Heartland Developers Conference 2008

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Heartland Developers Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. I was already in town visiting family and decided to take a day to see what the local flavor had to offer. I’m particularly grateful to Joe Olsen of PhenomBlue for allowing me to register. I was originally hoping to secure a spot as a presenter, but the list apparently fills up in early March so next year I’ll try to plan for it.

On Wednesday night, a pre-party for attendees was held at the Qwest center. I rolled into the event around 9:00 PM (after watching the first part of the debate) and introduced myself to a few of the people there. Some of the folks I met included Jason Bock, Chris Williams, Joe Olsen, Amanda Laucher, Jeff Julian, and John Alexander. It was nice since there were some drink tickets being passed around and Rock Band 2 was going in the corner. I talked with several of the folks there and left looking forward to the content that was on tap for the coming day.

The morning of the event there was a lot of time to mill about before the sessions got underway (particularly since I got a ride from my mom and was there at 6:45 AM). Early on I found Joe Stagner (blog) and chatted about his recent hard drive upgrade amongst other things. I later met Clint Edmonson, an architect evangelist with Microsoft and discussed the content of the session he was delivering that day. There were a lot of good sessions at overlapping times so I wasn’t able to attend them all unfortunately. Once I settled down for the keynote next to Jason Bock, I caught up on some email and listened to Joe’s presentation.

My first session of the day was Jason Bock (blog, twitter) who spoke on Reflection and IL, including using Cecil for some post-build IL weaving. Very interesting topic for me and a great presentation. I spoke to Jason the night before to see if he had looked at any of the new expression tree tools in 3.5 and how to use them to build code on-the-fly without using Emit. It was an interesting discussion, Jason is a smart guy.

When it was time for lunch, a few of us went over to Farrell’s Bar and had some nachos and a burger. I found it funny since I was the only one from the south, I was also the only one who enjoyed the jalepenos. We chatted in general about community involvement and various events where we all had attended/presented and overall was a great discussion.

After lunch, Drew Robbins (blog) presented on the Microsoft Extensibility Framework (MEF, web). Despite a stuffy head that made MEF sound like “METH” I got a lot of great information and look forward to learning more about this new framework. The way you specify exports and imports really makes it easy to define an extensible application. I’m certainly going to look at ways to use MEF with MassTransit in order to provide a new way to compose services that consume messages.

I had to take a rest for a while, chatting with the Geeks With Blogs guys for a while and generally just taking it easy. After bouncing around I settled into Chris Williams’ (blog, wrap-up) talk on XNA. I’ve never looked at the game development tools for Windows, but I got a brief into as to what to expect. Once this session was up, it was break time. I was planning on doing a podcast with the Geeks With Blogs guys but was trumped when Joe Stagner and Amanda Laucher sat down to do a joint session.

The day was great and I learned a few things. I also got to meet some great people and had some interesting conversation. I had hoped to attend the F# presentation by Amanda Laucher (blog) and the Open Source presentation by Javier Lozano (blog), but I wasn’t able to return for day two of the event. The time on the day I went was well spent and I look forward to attending HDC again in 2009.

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About Chris Patterson

Chris is a senior architect for RelayHealth, the connectivity business of the nation's leading healthcare services company. There he is responsible for the architecture and development of applications and services that accelerate care delivery by connecting patients, providers, pharmacies, and financial institutions. Previously, he led the development of a new content delivery platform for TV Guide, enabling the launch of a new entertainment network seen on thousands of cable television systems. In his spare time, Chris is an active open-source developer and a primary contributor to MassTransit, a distributed application framework for .NET. In 2009, he was awarded the Most Valuable Professional award by Microsoft for his technical community contributions.
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