’m planning to do next year!)
  • Think this is the first time Microsoft haven’t announced the dates and venue for the next year’s MIX event
  • MIX10 Roundup: Developer's Overview

    1. 1.
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    3. 3. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 2/11<br />
    4. 4. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 3/11<br />
    5. 5. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 4/11<br />
    6. 6. çBonus Swag!<br />Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 5/11<br />
    7. 7. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 6/11<br />
    8. 8. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 7/11<br />
    9. 9. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 8/11<br />
    10. 10. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 9/11<br />
    11. 11. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 10/11<br />
    12. 12. Ian Smith, Irascian Ltd. 11/11<br />