Call them chalk talks, call them interactive sessions, I love that kind of sessions. You can pull it off only if you have a small audience (or at least if the assertive elements are a manageable number), but they’re the most effective.
The interesting/challenging thing about those is that you never know where you will go. Some time it’s all high level, some other time you drill down in a specific scenario and you spend one full hour on it. What tool do you use for supporting such unpredictable course? You can have a biig deck and jump back & forth the slides; not fun. You can use the whiteboard/tablet: nice, one of may favorite methods, but results are usually not that polished/accurate/understandable. You can have a kickass demo that covers everything: awesome, but what if your audience is not into code or you don’t have the hardware for running 3 virtual machines?
In the last 4 years I tried all those: today I wanted to experiment with something new.
I am sure you heard of DeepZoom, an amazing Silverlight technology which allows you to seamlessly zoom into images practically as deep as you like (that must have been what Deckard had in Blade Runner, but without all the messy machinery :-)). This afternoon I spent a couple of hours playing with the Deep Zoom Composer, and i came out with the diagram you see below.
This is not even near to the level of detail I want to add, but that should be enough to get an idea of the potential. Navigating the schema is really easy, especially if you make it full screen (button on the top right corner). Hover on the elements and the single images will be highlighted, click for zooming them to full view. The mouse wheel zooms in and out, right click & drag pans. If you even get lost, or if you want to jump to a specific location, just open the navigation menu (button on the top left) and select the element you want. It’s that easy! Look for the screenshots hidden in the AD FS treeview in the Identity Provider element, or dive deep though the relying party visual studio screenshots of the solution explorer all the way to the full web.config 🙂
Now, unless you don’t know the topic this may not be especially illuminating without a narrator; but nothing prevents to add more captions in the future to solve that problem. I’ll think about it as I add important missing parts such as actas architecture & code, custom STSes, ClaimsAuthorizationManager policy, etc.
I plan to use this together wiht ZoomIt (for the onscreen drawing), I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