Today was a doozey. The first keynote was interesting, focusing on the new technologies available for creating the incredible user interfaces we’ve seen with WPF (Avalon). Quartz and Sparkle are slick programs, one for creating scalable graphics (think Adobe Illustrator) and one for creating the actual web page content (XAML). The totally blow-me-away part of it was how Sparkle uses the exact same native project and .cs files that you use in VS2005 to build the project. In fact, your designers and work directly with your developers on the same projects with different tools. The entire suit of tools has a TBD release date, but partnering with MS on the project may offer some early looks at the new tools for future development.

Another mundane but absolutely necessary topic has to do with security and reliability of the new WCF (Indigo). Two sessions covered the details of handling security (called Claims) and transaction support (including secure sessions to ensure in-order and drop-free packet reception). This framework has seriously been thought over and is going to be slick. I’m not entirely sure of the performance yet, most of the demos have seemed relatively slow, but they are one-time executions with full start-up, execution and shut-down. So I’m going to spend more time with the hands-on labs tomorrow to get a better handle on it.

And that’s my next topic – the Hands-On labs. These are excellent ways to go beyond the slides and experience the technology directly with your own hands. The labs are documents that explain how to tackle a sample problem domain using the new technology. Each of the machines (there are hundreds) are setup with Virtual PC so that you can use a repeatable clean session from start-to-finish. Most of the details are in the documents, with difficult to write items saved on the disc to speed the lab. I’ve done several now, including one on LINQ, Indigo, Sparkle and Avalon. LINQ was awesome, but the DLinq stuff is still being mixed and not quite ready for anything. In fact, I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t change in the next six months based on the abysmal feedback it’s gotten. Sparkle is awesome, I had a blast creating some seriously trick user interfaces with no code. And it included full support for XML data source usage. Avalon is so very cool, and I’m pretty sure we’ll see it before Vista – like maybe in IE7. :)

I’m going to get more time with Indigo tomorrow to test performance in what manner I can. The labs are packed during the day so they kind of encourage you to stick to the script. However, in the early AM I can get a good couple of hours (from 7am to 9am or so) to focus on how it interacts. Pretty slick stuff, I’ll cover that once I’ve had more time.

As I was getting ready to head out for the day, I heard a “Chris Patterson?” over my shoulder. What a surprise to see Brad standing there calling my name. We chatted for a good long time and it sounds like he’s got a pretty slick position within Microsoft. We talked at length about WinFX (his domain) and how it could be used in our business (since he’s very familiar with it). I’m thinking partnership in the near future could be in order to garner some solid development support for the new tools. ;)

That’s all for today. I spent so much time talking to folks that I ran out of time and ended up skipping Universal Studios. There were still tons of people waiting for the bus at 8pm and I didn’t feel like the long ride to get a hamburger and come right back. So I came back to crash after some dinner at CPK. Tomorrow is a massive day with something like six sessions straight. I think I’m going to arrange my day to get a little more time in the lab since they seem to offer a more direct experience with the help of the proctors to understand the details without excessive PowerPoint abuse. So that’s all for now, more tomorrow.