Monday, June 11, 2012

Developer Developer Developer South West 4.0 - A Retrospective

I'm rather late to the party with this post - Chris Alcock posted his round-up of DDDSW4 links over the weekend. But for my own recollection this post is probably a good idea.

This was my third DDDSW event - but this time was different - I was a speaker not just a delegate.

6:31 AM - 26 May 12 - Half-way around.
The location in Bristol works for me as it's my old stomping ground from University - I studied Computing for Real-Time Systems at UWE under Rob Williams

It was a toss-up whether I should go to the Friday speaker dinner or catch up with old friends instead - getting together with the old gang won out, but it was probably for the best it wasn't a 3am finish as has happened in previous years! Still, it's a testament to the friendships that you can create in a small startup that two friends I'd not seen in over a decade joined the usual suspects - and that it felt like we still used to hang out every day.

So Saturday dawned with an early start and a 5km run to wake me up and set me up for the day (10km if you believe RunKeeper - I don't!).

Then off to UWE to check in, just in time for the Speakers' briefing - this might have been intimidating for new speakers but for Guy's delivery which was just the right balance of "check it, check it, check it again" and humour - especially at that early hour.

I think as a delegate whilst you appreciate the some effort that goes into making DDDSW work, I for one had very little idea about just how much required to herd speakers to the right place, get swag organised, manage the rooms, etc. Guy Smith-Ferrier and the team do an amazing job.

So after the speaker's briefing I wandered off to what was to be "my" room for the pretty much the whole day. I was speaking in Track 4 in 2Q43 and didn't want to risk not being prepared, so the first order of the day was to check projector connections and ensure my laptop was ready for action. 

Session 1 - "What's new in Entity Framework v5 (beta 1)" - Geff Lombardi

First up on Track 4 was Geff Lombardi, talking on "What's new in Entity Framework v5 (beta 1)". Geff's talk had a good balance of slides and coding (i.e. not too many of the former), and demo'd the new DB migrations features of EF. I'm not quite sure I've got my head around it, or how (or if) I can apply it to my codebase, but Spatial and Enum support will be the first things I'll play with, closely followed by the EF Power Tools.

All good stuff, but I'll admit my mind was really on the next session - mine! So after Geff finished I set up - doing a quick run-through of my slide deck and pre-loading the IIS apps I was going to demontsrate. As the room filled up the nerves really kicked in - and then we were off. 

Session 2 - "Using your NuGet for Fun & Profit" - Joel Hammond-Turner

For any new speaker I can only recommend practice, practice, practice. I'd run my talk no less than 5 times for my colleagues at work, so it was no surprise that the contingent from Landmark that came to DDDSW4 didn't want to come see it again. But practicing on them paid off when speaking in front of the DDDSW delegates - I soon forgot my nerves and cracked on.

I covered the background to our use of NuGet within Landmark, and the challenges we had had to overcome in packaging our internal libraries as NuGet packages - and then demo'd the NuGet.PackageNPublish tooling we'd developed. There was a nice ripple of appreciation when I pointed out that in the time it took to describe how the tooling worked (about 60 seconds), I'd created a packaging project.

Then I covered the options for hosting private NuGet feeds, including file-shares, NuGet.Server, NuGet.Gallery and the two commercial offerings - and had the fact that I'd missed TeamCity's new NuGet functionality!

Questions were asked and answered and towards the end of the session, we were having more of a round-table discussion than a presentation, with Mike Ackah and John Stovin in particular deep in the fray (and winning swag for their contributions).

I finished off with a quick refresher on the HanselFix for when goes down and announced that the NiGet.PackageNPublish tooling had been released as open source under the Apache 2.0 License by my company, Landmark.

Open-sourcing the tooling drew a round of applause that made the whole exercise in getting my session together worth it - it's been a good couple of months' work getting all the clearances and publishing everything. 

Once I was finished and cleared away I looked at the agenda for the first time to see what to go to next - and my first choice was in 2Q43 again. I felt like I was going to be living in that room for the day!

Session 3 - "Unit testing with Visual Studio 11 Beta" - Richard Fennell

Richard is always an excellent speaker, and this session was no exception, covering the new test runner, the always-on tests (very like NCrunch), and the multiple test runner plug-ins. This latter I would say is probably the stand-out feature - the ability to use the test and mocking framework combination best suited to your testing needs will I'm sure only reduce the friction when unit tests aren't quite first-class citizens in the development process (i.e. you're not doing pure TDD).

Next was lunch time - and the DDDSW team did us proud with a choice of sandwiches, crisps, cake, fruit... and hot pasties! Distinctly NOM time. Catching up with my Landmark colleagues outside by the pond, it was clear that all the other sessions that morning had been as good as the ones I'd been to, and it was on recommendation that I went to my next session

Session 4 - "WebSockets and SignalR" - Chris Alcock

Chris obviously made a good impression on his first go, because his repeat track room was absolutely rammed - all the chairs and all the tables along the back were full, and people were hanging in through the doorway to listen in.

Chris gave a great introduction to WebSockets and contrasted that low-level javascript technology with the "nicer" abstraction offered by SignalR. Talking about this with someone else later on, his use of a sample OTHER than the traditional text chat was a big win. For me (and many others, I'd imagine) the possibilities of calling client methods from the server and vice versa through one service API (SignalR) are endless and exciting - and Chris' demo really peaked my interest.

After Chris's session it was time for one of the regular highlights of the DDDSW experience - the cream tea. The food queue always seems to be an interesting experience - this time running into Johnno Nolan, Mark Kirschstein, and others from the Manchester NxtGen crowd. The one problem with any DDD event seems that there's never enough time to catch up with everyone you want to. I even "dissed" my Landmark colleagues and caught up with Chris Alcock & Dave Sussman in the Speakers Lounge. It was slightly surreal sitting there, not as a delegate wanting to dig for more information but as a speaker just shooting the breeze.

Session 5 - N/A

Yep - I never made it to any of the last sessions of the day... Setting the speaker world to rights with Chris & Dave (there's a Rockney band in there somewhere!) just rolled on into Session 5 - and after about 20 minutes in the heat of the Q-Block rooms forced me outside for only the second real bout of fresh air of the day.

I made it back in for the Close and Prize Draw - getting all 300(ish) delegates into that one room at the end really pressed home what a great event Developer Developer Developer South West is. I missed the geek dinner that night too - rescuing my wife from our children being the greater priority - but still came away with memories of a great day of geekery.

And finally...

I've got to thank the audience for my first-ever DDD session - they were very gentle with me - and from the feedback I received I'm pretty damned happy, averaging 8.0 for subject knowledge and 7.32 for presentation skills. And I know exactly how I'm going to improve and update my NuGet session if it get's chosen for DDD 10 in Reading in September! That one I'm NOT going to miss the speaker or geek dinners, either!

My company, Landmark, deserves thanks too, for sponsoring me and open-sourcing the NuGet.PackageNPublish tooling - giving me a great big comfort-blanket of support.

Even though none of my colleagues came to heckle me!

1 comment:

Chris Skardon said...

Ahh we would have heckled, but quite frankly you'd already got answers for our heckles.... Where's the fun in that :)