TechEd 2005: Paul Flessner Day 2 Keynote Demo (Visual Studio 2005)

I had the pleasure of giving a Visual Studio 2005 demo for Paul Flessner's Day 2 Keynote here at TechEd this week. This was my first time giving a keynote demo, and it's hard to imagine the amount of work which goes into an exec-level keynote before you do one. But now that it's over it was an extremely fun and exciting 10 minutes for me to be in front of ~8000 people! In case you couldn't make it, here's a recap.

I started by showing a Windows Forms application I built with Visual Studio 2005 to do some rich analysis of the RFID data we're collecting at TechEd. At TechEd this year we have RFID readers at various spots around the convention center, and attendees receive an RFID tag at registration. Don't worry, these tags are completely anonymous and are randomly distributed during the registration process, but just by walking around TechEd this technology can help us gather aggregate data to improve TechEd and other events in the future. For example, I showed a graph with the number of attendees vs. proctors in the Hands-on Labs area, and in the future we will be able to do things like send alerts to staffers in other parts of the convention center to let them know when we need extra help in certain areas. We also performed what I believe is the world's first "RFID-based raffle" by raffling off 5 Creative Portable Media Centers to people with tags we detected in the keynote hall that morning. I should point out that the RFID platform we're using at TechEd is actually based on an early version of the technology we're building to help Microsoft .NET developers seamlessly integrate RFID intelligence right into their applications.

I then informed Paul that a critical piece of hardware we need for his demo wasn't there yet, but we had an RFID tag on it and RFID readers back stage - SQL Server 2005 would be aware of the hardware arriving once the RFID readers picked it up, but we wanted a real-time alert in our applications. So we added that on the fly by using SQL Server 2005's new Service Broker (which gives us an asynchronous programming model right in the database). Once the Service Broker processes our message, it activates a Stored Procedure which sends the alert back to our client application. This Stored Procedure was written entirely in Visual Basic, which shows how SQL Server 2005 can host the Common Language Runtime and give me full access to the .NET Framework and a language I already know - in this case, Visual Basic - for writing my database logic. (That's great for me, since my T-SQL is a little shaky <g>)

The critical piece of hardware we were waiting on was none other than The Finalizer! Weighing in at about 120 lbs, The Finalizer is a BattleBot which runs on the .NET Compact Framework and packs a punch with a spinning saw blade and razor-sharp axe. It was a lot of fun working with The Finalizer, although you should see the rider he required for his dressing rooms - something about a bowl full of green M&M's and a half-dozen bottles of WD-40. Quite the prima donna... <g>

An assorted list of other features I showed includes:
- Some of the new Windows Forms controls, such as MenuStrip and DataGridView, we are shipping with Visual Studio 2005. I showed how these help you build applications which resemble Microsoft Office, Microsoft Money, and other applications your users are already likely to be familiar with.
- Smart Tags - which are a new feature in Visual Studio 2005 that gives you quick access to common tasks you might want to perform on a UI element.
- Code Snippets - which give you hundreds of pre-written blocks of code for performing all sorts of tasks. Your Code Snippets library can also be easily extended with your own code, and you can share this with your team to help enforce best practices.
- Visual Basic's new AutoCorrect feature - which brings Microsoft Word's "spell check" paradigm right into your code editor. It not only tells you that you have an error, but it will even try to suggest a fix. Very cool!

The other great thing about the keynote was getting to meet Samantha Bee, from the Daily Show. She's very nice and cool to work with; and unlike the BattleBot, she didn't have a monstrous ego. :-)

While you're here, check out some of the cool Podcasts of TechEd 2005. Here are a few related to this keynote:

Enjoy the rest of TechEd 2005!