Fast, flexible and easy to use. Since a few years, these are the words everything moves around in the tech world. With a great line up of speakers the Vancouver Tech Fest 2012 approached the topic from many perspectives.

Working environments will change dramatically. They no longer have to be built around machines. Tablet are getting more and more practical these days. The industry is starting to understand how important the user interface is and that if everything works, technical specifications are not the priority for the user. In his welcome speech Richard Campbell described how tablets will cause changes in businesses. He mentioned new ways of communication that will change companies from the inside to the point of having them resemble cafés in future. Is it bad? Richard Campbell doesn’t think so.

There were many other speakers covering topics ranging from cloud computing with Microsoft Azure, over to CMS solutions with DotNetNuke or Joomla, operating systems and Windows Phone 7 to Development and Databases. No matter what you were interested  you could find an interesting speech on that topic.

The highlight of the event was the Keynote by Scott Guthrie, the Vice President of the Microsoft Developer Division. In the packed Telus Theatre at the BCIT Burnaby campus he showed an impressive presentation on Windows Azure. Within a few minutes of live coding he created a cloud app, which easily could be published to a million of users thanks to the windows new cloud service. Flexibility and agility reaches another level with services like this. With pay as you go pricing models computing power no longer is a huge investment. Applications can be scaled up to hundreds of servers within minutes during uptimes and scaled down to one server when they’re not used. With an intelligent server and resource management, the data is safer than ever while keeping the servers being energy efficient.

The fun presentation Scott Guthrie showed how companies can gain an edge in the market by setting up short publishing times, shorter development cycles and more flexible pricing plans.

Definitely another highlight in the software development talks was Thomas Lewis’ presentation on responsive web. Known as a great speaker he showed how web developers can deal with the huge variety of devices and screen sizes. By not addressing special devices or browsers, developers should think about in which context and at which screen size it makes sense to show your website in a certain way. With CSS3 it is possible to get to know the users device and to present your content in an appropriate way. Thomas Lewis fights with an incredible passion for a better-looking web and his presentations are for sure a great step in this direction.

I learnt that Scott Guthrie and his team bet on user response based on A/B testing and that Thomas Lewis is obsessed with changing his browser window size on every website he lands on in order to find great design examples for responsive web. Since I am not yet 100% confident with my north American networking skills, I grabbed a beer and some food at the buffet and sneaked out of the networking event. At home I felt a strong desire to get my hands on all the stuff I learned during the day. It was a great, inspiring and well organized event.

Have a great week!

Martin Schueller