Back from HDC

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550 miles later and I am back from HDC, the Heartland Developer Conference, – and it was yet another great conference put on by Joe and the Gang.

First let me share what I like the most – it’s always evolving….this year held at the La Vista Conference Center in Omaha rather than the Qwest Center I think was very successful move, much better community-feel to the new place – more of a comfortable conference vibe yet in a classy location.

I don’t know how Joe and the gang are so successful every year making it run as smoothly as it appears – I suspect some hard work is involved and some scrambling behind the scenes to keep all of the balls in the air at the same time– but at the dinner tables I sat at and the people I met during the sessions, it was apparent that everyone had a good conference and 2010 was going to go down as another great year.

All of my even minor suggestions from last year were addressed :

  • I asked for PCs to be available for conference attendees for those who don’t bring their laptops to submit the Session Feedback – DONE, this year they provided 3 and I think were given a lot of use.
  • Suggested better format for the conference schedule – DONE – they provided nice handy booklets
  • Format – thought last years 30 minute Lightning Round talks didn’t achieve what they were looking for – DONE – they changed their format this year to an opening day of Hands On Labs, and the other 2 days of 45 minute sessions surrounded by Keynote Speeches…although even at 45 minutes, most speakers opening line was “Please forgive me as I have taken a {1 | 2} hour speech and condensed it today for a 45 minute talk” – (Joe – we heard this alot so not sure if some of the presenters would still prefer slightly larger chunks of time?)  but I guess I liked 45 minutes for a session length – it allowed us to fit in a nice variety of talks but yet doesn’t make the talks seem like they got too long.

In addition to the new venue and the other previously mentioned changes above, they also let attendees vote on submitted talks before the conference – another great idea.

Once again I was impressed on how they gather such a variety of speakers on a wide range of topics here to the Midwest – that is just awesome. I actually sometimes enjoyed when there wasn’t a block of time where there was a clear choice as to which breakout talk to attend because then it forced me to pick a talk which was usually completely foreign to me – and they usually ended up surprising me as to how much I enjoyed them…….sure, I don’t foresee any Android or Flash Development in my future, and yet watching the demos of how easy it was to create a small app and then deploy to a smart phone intrigued me….and I was way in over my head during Amanda Laucher’s Functional Design Patterns talk, but it was still very interesting, she was a great speaker and now I feel like I have got to learn more about functional languages and where they really show their power. I loved the nuts and bolts kind of talks such as Jason Bock’s Exceptional Development talk. Matt Milner is also a speaker I rarely miss due to his extensive knowledge and ability to share that effectively on Microsoft framework topics.  DonXML’s talk on moving to Data Services was as good as I was hoping it would be and Drew Robin’s OData talk really showed off the future and promise of a standard data feed format. And I just plain enjoyed having the chance to run into and talk with people such as our regional Microsoft evangelist Mike Benkovich.  There were other good speakers as well but these are the ones that stood out among the sessions I attended.

I missed the Developer Jam this year – instead, I spent the evening with my youngest sister who lives in Omaha as we got caught up while munching on wings/beer at Buffalo Wild Wings and watching the Vikings play.

As far as suggestions for the future – it’s hard to suggest a lot to something that succeeds so well but I’ll offer one idea that I am hesitant to offer just because I don’t know the exact background and work environments of the other attendees, but I’ll offer it anyway and let others possibly discuss it…..I am missing the feel from a few years ago of a more Microsoft-centered track of talks, and I know that I am not alone as it came up while talking to others as well.  I think there is still a large chunk of developers who work with .NET Microsoft tools on Windows business applications. So while I am glad to see HDC embrace all of these other talks such as OpenSource, Adobe, Apple, and Android Development, etc., I believe there is still a place for .NET “core competency” track sessions for .NET Microsoft Windows developers… I was hoping to see some C# 4.0 language enhancement sessions, SQL Server-related talks, VS 2010, SSIS-talks, Unit Testing, etc. Maybe in the future 1 of the 4 tracks could be devoted to .NET topics, with another track devoted to Web topics, and the other 2 tracks for other types of development if that would accurately reflect the demographics of the Development landscape? That’s all I have for unsolicited advice.

Every year, I evaluate for myself – was it worth my money? Well….lets see – I learned new things, it made me think about new technologies and some talks made me ponder how it could affect the job I do, and it encouraged me to learn some more about a few of the new things I learned –  in a way it kind of recharges my batteries – so yeah, it was worth the money.  See you next year.

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About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
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One Response to Back from HDC

  1. Pingback: ROI of Professional Conferences | The View from Office 227

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