For me, as a newbie to the Microsoft world, Tech Ed was most valuable for getting to know MS customers and industry leaders. I met many of the members and leaders within INETA the largest user group I have ever seen -- INETA is comprised of over 300 MS .NET user groups. Excellent! I plan to leverage INETA in the future for customer feedback programs. There were so many people that I have been working closely with over the past year that I had the pleasure of finally meeting face to face with. Most importantly, there was a series of customers that I got to spend time with outlining their business processes and identifying key areas where they would be happy if we provided additional Web services technologies to simplify their solutions. Scott Short, Matt Powell, Yasser and I have already been discussing DCRs for the next release of our Tools. We now have about 20 more early adopter candidates for Web Services Enhancements. Can't wait till engineering says "NO WAY, we will only allow 2 more!"

Apparently the best way to get folks to open up and 'Ask the Experts' (ATE) questions on the show floor is to feed and provide the with drink. I have decided that the Tech Ed show coordinators were trying to kill all of us with the abundance of ding-dongs, ice cream, twinkees, coffee, and whatever other junk that was constantly available for us to feed us. For those of you with self-control, I hope you enjoyed the fruit.

The ATE booths got rockin after a full day of sessions when people needed to wind down and mingle. They wanted to discuss the sessions they had just heard about. I think it was an absolutely excellent idea to get the speakers into the ATE booth post sessions. The three booths I hosted were Introduction to Web Services and Interoperability, Business Processes and Web Services, and Advanced Web services. We had some excellent folks answering questions including - Simon Guest, Scott Short, Yasser Shohoud, Eric Lee, Laura Machado de Wright, Kenneth Circeo, Erik Leasburg, Rob Maushardt, Farah Deendar-Yacoob, Scott Hanselman, Bryan Lamos, Matt Powell, Don Smith, Chris Nolan, . I would dare to say we were one of the busiest Pods on the ATE floor. We also hosted a Hands-on-lab with ea bits of WSE v2.0. Thanks to DevelopMentor, specifically Aaron Skonnard and Scott Bloom, for building such excellent content for this and being there to work with developers getting their hands dirty.

I did not have the opportunity to attend many sessions because I spent the largest % of my time in the ATE booth. Of the few sessions that I did attend, my favorite was given by Keith Ballinger. He spoke on messaging why there are great benefits to choosing a loosely coupled messaging approach to distributed computing over traditional RPC systems. In classic Keith style he started with a blank MS project and coded up a async application scenario to demonstrate some of the key points in his talk. You could tell that everyone in the audience was groovin with the concepts he was speaking about.

Another great talk was presented by Eric Schmidt. Eric did an incredible job of demonstrating a very compelling end-to-end business solution based on Web services technologies. For those of you who still don't get the 'Why' of Web Services, I think you should take an hour to review this presentation.

Key Messages from Eric's talk:

  • Developers need to get closer to their business processes. Understanding the business process makes for a better understanding of what services should be made available
  • Creating well defined services with proper instrumentation enables business decision makers to optimize the processes within their companies and makes for a more agile business model
  • SOAs enable administrators to control their corporate IT assets more readily

In his demo, he was not shy about leveraging the breadth of the Microsoft platform including: BizTalk Server Beta 2004's Schema editor and BAM technology, InfoPath to create a smart Forms client that could easily create XML instance documents of the schemas, Web Services Enhancements v2.0 A^2 security features, and Excel pivot tables for doing analysis on the data coming as a result of the instrumentation.

One thing I was surprised about was that none of the speakers I listened to used the Accessibility features built into Windows XP for folks to see the code etc. from the back of the room. Program Files -> Accessories -> Accessibility -> Magnifier. I learned this trick in a Develop Mentor training course.

Excellent show. Can't wait for the PDC.