Busy Week Prepping for the PDC

There are times when I have to admit that I'm glad the PDC isn't every year -- because frankly getting ready for it is exhausting work. ;-)

I've spent most of this week doing prep work for the event, and just drove home after finishing a near-final review/edit of the Hands on Labs (HOL) for the Whidbey versions of ASP.NET and Visual Studio -- they are really starting to look great (kudos to Thomas Lewis for driving this). 

We've come up with 9 separate ASP.NET labs -- varying from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours in length -- that each focus on a select number of new ASP.NET V2 features.  These include: Master Pages, the new Site Navigation system and Navigation controls, Skins/Themes, Personalization, Web Parts, Data Access Controls, MMC Admin Tool and the new Config APIs, Membership + Role Management APIs and Login Controls, and many, many more.   We'll have 100 dedicated ASP.NET Whidbey hands on lab machines setup at the PDC, with full time proctors monitoring them to provide help. 

Each lab has a word document with 20-50 pages of detailed steps and screenshots to walk attendees through how they can build sites/samples with the new features.  I think they'll be a great way to provide a chance for folks to quickly get their hands dirty and play with the new stuff.

The process for running the machines themselves is fairly cool.  Basically we'll finish a final image of a single lab machine tomorrow.  The technical support group will then save the image, and bring it down to LA.  The 100 machines will be setup in LA for attendees to play with -- once they finish and walk away from a lab machine, we'll re-image the machine to bring it back to a pristine state (takes about 5 minutes start to finish), and make it ready for the next participant.  The labs will be available until (I think) midnight each night of the conference -- so should hopefully hit lots of people.

In a few (5) hours, I get to head back to the office for my next round of PDC work -- which will be to review the slides for all the talks given by folks on my team.  We have 18 ASP.NET Whidbey breakout talks at the conference, and I have 30 minute timeslots setup to review each tomorrow.  Folks were still furiously working on the slides when I left about an hour ago -- I suspect several won't make it home until after the review tomorrow morning and afternoon.

In my spare time I am also helping to drive/define one of the big keynote demos (we just hired a graphics designer late tonight who is going todo a rush job on the graphics), as well as providing input on some of the cross-company architectural diagrams that we'll be unveiling during the week.

All in all it is keeping me busy.  I am looking forward to flying down Sunday night to the ASP.NET Connections conference.  The 5 back-to-back talks I'm giving there Monday will be a welcome break from PDC work... :-)  I'll then fly back on Tuesday morning (after my keynote at the conference 9am Tues), and into my next set of PDC work items that will start in a series of meetings and reviews I'll have that evening.

What will hopefully make all this effort worthwhile will be the actual event itself.  The amount of content that is going to be delivered there will be simply stunning.  The big-picture roadmap of all the technologies coming down the pipe from Microsoft, and both the breadth and depth of the aspirations (Whidbey + Yukon + Longhorn), will frankly be a little eye popping.  It is going to be fun to watch and experience.



  • Sounds great, I'll definately try out some of the labs :)

    Will the labs (i.e. the 20-50 page docs) be on the PDC DVD? I think that would be a great idea so the attendees can go over them once they get home (like those they miss).

  • Yep -- the HOL should be on the DVD. We are also planning to post them publically for download from the www.asp.net site (we'll have a special whidbey section that will be added at the time of the PDC).

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