Complain enough and…you get to be in charge!

Be honest now… you’ve complained about TechEd haven’t you?  You’ve said the sessions were too shallow or too deep.  You’ve said they are filled with marketing fluff instead of the real meat that you wanted.  Ok… I’ve complained too and now I’m a part of the team that has to decide on the architecture track for TechEd 2006. 


Over the years there has been a standard mold for Microsoft conference sessions and while it is easy and comfortable to fit the mold, I have often tried to break the mold.  Last year I had a great TechEd at both the European and US conferences and apparently you agreed because I had the highest session scores for the architecture track.  But architecture is such a difficult track because it is so ill defined.  If you have a SQL track, you know what you are getting but architecture… what will you get there?


We had a little brain storming session today and decided on some principles for planning the track.


Rule #1 – Prefer concrete to abstract sessions

This means that sessions like “What is SOA” would get less preference than sessions like “How services transformed the architecture of XYZ corp”.


Rule #2 – Relate abstract concepts to concrete scenarios

If you do have to deal with a concept, you should do so in the context of a scenario.  Wherever possible the scenarios ought to be based on a real world project.


Rule #3 – Bring in the best speakers

Don’t just put some schmuck on the stage because they happen to be the PM for the product in question.  Get people with some “skillz” at speaking because we don’t want to put the crowd to sleep.


Based on these principles we decided on some templates for session types.


Template #1: “How’d They Do That”

These sessions would be a case study where an architect would present a completed (or nearly complete) project using the following form


  • Context

  • Architectural Problem(s)

  • Solutions

  • Lessons Learned

  • What you would do differently next time


Template #2: “Architecture Failures”

These sessions would look at failures of architecture including the symptoms and causes of failure as well as discussing early detection of failure.


Template #3: “How Do I…”

These sessions would use patterns to describe a solution to common architecture challenges


What do you think?

Q: If you could attend only one conference in 2006 what would it be and why? What makes a great conference?

Q: What problems/scenario(s) would you like to see discussed in the architecture track?


Comments (3)

  1. gchastne says:

    The principles look good to me. If architecture is broken down like this – conceptual, logical, physical. We have seen conceptual stuff and physical stuff, it’s the logical stuff which bind it all together that we have been missing.

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