Last week, I inaugurated my ADO.NET Orcas Overview at the TEchValley.NET User Group in Albany NY (with thanks to INETA!!). It was a serendipitous night for me to present there as they had just moved to new digs for their meeting, a very convenient, spacious and high tech location, so they packed the room!
The purpose of this presentation is to introduce developers to the Entity Framework and to LINQ for ADO.NET (that’s the umbrella term for LINQ to SQL, LINQ to DataSets and LINQ to Entities) and while it sounds like a short list, it’s a LOT to cover in one session. Especially if you don’t want to just do some marketing. Developer’s want to see code, but there is a lot of high level explaining to do up front, which takes time. Yet, I can’t help wanting to desconstruct the Entity Data Model schema files, try to show different ways of designing a conceptual layer, and then the many ways of getting data out of the entity framework as well as using LINQ to SQL (a huge topic all on it’s own) and LINQ to DataSets (another good sized topic, if you like DataSets, which I do!). Minimally, a day would be good to start with.
Before I opened up the schema files, I asked “so, who here is comfortable working with XML, anyway?”. I was surprised that 1/3 of the hands went up. This is a smart group of developers who challenged me with a lot of awesome questions! (Though there was a big sigh of relief when I mentioned LINQ to XML and LINQ to XSD for those of use who live in fear of XPath!)
I laughed at John Papa’s recent blog post where he bemoans the difficulty of cramming the same list of info into an article he is writing for MSDN Magazine. John and I have been providing lots of moral support to each other as we attempt to wade through Entity Framework and the LINQ flavors that are involved with data access. I was happy to finally meet John in person at the meeting, as well. (A local yokel!)
The most laughable part of my session was when, after constantly checking my watch to gauge how much time I had left (and being surprised, at each check, how well I was doing with the time), I realized that I hadn’t changed the time on my watch for the early daylight savings time. I didn’t have 1.5 hours to go, but only 1/2 hour! While I had planned to do a 2 hour session (user groups are a little more amenable to this than conferences where you are on a tight schedule), I think that, not counting the short break we took, I managed to wrap up in 2 hours and 15 minutes – and nearly everyone stayed! But what’s new? (Hey, you’ve got me there, take advantage of it! ;-))
The next day, I had a three hour drive home, immediately followed by a GeekSpeak webcast on the same topic, but for only one hour. My favorite part of this format was that whenever I was starting to go on and on about one particular piece of the Entity Framework (can’t be helped as I find it fascinating – sick, huh?), Susan would steer me to the next stage of the discussion. Boy, would I love to have Susan with me while I’m presenting at a conference. “Okay Julie, I think 5 minutes looking at XML is more than enough… let’s go look at something a little sexier, like the LINQ to SQL designer, huh?”
So next up is DevConnections, where I will be doing this session in 75 minutes (less, if I want to be able to answer questions), then on to Code Camp in Waltham, then the South Sound User Group in Olympia (after talking about LINQ to SQL In Bellingham, WA – both INETA gigs) and DevTeach in Montreal. I’m excited about all of these opportunities to introduce developers to these very cool technologies!
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