I spent some time last week in the Netherlands at the Software Development Conference 2006
. This event was hosted by the Software Development Network
and featured 10 different tracks with 10 sessions in each track. The SDN has long been successful in attracting world class speakers to their conference and this year was no exception, with names like Mark Miller, Stephen Forte, Michelle Leroux Bustamante, Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin, Brian Noyes, Tim Huckaby, etc... The conference was very well attended and the SDN provided some excellent value to all participants.
The SDC 2006 was a huge milestone event for DotNetNuke. Core Team member Leigh Pointer had worked hard over the past 2 years building a Netherlands DotNetNuke User Group to ~450 members and had recently merged the group with the SDN so that it could have access to more resources. This merger prompted the SDN to include a dedicated track for DotNetNuke at SDC 2006. A dedicated track meant that DotNetNuke would get equal recognition with the other conference tracks ( C#.NET, VB.NET, ASP.NET, Delphi, and FoxPro ) - a significant accomplishment! The track included 10 sessions over 2 days with 5 different speakers including myself, Vicenc Masanas, E.P. Tamminga, Peter Schotman, and Erik van Ballegoij. Considering the DotNetNuke track was brand new for this conference, I was very satisfied with the attendance.
My first session started with a discussion of Application Frameworks and why a developer would choose to use DotNetNuke when they already have access to the .NET Framework. I then covered the benefits of the new Express developer tools released with Visual Studio 2005 - Visual Web Developer Express and SQL Server Express. I finished off with a demonstration of how to install the DotNetNuke 4.0 Starter Kit, create a new web project using Visual Web Developer and the DotNetNuke 4.0 project template, and then extend its functionality using the DotNetNuke Module Template.
My second session covered DotNetNuke from a higher level, introducing attendees to the extensibility options from both an end user and software developer perspective. I covered installation, site virtualization, portal framework, skinning, modules, providers, and language packs. For this session I used the latest DotNetNuke 3.2.6 Beta package, installed the application from scratch to demonstrate the simplicity to get it up and running, and then demonstrated the various run-time extensibility options through the user interface. During this session I ran into a technical glitch because I had both the ASP.NET 1.1 and 2.0 frameworks installed on my demo machine - and I would like to thank Stefan Kamphuis for his assistance in solving the problem almost immediately ( using regaspiis ).
My last session was titled "Open Source on the Microsoft Platform" and was more of an educational session on the various aspects of open source project management. Specifically, it covered intellectual property issues in great detail as well as the differences between Windows and non-Windows open source. I thought that attendees would find this session a little dry since there was no code or demonstration. But ironically, I received a score of 88% which was the highest score of any speaker on any topic in the entire conference!
One of the things I find most satisfying when I attend events such as this are the success stories of the attendees - especially the success stories related to DotNetNuke. Clearly the DotNetNuke project has changed the lives of many individuals around the world and I am astounded at the level of passion and enthusiasm demonstrated. It is also important for me to hear some of the challenges which people are facing with the project. Most people would assume that the challenges are technical in nature - but based on the maturity of the DotNetNuke framework and its vast extensibility options, these items can generally be solved with creativity and ingenuity. Business challenges are a different animal - and its interesting to hear about them because it means that DotNetNuke has made the transition from a developer project to a mainstream, mission-critical, business application framework. Hearing success stories from developers on how they have managed to convince upper management in some very large consulting companies ( ie. Capgemini, Ernst & Young, Accenture ) to consider using DotNetNuke on client projects is really gratifying - it means that the project is starting to acquire some of the characteristics of a serious commercial platform ( recognition, confidence, acceptance ).
Another really great benefit of attending the SDC conference was the fact that I got to spend time with Leigh Pointer and Vicenc Masanas. Both Core Team members have been with the project since the beginning and have contributed a great deal to help make it what it is today. I met Leigh very briefly last year when I attended a workshop in Amsterdam but it was great to finally spend some quality time with both Leigh and Vicenc. Vicenc presented 3 sessions at the conference and I know it was a serious challenge for him to present material in English when his native language is Catalan ( Spanish ). He did an amazing job and I especially liked his last session on constructing a User import/export facility using the IPortable interface. I also got to meet Sebastian Leupold, Project Lead of the User Defined Table Project. Sebastian travelled by train from Germany to attend the event and we were able to have some great discussion on a variety of topics. Other notable DotNetNuke community members included Stefan Kamphuis, Erik van Ballegoij, Peter Schotman, Ernst Peter Tamminga, and Mark Vroom.
I hope that the SDN will include a dedicated track for DotNetNuke in the SDC 2007 conference. If they do, I will pledge to provide much greater promotion for the event in the DotNetNuke community - as it represents a great opportunity for DNN developers in Europe to connect and collaborate.