Arriving at 8:45 I was greeted by a sea of faces and immediately spotted a few I knew such as Phil Pursglove, Richard Costall and Phil Winstanley so after collecting my ID badge I gravitated in their general direction. The reception of Microsoft Reading Building 3 filled up quickly and before I knew it we were making our way to the foyer of Chicago 1 and 2 for tea/coffee with pastries.
The pastries were really good but I had to chuckle at the “May contain nuts” sign next to the Pecan lattices - I kind of wish I had taken a picture now. After chatting with a few people I knew from NxtGenUG and Twitter as well as meeting some new people it was time to sit down for the first session of the day.
09:30 - “What’s New in Silverlight 3?” by Mike Taulty
I’ve seen Mike talk before at SQLBits and NxtGenUG so knew this was gonna be a great show. He talked about Out of Browser Capabilities, Empowering Rich Experiences, Improving RIA Productivity and the improvements in high quality Audio/Video. Along with his usual high standard of presentation slides and great demos he was on great form with the jokes and wit, some of which I wrote down:-
- “Also we’ll talk about Improving RIA Productivity - which is marketing speak for making development faster”
- “When I click the detach button the application is installed so now it’s running out of the browser from the desktop and produces...” *brief delay* “...a white rectangle?”
- “The save dialog appears and you are now able to write to the file specified, which means you don’t get to reformat their C drive; regardless of how clean that would be!”
- “If you are not me, you are not a valid person!”
Although Mike had an epic fail with his out of browser demo it all went well.
10:40 - “Silverlight, XNA and Gaming starring Miner Willy” by Richard Costall and Pete McGann
Being a coordinator of NxtGenUG in Oxford I’ve seen (and played) the Silverlight version of Manic Miner on the website a couple of months ago. Having played the game on the Spectrum it’s always impressed me how they managed to keep the playability of their version so close to the original.
Richard and Pete worked well together yoyo-ing backward and forward describing how they architected each aspect on the respective platforms. Members of the audience, like me, who knew very little about game design gained a real insight into how to approach it, and anyone who had written games in Silverlight or XNA almost certainly got some pointers on performance and architecture from the session.
12:00 - “P0wn3d! (Or how to redirect your friend’s website to katyperry.com)” by Barry Dorrans
Having seen Barry’s security nuggets at NxtGenUG a few times I knew that this session would be interesting and comical at the same time. With the OWASP top ten to tackle he got cracking with slides and demos showing each of the vulnerabilities. Keeping to his normal dry sense of humour Barry had to include a couple of piss-takes which were aimed at WebDD organiser Phil Winstanley... they were.
- “Phil Winstanley has been deleted... if only it were that easy”
- “Phil Winstanley shops at Primark”
I’m pretty sure that there was a reference to someone else and a sheep but I don’t recall the details! With Chicago 1 full to breaking point Barry wrapped up to an enthusiastic round of applause.
13:25 - No session
Since I had already seen Phil Pursglove’s session on scalable ASP.NET at NxtGenUG and wasn’t interested in seeing Andy Gibson’s talk I took a break for an hour, ending up in the lounge chatting with some of the speakers.
14:30 - “ASP.NET MVC best practices” by Sebastien Lambla
Although I had no previous experience with MVC before I was keen to see Seb in action and hoped to learn a thing or two about MVC. He was enthusiastic and confident in front a near “full-house” which helped when the technical gremlins started to play havoc with his presentation. After a BSOD and several failed attempt to get his development environment back up and running he was unable to compile and run the code.
He took this with a pinch of salt showing how good a presenter he is and just got on with covering the material he had planned to cover. On occasion he wrote a few lines of code then exclaimed “Trust me it works” with some authority which the audience found amusing.
He finished off the session to a rapturous round of applause in recognition of how well he had done despite all the technical difficulties he had faced. I definitely learnt a lot about MVC and presenting from him!
15:40 - “Experience Design” by Richard “Tricky” Bassett
With my head swimming full of facts from the previous sessions I opted for the fluffy session to end the day. Tricky covered branding, ideation, research, sketching and conceptualisation which all gave a great insight on the design process. Concluding with a demonstration of Sketchflow in the Mix09 preview of Expression Blend 3 we were all able to see the life of a project from the perspective of a designer.
All in all I had a great time at WebDD and would definitely do it again! Perhaps next time I will ensure I’m not in such a rush to get home afterwards and instead enjoy a few drinks with the attendees, organisers and speakers.