Last year's focus was on the value of attending TechEd. This year's focus has shifted to Microsoft's Build conference, which was recently held for over 5,000 attendees in late June. Some people have already asked questions such as, "Isn't this just another TechEd?" or "Is this a replacement for TechEd?" The simple answer is no; although, it does come with a similar price tag (over $2,000 to attend). Build is a conference with a heavy focus on Windows development (think mobile). With more than one developer conference now being offered by Microsoft, questioning the value of Build is more important than ever. Most companies cannot spare the time and/or money to send a developer to both conferences. Additionally, some developers may initially be swayed by the swag factor. Historically Microsoft has given away free tablets to attendees of Build. It should be assumed that this will be cost prohibitive as the conference grows in future years.
With all of these thoughts in hand, is Build worth attending?
Unfortunately, this answer is not as clear as TechEd. If a developer works within Microsoft technologies, TechEd is a great conference. Microsoft's Build conference specifically focuses on mobile (Windows 8), gaming (Xbox), and cloud development (Azure). This year's conference had over 180 sessions. With this many talks there was bound to be a few cross-over sessions from TechEd. For instance, Visual Studios has become Microsoft's platform of choice for all development languages. Many of the mobile development sessions used Visual Studios and Scott Hanselman shows off may of its new features. Other notable cross over sessions were SignalR
and using async/await.
Please check out the "Tips" section in "Is There Value In Attending TechEd?"
for helpful suggestions about attending a conference. In this year's Build, Internet connectivity was spotty at times. Having a separate connection helped. Also, it's a great idea
to attend the conference with friends/co-workers. Encourage everyone to attend different sessions and have fun follow-ups with the group about each session.
It's important to note that Microsoft has given away tablets over the first few Build conferences because they are trying to spark interest in the development community.
This interest is necessary for Microsoft to become relevant in the mobile space. This includes the Windows Phone 8 and Window 8 used on desktops and tablets. Apple's iOS platform has been wildly successful due to its developer adoption. Without a prosperous app store, the iPhone and iPad are simply beautiful paperweights. It was refreshing to see Microsoft embrace the 800lb iOS gorilla in the room. They provided excellent sessions on mobile development and how it affects them and other platforms. For instance, there was an excellent session
on the "Design Differences Between iOS and Windows 8."
most of these sessions had a mobile, Windows 8, or gaming twist to them. They either promoted new functionality from Microsoft or how to leverage existing functionality in these focused areas.
In conclusion, Build is an excellent conference for those currently in the mobile or gaming world or those who have an interest in learning more. Microsoft has made heavy investments in both of these areas in recent years. They want to keep the momentum of Xbox while moving up the mobile industry to become a power-house over the next few years. They are providing a separate conference to drive home the importance of these areas
and to encourage developers to jump in.