I Was There At The Beginning

Echoing the slogan on the back of the conference T-shirts at the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference (PDC) 2003, I was there to see the first release of the next version of Windows, SQL Server "Yukon" and version 2.0 of the .NET Framework. And, more important, to see the release of the two new books about version 2.0 that we've been working on.

And what a show it was. The disastrous forest fires in Southern California kept quite a lot of people away as flights were cancelled, but I reckon there was still at least 5,000 people there to see it, and to "be there at the beginning". The demonstrations of Longhorn in the first day keynote just blew most folks away. You couldn't fail to be impressed by "Avalon" (the new declarative interface that effectively replaces Windows Forms), and "Indigo" (the new Web Services and communication protocol stack). And most of it wasn't the expected "smoke and mirrors", but - as I discovered in the breakout sessions - a real working O/S. Well, OK, so some bits aren't there yet, but it's not due for release until sometime around two thousand and umpty flop (and that's a conservative estimate).


I guess my one concern was that many developers who had gone to see Yukon and .NET v 2.0 (code-named "Whidbey") actually ended up going to see the sessions on Longhorn instead. The keynote was so compelling (you can even see a familiar face in the photo here making sure we all got the message) that you just had to find out more.

In fact the huge queues at the Longhorn sessions confirmed this - I missed a couple I wanted to see by not being there early enough. So it may be that many people, despite the impressive "auxiliary" keynote covering Whidbey on the second day, actually didn't learn as much as they would have liked about it. Maybe there should have been two conferences? But would I fancy another 20 hours in cattle class on a plane...

And I did ask someone important (no, not the one in the photo) when we could expect the extremely similar declarative syntaxes of Avalon and ASP.NET to converge, so that the O/S could automatically deliver a page of the suitable type and format depending on the requesting client and communication protocols available (i.e. a Web page or a "windowed" executable), but they just went very quiet and wouldn't say any more.


A couple of other highlights were sessions on ObjectSpaces and XML. Luca from the ObjectSpaces team put on a great show demonstrating the theory and workings of ObjectSpaces. We even found out which is his home city (Abisola), and could not fail to be impressed by his tireless investigation into cat populations of the major cities of the world. Meanwhile, our own Mark Fussell (see photo) described the changes and improvements in the System.Xml.* namespace classes - getting more than a dozen spontaneous rounds of cheering and applause. So I'm not the only nerd who loves XML!

Of course, I refer to Mark in that familiar way in the previous paragraph because he's "the other" author of the new ADO.NET and System.Xml v2.0 book that was released at the conference. So I had to have a photo showing him proudly holding the book aloft at the end of his session. In reality he was just trying to boost the royalties by persuading everyone to buy a copy.


And to finish up, just in case you though there were no daft photos this month, here's Dave and I testing out the new versions of the books designed to eliminate pilfering. You can safely leave these on your desk and know that no-one will walk off with them. Whether you'll be able to find your desk underneath them is another matter.

Someone who happened to be passing by asked if the books were getting bigger or the authors getting smaller. I blame those oppressive deadlines and editorial pressure. Another year or two and I'll have to saw the legs off my keyboard. But it was heartening to know that these were the two best-selling books in the show's bookstore during the conference. All we have to do now is write the updated versions for the next release.

Oh, and don't forget that this is only one of the two entries for this month. I was away at ASP.NET Connections the week before, and you can read that report here.


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