Lazycoder doesn’t think PDC is worth the cost


Lazycoder: Microsoft Tech Ed and PDC not worth the time or money

 

What do you really miss by not going to a PDC?

You miss a chance to learn about upcoming MS technology directly from the architects and developers who are building it, and you miss a chance to interact with 5000+ other professionals who share your passion for coding.  Yes, we do go out of our way to make as much information as possible publicly available after the conference, but there’s no substitute for being in the room to participate in a panel discussion like this one.  You won’t find any other conferences where you can ask a question about CLR internals and have it answered by Anders, Chris, Jim and the rest.  Yeah, the panel transcript was blogged, but what wasn’t blogged was the 1:1 interactions with between the Microsoft engineers and the 40 attendees who crowded around the stage after the panel was done.  Nor did anyone blog the conversations that took place among the thousands of attendees as they interacted during sessions, labs, meals, etc.

 

If you don’t think you’re the type of person who’d take advantage of being surrounded by thousands of the sharpest Windows developers on the planet, then you are right, PDC is probably not the best use of your time.  Just like if you’re the type of student who learns everything you need by reading the textbook, paying for university is probably not the best use of your money 😉

 

Notice how the people at blogs.msdn.com will hype Tech Ed and PDC but you hardly hear a word about non-MS sponsored events, like VS Live, over there. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think it’s disingenuous.

Lazycoder’s blog tagline is “I don’t know, therefore I Google.”  But I guess he doesn’t Google too often, because when I ask Google to search blogs.msdn.com for references to conferences like BorCon and VSLive, I see plenty of results.  Not as many as for Microsoft sponsored events, but that’s only natural.  People blog about what they’re working on.  A high percentage of Microsoft people are involved in PDC and TechEd, so it’s natural blogging material.  A much smaller percentage attend other conferences, so you get lower traffic.

Comments (8)

  1. Scott says:

    Good point about the mentions to VSLive and BorCon at blogs.msdn.com. My view on that was mostly anecdotal and based on visiting blogs.msdn.com and weblogs.asp.net a few times a day. If you’ll hand me that rag, I’ll wipe the egg off my face.

    As far as being surrounded by other geeks. Meh, BFD. Getting questions answered by the devs. I attended the PDC in Orlando in 2000 when NGWS…errr… .NET was announced. 😉 Being there didn’t really help me out much later, even with the TP bits. The features change too much between PDC and release. Look at what was announced at the last PDC vs. what’s in the CTP’s for Longhorn and Whidbey. I participated in two usability tests at Microsoft that involved technologies that have changed a lot since the PDC last year. Heck, just check out your "WinFS" category over to the left. Where’s WinFS again? It’s not one of the "pillars of Longhorn" anymore at least. With the proliferation of blogs and some other enhanced communications channels it’s just as easy to get questions answered by devs via the internet or an MVP rather than spending $$$ to attend a week-long product pitch.

    For me personally, getting to hang out with the devs is really no big deal other than the fact that a lot of them are nice people. I live in Seattle. I work with a guy who has 7 ship-it awards for Office and Visual Studio (he’s waiting on the one for VS 2005 when it ships) sitting on his shelf. If I want to hang out with sharp Windows developers, I just show up to a geek dinner or go to Red Robin in Overlake with some of my softie friends. I realize that not everyone has that kind access though. I’m sure if someone paid my way to PDC I’d go. Maybe even if they held it in Seattle. Just to meet some of the people I’ve talked to online. I’m just not convinced that kind of price is worth it just for the networking.

  2. ac says:

    I think its just not very practical to have every developer try attend if it was "cheap". More attenders and you’d likely want bigger venue etc.

    However that could be considered:

    $30 €25 PDC.NET pass

    This would give access to live or soon after access to keynote videos, panel audio/video and some other content otherwise hard to find.

