F# at TechEd Orlando 2008

Last week I was down in Orlando for the 2008 US TechEd Developer conference.  It was a great conference.  This year TechEd was split into two seperate conferences, one for the Developer audience (last week) and another for the IT audience (this week).  The result was more of a developer focus for last week's conference than at previous TechEd's, which happens to align the audience really well for those of us talking about particularly developer-focused technologies like the F# and the other .NET languages.

Here are a few of the key F#-related highlights from the event.

  • Bill Gates talked about F# and Functional Programming in the conference keynote:  In his last keynote as a full-time Microsoft employee, Bill Gates talked about a number of technology trends from a developer perspective.  Particularly exciting from the F# perspective was Bill's mention of F# along with Visual Basic and C# as programming languages that show the breadth of options developers have today on the Microsoft platform (fast forward to 23:20).  Even better, Bill breifly noted the increasing importance of functional programming techniques, in particular alluding back to earlier comments he had made about hardware trending toward multi-core and the need for apps to leverage increased CPU-parallelism.
  • Bill Gates wants to learn F# :  At least, that was the title of the mail I was forwarded with a link to an interview Bill did with Dan Fernandez after the TechEd keynote :-).  Near the end of the interview (fast forward to 8:07), Bill talks about some of the work he'll be doing at the foundation, which (among many other things I'm sure) will include visualizing and manipulating large datasets, and likely wanting to write some custom algorithms for working with this data.  He mentions that he has heard that F# can be a great tool for this - and then says he's looking forward to getting time to try it out.
  • Amanda Laucher did an F# Presentation for "Speaker Idol"Amanda did a quick 5 minute presentation as part of the Speaker Idol competition at TechEd.  Her presentation was a nice demo of using F# for an alogithmic development task - using one of the Project Euler problems as an example.  She get's extra points for presenting in a custom-made, bright-pink shirt with "F#TW!" printed on it (apparently that is read as "F# For The Win" :-))  I'll have to find out if we can get some more of these shirts printed for other F# community members to wear when they are presenting!
  • Ted Neward and I presented a breakout session "Busy .NET Developer's Guide to F#" :  Our session was an introduction to F# focused toward exisiting .NET developers using C# and/or VB.  For those who have seen F# presentations before, this one focused less on the flashy demos, and more on the basics of what F# feels like to read, write and execute in Visual Studio and using the F# Interactive.  I thought the session went really well.  We had a pretty full house (especially for the 8:30AM timeslot!) and got some great questions and discussion after the session.
  • C9 Bytes F# video demo:  I stopped by the Channel 9 filming station to do a quick F# video demo after the breakout session.  The video showed how F# and the F# Interactive can be used with Managed DirectX to do 3D graphing and visualization.  This is actually one of the samples we ship as part of the F# download (you'll need to also install the DirectX SDK if you don't already have it).

If you made it out to TechEd this year, I hope you had a great time.  If not, hopefully we'll see you at PDC2008 in October.