Sunday, April 29, 2012

How was the London International SharePoint Conference 2012 for me... (ISC London 2012)

Long time no speak...

I have to say "Blogger" has quite drastically changed since I last logged in and clicked on "Create a new post..."! Anyone else is thinking the same? Have Twitter/Facebook completely overtaken the good old fashioned "Blog" for good?

Today I would like to talk about the start of this week and the ISC London 2012 (International SharePoint Conference) I attended in the heart of London this Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday (23/24/25 April 2012).

If you want to skip to the end, I would give it a 5 out of 10 (10 being best).

If you want more details, please keep reading.

Let me start with the good things (aka "pros"):

- Very good turn out of SharePoint 2010 3rd party suppliers & consultancies. Some with very impressive products/services
- Good & original idea with the "Building of a real-world solution" during the 3 days of the conference (shame it was a very limited "real world solution" and very far from the "real world" in my opinion - but that should be in the "cons" sorry)
- Great to be in London for once. Great to be out of the office as it allowed me to take a step back and think about the way we are doing things right now in my team...
- Some "great tip" moments (but not as many as I was hoping for...)

Now the "cons":

- £650 for the pleasure of attending was far too expensive in my opinion.
- No need for a "Cafe de Paris" night that felt a bit like it was the only "exciting" thing the organisers could think of for the 3 days? What? to get p*ssed in a "French Cancan" type bar paying over the roof for a simple glass of house red? Oh... and massive bad mark for the fact that it was the most inaccessible venue in the Leicester Square area for a wheelchair user like me? I had to be carried on the back of one of the bouncers to be able to attend... nice when you're 37, brings back some memories (thanks to the bouncers though, guys you were amazing). Is being able to walk a pre-requisite to become a .NET/SharePoint developer?
- I personally thought that the quality of the presenters was very poor, especially outside of the 2 main "rooms" or "tracks" (developer/it pro tracks). I did not learn anything technical that changed my life as a tech solution builder. InfoPath was ok but nothing new, Branding was very poor, Visio services looked really clunky. The Business Intelligence sessions only barely "skimmed the surface" of the BI SharePoint stack. Even the "devguru" Microsoft MVPs and Masters were totally buried into Visual Studio 2010 and would not take the "almighty" step back to try and understand the big "business" picture and give us some real & helpful advice to make our developer's life easier?
- The allegedly "real life" scenario to build a real app hosted on SharePoint 2010 (on prem or online) had nothing to do with what I would call a "real life" scenario. It was mainly leveraging the new Enterprise metadata feature of SP2010, showing how to upgrade WSP, how to search related content based on taxonomy and how to export to Word and PDF. Nothing challenging if someone tells me they need that in their 2007 SharePoint site...

The "dev" track:

This is the one I mainly followed and although I started filled with hope that these guys were going to solve all of my problems, I was very disappointed in the end by the lack of "realism" and maybe even "professionalism" from some of the MVPs during these sessions...

Of course, there was also some great speakers there, such as Mirjiam van Olst who distributed a free copy of her excellent magazine DIWUG, which actually taught me more about SharePoint 2010 techniques & trends than the actual track itself. I will definitely try and subscribe as soon as poss... who knows maybe even provide some tips & tricks to the community if she allows me.

Balancing that, I saw a LOT of arrogance and a LOT of "let's-solve-every-single-problem-with-visual-studio" attitude. Not what I was expecting from experts in the field of (Microsoft) software development.

Although Visual Studio 2010 is awesome (we all know that), it doesn't mean it is always the best tool to tackle a SharePoint challenge!

The "dev tech" pecking order as far as I am concerned is always:
  1. Try to solve your problem with out-of-the-box web parts, site templates, free CodePlex tools that the community has kindly shared with us (Access Checker, Events Manager...)
  2. If "1" fails, give SharePoint Designer a go! You'll be surprised how far you can take it...
  3. If "1" and "2" both give up, then start thinking about Visual Studio and tell your project manager that you're going to have to SCRUM it, TEST it, VALIDATE it, UPGRADE the existing solution, deploy out of office hours and basically add a huge amount of dev time to an already stretched project and a worryingly understaffed team (architect, tester and business analyst all missing)
Well I was told by one of the MVPs that

"SharePoint Designer is not used here cause you're on the developer track..."

This was the answer to my question:

"Why did you code these web parts in Visual Studio? You could have saved about 2 dev months in your 8 for the prep of the conference if you had done the same in SharePoint Designer using a Data View?"


HTML, CSS, XSLT, XML are not dev languages?
DataView Web Parts are not a good dev technique to show underlying SharePoint list/doc lib data?
BCS definitions always have to be written by hand in XML in VS 2010?

This dude is wrong.

Very wrong.

I hate SharePoint Designer 2007 (see one of my previous posts...).
Heard 2010 is better but it's still not Visual Studio.
Either way, it's still a tool that will allow any good SharePoint dev to achieve 80% of the project in 20% of the time, and to me, this is not something to miss in a conference where you're showing off techniques that (should) save the IT devs some time!


In response to this I am planning to write a new post soon including a brand new YouTube-like SharePoint 2010 site template (obviously simpler than YouTube - don't have as many devs as they do...) but only developed using SharePoint Designer 2010 & out of the box site template.

I promise I will time myself and I reckon I will be done in less than a day.

Watch this space!

PS: ...Going to give the ISC London a miss next year... for sure.


Joe Castro said...

I like your post very much about SharePoint. The information in this post is very interesting and more useful for the developers. Thanks for share this valuable info.

Etienne Lambert said...

Thanks for the feedback Joe, glad you liked it :)