Trip Report: DevReach Bulgaria & SDC Netherlands

I’ve been travelling for the last couple weeks around Europe to speak at a couple conferences and now that my sessions are all over I thought I’d post some stories and pictures of how things went. I have to say I really enjoyed my trip and it’s great to see familiar faces on attendees and speakers alike. In between the conferences I headed to Rome with a few other speakers and their girlfriends/wives and we had a blast. Check out the stories and pictures below!

DevReach – Sofia, Bulgaria

The first conference I spoke at was DevReach in Sofia, Bulgaria. I had never been to Sofia. Actually I’ve never been to eastern Europe before at all and so I really didn’t know what to expect. But the people were so incredibly friendly! They spoke English well, asked a lot of great questions in my sessions and were very hospitable.

DevReach’s big sponsor is Telerik and they drew about 500 attendees which is a good number for a conference out here. Scott Stanfield from Vertigo Software kicked off the conference with a Keynote on UX Technology and the importance of UI design in software. I finished up the Keynote with a 30 minute teaser on Visual Studio LightSwitch to draw folks to my session later. When I asked how many people were using Visual Studio 2010 almost everyone raised their hand so that was really great to see. I rocked the house because later over 100 people showed up to my session later.

Visual Studio LightSwitch – Beyond the Basics

This talk is a variation of the talk Joe Binder gave at VSLive! when we announced the product. I tweaked it a bit to show some of the basic building blocks but the focus of the talk was on how to pull and associate data from separate data sources (including SharePoint & custom RIA service) how to refine screens, queries and entities with business logic code as well as how to customize the UI with your own Silverlight controls. We got pretty deep into the possibilities. The talk is based on the the following resources:

Like I mentioned I had over 100 attendees in this session and a lot of great questions in the end. (I even had a fun discussion later over a beer with an attendee that was asking why we even give folks some of the options we do, arguing that the entity designer should be even simpler.) Lots of good little nuggets to bring back to the team. When I asked at the end if they liked what they saw I got a huge applause. I think LightSwitch is going to be big in Bulgaria!

Building Office Productivity Applications with Visual Studio

I’ve been doing this talk for over a year now. It’s a good end-to-end architecture and series of demos that show how to build on top of the SharePoint and Office platforms and shows off a lot of the tools in Visual Studio for building Office and SharePoint solutions. I based this talk on the Northwind OBA sample and series of tutorials that you can download here:

Software Developer Conference (SDC) – Zeist, Netherlands

After a couple fun days in Rome (see pictures below), I headed to Zeist, Netherlands for SDC.  This is my 4th time speaking at SDC and my 5th time in the Netherlands but I’ve never been to Zeist. It’s actually very beautiful here, lots of trees with fall colors and the rain has started. It’s a bit cold for me but I can handle it :-). Typically this conference also draws about 500 people but this year there were much less.

I did the same sessions here as DevReach but also did one on OData. They were equally well received according to the feedback. However the Dutch seem to be a little quieter than Bulgarians so I didn’t have as many questions except in my LightSwitch session. The best part of the LightSwitch session is that I had a couple skeptical speakers in the room and after my session they definitely understood what it was all about and who it was for – small/medium businesses and departmental applications. Some folks mentioned that they were going to try it out for a couple small applications/modules they had that should be streamlined but they just don’t have the time. One is a simple time tracker the other was admin piece to a public web site. Very exciting!

Creating and Consuming OData Services

In addition to the sessions above, I also did a session on OData (i.e. WCF Data Services) and it was an eaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrly session, 8:30am, and I was afraid no one would show up. But I started out with about 15 people and it grew to about 25 in the end so that was pretty good considering I think only 50 people made it to the whole conference that early ;-).

The session goes over how to create data services over Northwind and AdventureWorks data warehouse as well as how to consume them using PowerPivot in Excel. I also show how to write a VSTO Excel document customization as well as a Outlook add-in that works with SharePoint 2010 data services. I showed how the OData protocol works on the wire as well as how to use the data services client in .NET. I’ll be doing this session on November 10th in San Francisco SQL Server Users group so that should be fun to have a different audience.

The cool thing about data services is that you can easily and securely expose data in your enterprise and then business users can use PowerPivot to consume these feeds directly into Excel 2010. These spreadsheet applications can then be saved back to SharePoint 2010 so that data can be managed by IT and refreshed on a schedule. Then users can browse to the applications and view them in the browser using Excel services. There’s a powerful story here even for a developer :-)

Here are some OData resources I used you should check out:


Here’s some pictures from DevReach, Rome and Zeist. Carl Franklin’s having fun learning some traditional dancing at the first restaurant in Bulgaria that Neli and Martin took us to on the first night (they are pictured below, second row in the center). After the conference we took a bus tour to Starosel for some yummy wine tasting and we also visited some ancient ruins. Then I went to Rome with great speakers Steven Forte and Joe Semeniuk and their girls, as well as Miguel Castro. Lots of fun in one of my most favorite places in the world, Roma! Finally I finished up the trip with SDC in Zeist and I’m still here. Tomorrow I’ll be heading on a special speakers trip and I can’t wait to see the pictures from that!

IMG_2242 IMG_2240 IMG_2241 IMG_2235 IMG_2249 IMG_2260 IMG_2259 IMG_2265 IMG_2273 IMG_2282 IMG_2298 IMG_2302IMG_2337 IMG_2333 IMG_2345 IMG_2375 IMG_2441 IMG_2385

Thanks Europe, see you next time!!