How was your TechEd 2004?

Thanks a lot to all who dropped by the Visual Studio Extensibility booth to meet n greet ‘Da VS Extensibility Gang’. I am sure the cool swag we handed out with my face on it would have made your trip worth while. Anyway one of my clones/spy was there too and had some good feedback to help me write this up.

San Diego

Don’t you love sand, beaches, fun, great food and time away from work? Apparently all of that was there either at the San Diego Convention center or very close to it. I am not sure about you but the gang had a terrific week full of excitement and fun. The only thing probably missing was the crispy sun shine typical of San Diego. Oh well! Nothing new for few good folks coming from North West they all felt at home. Thanks San Diego!


Well it all started with SteveB’s talk where he urged the developer community to make the transition from Visual Studio in its pre .NET incarnation up to the .NET platform and .NET Framework. He along with Prashant Sridharan (Developer Tools Product Management Team) showcased some newer tools and features aiming at improving the programming and application developer experience. I was very impressed with Visual Studio Team system that targets managing different stages of software life cycle ranging from group development, modeling, testing and deployment. And guess what?? All those features are built on top VSIP interfaces and managed package framework that are part of the Visual Studio 2005 Environment SDK. Wouldn’t it be nice if we the SDK components were available today to start playing around? Stay tuned for future blogs on when it can be available. And let’s not forget to welcome Oracle and Sap our newest VSIP members.

Oh My God! He said it

            For quite some time I have been yearning to hear SteveB say ‘V S I P’. And he did it this time. Psssttt!! Just to be sure I double checked the Press Pass. Alright! Alright! He just mentioned it once. Hey! that’s just the beginning.

Exhibit Hall

            All of us had a bash helping folks at the booth whether it was with a simple (rather impossible) question on how can I create photo albums using Visual Studio(Stop making fun. Do you know?) to how can I create a image editor using Visual Studio Extensibility. Fact of the matter was anyone who came to the booth went back with a smile. We really appreciate the feedback from loads and loads of Visual Studio users and developers. We were also handing out the great looking Visual Studio Extensibility chart and Technology Preview 2005 CDs. Thanks again for dropping by!


 “SOUND PLEASE!!”. Need I say more? I felt that the Cabana sessions were a great idea but ran into some logistical snags. The cabanas were essentially small cordoned off sections in a huge hall with very high ceilings. And there were like more than 20 cabanas in this hall and not to forget some 100 odd machines humming in the center of the hall. Almost all the speakers were trying to reach out to the audience at the top of their voices. However everyone was having fun. On the flip side it turned out to be a nice interactive session in literal sense. I saw more folks talking to each other just double checking what the speaker just mentioned. And in due course made new friends or initiated a business relationship.

What’s Cooking?

I felt that the Visual Studio Cook Off was a great event focusing on stronger audience interaction. It not only helped us showcase exciting opportunities Visual Studio Extensibility provides to our partners but also highlighted some very successful customer products based on the feature set available today.

Ken started it off with a few introductions and then threw up a menu for the audience to choose from. The final list was as below:

· Appetizer: Addin Designer - (Craig Skibo)

· Entree: Regular Expression Language Service - (Yours truly)

· Dessert: Source Code Annotation - (Chetan Parmar)

As the cooks were getting ready to cook the dishes Chetan got an impromptu request from the audience to add numbered book marks so a user could easily navigate to say second book mark in the file or the last book mark. The requesting member of audience was generous enough to offer him a buck if he got that implemented by the end of the cook off. Keep reading if you want to know what happened. While the cooks were busy preparing the dishes Ken held the pedestal showing off great partner products and features that make Visual Studio a great development tool.

Finally it was show time! Craig showed of his cool Add-in Designer feature that allows you to open an Add-in, and you could drag & drop commands onto the designer surface, set properties on the command, and those properties would be reflected in your command. You could also drag .NET controls (either ones from the .NET framework or user controls) onto the designer and tool windows would be created from the control.

Next up was Allen and he showed off his Regular Expression Language Service. He started off with a file with capital letters displayed in a different color and then added a new regular expression pattern for lowercase letter!

Chetan's Annotator Pacakge (Oh! Man what am I going to do with this guy) ran into a few snags that caused an Access Violation. He was still able to demonstrate the menu functionality. Shortly after the cook-off was over, he figured it out and it's also working great now. This package allows you to add threaded annotations to your source files. As soon as he is done fixing his code I will post the code for your use and abuse. I expect to post this sometime next week. Hey he still earned the buck from one of the audience who requested the numbered book mark features. For now I have assumed ownership of that thick wad of cash and will use it to pay off my home loan.

While the cooks were busy cooking Doug, our architect, was continuously mingling with the audience answering questions and also helping us specially Chetan implement the impromptu request.


            For all the members in the Visual Studio Extensibility team this was a great opportunity to meet our partners and customers and see how they are leveraging our features to be successful. I was amazed at the scope of products out there enabling purely hardware device players to hardcore software shops.

I could keep on blogging about what else was there from Hands on Labs to cool sweep stakes. Thanks for reading this far and as every good thing Tech Ed too had to end and all you have to cherish are the memories. If you could not make it this year hope to see you next year. Do drop me a line or two on your experience too.


Dr. eX