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Work Hard, Play Hard @ TechEd 2012

By Atos Apprenda Support

In my educated opinion, if you’re a developer, you should absolutely go to TechEd.  Period.  I admit that I was slightly skeptical at first.  But now I can’t thank Apprenda enough for giving me the opportunity to go!

I quickly learned that the best new tech news comes from the higher level sessions and the hands on demos.  If you’re already up to date with the new MS tech then go right for the 400 level sessions and learn something new.  There is plenty of cool stuff to talk about, but the three big things that I took away from TechEd are:

PowerShell 3 is much better than version 2

The week before I left for TechEd, I was ranting at the office about how much I didn’t like PowerShell.  Granted, most of the blind hate was due to the fact that I have not taken the time to properly learn it, but I still think there were some valid arguments.  While certainly powerful, I always felt it was too verbose, undiscoverable, and carried a steep learning curve.  Powershell 3 changes most of that with the new ISE included in the version.  There is now improved auto-complete, intellisense, and new commands (Show-Command) to make cmdlets more discoverable.  New features are there as well, my favorite of which is support for background jobs.  My only complaint is that the intellisense behaves differently than the ever-so-familiar Visual Studio intellisense that we all know and love.  Oh well, it’s better than nothing.

We all need to start using WebAPI.  Yesterday.

This isn’t really new stuff anymore, but it was the first time I had a chance to see the new WebAPI stack in action.  REST endpoints accessible through the MVC routing framework! What more could you want?  From a consumer standpoint, it’s wonderful.  Build an intuitive URL, use the HTTP protocol as it was meant to be used, and get your data.  The ease of returning data in different formats on the service side was impressive as well.  A complete overview is here.

Fakes!  They may get us lazy developers to write unit tests!

This was my favorite session of the conference.  The title, “Testing Un-testable Code” grabbed my attention because just a few weeks ago Bryan was slaving away at his desk resurrecting some of our unit tests after we just wrapped up some significant refactoring.  Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy about it!  The real short version is Visual Studio 2012 includes a framework, called fakes, that lets you generate shims and create stubs for any referenced assembly.  A stub is a dummy implementation of an interface to be consumed by a unit test.  That’s great if you have testable code, but we all know it’s not always that easy. Shims let you outright replace the implementation of any method (even statics and privates) or property with your own delegate.  Suddenly you can unit test DateTime. Now!  I could rant about this for a while, but the best thing for all of you to do is watch the session and see for yourself.

But let’s not forget that TechEd is fun too!

Wander around and talk to people from various companies who make cool stuff, spin a Price is Right-esque wheel to win prizes, accumulate enough free T-shirts to last you over a week, play classic arcade games, play real life Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots with Kinect, the list goes on.

Of course, I would be a fool if I failed to mention the plethora of after parties, finishing up with a four and a half hour free pass to Universal’s Island of Adventure.  If that doesn’t make you feel like a little kid again then nothing will!

What did you appreciate most about TechEd this year? Leave a comment……

Atos Apprenda Support