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Vegas, baby! I had the opportunity to attend the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and ASP.NET 4.0 Launch conference in Las Vegas from April 12-14, 2010 (http://www.devconnections.com/shows/SP2010ASP/default.asp?s=142).  I thought I’d post a few technical and travel notes from the conference for those of you (and I imagine that’s most of you) who couldn’t make it.  Let’s do a Clint Eastwood theme for this blog: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Work Stuff

The Good

  • The Keynote address on the first day was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Bellagio. It’s a huge room and there were a lot of people in attendance to see what was going on with Visual Studio and ASP.NET 4.0. Here are a few quick items from my notes:
    • VS has a lot of new improvements for efficiency like intellisense for jQuery, code visualization features to get a sense of a project and dependencies from a high level, improved debugging and profiling help
    • A bug assignment process that lets a tester record their process, and the developer to debug the exact process the tester went through
    • Some new controls including a chart control
    • Windows 7 Phone, MVC, and Sharepoint are more closely integrated with Webforms and Winforms. If you can program in those technologies, you can do it in other the other .NET technologies
  • Later the first day there was a great “What’s New” class.
    • Viewstate optimization: Now you can turn View State on and off by control to reduce the overall size of Viewstate on a page.
    • Client Ids – no more weird, VS named controls. Now you can determine what you want the IDs to be.  Great for new applications, but may prove difficult to update your existing controls
    • .NET controls now generate standards based, css friendly HTML. That’s a big difference from the table based junk that used to be generated by controls such as the list and grid view.
    • URL routing is supported out of the box.  We’ve built our own custom FileNotFound based URL routing already. I’m not sure if it would be worth the hassle to rewrite the entire platform, but it may make some file or product specific URL handling easier on our webTRAIN platform.
    • HTML Encoding shortcut. Replace <%= with <%: and everything within the brackets will be HTML encoded automatically.
    • Built in Charting controls. Sweet! This was released as a separate component in 2008, so some of you may know it already. Now it is a standard part of Visual Studio. (http://www.4guysfromrolla.com/articles/072209-1.aspx)
    • Editing box – an easy way to edit multiple rows at the same time. (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd465268.aspx)
    • Navigate To – no more copying a function name and then using the Find command on the entire project to see where it is in use. Now you can use the Navigate To feature to display all methods and events in the project. Just start typing and the list will auto update. Click on a result to go to the correct spot in the code. Nice!
    • Ajax 4.0 and jQuery are now more tightly integrated. When you create a new project in Visual Studio, it will import in the jQuery library so you can get started right away.  It also includes baked in intellisense for jQuery. The jQuery is actually interpreted on the fly and the intellisense adjusted to the appropriate context.
  • Having very little jQuery experience myself, I learned a lot of jQuery basics at the seminar. I don’t think I’m scared of it anymore! I think it’s time to start dabbling in it and see what I can do.
  • The Bellagio is amazing!  (http://www.bellagio.com/)
  • The Geekfest that Microsoft hosted at the Jet nightclub was pretty amazing.  Check the travel report later this week for more information on it.

    The Bad

    • There were a lot of jQuery and Ajax sessions on the schedule, and Jason and I were keen to take in them all. However, after the first day, they all started to be the same. We were hoping that they would get more in depth; in fact, one of the Visual Studio tracks had a multi-session desktop course that looked like it went pretty deep.  That wasn’t the case with Ajax. Jason, a seasoned jQuery user and early adapter of VS 2010, learned a few things, but mostly the sessions served to give him more confidence that he was doing things the right way.
    • We needed a backup plan and didn’t have one.  We kept trying more and more Ajax and jQuery courses and finding that most of the material was repeated.  At one session, a presenter told us we may as well leave if we had taken a particular course earlier in the day.  We checked our notes, saw that we had been said course, and headed to lunch early. A deeper coding experience would have been nice. It looked like it worked that way on the schedule.

    The Ugly

    • It only happened once, but there was a presenter that was so poorly prepared and such a bad speaker that we actually left the course early. I didn’t like having power point slides read to me in college, and it turns out I still don’t like that.  Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you want to view it), the same material was covered in the next session we went to.
    • The last day of the conference was very light on content that we were interested in. It made for a very long day.

    So what did we learn?  Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0 have a lot of great tools that we are looking forward to using. We also learned that we can’t expect deep content next time we go, and so we should be prepared to go to sessions that don’t necessarily have anything to do with what we are working on currently. In retrospect, we should have gone to more MVC and Silverlight sessions instead of stubbornly wishing for more Ajax and jQuery information that just wasn’t forthcoming.

    Look for the travel portion of this blog later this week.

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