Microsoft MVP Summit Conference In A Nutshell

Each year in late February, Microsoft MVP's who've been lucky enough to get their MVP status "renewed" for the year get to attend the MVP Summit conference for about a week of total immersion into everything "Microsoft" in their particular discipline. I've been to every Summit since 2005, and almost without fail, they are absolutely worth the effort and expense. This year's Summit was no exception.

Obviously, there are plenty of parties, good food and drink - but there are also some very serious presentations and an opportunity to interact closely with key Microsoft leaders who are responsible for putting out the "stuff you're going to be working with" and to get to pick their brains. They love feedback, to their credit - and the MVPs are not in the least bit hesitant to provide it.

There is a lot of "NDA" content that I'm not allowed to talk about, but the items I'll cover here are all freely available to the public, if you are interested in getting "ahead of the curve" -- and I highly recommend that you do.

Here are the four big stories that I came back from the Summit this year with:

1) Visual Studio 11 (Beta): (major performance enhancements, new project types)
2) Windows 8 Consumer Preview: (WinRt and the Metro - style application)
3) Reactive Extensions:
4) Parallel Async:

1) Visual Studio 11 focuses on three major themes: Performance enhancements, new features, and new project types. Visual Studio 11 includes major performance enhancements:
a) Solutions load much faster, because of parallel background loading improvements. It's possible for a developer to actually begin working on editing a class in the IDE text editor before the solution has even completely loaded. Gone are the long waits while looking at the "Preparing Solution" dialog and twiddling your thumbs waiting to gain access to the editor and other functions.

b) New Project Types: With the release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (read: "Beta") you have access to Windows 8 Metro style apps. The Windows 8 WinRT runtime stack covers 99 percent of the Windows API, so this is not some funky "Cobble on" Layer. It's for real, and it's the future of Windows desktop, phone, and tablet development. There are also new project types for other Windows APIs.

c) New features: There are new profiling, editing, refactoring and IDE Search features built into Visual Studio 11 that are sure to blow your mind - and which provide a developer experience that is definitely more productive. The whole idea is: "get more done, faster, and easier". They pulled it off very nicely. Try the Beta - you won't be disappointed. In fact, don't worry - the beta can be installed side-by-side with Visual Studio 2010 and you can round-trip solutions and projects between versions with no conflicts at all (unless of course, your solution targets .NET 4.5, which isn't available in VS 2010).

2) Windows 8 Consumer Preview (read: "beta") is machine ready. It's very stable and it runs great. At first I hesitated because of the new Metro-Style Desktop UI. But I quickly found that with a press of the Windows key, I can see my Desktop and Taskbar, which is where I keep shortcuts to my most frequently used programs, so there's really no learning curve at all. Of course, if you have a touch screen PC or tablet, you'll probably use the Metro tile UI inteface more.

Besides WinRT, which is going to be your new development paradigm for the desktop and tablet development, you can mount an ISO DVD image by simply clicking on it from Windows Explorer. There are a lot more features, but suffice it to say that Windows 8 Consumer Preview is ready to use right now - whether you install it as a primary OS, or in a Virtual Machine, or as dual-boot on a separate partition. Installation is fast and easy. I have it installed as the primary OS on my notebook PC, and have seen no problems at all. It's fast, too.

3) Reactive Extensions (Rx) is a library to compose asynchronous and event-based programs using observable reactive data sequences and LINQ-style query operators.  Asynchronous, event-driven "reactive" programming is way too hard in today's world of development tools and frameworks. The huge amount of manual and error-prone plumbing leads to incomprehensible and hard to maintain code. As we reach out to services in the cloud, asynchronous programming is the way of life, requiring a fresh look on the problems imposed by reactive programming. Centered around the concept of observable data sequences, Reactive Extensions (Rx) provides a framework that takes care of the hard parts of reactive event stream programming. Instead of getting lost in the jungle of asynchrony complexity, you now can start dreaming about the endless possibilities of composing queries over asynchronous data sources.  At the Summit, I asked my friend and fellow MVP Jim Wooley (author of "LINQ In Action") what subject he might write his next book on. "Reactive Extensions" was his reply.

4) Parallel Async:   The Windows Runtime allows developers to build responsive applications using the new asynchronous programming model that is based on the idea of separating the start of the operation from its completion.:

Visual Studio 11 Beta includes C# 5.0 and the "await" keyword. Stephen Toub of Microsoft gave a great presentation on improving performance with async and parallel operations. You can get more information here:

By Peter Bromberg   Popularity  (9311 Views)