Generally I don't look forward to giving up an entire Saturday at work. However, today's Dallas Code Camp was an exception. I had been looking forward to this event all week long, and was not disappointed.
I arrived a bit early and expected to be one of only a few people there. However, I was surprised to find people already streaming into the Microsoft facility in Las Colinas. By 9:00am, the scheduled start time for the opening general session, the lobby of the building was full of attendees with dozens more streaming in. The logistics of the registration process were a bit cumbersome, so when everyone got through we started about 15 minutes late.
After the opening session (during which we found out that there was no Internet access - a big disappointment), attendees split up to attend their choice of six topics per session. For this first breakout event, I sat in on Rob Howard's talk about Community Server. I had a little experience with this product, having downloaded it during the discovery phase of a couple of projects I've worked on. Rob was well-spoken as always, and presented a well-designed and stable product in the 2.0 version. One huge positive for this event was that Rob announced that all attendees would receive a free copy of CodeSmith Professional, a $399 value (thanks Rob).
The second session of the day presented a difficult decision. Offerings includes a session on CLR internals, a chalk talk about converting ASP.NET from 1.1 to 2.0, and a unique discussion on the CLR in SQL Server. However, since I'm already using this product on several projects, I decided to sit in on Jason Kergosien's talk about using DotNetNuke for practical business applications. This session was well prepared and presented effectively, and Jason did a good job of evangelizing those who were curious about DotNetNuke.
Lunch from Subway was provided, and there was plenty of it. Even the lunch period provided two different options - a Q&A panel comprised of several of the presenters, or a talk about becoming an independent software vendor. I sat in on the former, though afterward I wished I had gone to the latter.
After lunch, I sat in on an obfuscation chalk talk with Cory Smith. In my environment, I don't generally distribute software so I had never used any obfuscation tools. It was useful to me though, since I hope someday to work for (or become) an ISV, to hear tales from the trenches of those who must obfuscate to survive.
For the last session of the day, I sat in on a talk by Mathew Roberts. The topic was how to create a reusable script engine using VB.NET. Though the implementation was interesting and the subject was well presented, I can't imagine - at least in my projects - a legitimate use for this.
The closing general session included lots of giveaways, including .NET programming books, Visual Studio 2005, an XBox 360, and a barbecue grill. Though I didn't win anything, it was a lot of fun.
The Dallas Code Camp of 2006 was a great success. Volunteers were plentiful and helpful, and the presenters were well above par. For the most part, everything was well organized and planned. Again, the only complaints I have are the lack of Internet access and the registration chaos, though I"m sure that these issues will be ironed out by the next event. For a developer like me, working solo and in relative isolation, being able to confer with other .NET programmers is always a welcome change. I'll be a vocal champion for any future Code Camp events in or around the Dallas area.