A quick recap of the Jump In! Camp in Zurich

A quick recap of the Jump In! Camp in Zurich

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April has been an incredibly busy week for the team, so it has taken some time to blog about this camp. As they say, better late than never. As several of the attendees blogged before me, I thought that someone else would beat me to highlight the overall goal/format of the camp. But I guess not, so I’ll cover it briefly.

What was it about, and how was it organized?

I was fortunate enough to attend this camp organized by my counterparts in Microsoft France. Not only was it gorgeous at that time of the year in Zurich, the resort at Feusisberg on the southern banks of Lake Zurich was an awesome location to hang out.

The beauty of this camp was that it was 3 days of pretty much uninterrupted time to code - to experiment with new technologies and to enhance projects one is passionate about. Of course, being a Microsoft organized camp, these were Microsoft technologies. So how did we arrive at the participant as well as topic list? Read the invitation for yourself on how the participants were selected. Those selected then expressed their topics of interest, and the organizers worked with them to create the final list.

But then, any place or camp can be a drag if one doesn't have great company to enjoy it with. And that's exactly what we had - some really cool people from the open source community and Microsoft. Read about the participants and the experts yourself. For those with busy schedules, here’s the list of projects represented: Drupal, phpBB, osCommerce, Joomla.RU, Moodle, Agavi, CakePHP, Frapi, Sonar, Doctrine, & Zend communities as well as Microsoft (Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Web Platform Installer, SQL Server, Silverlight, PowerPivot).

The experts were passionate about their technologies (just like the participants who were equally passionate about theirs) with a desire to talk about them, to help anyone with any questions, to learn about challenges others experience, and so on. Developer to developer, with real code.

So, in a nutshell, it was organized in collaboration with the open source community who want to expand their capabilities and, being developers, write some code.

Very interactive and informal!

As I mentioned, it was a very informal and interactive camp – just as it should be. Here are a few photos to highlight how casual it was.

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Working together and then celebrating success

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Really getting down to it, then getting together to recap successes as well as failures

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Then, we tried some fun Swiss alpine sports – from field turd putting to bovine quality time
All photo credits to Yuriy Zaytsev.

Progress on projects adopting SQL Server

There was a lot of good work done on all the technologies, I will focus on SQL Server / SQL Azure and let you learn about progress on the others via the various blogs.

With Jason Stowe and I representing SQL Server, we discussed about progress on SQL Server and how it can provide value to the various projects and get feedback on what more we can do to provide more value. We went over code using the driver API, SQL Server Express installation and configuration, porting queries to work with SQL Server, SQL injection, spatial capabilities in SQL Server, etc. Besides SQL Server specific topics, we also had very interesting discussions on several other topics as well – in the session rooms, resort lawn, over dinner, over bier. Even at the mini alpine olympics.

phpBB:

We made some great progress on this project at the camp, so much that it deserves its own blog post! So I’ll keep it short to saying that it was a pleasure working with Nils, Henry and Chris on this project, followed by some fun time with a Russian card game!!

Zend/Doctrine:
Juozas is very passionate about these frameworks, and applies his passion in improving these all the time. Not only did Juozas add support for SQL Server Native driver at the camp itself, he has subsequently added support for the SQL Server PDO driver on the very day the CTP was published by us!! Juozas highlighted a couple of bugs in the driver, and we are looking into these right now.
OS Commerce:

Microsoft already has a patch for OS Commerce to support SQL Server, but it wasn’t complete. We went over the code with Mark, and got some feedback that we have already incorporated. Once this patch is complete, we will be working with Mark to get the patch accepted into the main branch of the new version. Since the patch was coded up for the 3.05 branch of the project (which is in its early alpha stages), Mark suggested we look into creating a patch for v2.2 and we are looking into this option.

Agavi/Sonar:

We didn’t get a lot of time with David for this one as he was working on a lot of stuff, as well as the fact that this project was new to us. However, David was able to make great progress on SQL Server support and has it done. While we would love to take credit for a very user-friendly API/product, this is actually a testament to David’s capabilities as a developer! I must say, the Agavi project is indeed fortunate to have him.

Unfortunately, Sonar was in the same situation as Agavi but Jason did get more time with Martin than I did. Once again, after a few installation/configuration issues were sorted out, progress was quick and Martin got it done while at the camp!

CakePHP:

Since we were not able to access our patch for this project (technical difficulties unrelated to the code) during most of the camp, we had some great conversations with Dean. We are working with Dean to make progress on our patch.

Joomla!.RU:

We couldn’t get to the code with Vitaly and Asya on this project, but we had some really good discussions. It was quite fascinating to discover how the Joomla!.RU folks operate quite independently on their fork and yet collaborate with Joomla! core in many ways. We discussed the unique challenges of Joomla!.RU and their plans, and explore opportunities for Joomla!.RU and Microsoft to work together. I look forward to working with Vitaly and Asya!

Drupal/Moodle/PEAR:

Since we were aware that the Commerce Guys were working on supporting SQL Server in Drupal 7 using our pre-release v2.0 driver binaries, we didn’t pursue this option with Marcus. In addition to the Drupal 7 work, Microsoft had already submitted a patch for Drupal 6 and this patch is pretty close to being accepted. This allowed Marcus to focus on some new opportunities for Drupal interoperability with Microsoft’s Active Directory.

It was a similar situation for Moodle, we have been working with the Moodle folks and have a patch accepted for Moodle 2.0. This allowed Yair to experiment with the other technologies.

On PEAR, we are already working on some feedback from Lorenzo on our patch. David couldn’t have been happier with the situation as this freed him up to explore lots of new ideas. :)

Feedback:

Jason & I also walked away with excellent feedback from the work we did together as well as our discussions, and a few bugs in the driver that we need to fix (we are investigating these right now).

Opinions from others: videos, blogs and tweets

The best location is the Jump In! Camp site’s blogroll which captures not only the blogs about the camp but also covers related content. Once again, for those with very busy schedules I have listed a few that are directly related to the camp.

Josh Holmes: Easy setup for PHP on Azure development & PHP on Azure Resources
Asya Shalimova: Betatales at Microsoft (you’ll need to translate this one :) )
David Coallier: Switzerland, Microsoft and the Jump In! Camp
Dean Clatworthy: Jump In! Camp
Martin Reiche: Sonar on MS SQL 2008
David Zuelke: Jump In! Camp
Mark Evans: Jump In! Camp
Marcus Deglos: Jump In! Camp Progress & Jump In! Camp Technology Review
Juozas Kaziukenas: no blogs on the camp yet, some good tweets
Maarten Balliiauw: quite the avid blogger, it’s best to visit his blog
Thomas Charriere: Jump In! Camp

For twitter activity, a #jumpincamp summary captures it.

Wow, looks like this was fun!

It sure was, check out this video!

Conclusion

Overall, the camp was a success as the participants and experts found value in attending it and look forward to the next one. We all got to learn about new technologies, got some time to experiment with new ideas, achieved a few successes and, best of all, had fun doing so!

Many thanks and kudos to Yuriy and Nicole for their incredible effort in organizing the camp as well as making it a success. Next time they organize a party and you have a chance to get in on the action, do your best to get in! Yuriy/Nicole - count us SQL guys in!! :)

Ashay Chaudhary
Program Manager, SQL Server Driver for PHP