Under normal circumstances Barcelona is a lovely city, where beatiful dark-haired and dark-eyed girls parade the small streets of Barri Gotic and El Raval, and tapas bars are overcrowded by locals and tourists trying to act as locals. But not this week.

This week the conglomerate of Microsoft and Glasgow Rangers supporters pollutes the pavings. The latter are easy recognizable wearing blue shirts with a Rangers logo and singing loud and inarticulately. In previous years you could spot out developers visiting the annual TechEd EMEA Conference easily, as Microsoft provided them with fluoscent yellow and blue backpacks. This year we received a stylish black strapped bag, big enough to fit at least my home desktop computer with monitor. So this year we can only be recognized because we stroll around the city in small groups in faded t-shirts with peculiar inscriptions.

Not their story
So how’s TechEd in 2007? Well, TechEd used to be called just TechEd. This year it’s called TechEd Developers EMEA 2007, which means it’s not for anyone outside the EMEA area, whereever that may be, and it’s not for anyone who’s not a developer. That is, demo’s are all in C#. And it shows. Narrowing down, or to put it in LINQ filtering the IEnumerable<Delegate>, it feels like there a lot less people at the conference. Moreover, most of the big speakers do not appear to be on the program. Where’s Scott Guthrie? Where’s Anders Hejlsberg? TechEd 2007 is more a conference than a show, as compared to previous editions.

Although most of speakers are quite knowledgable, some just don’t make the limit. Some of the sessions only take 45 minutes out of the 75 minutes a talk should last. I was wondering. Just for comparison. When I create a deck of slides, I don’t put much text on it, because I now the story that I want to tell. Depending on the subject, I can probably talk all day using a single slide. However, if I pass this deck of slides to a collegue to present it, he or she will likely only use half the time, because it’s not their story. They don’t have my anecdotes, jokes, hints & tips. It’s not that I have more; it works the other way around as well. I guess some of the speakers at TechEd are not using their own slides?

The Spanish inquisition?
Maybe the event suffers from lack of product launches. Of course, Visual Studio 2008 will be out in a while – in a week or two or three said the keynote speaker, for subscribers that is. But there’s no new version of Windows coming along, no SQL Server, no new frameworks that nobody has seen before. Although the .Net Framework 3.5 will also be out in few weeks, we’ve been seeing the libraries from the framework appearing on beamers for a long time. Nobody is surprised anymore about LINQ, WPF, WCF and WF. It’s not the Spanish inquisition – as nobody expects the Spanish inquisition. The only product launch that appeared during TechEd EMEA is Search Server, but I guess this is just a coincidence because the launch conference is held in a parralel universe across the ocean.

Not to worry, Search Server is not a shocking product. As I interpret the good words of my collegue Sylvain, it simply groups search results from different sources, including Google and Yahoo. And – of course – it can also be used to present search results over Sharepoint sites. Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition! So since Search Server mainly seems to be the next tool for developers to waste even more time on Sharepoint projects, like Infopath, I’ll leave it for now.

Demo fatigue
Nonetheless, the examples used in demos by TechEd presenters on the first day were great – very business like. The SilverLight demo was truly a treat; a shaded ellipse and a shaded rectangle presented on a web page. I can’t wait to use this phenomenon in my projects. The Entity Framework demo showed that Microsoft speakers can at least program half a dozen ways to retrieve a list of customers from a database. And last but not least the dragged and dropped code in the WPF demo was full of

if (a == b)
c = true;
c = false;

code, which made me rather suspicious of the quality of the rest of the code. No worries though, the presenter copied in so much code, I couldn’t follow the demo anyway, in spite of the fact that he only tried to start a video by pressing a button on the same form, which is of course always an issue in the projects I work in. Thanks in advance.