I feel like I need a T-shirt that says “I survived TechEd”. It was my first time at TechEd and no one can really prepare you for how much work and play takes place at a huge conference like that. I had a BLAST. Our VB6 to .NET migration talks went well but I think by far the most fun was working the Visual Studio booths (so much so that I stayed longer there than I signed up for). I also did a .Net Rocks! show on VB XML Literals (I’ll let you know when it goes live) and hung out at the MSDN booths for a bit playing with the new Social Bookmarks and Feeds. Oh yea, and lots and lots of parties (I’m pretty good at those ;-)) Lessons Learned: Next time bring more business cards. I ran out the second day!
I say duty but manning the booth really didn’t feel like a chore at all. The most fun I always have is talking to people about what they work on, then trying to understand their business challenges and hearing what technology decisions they’ve made. Most folks I spoke with were government employees (agriculture, energy, defense, and a couple people building applications for local police as well). Other folks were building or maintaining departmental applications in large corporations. Fun stuff.
It was also great to hear that most people I spoke with had downloaded and were starting to use Visual Studio 2008. There was lots of great feedback here especially related to IntelliSense and of course LINQ. Many people wanted me to show them how to do something in LINQ as it seemed that they were still trying to get their heads around it all. Some people I spoke with didn’t realize that LINQ isn’t just for accessing data in a database. LINQ is a way to query any collection, be that in-memory objects, XML, or even over in-memory DataSets.
I think my favorite moment was when I worked with a developer that was trying to search an XML document using the XML DOM and we moved the code to LINQ to XML and queried it using one LINQ statement — thus eliminating more than a page full of code. I also showed XML IntelliSense in VB by including a schema in the project. I pointed people to the downloads section of the Visual Basic Developer Center to install the XML to Schema tool which automatically infers the schema of XML data. It’ll be good to get this tool baked into SP1.
There were also a lot of good discussions at the booth on LINQ to relational data (SQL, Entities, DataSets) and which approach is best in what scenarios. I got a couple “not another data access technology” vibes but once I explained them as options on top of ADO.NET rather than replacements I think people were more at ease. I showed a few people how you can take advantage of LINQ without having to re-architect your data access layer at all. I also pointed people who know T-SQL but are trying to learn LINQ to a series of blog posts the VB Team is putting together on “Converting SQL to LINQ” that show translations of a variety of statements and scenarios.
VB6 to .NET Migration Talks
The VB6 to .NET Migration topic had a great turnout. What was a bit surprising is that even though the Interop Forms Toolkit has been out for more than a year, it was news to almost everyone. Folks planning a phased migration should really get the Interop Toolkit and the Power Packs into their arsenal.
This topic had two sessions that I did with Rob Windsor (VB MVP) and Paul Yuknewicz (colleague at Microsoft). We did one TLC in an “interactive theater” located on the trade show floors as well as one “birds-of-a-feather” (BOF) discussion. The TLC we presented in similar format to the Webcast I did with Rob that you can view here. The BOF was really more of an interactive discussion and the group had some great challenges and we addressed many architectural options for migration. The discussion also included a couple great folks from ArtinSoft who provide migration tools and consulting.
VB6 to .NET Migration resources:
- Developer Centers: Visual Basic 6, Visual Basic.NET
- Interop Forms Toolkit (check out resources here and here as well)
- Visual Basic PowerPacks
- Assessment Tool
- Code Advisor
- Free PAG Guide: Upgrading Visual Basic 6.0 Applications to Visual Basic .NET
- Book: Upgrading Microsoft® Visual Basic® 6.0 to Microsoft Visual Basic .NET
- ArtinSoft: VB6 to .NET Migration Tool