TechEd Europe 2013 Recap

June 29, 2013 0 Comments

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Well it’s the day after TechEd Europe 2013 and I have just finished up a day of sight seeing in Madrid. Let me just say that it is one beautiful city. Being a Texas boy, we simply don’t have cities with buildings this old and ornate. It is always quite interesting to see the blending of the old and the new. Sometimes it has an amazing effect and sometimes, well, maybe not so much.

The convention center, IFEMA, is a beautiful open air concept that allows you to get a little fresh air in between sessions. As with most TechEd’s, the facility was large enough it could easily take 10 to 15 minutes to get from place to place. However, the outdoor strolls made those enjoyable enough, even when it heated up during the day. I have to admit, I heard several comments about the heat in mid-day, but it was just another summer day for this Houston boy. At night it cooled off rather nicely, so every morning was spectacular. I do have to wonder about the 20+ ft tall gummy bears that stood guard at the entrance.

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I was fore warned about the late dinners you have in Madrid. It seems that 9 to 10pm is a great time for dinner. This seemed fairly strange and can mess with ya a bit if you are use to eating several hours earlier in the day. However, I soon found out the sun didn’t set until 10pm, so it was really just the end of the day here in Madrid and that made a lot more sense. Go figure. Food in a different country is always interesting. We found some really fantastic food and some that I can only call “interesting”. Again, being a Texas boy, my limited Spanish is all Mexican Spanish. It seems there are some differences between Spain and Mexico. Let’s just say I learned a lot about the word tortilla and its different implementations in different parts of the world.

Spain has some amazing wines to enjoy and we might have tried one or two. The thing I found humorous is that almost every place you went into only had one type of beer. So you could easily simply ask for a “cervesa” and be ok. That’s a far cry from some of the large beer gardens we have in the States with over 100 types of beer on tap.

Over all I truly enjoyed my trip to Spain and appreciate all of the patience shown to us non-Spanish speaking geeks. But this is a recap on TechEd and not a travel post. So on to the geeky stuff.

TechEd always has around a 75/25 split of IT and developers. It’s arguable that this year it was a little lighter on the developer side. However, between all of the great things going on with Azure, the Windows Phone platform, and the release of the Windows 8.1 preview at Build this week, there was a lot of excitement in the developer community. That’s not to say there wasn’t any on the IT side, but most of my interactions were with the developer community.

There was nothing new released this week, and I’ll save the new Windows 8.1 stuff for future posts. The attendees were given a summary of some of the new 8.1 features from Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager for the Windows UI Platform team. In fact, Joe hung around Ask the Experts and gave some great insight on some of the decisions and challenges that the UI team faced when dealing with feature requests.

I was asked at TechEd North America, and again this week, about what was the best way to get the most of your TechEd experience. And I think the answer to that is simple: “Take advantage of the conversations”. Now as a speaker, of course I want you to come to my session. In fact, if you want to stop by just to give me a glowing evaluation, that is ok too. :) But the real advantage of a conference is the people. How often to you get a chance to meet up with fellow developers from all over the world? When do you get a chance to talk with people from the team that creates your favorite product? How often can you open up your machine and trouble shoot whatever problem you are facing with some of the most experienced people in the industry? What ever you do, don’t just spend your time in the sessions and never ask the presenters questions, or go to the Expo, or events like Asks the Experts. If that is all you are looking to get out of a conference, then you can watch the sessions online the following week,

And since I’m on my soap box on the subject, let me give you one little bit of insight on this. The presenters, product team members, and staff spend an enormous amount of time prepping for these things. As a presenter, my first priority is to deliver comprehensive sessions on my topics. However, the thing I enjoy most is getting to have conversations with other developers on those, and quite frankly any, topics. I like to see how people are using the tools and I always learn about new things and new challenges facing developers. The product team members like to here feedback on their products, even the stuff that isn’t the most flattering. They enjoy hearing about how people are using their products and what challenges they are facing. Believe it or not, but this feedback helps to guide the direction of their products.

So get out there and jump into the conversation. It’s always a good time. It was a blast getting to be a part of TechEd Europe and I hope I get the opportunity to do it again. I have a few more conferences coming up this year, so I hope to see you all around and I look forward to speaking with each and every one of you.

Now it’s time to enjoy my last evening in Madrid. Buenas noches….

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