I’ve been here two days now, with far too little sleep. This afternoon I found myself repeatedly nodding off, even with litres of bitter Dutch coffee in me (some exaggeration there). It’s not because of the seminar content though… mostly anyway. This year I’m concentrating specifically on developer and language features. There’s a new version of the framework due this year, together with VS 2012 and TFS 2012. All of which makes for a lot of concurrent change for me.
The big items on Microsoft’s agenda are Azure and Windows 8. It’s just as you might imagine. To be fair, windows 8 looks like a pretty nice product and I loved the really cool “Windows to go” feature they demo’ed at this morning’s keynote. The demo involved an apparently impromptu video freeze. I think the shocked audience was expecting a Bill Gates blue screen moment. However, it turned out to be all part of the clever demo. “Windows to go” is nice and another string in the Windows 8 bow, but nothing new to Ubuntu fans I think.
Incidentally, the keynote presentations this year seem to be stressful affairs, all the presenters seem rushed and slightly off the pace. Luckily yesterday’s connectivity disaster seemed mitigated. Someone seems to have screwed up on the bandwidth allocation for the conference and the network imploded under a mountain of inane tweets and Facebook twaddle.
Today’s breakout sessions were all crackers. I finally got the 411 on Microsoft’s retro debugger IntelliTrace; I’ve wanted to get the poop on that for some time. It turns out, it’s pretty easy and Microsoft has made some efforts to facilitate deployment within production environments for the new version of Visual Studio. The new application lifecycle management (ALM) features of Visual Studio 2012 are being strongly pushed under the heading of “continuous delivery”, something of a holy grail for me with TFS. It would be so nice if it was a trivial exercise to deploy continuous integration builds for manual testing. Now, Microsoft seems to have gone some way to delivering that, at least for web and Azure applications. The automatic deployment of TFS builds brought a small tear to my eye. I’m slightly in love with Visual Studio 2012 for that reason alone. Manual testing has also received a minor usability overhaul in 2012, under the ALM umbrella; I’m going to have to push that quite heavily with some of our clients this year.
I managed to pick up a stream of invaluable tips on what works and what doesn’t when using Virtual machine instances locally (in Windows 8) for development purposes. The main one seeming to boil down to “make sure your employers are not parsimonious with your personal hardware”. I guess that’s pretty obvious really, but the presenter Brian Randell was very specific on what was required of the hardware and a lot of his hard won experience was communicated.
Lastly, some seemingly minor, but sensible, licensing changes seem to have the potential for increasing code quality for less outlay. Visual Studio 2012 Premium is now set to include Test Professional and the Ultimate edition will have unlimited licensing for test agent instances when performance or load testing.