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Is there value in attending TechEd?

, 30 Aug 2012
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The short answer is, "Yes."

In early June, Microsoft held its annual TechEd conference, which convers all things IT and development.  This is one event in a growing number of conferences available to the technology world.  Two other notable conferences are Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) and Google's I/O conference.  Microsoft welcomes over 10,000 attendees to its TechEd conference each year.  The event is sponsored by Microsoft and outside software vendors. This year showcased more than 400 sessions to choose from.  The price of admission is over $2,000, not including travel and lodging.  It also requires four days out of the office to attend the event. This begs the question, "Is there value in attending TechEd?"


The short answer is, "Yes." There are a variety of sessions available to suit every need and interest, including new Microsoft products, enhanced developer tools, project management discussions, introductory courses, and much more.  This year's sessions included discussions on modernizing datacenters, using new technologies such as SignalR, increasing agile estimation, an introduction to JavaScript, and many areas related to Windows Azure. The format of each session was either open group discussion, lecture, or a hands-on workshop.  Between sessions attendees had the opportunity to speak with presentors, dialog questions/concerns with Microsoft staff, and visit non-Microsoft exhibitors. These exhibitors attempt to fill the technology and software gaps in Microsoft's products.

Attending TechEd for the first time can be overwhelming. The following section contains tips on easing that experience:
  • Comfortable shoes are a necessity.  See Fritzs Theorem On Conference Shoes.
  • A laptop or tablet is recommended but not required.  Internet connectivity is provided.
  • Get a good night's rest before each day.
  • Plan out which sessions to attend.  Due to speaker and session popularity some max out.
  • Stay nourished and hydrated.  Plenty of food is provided, including breakfast, lunch, snacks, and an unlimited supply of drinks.
  • Don't be afraid to talk to exhibitors and learn about their products.
  • Diversity in the type of sessions one attends is a must.
  • "Birds of a feather" sessions are a great way to get involved in an open dialog about topics.
  • If the continuous stream of sessions becomes overwhelming, take a break and skip a session.

Final Thoughts

Although TechEd requires the investment of time and money, the potential of return is high.  Value is in the eye of the beholder but it requires the proper mindset.  If attending TechEd is not possible there are alternatives.  During the conference the "birds of a feather" sessions are streamed live over the internet. Additionally, thespeaker driven sessions are recorded and available on Microsoft's Channel 9 website free of charge.  These videos provide a small portal into the return on investment possible from attending TechEd.

What are your thoughts? Questions?

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Zac Gery

United States United States
Software Developer, Mentor, Architect and UX/UI craftsman. Also, a psychology nut that loves curling.
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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionThe Lounge Pinmemberednrg30-Aug-12 8:55 
AnswerRe: The Lounge PinmemberZac Gery30-Aug-12 9:54 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmemberednrg30-Aug-12 8:54 
You do realize that there is a forum for questions and discussions. You might want to check out The Lounge.

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