Presenting on the bleeding edge

When VS2008 SP1 beta was released on Monday, I was getting ready to head for Toronto to present three sessions at DevTeach which would be on Wednesday and Thursday. One session was on Astoria another touched LINQ to SQL/EF and DataSets and the last was a deep dive into EF with respect to tiered programming.

The new bits would impact these talks, especially the Astoria and deep dive EF talk a lot and I truly did not want to show people what were now incorrect namespaces, classes whose names had changed, Entity Graphs that did not serialize with services, etc etc.

I made a scary decision and took a huge risk. I updated all of my demos to align with SP1 – this  I did on my dev box at home. This was more than a matter of tweaking some EDMX files and changing class names. The tiered applications needed to be completely reconsidered, rearchitected and rewritten. When I had gotten far enough in this process that I was confident I could finish the transition up, I knew it was time to get the SP1 bits onto my presentaiton laptop.

This didn’t go so well. I started the install just before I headed off to my user group meeting. Six hours later I returned to see the install failed because the vista windows sidebar was on. This was 10:30pm. I worked at trying to get the new bits installed until 9am the next morning and then had to give up and head for the airport. To be safe, I threw my CPU, which had what I needed, into my suitcase!

At the speaker dinner that night in Toronto, I was offered a VPC by scott Hanselman who is my savior for the month of May. It already had Vista on it, with VS2008, the Service pack and even Fiddler which I needed for the Atoria session. It was a full day since I began this installation. I hadn’t slept and I hadn’t been able to complete the demo transitions but I was fully committed.

Or perhaps should be committed.

I pushed my EF debugging skills full bore. But there was more to deal with since the VPC wasn’t quite the same as my setup. I had to install all of my databases and change all of the connection strings (there were a lot) inthe many many projects for the 3 sessions in addition to running thorugh every single demo to see where things weren’t working.

I didn’t get everything fixed on  time and had to go into my presentations knowing that I’d have to skip a few demos and hoped that the bulk of the attendees would feel the same as I did about being able to see how things are not how things were. I think the feelings were mixed (sorry to anyone who found my decision not to be the best).

There is still one entity sql query that is driving me nuts. It keeps saying that “customer” doesn’t exist, though the query looks at Customers. Almost as though I had cached something.

I got a few hours of sleep, had chocolate and coffee as my critical helpers, bit the bullet and went for it.

But boy oh boy, I’m not sure if I really need this kind of excitement in my life! ūüôā

I still need to tighten the rest up so I can get the demos up ontot he DevTeach website, but since not many of the session attendees have SP1 installed yet, hopefully they won’t mind waiting a few days.

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10 thoughts on “Presenting on the bleeding edge

  1. Welcome to writing against beta bits…writing your Entity Framework book is going to be a challenge.I went through this with ADO.NET (The book was originally called "Programming ADO+" if you want some perspective how early I was writing). I wish you luck, but using VPC’s with Undo Disks is key IMHO. The ability to close and dump all changes to go back to a clean basic image and reinstall everything makes life much easier.

  2. I also took the plunge this week and installed the new bits the day before my Entity Framework talk at the Sarasota SQL and .NET User groups. I got 5 of 7 demos working in time, but man it wiped me out! I struggled with the same thought … I figured people would rather see the new bits than see how it used to work. It went well, it was the right decision.

  3. I have two seminars next week on "ASP.NET Futures", so I’m in a similar position. I installed VS SP1 yesterday (after a few failures) so can now show the latest EF, Asoria, but have yet to add on compatible MVC bits. I’ll have to reboot to another partition to show Silverlight. My laptop really isn’t powerful enough to run VPCs at a speed suitable to demo.

  4. Its really bad luck, that it was released so close to DevTeach, and it must have been a difficult decision on such short notice – but although i wasn’t there, I would have preferred seing an incomplete session on the new stuff, rather than a polished one on somewhat obsolete stuff. So I think you made the right decision.

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