Just when you thought everything was said about the PDC, I thought I’d add a couple of notes from my perspective. I’d planned on doing this earlier, but am still recovering from all the parties and had to wait for the Mike Mathis to upload the best picture of the PDC, which is below. Fellow Wintellectual Bethany Jones and I are pointing at something very familiar to .NET developers the world over. We had just done the Simpson’s Ride at Universal Studios and were looking at the photos they take of you on the ride, when BAM, we were looking at a NullReferenceException! Even at a party, I can’t get away from my job! Sadly, there wasn’t a keyboard on the kiosk or I would have debugged it for them.
As always, we had quite a blast at the PDC and got to talk to a ton of folks at the Wintellect booth. I enjoyed finally meeting Keith Hill to thank him for the Power Shell Community Extensions, which I use every single day. Also, I was thrilled to meet Greg Duncan, the guy who reads a billion developer blogs so you don’t have to! Greg has saved us all countless hours by sifting through all the stuff going on in our world and posting the most important stuff. I also got to meet one of my heroes, Mario Hewardt, the co-author of Advanced Windows Debugging, the book I always wanted to write but am not smart enough to do. Now I just need to find Daniel Pravat, the other co-author.
As the PDC is always the place to be in our business, the booth traffic was fantastic. I had far more interesting conversations than I can count. Thanks a million to all of you that stopped by the booth because I enjoyed meeting all of you. Like past shows, we had the Wintellect Challenge to test your developer knowledge. In honor of Jeff Prosise’s pre con, the questions were all on SilverLight. If you got four correct, you got a t-shirt and if you got five out of five, you got the amazingly, super cool, make-all-your-friends-jealous, Willie the Wintellectual bobble head. Jeff did too good of a job in his pre con because we ran out of bobble heads by the end of the show. Next time we’ll make the questions harder!
On the first day, I wore my 1993 PDC polo shirt thinking it would establish my true geek credentials. Sadly, not many people noticed the shirt. However, those that did all were amazed I could still fit into a 15 year old shirt. Frankly, so was I! As I was looking around the PDC, I realized why almost no one recognized my shirt: most of the attendees were in first grade in 1993.
To me, the most exciting things announced at the PDC were, of course, the new stuff coming up from the Diagnostic team in Visual Studio 2010. The Historical Debugging will literally change the way you use the debugger! Being able to step forwards and backwards as you’re debugging mean it will be so much easier to solve problems. I also love all the cool stuff coming up in the profilers as well such as a much improved UI and Contention analysis where you’ll finally see when and where you’re grabbing all your synchronization locks. Oh, I almost forgot mention that now you can open up managed minidumps in Visual Studio 2010 and you’ll be able to see everything from variables to call stacks and everything in between. That will definitely cut down on much of the SOS pain.
As for the big announcements at the PDC, I thought Windows Azure will be very interesting going forward. The idea of letting someone else worry about the hardware and networking appeals greatly to me. I absolutely loved the federated ID integration so you can project your Active Directory user accounts and permissions into the cloud. As a small business owner, I would love to move some of our internal systems into Windows Azure as soon as possible. Of course, there are still a huge number of questions to be answered about what we can and can’t do when running under Windows Azure. I’ve seen no discussion of debugability and diagnostics and that concerns me a little. Its one thing to debug an Azure application on your desktop (would that be called the “Fog” environment?), we all know that most problems only occur in production.
I was joking around at the PDC that with Windows Azure, everyone will know exactly how much their bugs cost. I’m sure Microsoft will be charging for storage, CPU, and bandwidth. If you’ve got a runaway loop someplace, you’ll see that reflected directly in your billing. Being able to quantify exactly how much you’ll save with efficient coding will definitely help justify investments in code quality.
Of course, Windows 7 is big news and so far the impressions around the web seem to be quite positive. I thought it was brilliant when Steve Sinofsky demonstrated Windows 7 running well on a machine with 1GB RAM. That did more than anything to dispel any preconceptions about using Vista as the base for Windows 7. I’m also happy to see a lot of work going into the new user interface options which I believe will improve everyone’s productivity. Of course, I do have to say that after 15 years it’s really nice that we can finally rearrange the tabs in the taskbar!
A friend of mine who didn’t make it to the PDC asked me how I thought PDC 2008 compared to the previous ones I’d attended. I thought PDC 2008 was one of the more important ones. Like the 1993 PDC, you knew this is a time where Microsoft is betting the company on a new direction. Obviously Windows Azure and Oslo are game changers, but this also marks the third release of Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation Server. TFS is bringing testing and debugging tools we’ve only dreamed about before. It’s one heck of an exciting time to be a developer!
Save the date: PDC 2009 will be November 17-20, 2009 back in Los Angeles!