With regard to languages, there's quite a lot about C# 4/5 in the schedule. Is there anything for the Visual Basic developer - and if not is this because there are no Visual Basic devs any longer?
DW: It's possible that this has a greater reflection on the speakers that talk at DevWeek, rather than the true position of the two languages! Many of the DevWeek speakers worked heavily in C++, MFC or COM, so we naturally tended towards the new, "cool" C# language when .NET first appeared. And we've stuck with it ever since.
Personally, I prefer C# because you can fit more code on a single PowerPoint slide!
What continues to remain important, though, is that both languages continue to receive investment and support. Language choice has always been a core idea of .NET, and guess what, it's even more so as we move towards Windows 8.
What about C++ which is going to be pretty central moving forward into WinRT development?
DW: I remember a few years ago, delivering a keynote at DevWeek, where I put up a tongue-in-cheek slide with a graphic of a tombstone which represented the death of C++, much to the chagrin of (at least) one attendee. I've long been a firm believer that the majority of business developers don't need to operate at the level that C++ offers, and I still believe that today.
However, there is no denying that OS developers, games developers and other developers where performance and platform integration are absolutely key will naturally work in C++.
What's really significant about Windows 8 and WinRT is that, unlike .NET, C++ developers can really get involved and experience the same benefits of easy and natural OO APIs. And they can still write great, low-level and highly performant code.
I'm not convinced that many C# or VB developers will migrate back to using C++. I certainly have no intention of doing so, but that might simply be because I'm too old to be able to handler pointers safely any more!
And organisations that have previously had concerns about hiring "designers" to work on desktop business applications, which is what they really needed to do to get the very best out of WPF or Silverlight, will now simply be able to re-deploy their web UX team if they so choose.
But has it finally become relevant to Windows developers (and more importantly, organisations that want to develop Windows applications)? Absolutely.
If you were a delegate, rather than which sessions would be on you don't miss list?
DW Well, mine of course!
When I used to attend DevWeek, and it was much smaller then, I always used to find it a challenge as I want to see nearly all the talks! And if I was attending this year, I'd be thinking the same thing.
One of the really great things about DevWeek is that it encompasses so many different areas of development, design and architecture. So my only recommendation would be to choose a few talks that might directly apply to my day job, but to also choose topics that are in different areas to help broaden my perspective.
This year for the first time Microsoft is providing a track, Is this going to change the feel of DevWeek which has always provided the "independent" angle?
DW: I don't think so. Microsoft has a great team of Developer Evangelists here in the UK, many of whom have spoken at DevWeek before. Consolidating their talks into a Microsoft track makes a great deal of sense, and in no way impacts on the independence of the other sessions. What's really nice about it is that it makes it very easy for the attendees to interact with their peers from inside Microsoft, offering a direct two-way channel of communication. And that means that Microsoft get to hear feedback directly.
So how would you sum up "the feel" of DevWeek?
This is a fantastic independent developer conference, with a huge range of subjects ranging from design to development to databases. It’s laid back, informal and brilliant.
It’s one of those nice conferences where the speakers don’t disappear from sight; you’ll see them hanging around (normally waiting for someone to buy them a drink!), so there’s lots of opportunity for an informal chat as well as the many breakout sessions.
DevWeek 2012 runs from March 26-30. It starts and ends with two sets of full-day workshops with the 3-day conference beginning on Tuesday March 27. The Early Bird Discount offer ends March 2nd so if you've not already booked your place NOW is the time to do so.