MIX Feedback from Canadian Attendees

MIX Feedback from Canadian Attendees

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Earlier this week, I asked some Canadian attendees for feedback about MIX07 for the people who are interested but weren’t able to attend. I hope this post can give you some insights about the conference from a variety of backgrounds (design, development, business, etc.)

1.  What is your role? What did you want to get out of MIX (or your expectations of MIX) before attending?

Ben Skelton: I’m the Practice Leader, Websites and eCommerce for Habanero. For a little more information on my role it would be good to check out this post.
I must say that I didn’t have many expectations before deciding to go to MIX. As Habanero is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner it is essential that we completely understand the Microsoft product stack. My practice is the most platform agnostic, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about how Microsoft (and its products) can help me deliver kick-ass large-scale transactional websites. Once I started to dig into the variety of sessions and speakers the week before the event (and build my schedule) I became impressed by the quality of the program Microsoft had put together.
I ended up wearing the “Business” wrist band at the conference, which I noticed very few people wore by itself, often they paired it with one other. It was kind of funny because when I started chatting with people they seemed surprised that I actually understood the technology.

Dave Shen: I'm the Sr. Architect/Manager for IT - Mobile & Interactive at Carlson Maketing.  I wanted to hear real-world experiences of the challenges and solutions of existing development team processes as well as learning new technologies that focus on RIA, Web 2.0, and SOA.

Bryce Johnson:I am the Director of User Experience at Navantis, a premier Microsoft partner located in Toronto and Columbo. I come to Mix to see the latest Microsoft Interface technologies so I can keep our solutions up to date.

Malcolm Van Raalte: My title is “Dev Group Manager” at Geosign.  Basically I manage 4 team leads and 15 or so developers.  My expectations for MIX were fairly high in that my VP (Lance Mohring) was saying that last year’s MIX was a great conference.  What I was looking to get out of it was to learn about new technologies that MS would be introducing in the future – in particular development technologies and tools (like Orcas).

Albert Lai: My role is a scout for new technology and ideas for both myself, and the companies that I work with (i.e. bubbleshare).  I wanted to see what MS's strategy was looking like a year after mix06 and the introduce of WPF.

2. There are many announcements about Silverlight and Expression Studio during the Keynote on first day. Is there any announcement or new product that gets you most excited?

Ben: As a Mac user I have to say the Silverlight announcement was exciting because Silverlight enables organizations like Netflix and the BBC to deliver rich, protected media to users on both a Mac and a PC. Traditionally Mac users have been locked out of this type of protected media as it has been tied to the Windows Media ecosystem. This is personally really exciting!
From a business point of view I am blown away by the capabilities of WPF, especially for Line of Business (LoB) applications. The Dynamics applications that were demoed were exceptional and I can’t wait for Habanero to develop our first large-scale WPF application. The experience we are now able to provide for business applications is going to really surprise our clients.

Dave: Silverlight (1st) / Expression Studio (2nd)

Bryce: Silverlight

Malcolm: The announcement about Silverlight itself was the most exciting for me.  Javascript+HTML DOM does not make a good application development platform.  That a .NET CLR based solution is being developed is great news for a .NET junkies like me and many of my developers.

Albert: the thing that got me most excited was obviously silverlight, to see a flex competitor on the market is quite cool... i dig the fact that there is a strong framework ,and workflow tools with silverlight.  however, the lack of market traction/install base is an obvious risk, as is the fact that the platform has not been open sourced the way flex has.

3. What are some best sessions you attended during MIX07? Why?

Ben: I liked the WPF sessions as they showed beautiful, functional, usable business applications. This is a huge leap forward from the old ugly-grey business applications from the past. Scott’s keynote was excellent as well. There is nothing better than someone who completely understands the technology and is passionate about it. Folks like him are definitely the future of MS! Check out Ben's blog.

Dave: Anything related to improving the user experience on the web (e.g. Silverlight) -- existing Web experience primarily acting as a thin-client (limited functionality)

Bryce: I really liked Bill Scott's sessions on RIA best practices. It is great to get a mountain of information from someone with so much experience. Check out Bryce's blog.

Malcolm: I didn’t attend many of the Silverlight sessions since I don’t really need the details about how it works.  The sessions that I attended that I thought were good:  IIS 7.0, DLRs on Silverlight, Keyword Services Platform (I want in on the private beta), Silverlight in the Browser.  Why did I like them?  Mainly from the point of view of giving me ideas of what is possible (or more easily possible) with the new technologies.

Albert: I enjoyed the keynotes most... and also the session about the use of Silverlight in next generation online/e-comics (and the rapid development cycle of the product).

4. What sorts of content you wish to see at next year’s MIX? Any comment on how can we make MIX better?

Ben: You guys did a wonderful job at the conference and there is really very little to complain about :) A few of the sessions may have come off a little too “marketing” focused and the demos felt very scripted (with too much marketing jargon). It would have been great if audience members could ask some questions after each keynote. Perhaps they could have had 30 minutes reserved for audience questions with some open microphones? Overall it was a great conference — kudos to the whole team as it was a real treat!

Dave: More on Silverlight, more on improving the design/developer process (maybe Scrum discussion)?

Bryce: While a applaud the great leaps Microsoft has taken to embrace the designer community. I know (better then most) that developers and coding are the heritage of Microsoft development but if you are going to have a session labeled for designers instead of developers you may want to try to trim down the live coding demonstrations. Snippets are fine for designers we don't need to see someone live coding something when we don't really get it.  It's too fast to learn what is being coded and too slow to not be boring. :-)

Malcolm: Myself, I’d like to continue to see a lot of info about what new technologies are upcoming and what problems they are supposed to solve (the “what”).  The tech conferences like TechEd, VSLive, etc are for learning how to apply the technologies (the “how”).  MIX should continue to focus and clearly state the “what”.

Albert: I'm not sure what I'm looking for next year... perhaps more applications and samples built with Silverlight... and perhaps more non-MS vendors showcasing their work.

Thanks Ben, Dave, Bryce, Malcolm, and Albert for your feedback!

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