PDC planning and your input

Back in January, my manager (Steve Cellini) mentioned that he’d kindly volunteered me to be Content Owner for PDC.  I haven’t blogged about that yet, as I’ve been spending the past 6 weeks trying to get my head wrapped around what exactly it is that I’m supposed to be doing.  I’m finally starting to get clarity – which means not that I have all the answers, but that I’m starting to get a sense of what questions to ask, at least.


Here’s the first one that comes to mind.  Why do you attend to PDC?  What do you hope to get out of the experience, and what makes it worth the cost of attending?  We know from our attendee survey in 2003 that around a quarter of our guests said they just wanted to keep up to date on existing technology, and another two thirds said they wanted to learn about new technology.


But what does it really mean to want to learn about a technology?  I can think of a few different intentions:

  1. I want to see Microsoft’s big picture vision and demos of future apps, to inspire me in planning the next version of my own app/features.
  2. I want to understand what the big new pieces of platform technology provide, so that I understand what new end-user capabilities I can add to my app and how to architect my app to support them
  3. I want to deeply understand the internal architecture of these new platform technologies, so that I can evaluate whether they are robust enough to meet my app’s needs
  4. I want to learn about how Microsoft expects its platform to be used, so that I can be sure I’m implementing best practice architecture and coding in my own apps that leverage MS technology.
  5. I want to learn how to write code against the new platform technology, so that I can start hacking on this stuff on the plane ride home and see if I can make it do anything useful
  6. I want to talk with my peers, architects and developers at MS and other companies, to understand how they’re approaching technology and make sure I’m not missing the next big thing.

And there are probably more beyond that.  I expect most people don’t have just one answer, but it would be interesting to see how you balance these goals.  Do you want to spend 10% of your time on #1, and 90% of your time on #6?  An even split of 16% of your time across all 6 areas?


We’re early on in the content planning process, and this is the time for me to guide what kind of breakout sessions, labs, pre-conference sessions, etc, we’ll be providing.  So, what do you want to see?  If you’ve attended PDC in the past, what did you like/dislike?  If you haven’t attended PDC, in favor of other industry conferences, why?  If you don’t think conferences are a valuable use of your time and money, why not?


Post a comment, or better yet, blog your thoughts and send me a trackback so I can read them.  I’ve plenty more questions to ask in the next several months if we can get a good dialogue going…

Comments (16)

  1. I attended the PDC in 2003 and was a little disappointed that there was little (actually none that I found) content on current technologies. I believe this was more because of my expectations for going to a conference than anything else.

    Having now been to a PDC and knowing what to expect, I’ll be attending the next one and looking forward to seeing the new technologies that will be available in the next 2-3 years…

  2. Jeremy, should we be sending you congratulations or sympathies for your being volunteered as Content Owner? 🙂

    Seriously, though, I attend for all six reasons listed above, and I’d add a couple more:

    – I hope to be able to give feedback to Microsoft on their products and technologies, especially regarding the developer interfaces;

    – Microsoft throws really good parties for developers. 😉

    I was greatly impressed with the cabanas at Tech-Ed 2004 (not so much the execution as the concept), and would like to see something in that vein for PDC.

    Oh, and is there any word on academic discounts for registration?

  3. What are the primary objectives of PDC? Is it Longhorn focused or is just to talk about the past 9 months and the products you guys had released throughout the year such as XP Pro x64, Whidbey, SQL 2k5 and how you can start taking advantage of them and a little bit about Longhorn?

  4. Marco Russo says:

    I’d like to spend my time between:

    #3 40%

    #2 25%

    #1 20%

    #5 15%

  5. Jeremy says:

    Marco: thanks for giving such a specific break down, that helps.

    Andre, Brian: see http://blogs.msdn.com/jmazner/archive/2005/03/09/391235.aspx. If you’re interested in current technology TechEd might be a better conference choice.

    Jeffrey: probably a mix of both 😉 As for academic discounts, what did you have in mind? I’m told that when we tried them in the past, not many people took advantage of it.

  6. Shame on me, I read the answers first. Now reading the original post, something else comes to my mind. PDC 2003 was great, but I missed the theoretical "edge". What do I mean? MSR wasn’t there. Many devs I know at least have a master degree if not a PhD. We want to see some prototypes, it’s ok if they don’t work on a demo stage, but lets see the magic. Give us some "lab experience" beyond HOL (Which is fun, but really not much more then entertainment). Show us revolutionary new software development concepts, we all went to grad school, we’ll understand.

    On the other end of the spectrum I missed scenarios. How does RTC translate into higer employee productivity again? Where is the ROI of Team System? Show me how the RFIDs in every PDC attendee item populate the halls (That is, if you plant RFIDs 🙂 ) and help you to find lost items in a fraction of a second. Where is the productivity leak in my current infrastructure and how do I fix it?

    Grats to the challange, and the courage to tell everybody that it’s you who took it 😉

    P.S.: Oh, and make the W-Lan work this time ;->

  7. #4: 40%

    #5: 40%

    #6: 20%

    I attended PDC 2003, and I have to say I was completely overwhelmed (it was my first, and I was caught some sort of cold/flu in the first couple days).

    If I had to add something… perhaps a team-coding lab where various attendees can form virtual teams in a lab – and build a functioning app together (following some sort of dev process tutorial and best practices brief). You know – using all the new features in VS2005 (NUnit, Code Coverage, Refactoring, App Modeling, Work-Flow of requirements, etc).

  8. Let me give you my perspective from a Microsoft employee… I want feedback! I want to hear what folks like and don’t like about V1.1 and 2.0… I love to hear where customers think our competitors have an edge on us or where we are not as productive as we could be. I think this is done in small groups (preferably over free food and drink ;-))

  9. Jeremy says:

    PubSub found me another thread of comments about why people attend PDC:


  10. On academic discounting: It depends on which academic audience you’re trying to reach.

    – If you’re trying to get university/college CS people to come, most of those interested in attending would be students, who wouldn’t be able to afford PDC even with a discount.

    – If you’re trying to get university/college IT staff to come, I think those people *would* be receptive to a discount, and they do have money in their budgets for training.

    If academic discounts won’t fly, is there anything available for MSDN Universal subscribers?

  11. jeremy says:

    thanks all for the comments. There’s another guy who got the honor of being community lead for PDC, which covers everything from W-LAN to ideas like Steven’s team coding lab (a great idea, by the way!). The community owner hasn’t yet outed himself on his blog, but when he does, I’ll link to him.

  12. This post isn’t about the PDC. It’s about the several open positions on my team: when we’re not doing…