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It's been a three or four days now since I returned from PDC.  After seeing all the other bloggers give detailed descriptions of the sessions and parties I didn't feel too obligated to add too much of my own spin on topics heavily covered by others.  Instead, I thought I'd wait till the recordings were available and share links to the highlights I was witness too.  As to my thoughts on having the recordings available so quickly after the conference and of such a high quality, I can only say I am very impressed.  It doesn't mean I'm not eagerly looking forward to attending next years conference because the networking opportunities and social interaction with some great developers were priceless (heck just seeing the planning and coordination that went into providing snacks and meals to thousands of developers was worth the trip).   I just think having these recordings available just enhance the value of the overall conference experience by allowing me to catch up on all I missed after the conference.  Plus it is great to have these available to go back through as a reference to pick out pieces I've forgotten the specifics of. 

So here goes the start of my recommendations to you:

The Future of C# by Anders Hejlsberg

I can't describe how impressed I was with this presentation.  He came off as extremely bright and a fluent speaker and answered every question with ease.  Also, just listening to him and seeing the massive crowds he drew (plus all the overflow rooms and repeat presentations) caused me to come back and evaluate my own organizations career path to see how I could grow to be a "Technical Fellow".  Funny but couldn't find it on our org chart.  I actually caught the repeat of this because the first session was full and I wanted an actual seat in the room he was in.  The greatest point he made in terms of how C# and VB.NET have diverged and came together at various points in history was that the fact that you are either a VB or C# programmer is just a quirk of history.  Most people just stuck with what they were familiar with.

The highlights (IMHO):

  • Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR...and not DLR as in David Lee Roth)
    • Very slick way of incorporating this into the language to provide the best of both worlds: strongly typed syntax plus late-bound dynamic binding.  Plus it appears very extensible so I'm sure we'll be seeing a number of vendors (MS included) plug in their own DLR adapters to support different bindings.
  • Optional and Named Parameters in C#
    • As a .NET instructor and training I always find it difficult to explain why VB and C# differ on some simple concepts like this.  I'm glad to see C# finally add these.
  • Parallel Execution
    • This was a topic covered all over during PDC but he gave some good reasons why this is something we should be more concerned about.  I personally write a TON of multithreaded code and do a significant amount of teaching on the subject...but I also realize that it's a complex subject which most developers never fully grasp.
  • The NoPIA Option for COM Interop
    • This is a long overdue solution to a very difficult situation in terms of COM interop.  They did a nice job and came out with an elegant solution the incorporates MUCH less memory overhead, simplified deployment (as there is no longer the need for a Primary Interop Assembly), and a cleaner syntax (made possible by optional and named parameters).  If COM interop is your thing, check out a better/more detailed overview of this new capability here:
  • Compiler as a Service
    • This was the final and slickest part of his presentation and you'll have to watch the video to truly appreciate it.  It's really nothing more than a managed C# compiler made available as a nice component in the Microsoft.CSharp namespace.  You can use it to evaluate expressions, classes, etc (really just any code you want).  It works without all the overhead involved with the current reflection components and the need for isolated AppDomains etc).  He finishes with a very cool little console app/C# evaluator.  This type of stuff leans heavily towards imbedding this into an app as a simple (but powerful) scripting language.


Microsoft CLR Futures by Joshua Goodman

Another great low-level description of the CLR and where it's headed (regardless of whether you are a C# or VB.NET fanatic).  It was interesting to hear this discussion from guys who treat both the language teams as their clients.  These guys just write and maintain the runtime, the JIT compilers, the GC, etc. and treat all the language providers equally.

The highlights:

  • Interesting discussion on how the .NET framework evolves and how they version things
    • Why does 3.0 and 3.5 differ from 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0?  (They didn't answer the question I had which is: WHY THE SCREWY NUMBERING SCHEME?)
  • More COM interop/NoPIA discussion
    • See above...
  • Code Contracts
    • These looked VERY cool and were very understated in terms of the overall PDC content.  I'll blog more on these later after some homework and research.
  • How the CLR added support for DLR to support languages like F# and IronPython
  • A very cool discussion of how the GC has been optimized
  • Handling exceptions that corrupt the CLR state and the issues therein.
  • The new ability to use VS.NET to debug dump reports


XNA Game Studio 3.0 by Frank Savage

I'm actually a longtime fanatic of game development and have a huge collection of game development books.  I went to college to do a lot of graphics development but the real world caught up with me and I found that my career path pointed me to the enterprise (although I'm currently recruiting an underground game dev team here in St. Louis to build some casual if you are interested get in touch with me :).

This session was kind of a guilty pleasure and I was amazed at the size of the crowd.  I've been using the beta of XNA 3.0 for awhile and was excited that the final release hit the last day of PDC (I've loaded it on a few boxes already).

If you have always wondered what it takes to build a game and want to see a neat little 3D game build quickly using tools you are already familiar with...this is well worth an hour of your time.  Sit back and watch a great presentation. 

I can't say there was anything in this session that was radically new to me but I found it fascinating and recommend you watch it.  It's a great intro to XNA and game development in C#.


Tips and Tricks for the Visual C# IDE by Dustin Campbell

This was a very interesting presentation and I think it was partially funded by DevExpress as much of the demo's included how to use their CodeRush tool (which now has a free version available here:  Don't get me wrong, I didn't mind much, it was just that it was the most commercial piece of any of the sessions (if you ignore the fact that all of PDC is a Microsoft sales pitch :).  I'd recommend downloading it and installing it if you don't already have it.  I'm a ReSharper person myself but I see advantages of both.


  • Control-. (Ctl-Period):  Anywhere in the coding window of the IDE when a "Smart Tag" menu is available (and you see the smaller/thicker underscore) you can click Ctl-. and it will open the smart tag window or (if only one option is available) it will execute that option.   Very cool.
  • Source Code Outliner Power Toy :
    • Just forget reading about it and click that link and install that thing.  It should just come in VS.NET by default
  • VS.NET Snippet Designer:
    • If you've ever wanted to increase you (or your teams) productivity by creating your own code snippets for common coding patterns....this is the tool for you.  Watch the video for a nice little intro.

I'm done typing highlights...if you work in VS.NET I'll bet you'll learn one or two (or twelve) timesaving ideas from this presentation.  I'm kind of proud I knew most of it...but I still learned some killer things.  Watch this sometime and share what you learn with your friends.


Day 2 Keynote

If you read this blog and got down to here you must be pretty hardcore (most eyes would glaze over when reading about these types of topics).  If you watch NOTHING ELSE from PDC, I encourage you to take the time to site through this keynote.  Even if you watch it in sections...please watch it.  This keynote reminded me why I love my job and what I do for a living.  I felt like a little kid watching some of this stuff.

I'm not even going to list was all a highlight to me...

My jaw dropped at some of this stuff and all we talked about afterwards was home much our industry is changing and how much the world will change over the next few years.


Anyway, more highlights to come...if you have any questions let me know....if you were at PDC and want to swap some war stories let me know...some of it is a blur...I think at one point I saw Verne Troyer (aka Mini Me) and, if my memory serves, I also got my picture taken with the Laker Girls...only Microsoft could pull something like that off..


Till next time...

Posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 5:36 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: PDC Recap and Session Recommendations

# Pizdets is here
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Left by Debt Consolidation on Nov 05, 2009 5:15 PM

# re: PDC Recap and Session Recommendations
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Heya I was at the PDC underground party too. where can I go to see my picture with the laker girls.. lol I had 1 too many mojitos..
Left by George on Nov 19, 2009 7:51 AM

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