I'm writing this from the Tom Bradley International Airport in L.A. where I have an 8 hour wait for my plane back to Melbourne, Australia...
I arrived in Seattle on Saturday 3rd April and, met Bill Wilkinson and his wife Beverley that night for dinner. We ate at a seafood restaurant at Pike's place markets and had a supreme evening of fish, idle chatter amidst a beautiful sunset over the Olympic mountain range.
Bill is an amazing guy, in fact, I would go so far to say that if it wasn't for his mentorship I most probably wouldn't have even got the opportunity to make this trip. Bill works in the Visual Basic language group within Microsoft and has challenged my knowledge throughout most of my programming life.
The conference presented me with an opportunity to view and hear about some of the newest thinking which is coming out of Microsoft.
My most lasting impression thus far was the day when the execs themselves told us of their vision for the community and the role which each of us can play in helping that to become a reality. I think that in the next few years there will be a rapid development of "community" where we have more ability to shape how we conduct our online relationships and the products needed to support that.
Wednesday was quite an amazing day... most people - nah, *all* people were very tired after a big party from night before. I managed to get together early in the day with James Avery, Andy Smith and Scott Mitchell to have a bit of a brainstorming session about where we see certain areas of the online community heading in the coming 12-24 months. Imagine that! Getting to discuss "forums useability" with Scott Mitchell, "Server control development" with Andy Smith and "Blogging Community" with James Avery.
It didn't finish there either; after about 3 hours of brainstorming I headed off to listen to a discussion by Paul Vick about Visual Basic's support for Generics in Whidbey, after that I went next door to listen in on a similar disussion by Anders Heijslberg about generics implementation in C#.
After all of that, I managed to spend some time with Chris Sells to discuss the state of the UI and what possibilities there might be in Longhorn timeframe when Avalon technology becomes available. This conference and my chats with several people (including Chris) have aroused my interest in the future of the UI and it will certainly be interesting to see what - exactly - Avalon can do for us. Chris has pointed me to some reference material which I'll link to in the next few days (after I've had the opportunity to read it for myself).
Just Hanging Out
Because I didn't leave Seattle until Saturday I was able to have 2 free days just hanging out and catching up with people on campus. I spent most of my time with Justin Rogers and Andy Smith - there was some very interesting discussions between those 2 guys ;-)
Thursday morning we went to campus and ran into Paul Vick who was able to spend about 20 minutes chatting. It was great to be able to ask him questions directly about his recent book! After that Andy and I went to see Kent Sharkey - we managed to bug him for over an hour! (Sorry about that Kent :)
On Friday I went back to campus by myself to catch up with Wayne King (ASP.NET team) and the team responsible for the development of classes in the System.Text.RegularExpressions namespace. I was lucky enough to have lunch that day with Justin Rogers and Joel Pobar. Joel is an Aussie guy who is working on some really cool, low-level parts of the runtime and has a leading hand in the Rotor community source drops. Joel and I talked about Brisbane (where he came from and I worked) and some of our mutual friendships - such as Greg Lowe and Joseph Cooney. That was a fun time.
Friday finished with Justin, Amy (his fiancee) and myself going to the movies at Redmond to watch Starsky and Hutch. I can highly recommend that movie as it was an absolute blast!
Well, that was it - and of course I've only mentioned a few of the highlights. Overall it was a great opportunity to get together with some of the most knowledgeable and prolific members of the community, some people I met for the first time, and some friendships were re-acquainted.
Thanks everyone for making my time in Seattle memorable. Let's do it again sometime ;-)