I Love Code Camps!

Here's a free preview of what folks will be reading in the next MSDN Flash newsletter for Mid-Atlantic:

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the third code camp put on by the folks at the Columbia Central Maryland Association of .NET Professionals user group (aka CMAP). Christopher Steen, Randy and Krislyn Hayes, and the rest of the CMAP crew put on an outstanding event, and had a really interesting lineup of speakers and sessions.

One of the things that’s great about Code Camps is that the people who are presenting are your peers. Developers working on stuff that they think is so cool that they want to share it with the world. One example was Emad Ibrahim, who gave a talk on using the new ASP.NET MVC framework (currently available as part of the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions Preview) with AJAX and JQuery. What came through loud and clear was his excitement and passion for the technology, which makes for a great presentation (it’s also very cool that this was his first presentation, which is another great thing about code camps…they’re a great opportunity for folks to try their hand at presenting to their peers).

Another example was Michael Neel’s presentation, From Zero to XAML. Michael opened with one of the more unusual uses of props I’ve seen in a technical presentation (I won’t ruin the surprise for anyone who might catch him locally presenting the talk, or see it online), and proceeded to give a presentation that stripped down WPF to its core, eschewing glitz and “cool” factor for an informative look at a transformative technology.

After the event, I had a chance to chat with Michael, who it turned out had made the trip to Columbia, Maryland all the way from Knoxville, TN to present. I’m always amazed by the willingness of the developer community to go out of their way to share their knowledge and insights with one another, and wanted to say thanks to Michael and to all the other folks who take time out of their busy schedules to hit the road and speak at user groups, code camps, and other events.

If you’ve never been to a Code Camp, you’re missing out on a great resource for learning more about the technologies you work with day in and day out, and a chance to meet and network with your peers in a fun and free setting.

There are two more code camps coming up this Spring in Mid-Atlantic, the Richmond Code Camp, which will take place at ECPI in Glen Allen, VA on Saturday, April 26th, and the Northern Virginia Code Camp in Reston, VA on May 17th.

I strongly encourage anyone who's never attended a code camp to try to make one of these upcoming events. Nearly every attendee I've spoken to since I've been involved with code camps locally has said it was one of the most worthwhile and useful events they've attended, even folks who've travelled hundreds of miles to attend. You can find local Code Camps, as well as other events, at http://www.communitymegaphone.com/.