TechEd 2012, Game Developers and Communication

Last week I was lucky enough to attend TechEd 2012 on the Gold Coast. If you follow my twitter feed, you'll know thatI didn't have high hopes (opens new window) for it being anything but a giant sales pitch. However, thankfully, a few good speakers saved me from maintaining that impression.

# Favourite Talks (no specific order)

Adam Cogan (opens new window) - Whats New in Visual Studio 2012 (opens new window)

Adam did a really good job at showing what was new in VS 2012 as well as being honest about what he doesn't like. Good use of open source tools (Glimpse) and promoting tools that help you be more productive. Amount of humor in the talks was awesome, enough to keep interest (it was the first session as well, not enough coffee) and very knowledgeable.

Aaron Powell (opens new window) - Windows 8 Application Development with HTML/Java Script (opens new window)

Aaron showed his expertise very well, assumed a decent level of knowledge for his talk, which was refreshing. He pointed out gotchas and short comings of Javascript and building windows 8 apps while showing how to make the most of what was at developers disposal . Was unapologetic towards XAML developers and I overheard a few developers comment on JS being 'still all over the place'. I think these two 'camps' of HTML5+JS vs XAML both have pros and cons. Right tool for the job, ignoring alternate tools completely for each task causes potentially missed advantages. 'JS is all over the place' is a common reaction when seeing a large application of JS as the structure of self executing functions. JS in general can look strange initially and can be hard to maintain a large system written in JS, however it's strength with development time and flexibility can't be ignored in my opinion. Aaron did a great job at getting through a lot in a single talk.

Patrick Klug (opens new window) - Windows 8 - Games

A presentation by a games developer at TechEd, for me made the experience far more enjoyable as I got the chance to talk with Patrick regarding ideas for game development and some of the harder and not so well seen aspects of indie game development. His experience with the Windows 8 Store gave a good insight to what other potential developers might expect. His change from C# development to HTML5 + JS was an interesting one to listen to as he is relatively new to the Javascript language. Patrick's game "Game Dev Tycoon (opens new window)" is currently available on the Windows 8 Store and I strongly urge people to check it out, even just to see what can be done in HTML5 + JS.

Nick Randolph (opens new window) - Mobile Development - Cross Platform

This was a very interesting talk, both in topic and reaction from other developers. This session was in a smaller room but it ended up completely full with people unable to get in. Talk mainly focused on the use of Mono tools with a solid example of code reuse across multiple platforms. Very balanced talk, warning of 'no silver bullet' but showing real productivity gains through use of these tools. Nick's talk used more Expression Blend than I've personally seen before and I've forced myself to try and use the tool a bit more as he gave great examples of how much easier this tool can make certain tasks. Though I still dislike Blend, it's starting to show it's advantages.. as long as I don't get lost in it's UI.

I will update this blog with Channel 9 links as they become available.

Another thing I took away from Teched was the importance of communication within software development. Whilst on the plane to the Gold Coast I started reading Jeff Atwood's - Effective Programming: More Than Writing Code (opens new window). Early in this book, Jeff highlights the importance of communication and how sites like Stackoverflow make programmers better communicators. It really does improve your ability as a programmer immensely. Once you try to convey a programming concept to another developer, it makes you think about that topic in a more fundamental way. I have found a few times while trying to explain why I chose one solution and not another, just the act of explaining gave me a deeper understanding of the different parts involved. It can also uncover problems that perhaps have been glossed over.

Though I might seem like a bit of a sheep, I strongly agree with Jeff's sentiment. One of the major reasons I'm making another attempt at regular blogging in fact.