I arrived a bit late in the morning and missed the opening Keynote on Silverlight by Jason Zander and Sean Alexander. The SharePoint track started with Richard Oltmann from OakTree Software. His topic was "Preparing for SharePoint 2007", which primarily covered planning for a new SharePoint deployment. This is a really good topic and I agree with Richard that this is a stage often overlooked or relegated to a small group (such as IT) instead of having the enterprise participation that it should; although I can honestly say, at least as far as our clients go, that this is getting better with 2007 as people become more familiar with the product as a whole.
The first presentation was followed by a Birds of a Feather session that I hosted (actually, I was the only bird, for whatever that's worth). Great questions on v2 -> v3 migration and upgrades and, of course, licensing; two subjects that never seem to get answered to everyone's satisfaction. Miguel Wood of TekFocus did a great job in the afternoon walking users through the creation of custom site columns, content types, and SharePoint Designer workflows. It was a ton of content to cover and I think Miguel loaded up on some quad lattes beforehand but he managed to get through it all in fine fashion.
Kyle Kelin wrapped up the day on Configuring Forms Based Authentication – not the most exciting of topics but important nonetheless and he covered it well. Then it was off to the Oktoberfest 2007 festival for the real highlight of the day – free beer (where's Patrick when you need him?)! I ran into Nick Parker (C# MVP) on the way and we had a great conversation on the new features in C# 3.0, Lambda Expressions, NHibernate and various other programming topics. Once we arrived we discovered a quarter-mile trek to what turned out to be part county fair (complete with a ferris wheel and vomit-inducing spin-o-rama rides), part Oktoberfest and part polka dance. The beer was good – and served by the pitcher, no less – and the bratwurst was simply amazing. At the hoe-down we ran into Rafael Munoz, Microsoft MVP Lead for C#, XML, IIS, etc. About midway through the evening we concluded that the true reason for having an Oktoberfest celebration in Tulsa is to give people and excuse to do the Chicken Dance in public and get away with it (and despite Steve Walker's hilarious performance and claims to the contrary, the Chicken Dance was not introduced to America by way of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Puh-leeze).
After a boisterous bus ride back to the hotel we conclude with a few drinks and I had a lengthy chat with Rafael about the MVP program. It was very interesting to get the perspective of someone from the inside on what we do and how Microsoft views the entire program. Suffice it to say that they are very enthusiastic about all the MVP's and are working hard to make sure the program has value to the community as a whole, the internal product teams, and the MVP's themselves. Tomorrow we begin the SharePoint track with Corey Roth's talk on MOSS Search and wrap it up with my presentation on LOB development.
One final note on the conference – attendance was excellent. The last figures I heard from David Walker were about 650 attendees, which is a lot more than expected. I'm not sure how the other tracks were going but the SharePoint room was full in every session. Everyone I spoke with seemed to be enjoying themselves and getting a lot of valuable information from the various speakers. I think this is a great event for this market and David and the sponsors are to be commended for a job well done.