The Best Practices Conference in Washington, DC (actually Reston, VA) was this past week: August 24-26. I was very fortunate to be able to get a pass for this conference close to the last minute and make the trip. I am so glad I was able to work out being able to attend.
I have only attended one other conference, the SharePoint conference in 2008 in Seattle, WA and a few SharePoint Saturdays. Each time I am amazed at how much I learn at these events. I thought about breaking my post about the conference into 3 posts, one for each day, but I decided instead to take my 5 favorite sessions and make some quick notes about them.
Dux Raymond Sy presented the 7 Ways to Leverage SharePoint for Project Management Success. Now, I am not a project manager; I usually am one of the resources managed for a project. However, Dux’s presentation was one well worth seeing. I learned a lot about project management and the challenges that many project managers face. The best thing about this session, though, was Dux. Dux had given me a little teaser prior to the conference that he would be doing something fun. Well, let me just say, the whole session was fun! Dux was engaging and kept the attendees involved from the moment he started until the music kicked in and he started rapping “SharePoint is Nice Nice, Baby"!
The next session that I want to touch on was Rick Taylor’s session on Preparing for Upgrade to SharePoint 2010. Rick’s disclaimer at the beginning of the session that it would not violate the NDA was dead on. He presented the pitfalls and challenges that he faced when trying to prepare for an upgrade. Rick made us laugh right along with him as he touched on the errors made and error messages that you may see. So much good information, I need to keep him handy when I decide to do an upgrade, or prep for one!
Darvish Shadravan did 2 sessions on InfoPath at the conference. I went to both of them! The first was Best Practices for Deeply Integrating Forms into Your SharePoint Sites. This session was about designing the forms, how to make them dynamic, how to make them user-friendly, and so on. As a self-declared InfoPath junkie, this session (and the other one) was right up my alley. The second session was InfoPath Forms Services – Best Practices. This session was about optimizing performance and how to limit postbacks. Darvish demonstrated a tool that had been mentioned in a few other sessions: Fiddler. WOW! This tool is amazing. I was surprised to learn that submitting a form actually only was a single postback, but saving the form was 2 postbacks. I would have thought the opposite. Darvish also made sure that the sessions were interactive by throwing prizes for good questions and answers.
One of the other sessions that I really enjoyed was Paul Schaeflein’s session on SharePoint Designer Best Practices. Paul had 10 slides (yes, just 10) with a tip and either a smiley face or sad face. As some of these were good practices to implement and bad practices not to implement. What I really enjoyed about this was Paul made sure there was participation… from the attendees and the gathering of speakers at the back of the room. I called them the peanut gallery, and they made the session fun by debating and chiming in on the points being made. Paul also opened up the floor to the attendees and even added to his slides by asking what we had experienced as Bad or Best practices.
Each night of the conference, and the night before the conference, there were social events planned to allow the attendees to mingle with each other and with the conference organizers and speakers. This was some of the most valuable time at the conference. Sharing your experiences (both about SharePoint and other things) with others and gleaning from their experience is worth more than any price tag. Had some good conversations with Cathy Dew, Laura Rogers, Sara Windhorst, Sarah Haase, Janis Hall, Zlatan Dzinic, Mike Ferrara, Chris Dooley, Paul Kolasky, and so many more that I just can’t type them all.
There are sessions that were presented that I so wish I could have attended (Paul Culmsee, Ruven Gotz, Andrew Woodward…) but I couldn’t be in all of them. I also was fortunate enough to be one of the few who received a signed copy of Brett Lonsdale’s book on BDC. I actually have already found myself talking about the BDC with a few people as if I know what I’m talking about! There are lots of places to see pictures of the event, and many of the links above have them. But one of the best sources of information about the event can be found on EndUserSharePoint.com. I was one of the live bloggers for the conference, and in conjunction with Bamboo Solutions, End User SharePoint sponsored media coverage of the event. You will find video, interviews, live blogs, twitter streams and much more.
Hope to see you next year at Best Practices or at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in October!