PDC 2008 – afterthoughts

So, here we are – PDC 2008 has just finished (yesterday, that is). Here is my take on what PDC 2008 was all about.

Surely, Azure – Windows in the cloud was the main attraction, and certainly interesting and a bit exciting. We will take a closer look at the technology and what this will mean for our customers when we get back home – but there is definitely something there. The ability to take an existing service or web application and scale into the cloud does sound intriguing. With the possibility to also have other services to rely on in the cloud, such as the SQL services or SharePoint services, Microsoft has a good offering and should be very competitive with their platform.

The second thing that got a lot of attention was the “Oslo” project. “Oslo” has been something I’ve been somewhat following a bit since the first time I heard about it, but have had trouble sort of grasping what it was all about. Every time someone talked about it, it sounded different than from the previous talk someone had. It seems that they’ve held the cards close to their chest on this one. What we got presented at PDC sounds very interesting; a language for creating DSLs. Sure, Microsoft has tried this before with Microsoft DSL – but this initiative seems more mature than their previous attempts.

One of the things that I was really keen to learn more about, was .net 4.0 and C# 4.0. With the introduction of the static type called dynamic, they are opening up a new ballgame to the world of static programming languages. I’m one of the guys who’ve always been very fond of static programming languages, but has started to see the true benefits of dynamic languages. With the introduction of dynamic in C#, there is a whole bunch of things one can do that you couldn’t before – not only work with dynamic languages, but more common scenarios as well. For one, you could “consume” services at runtime, without the need for generating proxies that change over time and could potentially cause source control headaches. Also Anders Hejlsberg talked about the introduction of named parameters and default values, something that Visual Basic has had for years. Coming from a C++ world, I missed the possibility to have default values in C# for method parameters. The combination of default values and named parameters, the language will get really powerful. I’m embracing this completely.

Another subject that got a lot of attention at PDC, was not surprisingly; Silverlight 2. Microsoft released during PDC the Silverlight Control Toolkit with the full source code and test harness. There were quite a few really good talks on Silverlight 2 and I found this content to be very satisfying.

Last but not least; Windows 7. This subject needs no introduction nor explanation. 🙂

My take on PDC was that there was a lot of good sessions, and I attended some bad ones (without going into details here; my survey responses will reflect this). One thing I felt was a bit of a target miss, was some of the keynotes. They felt like marketing rather than targeting developers. I walked out on most of them, actually. My whole reason for being at PDC was to get good developer content, so this was a bit of a miss for me, I think.

All in all Microsoft delivered quite a bit of goods, some relevant for myself and my work and some not – but you can’t please everyone. They showed off what their focus is the next years.  

Its been a really busy week, my initial plan was to blog and twit about PDC all week – but got caught up with reality of focusing in on sessions and social activity during the nights. Seeing that Microsoft has all the material up on their site, you should just jump over there and start consuming all the video feeds.

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