Reflections on ALT.NET Seattle, the evening before



This weekend I attended the long awaited ALT.NET Seattle, in this post I’ll share some of my thoughts from the event. ALT.NET kicked off with an opening session with all the attendees.

After a Costco run to stock up on food along with several others including David Laribee, Scott Bellware and Brad Wilson (thanks for driving), I arrived at Digipen. I remember not really knowing what to expect as ALT.NET has gone through a lot of transition over the past year. I was never the less excited and optimistic.

Upon arrival, the first person I bumped into was Chad Myers. Chad and I had been collaborating over various mediums for the past 6 months, however we never met in person. Meeting Chad in person was a reminder for me about the significance of this event that had drawn in people from across the globe.  As I entered into the main room where the event was going to start, I could feel the excitement. There was something different about “this” event than other events I had attended. I had just returned from “Tech Ed Israel” followed by the MVP summit, but this was something different. Here you could tell that all the attendees felt like they were really part of something, rather than simply being spectators.

To kick off the event, Doc, our facilitator, introduced us to the four main principles of Open-Space, and described what was to come in the coming days. Rather than describe it, it’s best if you experience it, which is possible thanks to Jeffrey’s videos.

Next as is traditional in Open-Space the attendees planned out the sessions for the next 2 days. The nice thing about this conference is that it’s not a spectator-only sport. Anyone can contribute, anyone can suggest a session. Essentially you just write your name and session on a sticker and walk up to the center of the room.

Proposing topics

The other nice thing is that just because you suggest, doesn’t mean you need to actually deliver the session. As a convener, your responsibility is to ensure that you start off the meeting, and that someone takes the notes. In my case, I suggested 3 sessions, entitled “To Mock or not to Mock”, “Prism, Are we headed in the right direction” and “What is guidance?”. In the end, all the proposed sessions were posted on a schedule in the front of the room. (That’s me in the blue and white jacket)

More votings SaturdaySchedule

This was followed by a fishbowl session on PolyGlot programming (means using multiple languages in the same program for those who didn’t know including me 🙂 )  Below you can see Hanselman who has jumped in the bowl. One of the highlights of the session was Charlie Calvert from the language team at Microsoft joined the discussion to talk about mixed language support in future versions of the framework.

Polygot Programmer discussion

Just as we had thought evening had ended, we all headed to a local restaurant for another round. I am not sure, but we may have violated a few fire-codes. The highlight of the dinner for me was a conversation I had with Martin Fowler around UI Patterns, particularly Presentation Model and MVP. Yes I know, I am a geek but come on I mean how often do you have Fowler right at the next table?


The really impressive part of the whole evening was the way everyone immediately self-organized and the level of respect all the attendees showed one another. Also there was no anti-Microsoft vibe, instead it felt warm and welcoming.

Glenn Block

Sr. Program Manager, Azure

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