What a great weekend! I'm finally back, but those of you who follow me on twitter already know that this weekend I spent it in Philadelphia, at the Philly.net Code Camp.
So to start, this code camp has grown a lot of the past few years, and its a credit to the staff of the usergroup that this is the case. Every year that I've come to this event, and this is my third, it has continued to grow and grow and grow. Well this year was the biggest I've seen yet.
I personally love these events, and its not just for the networking. But to me, going is all about the mindset. The best part is to go and sit with people who are also trying to learn. The atmosphere itself supports that fact. No one is here to belittle anyone or try to be an elitist. The atmosphere is much more of a "Hey isn't this awesome...".
I also like these events because its a chance to get a quick view of new technologies and identify things you want to learn as you move forward. Like for me, I got to see Xamarin.Forms, something I knew nothing about, and I now have enough knowledge to pursue it more.
First the venue, the Code Camp was held at the Valley Forge Resort and Casino, and honestly this venue itself was pretty great. A great hotel, with great restaurants and lots to do when you aren't at the sessions. The code camp floor itself was OK, the first day suffered from a lot of audio issues, with presenters having to talk over one another. But most of these seem to be mitigated by the second day. So I have no doubt these issues will be resolved by next year.
This time around, my wife came with me, and I can tell you she definitely took advantage of all the casino / resort had to offer, while her husband went to sessions and engaged his inner programming nerd.
As for sessions, here's a quick summary of the ones I attended. These are just my high level thoughts, most of these people have lots of information online on these topics they presented, and if you want more detailed information let me know.
Azure and OnPremise Hybrid Approach: Brady Gaster (found here) This was a great presentation, mainly focused on using Azure for your website, but mixing it in with local services and local databases. If you work in a professional capacity this is a great topic to discuss. In my experience the biggest problem with the cloud is that clients are reluctant to allow their data to be handled by some third party. So instead you can create WCF services with end points hosted in Azure, that call to local installations of the web services. This allows you to leverage Azure Service Bus to relay and pass those messages down to the WCF service.
Xamarin Part 1 & 2: James Montemagno (found here), Greg Sheckles (found here), Brent Schooley (found here). This was a great session, and one I was looking forward to. Many of you who follow me on Twitter, know that I've been working pretty heavily with Xamarin lately and I gotta say that I'm very impressed with it. Overall it works great, yes the UI has some bugs, but it definitely helps to make mobile development a whole heck of a lot easier. Seriously, I've written Java apps in the past, and Eclipse is a bit of a nightmare. Especially when you are coming from being used to the Visual Studio IDE.
SignalR: Chris Gomez SignalR is a technology that I have been playing around with on my own, and I have to admit that I love what I see. To me SignalR is the next step in the pursuit of RIA, and really allows for some cool features with regard to how the client and server communicate, eliminating the postback.
iBeacon and Xamarin: James Montemagno (found here) Another really interesting talk with some ideas for how to leverage the new support for iBeacon with iOS 7.1. Again another new emergent technology that has a lot of potential.
Overall, it was a great experience. I have to admit that I enjoyed the whole event and had a great time. Given the chance you should definitely attend in the future.