I attended my first ever SharePoint conference this past weekend and it was a blast.
Thursday afternoon, I drove down to Virginia, guided by my newly purchased $50 GPS appliance plug-in thing to my phone. The device was flawless. After the five hour drive, I had the energy to do a nice run on the tread mill and then, even more surprisingly, had the energy to head to the lobby for an advertised speaker’s cocktail hour. Conference n00b that I am, it turned out that the cocktail hour was really a ruse to get speakers to show up and help stuff papers and swag into shoulder bags for conference attendees 🙂
Had a hard time sleeping because I was speaking first thing Friday AM. Nervousness, a nagging feeling that I needed to add a slide to my presentation and a very disturbing cat show on Animal Planet kept me up late. Since I went to sleep late, I naturally got up early. I did add a fairly detailed technical architecture slide. It was well worth the effort because the 25 minutes of Q&A would have been very awkward without it. I was lucky to get the first slot in the technical track. Sahil Malik was originally going to speak Friday AM and I was going to speak Saturday but he needed to swap times. This allowed me to do my presentation and then sit back and enjoy everything going forward Friday and Saturday.
The presentation went OK. I definitely have room to improve it. I spoke about how we can access and use web services from a SharePoint Designer workflow using a custom action. Over time, I will tie this information into my series over at EUSP.com for End Users trying to get the most use out of that tool. I blew through my slides and demo in 35 minutes, to my dismay at the time. Luckily, Q&A was lively, no doubt helped by the fact that it was early morning before lunch. Q&A is my favorite part of any presentation.
There were many interesting subjects and I hope to blog about them in greater detail this week (time permitting, as always). A fellow from CMS Watch provided a highly critical yet very hopeful review of SharePoint’s position in the market. A different discussion focused on the paucity of SharePoint resources and the difficulty that recruiters have finding good talent that is also "affordable" in this very tight market. The CMS Watch guy referred to the SharePoint human resources pool as being like a "guild." I’m mainly familiar with that term in MMORPG terms and it gave me a little thrill, to be honest 🙂
The highlight of the conference was just meeting and catching up with people I’ve "known" online for a while. The best was sitting at the bar with Becky Isserman (MossLover) for 3 or 4 hours (and that, after I had finished drinking for the night). I don’t often get to talk about Farscape or Babylon 5 with Kansas City residents.
Bob Fox was there and as usual, is a whirlwind of intros, chats and just plain frenetic energy. He invited me to Saturday breakfast with Sahil Malik and that was great.
Saturday (day 2), Mike Lotter dragged himself to the conference to speak about InfoPath and then he joined Becky at the end of the day to do a sort of general Q&A session for about 30 to 45 minutes mainly focused on InfoPath (Mike) and AJAX (Becky). I wish Becky had been able to go through her full/formal presentation but I’m sure I’ll get a chance to see that one of these days. I have a feeling she’ll be "hitting the circuit" going forward.
I could go on and on. Two last points — the financial purpose of the conference was to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network and it raised $5,000. That was awesome. Finally, I want to publicly thank Gary Blatt, Gary Vaughn and Bob Fox for alerting me to and allowing me to speak at the conference. Of course, the two Gary’s had a team of people supporting and organizing and all of you were awesome. I had high expectations before I went and it was better than I had hoped for.
Keep on the alert for the next conference scheduled for November 7th and 8th. Aside from some great content, it’s terrific for meeting up with all those online personalities you’ve known through blogs, twitter, forums, etc.