Which WF/WCF Talks Should You Attend at PDC?

Just got the email the other day that PDC is less than 4 weeks away, and it got me thinking a bit about how I would think about these sessions as an attendee.  Searching on the PDC site will yield 8 talks tagged with WF.   Here's how I break some of these these down, the first few are about using WF, and the last 3 are about WF itself:

Hosting Workflows and Services

Dan Eshner

Hear about extensions being made to Windows Server to provide a feature-rich middle-tier execution and deployment environment for Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) applications. Learn about the architecture of this new extension, how it works, how to take advantage of it, and the features it provides that simplify deployment, management, and troubleshooting of workflows and services.

This talk is all about the host we're building for WF and WCF, which I mentioned earlier, we're calling "Dublin".  If you're familiar with either technology, and have built a host of your own, this will be interesting both from the perspective of what is coming, as well as how we are thinking about solving some of the hosting problems.

A Lap around "Oslo"

Presenters: Douglas Purdy, Vijaye Raji

"Oslo" is the family of new technologies that enable data-driven development and execution of services and applications. Come and learn how to capture all aspects of an application schematized in the "Oslo" repository and use "Oslo" directly to drive the execution of deployed applications.

Building declarative or data driven apps is a "thing" in the Oslo world.  This talk will give the big picture of all of the various pieces of Oslo, and how existing declarative technologies, like WF and WCF fit into it.  Note, this talk is not primarily about WF or WCF, rather it is about Oslo, which you can read about in more detail here and here.

What about all of the things we are doing to WCF and WF in .NET 4?  That's the remaining three talks:

Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0: A First Look

Presenter: Kenny Wolf

Programs coordinate work. The code for coordination and state management often obscures a program's purpose. Learn how programming with Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) 4.0 provides clarity of intent while preserving the functional richness of the .NET framework. See how easy it is to build workflows with the new Visual Studio workflow designer. Learn about text-based authoring options for WF. Hear how WF integrates well with other Microsoft technologies (WCF, WPF, ASP.NET). If you've looked at WF before, come and see the changes to data flow, composition, and new control flow styles. Significant improvements to usability, composability, and performance make Workflow a great fit for a broad range of solutions on both the client and the server.

Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0: Extending with Custom Activities

Presenter: Matt Winkler

Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) coordinates and manages individual units of work, encapsulated into activities. WF comes with a rich library of activities. Learn how to extend this library by encapsulating your own APIs with custom activities. See how to compose those basic activities into higher level units using rules, flowchart, and state machine control flow styles. Learn how to build your own WF control styles. Learn how to customize and re-host the workflow authoring experience using the new WF designer framework.

Windows Communication Foundation 4.0: Building WCF Services with Windows Workflow Foundation in Microsoft .NET 4.0

Presenter: Ed Pinto

Eliminate the tradeoff between ease of service authoring and performant, scalable services. Hear about significant enhancements in WCF and WF to deal with the ever increasing complexity of communication. Learn how to use WCF to correlate messages to service instances using transport, context, and application payloads. See how the new WF messaging activities enable the modeling of rich protocols. Learn how WCF provides a default host for workflows exposing features such as distributed compensation and discovery. See how service definition in XAML completes the union of WF and WCF with a unified authoring experience that simplifies configuration and is fully integrated with IIS activation and deployment.

Kenny's talk will be an introduction to all of the new features in WF.  If you haven't used WF, or if you looked at WF before and decided it wasn't right for your solution, come to this talk to see how WF makes writing programs easier.  If you are using WF today, and want to see what has changed, this will be a good talk for you.

My talk will be a very hands on, write some code, style talk focused on building activities and all of the aspects of WF that impact activity development.  If you are using WF today, and want to see what the changes mean for the code you'll write, this is the talk for you.  Also, if you attend Kenny's talk and think, "hey, I want to learn more" this will also be the talk for you.  My talk won't focus on the "why" or the "where" of workflow, but more the "how to build" parts.

Finally, Ed's talk is the talk to go to if you are a WCF  developer. If you are building programs that consume services, where service is very loosely defined integrating external information into your app, you should also make sure to go to this talk.  This talk will highlight a number of the enhancements that have been made both to WCF and to the integration between WF and WCF.  We believe very strongly that WF and WCF are tremendously complementary technologies.

To help, I've put together the following decision table to help you decide.  There are three possible actions, "Must Attend" "Should attend" and "Would Enjoy".  I think they are fairly explanatory actions, but if you have questions, let me know.


  Kenny's talk: A First look Matt's Talk : Building Activities Ed's talk: Building WCF Services with WF
Building WF today Must attend Must attend Must attend
Building WCF today Should attend Should attend Must attend
Looked at WF, but didn't use it Must attend Must attend Should attend
Looked at WCF, but didn't use it Should attend Would enjoy Must attend
Interested in Oslo Must attend Should attend Should attend
Interested in the problem of coordination Should attend Should attend Should attend
Building services, or apps that consume services Would enjoy Would enjoy Must attend


Can't wait to see you in LA!