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SPTechCon San Francisco Review: 4 Days of Intense Learning

Posted in Editors' Thoughts

review45  Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars, Reviewed by Behzad Kashefipour

Being a software developer since 1998, in 2006 I joined a software consulting firm in southern California which introduced me to Microsoft SharePoint. I had to learn a great deal of development technics in SharePoint 2007, all in a very short amount of time. Back in those days, the online resources were almost non-existing, and the books were offering limited step-by-step, out-of-the-box how-to technics that would be good only for extremely simple environments. Therefore, I depended on SharePoint Conferences to get in touch with other fellow developers and to attend sessions to learn new technics that can actually be applied to the bleeding-edge technology I was working on.

I then realized that the number of developers out there was actually equal to the number of all the unanswered existing challenges with the platform. Even the most up-to-date presentations and professionals at those conferences did not have a lot more than a bunch of step-by-step illustrations to offer.

But after almost a decade of working with .NET and SharePoint, addressing the business needs, and the restless efforts of all the developers and evangelists promoting the platform all over the world, it was very satisfying to see that the Microsoft SharePoint platform has matured substantially and a 4-day conference with close to 110, 90-minute classes (some of which were almost 4 hours) can have so much to offer. 

About the Fellow Attendees

Most of the attendees that I met during the 4-day conference have been working with SharePoint exclusively for at least couple of years, which is enough to give them all - developers, business analysts, architects and IT managers – adequate knowledge about what this technology really has to offer and how crazy they can get with their ideas and expectations from the platform. Almost all of the questions that were asked during SPTechCon were of a very practical and specific professional nature, rather than a general sense of SharePoint functionality.

SPTechCon Classes: Intense Schedule Has Its Price

One thing that was really pleasing about the classes offered at SPTechCon was that they were geared toward answering specific challenges that IT professionals are dealing with on a daily basis, across every industry. This made these sessions suitable for a very wide range of developers, IT professionals, information workers, architects, business decision makers and project managers. Also, most of the presentations were geared toward intermediate and advanced users, rather than beginners (with overview classes), and that actually made the sessions very interactive and informative.

Number of classes offered based on the technical level of the audience:

# Of Classes (109 total):

  • Overview 21
  • Intermediate 63
  • Advanced 25

One noticeable fact was that the topic areas were designed to be more appealing for technical audience than less technical, such as project managers.

Number of the offered classes based on topic area (overlapping areas):

# Of Classes:

  • Developer Essentials 38
  • IT Pro Essentials 43
  • Information Worker Essentials 39
  • ArchitectureEssentials 29
  • Business Decision Maker 19
  • Project Managers 13

Of course, with having to choose 15 back-to-back classes during four, 9-hour days, people were a bit tired for socializing and networking, especially if you had to commute to the conference daily or had to perform some of their daily job tasks while at the conference.

Presentation and Resources: Good But Hard To Find

The part that may need the most improvement from the organizers of the conference would be the online resources of the classes, which were basically limited to a few PDF files on a very unintuitive slideshare.com website. It was very disappointing to see that almost everyone had problems searching and finding the presentations and materials that were being offered. The website basically contained a very generic dump of close to 80 poorly named and titled PDF files and PowerPoint presentations, with nearly no search capability. I personally had more luck Googling (or Binging) the title of the classes in double quotation marks and finding the older version of the presentation of the class from last year.

The contents were not searchable or sortable by title, presenter and/or time and date of the class, let alone by topic area or technical level. The irony was that in almost all of the classes that I attended during the conference, topics and concepts like Data Architecture, Taxonomy, Tagging, Labeling were addressed and emphasized on numerous times to help attendees understand the importance of content usability and search-ability. I hope to see improvement in this area for the next SPTechCon.

Conclusion

Overall it was a very interesting experience attending the conference. I am definitely looking forward to implementing many of my learnings and resources in my work environment to help my team achieve our organizational goals.

SPTechCon Boston is coming up in August 2013. Click here to learn more and to register.

 


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