PDC Trip Report


  • Customers absolutely love Whidbey and PDC.  Customer quote from the PDC Underground Party, "Visual Studio 2005 is just an excellent product.  Everyone on your team should be really proud.  My overall favorite new feature in 2005 is the tool window docking guides."
  • Customers love Project Templates.  While walking somewhere, I overheard a conversation wondering how Project Templates work.  I had to stop, introduce myself, and explain how they work.  Templates were just that popular.
  • Customers love Tip of the Week.  People would just stop me wherever I walked and tell me, “Hey, I love reading your Visual Studio Tips!”
  • Customers love playing Halo 2 with you  =)


  • Our VSIP Pavilion Booth had no flyers, no swag, and no CDs to hand out.
  • Lack of a FAQ for the VSIP Pavilion Booth.
  • Food – it just wasn’t available for staff long enough.  We practically had to beg for breakfast, since it was only served between 7:30 – 8:30.  Lunch was a little better, but because of people’s work schedules, it was still rough trying to get a bite to eat when you needed it.

Best 1-1 experience with a Customer

Wednesday for lunch, I look for a table with just one customer eating alone, so I can chat with him/her 1-1 about Visual Studio.  I find my table and introduce myself.  After eating a little, I pull out my laptop and let him play.  I give him my 5 minute tour of the new VS Core Whidbey features, when the words “Emacs emulation” grab his full attention.  He immediately asks, “Do you have macro recording enabled for Emacs?  I won’t use Emacs unless it has macro recording enable, because recording and playing macros is a tremendous productivity feature for me.  I smile and said, “Yes, we do.  I caught this during one of our FTPs and raided the issue.  It was fixed.”  He’s all excited and gives Emacs a whirl, starting with the macro recording.  “Perfect” is his response as he slides the laptop back to me.  

“Most Applicable Project to the VS Core QA team” Award

Lab in a Rack – build by a CSM MVP.  It allows you to create Virtual Lab environments of Virtual Servers.  You specify how many machines, their configurations and sizes, and so forth, and their software will do all of the allocations.  Pretty interesting stuff when thinking about our lab environments.

“Most Different Project” Award

Software that allows Home Depot and other suppliers to specify their molding cuts.  I was able to give the customer ideas how to make his software accessible to color-blinded users by allowing the user to customize their own colors versus just using hard-coded colors.  This is after talking with him for almost an hour about Vancouver, Seattle, Hurricanes, and Dog Obedience schools of thought. =)

What we can do on VSCore to make next time even better

  • Something, anything to hand out, especially flyers with information about VSIP and VS Extensibility, which websites to visit, and so forth
  • Have an internal brownbag for everyone on the team going to PDC, so we are experts in all areas of VS Core, and not just the areas we work on
  • Have a scripted demo available at the booth to demo new and improved features to customers

VSIP Product Pavilion

I felt that there were two types of questions, either very specific or very generic.  It was about 50/50 those needing technical support versus those interested in VSIP.  Several VSIP partners stopped by to say hi.

Best part was when I was able to talk to three different customers about the Managed Language Service.  I was so happy that I had worked on it just last year, so I was familiar with the interfaces the customers wanted to know about.

PDC Underground

A local software organization / club, I believe a usenet group, had their monthly meeting during the PDC, so they had flyers at PDC to stop by and attend.  They had several speakers giving talks at the time.  A friend from another division and I went to check it out.  It was fun going up to people and saying, “Hi, I don’t know anyone here, so can I talk to y’all?”  and watching them all say, “Oh absolutely, of course.”  Behold the power of the blue shirt and being 1 of 5 women in the room.  =)

I met with several groups of people, some who had used Whidbey; others from Microsoft Australia.  One of the speakers there recognized me from my blog (my picture is up there) and stopped by to thank me for blogging about the Hurricane.  Although he doesn’t have family or friends down there, he said that he had been following the events on my blog.  I was so happy to hear that one of my blog readers that had nothing to do with the hurricane found the information interesting.  I was concerned my hard-core blog readers might get annoyed by the hurricane noise, but to my relief it has been quite the contrary.

Meet the Experts

There were so many customers wanting to eat dinner with the VSIP experts that many of us had to give up our seats to make sure there was enough room.  So, I sat with Accessibility Team for Meet the Experts and got to answer quite a few questions (including one regarding the Accessibility of Visual Studio) and gave our more of my Braille business cards.

Track Lounges

The first two days it was quiet – all blue shirts.  Those of us at the track booth figured that the customers were too intimidated with all of the blue shirts.  That drastically changed on Thursday.  There were more customers than blue shirts. 

Whenever things were quiet, I picked up an Xbox controller, and out of nowhere customers came wanting to play.  After we played a round of slayer, customers would be in line to ask me questions.  The games didn’t last for more than 10 minutes, and no one had been in line previously, so kudos to whoever thought of the Halo 2 idea.

Also several customers had asked why we weren’t showing off the Xbox 360 at PDC. 

Thanks to DanLev, I got to demo Code Snippets to a customer in one of the Hands-on Labs.  He loved the code snippets and was extremely excited about Whidbey.

Lagniappe (extra stuff)

Two things that impressed these German developers the most during their Tour of Microsoft campus (their pre-PDC event)
From http://weblogs.asp.net/rweigelt/archive/2005/09/10/424781.aspx

  1. the size of the campus
  2. and the speed at which Sara talks 😉

Putting the Customer first
From http://www.lily.org/blog/2005/09/pdc05-day-four-ask-experts-still-more.html
When they finished filling my brain, I stumbled off to take notes about the detail. There were a number of folks playing Halo 2 and when they finished none other than Sara Ford (blog) offered her spot to me. I wish I could still play games, but a weekend of solid Hexen taught me I better not or I stop working. Isn’t addiction terrible?

Raymond Chen is awesome to chat with.  And for those of you who click on the link, No, I didn’t spy on his audience (that info was second-hand), but we are the same height =)

Comments (4)

  1. PP says:

    Above in the page, you mentioned that you stopped by to disuss/explain "how Project Templates work", can you provide some insight please (prabhupr@hotmail.com)

  2. saraford says:

    Here’s the link to the blog entry on How Project Templates work



  3. Mike Dunn says:

    While I was watching some other guys start up a game of Halo, I saw "OMG a girl!" in the player list and got a good laugh out of it. 😉 Too bad I didn’t keep up on blogs during the PDC (being up 6am-midnight will kill all your free time) or I would’ve come to your ATE table.

  4. Haidong Ji says:

    What about VI/VIM emulation in the IDE? Not only the IDE for VSudio, but also Management Studio for SQL Server (For that matter, all Microsoft IDEs). That will really make this customer happy;)

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