Note: I was working on this at the Summit and then it got lost in the draft folder, so unfashionably late here are a few comments about the event.
I flew out from Orlando on Sunday, had a reasonably pleasant flight to Dallas, actually arriving 15 minutes early. So far so good...except, there was still a plane at the gate, so we had to wait. And wait some more. Turns out that the plane at the gate had a mechanical problem, so they had to offload the passengers, and then before moving it, add 2 tons of fuel. Probably more detail than we needed, but interesting. Why would fuel need to be added? I'm assuming for balance, but you'd think that you'd only care about side to side balance, and how does taking passengers off change that? Sorry, I'm always curious!
Onward to Seattle and very nice weather until about an hour out, then it got gray and rainy. Met Steve Jones at the airport, took a town car ($45 if you're wondering, nicer than a taxi at the same price) in to the Sheraton, checked in, and then checked in at the Summit over at the convention center. Normal conference registration process, quick and easy. Then off to get coffee, and started running into people we knew, starting with Rick Heiges, and then Arvin Meyer. Had coffee, then back to the convention center to get ready for the reception, setting up at a table near our MVP Lead Alison Brooks to use our normal networking plan. It worked, but we made the tactical mistake of picking a high top table instead of one of the lower chairs. High table was easier to see and be seen, but we had the only 2 high chairs, so we had a lot of people standing up.
The reception went well, lots of SQL people present, and I'm sure I've missed some, but it included Robert Cain, Jessica Moss, Bill Graziano, Rushabh Mehta, Allen White, Alexander Kuznetsov, Brad McGehee, Paul Nielsen, Pinal Dave, Simon Sabin, Itzik Ben-Gan, Jung Sun Kim, Roy Harvey, Ron Talmadge, Greg Linwood, Peter Ward, Arnie Rowland, Michael Coles, Chuck Heinzelman, Plamen Ratchev, Rodney Landrum. And though not a SQL guy, our Florida developer evangelist Joe Healy. It was just nice to sit and catch up with people I knew and meet people that I knew online but not in person.
On Monday we all rode buses to the MS Campus and headed off to the rooms for presentations by various parts of the SQL dev team. As much as I hate to say it, I can't tell you the session titles or even the presenters! I can tell you it was a nice facility, and that I saw a few nice techniques for providing feedback about what ideas/features were the most interesting. One was a just a simple raise your hand if you (really want this feature, find it interesting, don't care) so they could get a quick count, another was based on having a budget of x points, assign points to various ideas indicating which ones you would fund with your budget.
Monday night we had dinner with all the SQL MVP's present in Bellevue and again, it was a nice time to relax and talk. Not so much networking at this point, more just relaxing and talking about whatever. Repeat for Tuesday. Tuesday night was a social gathering downtown. See Steve's blog for more details on that!
It was a good event, and I suspect a great event in a year just before a new version release. It was definitely worth the time and expense to make the trip the first time just to see it all happen and meet new people, but it is a long trip for me and don't know if I'd want to make it every year. One thing you can easily tell is that MVP's are definitely important to MS. Not just kinda important, they clearly have a special place within and across MS, and MS spends a lot of time and money to facilitate that. Imagine you've built a product and you can find 10 or a 100 people that really love your product, use it every day, and spend time showing how it could be better - wouldn't that be useful? Then institutionalize it so that every product has that kind of support, and you start to see why MS tries so hard to maintain the MVP program.