Personal Rant: Fighting for TechEd Sessions and mitigation ideas


There was a lot of good sessions and fighting for too few spots TechEd this year.  It was brutal, and I mean brutal. There were hundreds of recommendations, fewer total session spots then last year, a new security track, VSTS sessions, and a Business Applications (MS CRM) track. About 90% of all session recommendations were cut. Ouch!

Bottom line, there are only two dedicated C# sessions this year. I tried, I really, *really* did. We had more last year, and they were all very highly rated and attended. That said, there are still plenty of other good sessions that should interest C# developers (I’ll blog about them lest you get a bad opinion overall).

One of my biggest issues is that the Smart Client track focuses way too much on Office. Office already has a dedicated Office Developer Conference, so I personally don’t think that more then half (14 out of 23) sessions needed to be dedicated to Office. Here’s a quick breakdown

  • 3 InfoPath sessions
  • 6 Office Programming Sessions (This includes niche sessions like programming Visio)
  • 3 VSTO sessions
  • 2 IBF sessions

Like I said before, there are only 2 dedicated C# sessions (and only 2 dedicated VB sessions for that matter, but they at least got a pre-con). So does this mean there are more InfoPath developers or VSTO developers in the world? Is it obvious that I’m bitter because I wanted more C# sessions?! Yes. Can you tell that the Smart Client track was run by someone in Office?

Here are some gems that we had planned that got cut:

  • Visual C# 2003 Pre-Con
    A full day of dedicated to learning C#
  • C# Language Enhancements 
    How can you cut a session given by Anders Hejlsberg that was in the top 5 sessions last year?
  • C# Best Practices 1.1 – Juval Lowy
  • C# Best Practices 2.0 – Juval Lowy
  • Patterns and Practices – Best Practices for Smart Client Applications
  • Patterns and Practices – Creating Applications using the UIP 2.0 Application Block
  • Developing real-world .NET solutions for Microsoft Office 11 using Managed Code 
    People say Microsoft doesn’t create applications that use the .NET Framework and they point to Office as an example. Well, Business Contact Manager is a fully managed application that ships with every copy of Office 2003 Professional. This would’ve been a killer session IMO.
  • Best Practices & Lessons Learned from .NET Framework 2.0 & Visual Studio .NET 2005 Early Adopters
  • The Well Designed API
    There is however a great series on MSDN for this now
  • Under the Covers: Generic Collections
  • NET Smart Clients at Microsoft:  Real Enterprise Solutions and Lessons Learned 
    We have an internal team that’s developed and deployed an enterprise wide .NET Framework 2.0 application. It includes online/offline data, ClickOnce, etc.
  • Interface Based Programming
  • Debugging Data-Driven ASP.NET 2.0 Applications with Visual Studio 2005

We also have a number of Instructor Led Labs, but sadly these are on the chopping block (please reply with comments if you would like hands-on instructor led lab listed below)

Hands-on Instructor Led Labs (assuming they get approved)

  • C# Generics – Juval Lowy
  • C# 2.0 Iterators – Juval Lowy
  • System.Transactions – Juval Lowy
  • Lap Around Visual C#  2005 – Dan

My question to you: What is the best mitigation strategy for cut sessions? Here are some options (feel free to suggest more)

  • Move to the cabana – This means no slides or demos, just a whiteboard
  • Make it a webcast
  • Something else entirely

Thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions welcome!


Comments (9)

  1. The cabanas would be terrible for many of those. Can’t show code and very difficult to hear.

    Webcasts sound like a great idea but the reason many speakers do TechEd is to actually attend TechEd and get their expenses paid. WebCasts aren’t going to do that.

    Then again with the focus on office perhaps many of the speakers won’t want to attend…

    This sure seems like a throwback to the TechEd of yesteryear where it was the IT show and mostly had to do with installation/deployment and corporate development(i.e. VB and Office Developers).

    Microsoft sure has a hard time figuring out what they want to do with TechEd and PDC. It is enough to give the average developer whiplash.

  2. Hi,

    I think the biggest problem is who is the Teched aimed at. I remember when I first started going to Microsoft technical conferences back around the time of first european Teched that the Teched conferences tended to be aimed the lower end corporate developers. I mean more the Microsoft Office developers and the lower end Visual Basic programmers. That was why I started going to the PDCs as they offered much more technical conference.

    I have not been to a european Teched for a while but they seem to be getting more and more techical at the same time as the PDC, well certainly the last one, talk more and more about what "might" be delivered.

    By the cutting of the sessions you mentioned it would seem to me that the US organisers of Teched are still trying to aim at the Office developers + and not the more hardcore developers. Also in Europe they extracted all the infrastructure out of the Teched and created the ITForum conference which of course frees up more space for sessions.

    Maybe there is gap for a technical conference which is a more technical Teched but one that is talking about technology being delivered today or at the latest next year.

    Thanks for the rant, I feel your pain

    Martin Spedding

  3. MichaelM says:

    Did these get cut because we’ll have another PDC this year? It seemed like the Tech Ed 2003 development content was a little light when I was there too.

  4. No, these did not get cut because of PDC. PDC planning has started but they aren’t even close to picking sessions

  5. Daniel Moth says:

    >>My question to you: What is the best mitigation strategy for cut sessions?

    Distibute the slides/demos/speakerNotes/speakers to local (INETA) user groups around the world.

  6. Jerry says:

    … have the community to ask them back.

    If this is also true for TechED Europe I question the value for me. Its OK to have Office out there but where is the balance ?

  7. Ron says:

    I must say I’m shocked at this. I was all set to push for attending TechEd this year because of last year’s TechEd. Now I’m not so sure. While we do some Office integration in the project I work on, it’s not our focus (nor will it ever be). I don’t see how I can justify attending for such content.

    As for getting the material out, will sessions even be [fully] developed if they aren’t expected for TechEd? Webcasts seem like the next best option, but only if the material is covered as it would have been were the session presented at TechEd.

    I’m disappoined with this turn of events.

  8. Thanks everyone for the comments, it’s encouraging that I’m not alone 🙂

    As Ron hinted, no, the sessions won’t be fully developed if they aren’t expected for TechEd unless they are covered in a webcast or some other mechanism. I’m working to get as many sessions as webcasts as possible…

    Distributing to INETA would be great, but most speakers don’t script their demos or slide notes and most won’t want to especially if their session wasn’t picked for TechEd.

    To Jerry’s question, TechEd in other subsidiaries (like TechEd Europe) are fully owned by the subsidiary, so they can add/change sessions as they see fit. TechEd Europe is always a bit more C# friendly 🙂

    As far as having the community ask for them back, I would love that, I just don’t know of a way. The only person that I know that got any community feedback on sessions was Kit George –

    The only other way to get feedback on the popularity of sessions is when we get all the sessions in the session registration tool and we send an email to attendees asking what sessions they want to attend. This is always a good indicator for the most popular sessions. For TechEd last year, the most popular developer session in pre-registration was Eric Gunnerson’s "C# Best Practices session" and it was very well attended and got a good overall rating too. But, as mentioned above, that session got *CUT* for TechEd ’05 and there is no C# Best Practices session this year 🙁

    While I do think that Windows Forms and other popular technologies (C# & VB) got shafted by Office and the Business Applications track (*31* sessions on Great Plains software!), I still think there are lots of good sessions and events. Check out my picks for sessions and tell me what you think –