Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A day and night at the NRW09 Conference in Germany

About 1,5 year ago I first met Daniel Fisher when he and two colleagues from NewTelligence, a German consultancy firm, hosted a full-day session on advanced .NET 3.0. During the breaks, we ended up talking about software factories and stayed in contact through MSN and email.

Since then, he started DevCoach, his own company, and became very active in the German .NET community through the Just Community initiative. In 2008, he and Stephan Oetzel organized their first full-day event, the NRW Conference, roughly comparable to our SDN events. Last year he invited me to do a talk in Wuppertal, but due to holiday conflicts I had to drop the opportunity. But this year, I did make it, and it was fun.

The event started on Thursday evening with a speakers dinner in Pöschkes, a local restaurant. Since I wanted to avoid the traffic, I left Rijswijk at around 14:00 and arrived at Wuppertal at around 17:00. I forgot how fun it was to drive the German autobahn where most of it still does not have any speed limit. Diner started not until 20:30, so that gave me some time to take a walk in the vicinity of the Ibis hotel, which by the way, was a simple but descent hotel. Unfortunately, it had no Wi-Fi and my phone's GPRS connection did not work either. I then went to the event location to meet the rest of the speakers, which appeared to be a rather unusual place. Instead of the typical conference center this event was held in a kind of cultural center/club named "Die Börse". Definitely an interesting place to hold an event for developers.

Dinner was excellent, but lasted a bit long and other than Daniel and Stephan it appeared to me that most Germans are a bit too reluctant to speaking English. Fortunately, I was sitting next to Sergey, who accompanied Daniel in the Netherlands, Lars Corneliussen, a very funny but loud German speaker, and Phil Winstanley, the only other non-German speaker. Although very young, he appeared to be a seasoned speaker and has been MVP for many years. The three of us enjoyed some interesting discussions throughout the entire evening and finished the night at around 01:00 with a final drink at the hotel's bar.

The next morning at 8:00 we all met at the venue to receive some drinking coupons and our speakers shirt. The first session started at 9:00 with a rather spectacular recap of last years edition and some encouraging words from the organization. Luckily I do understand German (although I don't speak it that well).

My session started at 11:10 and appeared to last only one hour instead of the usual 75 minutes. The session was held in the main room where the keynote was held, so it looked rather empty, even though there were about 35 people in it (of the 102 attendees in all four tracks). The talk ran fast and reasonable smooth, but at the end, nobody asked questions. However, I got a score of 1.7 on a scale between 1 (excellent) and 6 (aweful) so it is probably the language. Most Germans are not accustomed to speaking English even though I did not expect that from a developer community. Phil, who gave an excellent interactive talk on ASP.NET MVC versus WebFoms did not get any questions either.

I also attended Sergey's session on Orthogonal Architecture where he explained how you could apply the S.O.L.I.D. principles on an architectural level. I found that idea very interesting, so I just might ask Sergey whether I could use his slides to do this talk in the Netherlands. Since I had plenty of time to spare I also went to a talk on JQuery delivered by a German speaker I forgot his name off. I have not used JQuery yet, but I see why Microsoft decided to include it in the next version of ASP.NET. At around 18:30, after attending Phil's session and having dropped him off at the Dusseldorf airport, I finally drove back home.

You can view (or download) the slides below and download the source code of my demos from here.