The first thing I want to say is that the folks at BZMedia really know how to put one of these things together. The thing that really tells me that is that they were smiling and helpful through the whole darn thing. If you’ve never been involved in planning an event even 1/8 this size, let me tell you that it is an *incredible* amount of good, old-fashioned hard work. David, Kathy, and the crew make it look easy, and they can only do that be being *really* good at it. Thanks a million to the whole crew! (I’d list every last one of them if I had any memory for names.)
The sessions were, of course, first rate. Even better to me is the chance to spend some quality time with the best SharePoint minds in the business.
On Wednesday morning I headed to Become a SharePoint 2010 Power User with Joshua Haebets. Not only did Joshua fly all the way from Melbourne, Australia for the conference, he really knows his stuff. This was a half-day workshop in which Joshua took us through a lot of the things that a power user of SharePoint 2010 needs to know. Amazingly, even with the jet lag, I don’t think he stumbled on anything. I was watching carefully. He was especially responsive to all fo the questions and seemed to have an answer to everything that folks threw at him. Good ‘um, Joshua!
Wednesday afternoon, I sallied (Perhaps due to the Australian effect? Or is that Sheila?) over to PerformancePoint Services—A Service in Three Four Acts with Peter SerzoI’ve always found the 2007 version of PerformancePoint totally unfathomable, so I wanted to see what was up with the 2010 incarnation. Peter gave us a great overview, even making it entertaining with a little Jeopardy mixed in. I know it was just a trick to get us to remember things, but still, it was fun. (Until Peter called on me while I was tweeting. Straight back to second grade experience, that.) FYI – Peter recently joined High Monkey Consulting, so congratulations to Peter on the new gig!
On Thursday, I did my two sessions: Data View Web Part Basics and Enhancing the User Experience with jQuery. All in all, I think the sessions went well. Packed rooms either means that people thought I was giving something really cool away or that Middle Tier development is actually starting to get the attention it deserves. I’m going to go with the latter. I’ve taken to doing sessions like this as "all demo", aka "working without a net". I fumbled a bit, of course, but everyone was very gracious, with the exception of that one guy in the back who threw a tomato. While there weren’t any slides for either session, much of the stuff I demoed is available on my Sympraxis Consulting demo site. If I showed something that you would like to look at more closely and you can’t find it, just let me know. One plug: If you liked what you saw at my sessions and would like to learn more, check out the USPJ Academy, where I am on the Faculty. I have several courses on Middle Tier topics which might also interest you.
Exhausted from my sessions and the fusillade of questions afterward (just kidding – I love the questions), I crawled down the hall and caught the last half of Creating Custom Branding for SharePoint 2010 with Randy Drisgill. Randy could pick the colors for your house, convince you you loved them, and have the darn thing painted in the time it takes to say Cascading Style Sheets. Randy makes the art of design look simple and helps bring the mechanics into focus for the ‘rest of us’. Always entertaining and with quite a few ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’. (Sure, without John Ross, Randy was a little lopsided…)
Andrew Connell tweeted the message above on Friday morning, and when I saw it, I wasn’t going to go anywhere else first thing Friday morning but to see Interacting with SharePoint off the Server: Introducing the Client Object Model. Andrew’s always fun to see speak, and he covered this one well, as usual. Andrew went pretty deeply into how managed code, XAML, Silverlight, and script can work on the same problem different ways. You know which one I was most interested in, but understanding how the three would work differently is really useful. I don’t advocate Middle Tier development for everything, only things where it makes sense. The more I know about how the other approaches work, the better suggestions I can make to folks who need to know. I’ve definitely got to dig deeper into the whole client OM and sp.js in SharePoint 2010 sooner rather than later. (I also want to start wrapping the new SP2010 Web Services in SPServices. Any suggestions? Chris Quick already asked me about the Social Data Web Service, so that’s on my list.)
Next I spent some time with the crew from Sandia who had come to the conference. They are trying to reason through how they want to govern development in their environments and how Middle Tier development fits in. It was a far-ranging conversation that I really enjoyed. It’s great to see folks asking all of the right questions *before* they start firing at the targets.
Next up, the inimitable Ruven Gotz (metadata [roar!]) and Metadata Management with (Oh No… Folders!) in SharePoint 2010. Ruven wasn’t caving in to the whole folders, folders, folders mantra that so many users seem to chant, but he showed some capabilities which are available in SharePoint 2010 which can make folders far more palatable, AND useful. For instance, you can set things up so that items added to a folder inherit specific folder metadata. (This may be the next thing I add to SPServices for the people who will be using WSS 3.0 and/or MOSS for the foreseeable future. I have it roughed out in my head, anyway. Sound useful?) The other really cool thing Ruven covered was the "drop box" concept in SP2010 and how you can set up a single place where users load documents, with your settings determining where they should go based on their metadata values. I’ve built similar things a couple of times in 2007, and boy is it slick when it’s built in rather than having to do it by hand.
For the second to last session of the conference, I decided to go and see Gary Lapointe talk about Variations and the Multilingual User Interface in SharePoint 2010. I have used Gary’s excellent STSADM extensions from time to time (also using them as the basis for a few unique ones to solve specific client problems) and I wanted to see what Gary was like presenting. Also, I’ve done a couple of implementations with variations to make them multi-lingual, and I know that it’s far harder than most people think, especially once you start thinking multi-cultural as well. (What does the color red mean in Japan? Germany?) Gary has clearly done a *lot* of this type of work and knows how to skitter up the ropes and down very well. If you’re even *thinking* about doing this sort of thing,. you should give Gary a ring. You’ll come away amazed at what’s ahead of you and also knowing someone who can very clearly help you through it. One little tidbit from this session: Several times during the conference I heard people say that script cannot be used in a Content Editor Web Part in SharePoint 2010. Gary demoed something which showed that isn’t true. Hooray! Migrations to SP2010 might work well after all. I need to validate this, of course.
Finally, it was over to see my friend Marcel Meth talk about SharePoint Without the Headaches: What’s Available in the Cloud? Batting cleanup at a big conference is never all that fun, but Marcel drew a decent crowd. I think that the whole cloud computing topic is going to touch more and more of us quickly, and Marcel’s [presentation covered the whys, who’s, and wherefores well. We all came away knowing a bit more about our options and some of the things we need to think about to be successful in the cloud.
All in all, another fantastic SPTechCon. I’ll see you at the next SPTechCon in San Francisco, February 7-9, 2011. (C’mon, guys, we all know it’s really Burlingame.) Then back here in Boston next June at the Sheraton (a *much* bigger hotel!).
ADDENDUM: Agh! I almost forgot the most excellent BASPUG meeting on Thursday night. Much merriment and information was slung about (maybe beers are a good idea for all the meetings?) with and by the Ask the Experts panel:
- Bill English (www.MindSharp.com)
- Andrew Connell (www.AndrewConnell.com)
- Joel Oleson (www.SharePointJoel.com)
- Heather Solomon (www.HeatherSolomon.com)
- Mark Miller (www.EndUserSharePoint.com)
- Dux Raymond Sy (www.MeetDux.com)