    I believe there are many students, enthuasists and hobbyists etc who’d like to attend just for the kind of value that can be well delivered over the Internet. And currently MS is "missing" them from the PDC. Even if the event was free, many of them wouldn’t be coming as, surprise, just the travel etc would be too expensive in terms of the value this group of people is looking for. Currently this group will get the information as drops later around the blogs and some other sites, MS could tap in here to offer a more centralized option. Of course this could be made costly or cheaply.

    Channel 9 release of PDC keynotes/panels as single DVD image torrent would reduce bandwidth costs if the release was loud and public. So either that or the small fee.

  3. Ian Smith says:

    I think you’re being slightly disingenious with the implication that you get the chance to hang out with the likes of Anders etc. Imagine if that was really the reason tens if not hundreds of thousands went to this event. Can’t be done!

    I’ve not been to a PDC. I have been to a couple of European TechEds and had a good time, but as someone who has to pay for his own training from an "education" point of view I found it very poor value for money.

    The sessions are frequently too short to be practical and invariably tend towards the marketing "simple demo" (even, on occasion, smoke and mirrors) side of things (and if I’d had £10 for every time a demo didn’t work or was quickly dismissed with a joke about it being beta software I’d have enough cash to pay to go again next year).

    Sure you can try and hang around in a long queue with others to try and ask questions afterwards but you’ll typically be in an audience of at least a couple of thousand for the more popular sessions – hardly condusive to asking questions you might have been battling with for some time. Plus of course you miss another session you might have been interested in. Even if you do queue the speaker invariably has somewhere else to be anyway or else, if my experience is anything to go by, tends to say something like "I haven’t come across that. I’ll have to look into it". Thanks but that doesn’t really help me!

    Yes, TechEd/PDC s a fun place to go to hang out with contemporaries. And if you can get your company to pay for you under their "training" budget Microsoft will make sure you have a good time (endless cakes, ice creams, evening parties.. rock concerts!). If I were a manager wanting to reward an employee I’d probably send him to TechEd or PDC.

    But if you’ve got a limited training budget I’m afraid it really does represent very poor "educational" value for money when compared with say a Developmentor guru course or a couple of other courses.

    I haven’t been to TechEd for a couple of years. I really don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything compared with the two years I did go (except I have more money for "real" education).

  4. Anonymous says:

    MobilizedSoftware

  5. Jeremy says:

    Found this link from the MobilizedSoftware blog, some interesting discussion in there. http://weblogs.asp.net/dreilly/archive/2003/08/09/23345.aspx

    Regarding how much time you’ll get with Microsoft folks, I mentioned in http://blogs.msdn.com/jmazner/archive/2005/03/14/395303.aspx that a quarter of our sessions had less than 200 people, which is a pretty good size for some direct interaction and Q/A.

  6. Mark Wan says:

    "Nor did anyone blog the conversations that took place among the thousands of attendees as they interacted during sessions, labs, meals, etc."

    I agree the interactions are useful if you are there, but even attending doesn’t guarantee you are to be at the right place to participate or listen in to these conversations. I feeling I got after going to PDC 2001 and 2003 is that it is like drinking water from a firehose. There must be a better way for these interactions to happen.

  7. Mark Wan says:

    "Nor did anyone blog the conversations that took place among the thousands of attendees as they interacted during sessions, labs, meals, etc."

    I agree the interactions are useful if you are there, but even attending doesn’t guarantee you are to be at the right place to participate or listen in to these conversations. I feeling I got after going to PDC 2001 and 2003 is that it is like drinking water from a firehose. There must be a better way for these interactions to happen.

  8. Mark’s blog: I agree the interactions are useful if you are there, but even attending doesn’t guarantee you are to be at the right place to participate or listen in to these conversations. I feeling I got after going to PDC 2001 and 2003 is that it is like drinking water from a firehose. There must be a better way for these interactions to happen.

    PDC was good for me in 2001 and 2003, but that doesn’t mean I will be going to the one this year.