As the dust settled over MIX11 and Las Vegas stopped wasting money out of hard earned lines of code being typed by dozens of developers, I think it is safe enough we can start drawing conclusions.
While on the surface everything is shiny and Mix with its’ extravagant location and many spoils that really keep you entertained and wishing it will never end, and really, “Free” food and drinks, Occasional prizes and giveways that keep you going forward with technology (PDC09’s Notebook, PDC10’ Phones and this year Mix Kinect), Sessions all day to peek your intellectual interest, Parties at night (well at least till 1AM), and the best part, meeting with People that usually you are miles away,and now understanding that if they are nice on twitter than they are as nice on reality, you just can’t fake it for so long. So a conference such as MIX is actually a huge tweetup. I’ve spent all my phone’s battery to refresh my twitter stream relentlessly. During keynotes it was in full harness when the attention of everyone is on the same thing and the side chatter of twitter was am unlimited well of impressions, comments, witty remarks, sarcastic remarks, that often of not were as interesting as the real thing going on in stage.
While the official announcements of MIX had yielded low bounty, I found myself beginning to wander about what was NOT said and where this train is really headed.
A domestic flight Back from Vegas to Philly where I had only twitter access free wifi had resulted with me firing speculations and ideas all over the place,some were silly, or absurd, but who knows it Vegas I might have hit a jackpot or two .
For those I’ve flooded their Feed Stream I apologize, but I’m going to repeat some of those absurd ideas here.
But before jumping into my own conclusions, you might wonder, where are my sessions impressions and summaries? I did promise to live blog on twitter.
First my algorithm of picking sessions is favoring high session level and disfavoring areas I already consider myself proficient. Second, I’ve almost didn’t attend WP7 sessions, while the emulator is good and it is getting better, it still less appealing to me when I don’t have a real phone at hand.
But still. how were the sessions you did attend ? They were OK. Just OK?. Yes. Why?
In almost every session I’ve been attending it contained major flows, such as level was not right, Pace was too slow, too much less-important content, too much slides, Code in slides lose its effectiveness unless you show me it running in Visual Studio or your favorite IDE, and it’s not a contradiction with too much information, this is exactly the information I want, I want to see you use it in Visual Studio, because this is what I’m going to do tomorrow, I’m going to open up Visual Studio and try the Canvas element of HTML5. If you don’t show me how to get there, than I’m back to square one. On the other hand some where demoing too complicated code, @damianEdwards had implemented a Comet, parking requests with HTTP Handlers to be used with jQuery, ambitious but the message got lost with all the unnecessary details of writing it. Forgive me for saying but if I need now to implement 3D for my next silverlight project I’m going to vaguely remember the 3d engine execution flow, no more, and I understand the guy presenting this session, that engine his is baby, he loves it and proud of it, and thinks it is important, well for an 1 hour session it is not.
Some sessions were not executed good enough or weren’t as tight as you might expect from this high-end conference. In this regard I’ve passed down popular sessions such the HaHa shows (Hanselman and Haack) and my dear friend @lbugnion with his MVVMlight talk, sessions that are usually so well executed that could have lifted my overall impression, but I’ve left them to viewed later on Video.
So, not a single session you liked?
I’ve liked the Knockout.JS session by Steven Sanderson, which unfortunately I don’t have his twitter handle, not sure that he got one. It was well executed, clear and concise, Pace was perfect; not too fast you can’t follow, not to slow you got bored, it was packed with goodies and the message was clear. it also showed you the outer scope, I can now go and open my visual studio and by following this session I will know what to do, because it is there, than I can just go and explore it further. I am urging you to go and see it for your self, it is just 25 minutes. Hold on. 25 minutes you say? Yes. it was a mini-session. Perhaps that was the key. Steve planned for a 25 minutes session, he knew the message got to be clear, he knew he had limited time to show what is important, and top that all he didn’t just show fragmented pieces of functionality, you could just saw the whole full picture and how everything connects and relates, but this I credit Steve for executing this so well. And while Knockout.JS is his baby and probably contains some neat stuff in its internal he resisted the temptation to explain how it works, it just showed it working, with Visual Studio at hand and code, just the way I like it.
While my friend Shay Friedman (@ironshay) disagrees with me on this point, I think that keeping sessions short helps in keeping on the presenter mind that he needs to deliver fewer messages and make those few perfect, also while Steve performed extraordinary, it encourages me you don’t have to be Hanselman or Guthrie or even the colorful Word Bell to do a top-notch session. You have to be good enough and with a good enough content than I’m satisfied.
Another clear advantage is that you can support much more variation in content when you got much more shorter sessions, sure it is a roller caster of information, but this is what’s fun, falling a sleep in low pace talks is not my way of fun.
And if you by chance worried about speakers, the Open-Call for 3rd party speakers had showed that there are plenty of amazing talks to be heard out there.
There are still room for longer sessions, I don’t want to deprive you with annual excellent and fun Hanselman’s session, so I am thinking out loud, keep one slot of long session and one slot of Keynote/long sessions (usually) and keep the rest shorter. You like it? Tweet about it? Comment about it. Who knows perhaps we can evolve a better format (or worse, who knows till we try).
During the last day of MIX I’ve attended a Windows Phone 7 focus group, I was hesitant to participate, I didn’t know if I had so much input to give, and I was actually right, compared to the guys sitting with me around the table which they were flowing with amazing feedback and information. I know my ways around Windows Phone so I can develop an app today but as it appears most problems are are not the SDK, or other Silverlight related features but mostly the Marketplace story, localizations and Hardware features oddities suchas the Back and Search buttons.
I’ve learned about what really going on in that Windows Phone development scene than any session I could have participated, people were discussing every painful curve of the road between development to actually publishing the app the customer. Discussing ideas with the members of the development teams in such an informal way is always my preferred way, hack that why I love twitter so much.
I must congratulate the WP7 team for being transparent, open and responsive for sometimes painful criticism and frustration by the developers themselves. I urge other teams to forge their own focus groups in future conferences.
There is more!
but not now, I need to battle jetlag, writing this post till 3AM local time is not a good way to undo jetlag.
Stay tuned for Part 2.