PDC2008 VSTS Trip Report

Last week was Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC08) at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I was fortunate enough to attend PDC as a representative of the Visual Studio Team System team. This was the best PDC I've ever been to!


Since my colleague and fellow-Australian Chuck is the community lead for VSTS, we made a road-trip out of the event and did a few community events during the week before PDC.

  • Tue - Met with the Portland .NET User Group President
  • Wed - Presented at the San Francisco Bay Area .NET User Group
  • Sat - Attended the Regional Director's Pre-PDC get together at Tim Hucklebee's house in Carlsbad/San Diego.
  • Sat/Sun - Presented at the SoCal Code Camp at the University of Southern California
  • Once we made it into LA we checked into our motel - the Rodeway Inn on Olympic Blvd. This was an interesting place with a pimp in the carpark, a strip club across the road and in the middle of Koreatown. However, at ~$100/night, free wireless and a short walk to the convention center - it sure beats sitting on the bus in traffic each morning and night.


At PDC itself I was very busy. Long days and late nights. Here's a summary of what I got up to:

  • Sun - Q&A at the TFS Pre-Conf followed by dinner with some MVPs
  • Mon - A full day of doing demos and talking to customers at the booh
  • Tue - Another full day of demos and answering questions followed by the team system dinner with team members and MVPs
  • Wed - Lounge duty followed by Ask The Expert in the evening and drinks with the Aussies
  • Thur - VSTS customer breakfast and proctoring in the hands on labs area

Who did I talk to at PDC?

Since PDC is a developer-focused event, it's not surprising that most people I talked to at the booth actually knew what VSTS is. The people I spoke to who had heard of Team System fell into these buckets:

  • Running TFS2005
  • Running TFS2008
  • Looking to migrate from existing systems
  • Microsoft Field Staff
  • Partners who consult with TFS
  • MVPs

What are people excited about?

  • Team Lab
  • "Camano" / Microsoft Test Runner
  • Agile Workbooks
  • Branch Visualization

Hands-On Labs

The HOL's had a great setup with dual-monitors. The lab workbook was displayed on the right monitor and the VPC on the left.

I spent some time and went through the TFS work item tracking labs and found them quite useful and easy to go through.

Demo Machine / VPC

I spent a lot of time demoing features at the pavilion stand and I was impressed with how well the VPC stood up. Running a build slowed it down quite a bit, but showing work items, office integration, branch visualization and the testing tools performed well.


There were three highlights from PDC for me:

  1. Answering questions
  2. Showing the new features and being able to talk with customers about them
  3. The road-trip through Oregon and California

By the end of the first and second days, I was losing my voice and was utterly exhausted from answering so many questions. At one point people were lined up four deep to talk to me about TFS. In particular one guy had a page full of questions that I helped him answer. Then he came back the following day with about 10 more and he still had more at Ask The Experts! This is the most fulfilling part of these events for me, connecting with customers and giving them the answers they need or connecting them with the right people.

I'd like to thank everybody who worked hard to put PDC on, the Team System team for doing a great job in the pavilion and on stage. And of course all the ~5800 attendees who made the trek to LA.

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