On 14th and 15th of May Microsoft Bulgaria held a conference named In Touch
which is a successor of the developer part of MS Days
. The event is definitely different. It is smaller, there are fewer sessions, the quality of sessions is slightly higher and the part of the event that resembled a fair is significantly reduced. They used the same venue the last DevReach
used and while the impact was not as bad as it was on DevReach because there were fewer tracks and rooms on the lower floor were not required it was still a downgrade compared to the previous venue.
First of all Sofia Event Center sucks for events this big (400 attendees and up). They have the ability to do better sound and cool light shows but actual sessions suffer and the space outside the halls is not very comfortable for networking and promotional booths of sponsors. There were a good amount of sponsors. Some of them were frequent visitors to this type of events like Infragistics, some of them were non IT companies like Toyota. One of the most popular stands was the Nokia one. They had a bunch of smartphones some of them not yet on sale in Europe and people were quite interested to check them out although most people were already using a Nokia Windows Phone. The Darvin Award goes to the people who designed the infragistics flyer who decided that the QR code did not look good enough and decided to style it. The result was that half of the apps which read QR including Bing could not recognize it. There were a couple of consoles - an Xbox 360 and Xbox One but for some reason people were constantly playing FIFA on the Xbox One. This is probably the worst game to play on Xbox One as it does not use Kinect and the graphics are very incremental improvements to previous generation. I was quite interested in the actual machine capabilities but could not get to try it.
The opening keynote was a talk about technology investment by Microsoft in Africa. The speaker was Amrote Abdella – a woman from Kenya who is a director for Microsoft's 4 Africa initiative. I was really bored as I do not care much about startups or investing in Africa. I doubt many people on the conference did. The only thing that I found interesting was that it was underlined several times that this is about investing in Africa not about charity.
The first session I visited was Making Database Developers Happy with SQL Server 2014 InMemory OLTP by Margarita Naumova was about the main new feature of SQL Server 2014 – in memory tables. The session was not particularly interesting since it focused mostly on how much faster in-memory tables are. It is obvious that RAM is faster than disk. Interesting point is that changes are not persisted to disk and the durability is achieved via the transaction log.
One whole track in the first day was about Windows Phone development. All sessions were presented by Andrej Radinger
. The track was advertised as a kind of a workshop but it was just a bunch of sessions. The presence of this type of track is not a bad thing since people can go from zero to full information about the platform in just a day. I attended a couple of these sessions but as a person who has published several Windows Phone apps and follows the news there was not much I could learn from them.
I finished the first day with a session on Angular and ASP.NET by Marco Tosic. Nothing really interesting there but I find it useful to attend one of these sessions on every conference. By doing so I get slightly better understanding about what Angular is without actually using it.
Thanks to Ventsy Popov I had the opportunity to meet the star of the conference – Don Syme
at the airport. I am a big fan of Don Syme and F# and I have been putting his name on every feedback form on both Bulgarian .NET conferences for the past five years. We chatted a little bit about the development of F#. Don is friendly and down to earth guy and I think the most famous language designer to come in Bulgaria… for now… I am starting to feel pretty confident about my feedback form and "spam the comments" skills :) Sadly he was not feeling well and did not join us for a beer that evening.Yours truly with Don Syme
Don Syme's keynote was on the topic of F# Type Providers. The talk was announced as starting at 8:30 on the second day of the conference. I have never seen a second conference day start so early and predictably there were very few people there. Some unexpected traffic problems made it even worse. The organizers handled the situation by moving the whole schedule by 30 minutes. The talk itself is the regular overview of Type Providers Don gives to audiences who are not familiar with F#.
Just like the first day one of the tracks was owned by Andrej Radinger this time with talks about various aspects of Windows 8 development. Again not much I did not already know.
Node.js and Open Source Software Development on Microsoft Azure was a session by Mihail Mateev and Boris Simandov in which they engaged in the usual propaganda of the Node.js mafia. I am startled by the fact that the Node Mafia can proclaim that Node invented asynchronous IO, that other technologies cannot do asynchronous IO or that doing asynchronous IO is easier in Node than any other tech. It is even more startling when they do this on a .NET conference when ASP.NET can do asynchronous IO since 2003 and has recently added async/await functionality.
Overall it was a good conference but it was lacking compared to MS Days and Dev Reach. I hope it improves next year.