At the start of March, I was fortunate enough to follow up my awesome time at the Java Posse Roundup with an equally awesome time at Microsoft’s MVP Summit. It was my first time at a Summit, so much like the Roundup, I didn’t know what to expect. In the end, it was every bit as amazing as I hoped it would be. Here are five reasons why:
The energy of the MVP community was great. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being surround by hundreds of the most passionate thought leaders in the Microsoft world for three days, but it’s wonderfully refreshing. I really enjoyed the opportunity to pick the brains of experts in technologies that I’m not as familiar with.
While the MVP community as a whole was wonderful, being a part of the F# MVP sub-community was even more rewarding. I spent most of the week hanging out with fellow F#ers Richard Minerich, Daniel Mohl, Talbott Crowell, Aaron Erickson, Robert Pickering, and Justin Lee. While I knew many of them from twitter, it was incredibly exciting to meet and exchange ideas in person. We may have had to hand write “F# MVP” on our nametags, but that didn’t stop me from feeling more connected to the F# community than I ever have before. Being around so many passionate F#ers inspired dozens of new ideas for F# projects, and I hope to be able to transform some of those ideas into reality later this year.
2. “Open Spaces” (The hallway track)
The summit was definitely not an open spaces conference like the Java Posse Roundup, but the impromptu conversations that took place were just as great. Where else can you see Mads go head to head with Miguel De Icaza on the future of C#? How about talking C# with Anders and asking him to give F# a little more love in his next keynote (which I may or may not have done). Not to mention all the other direct contact that you have with dozens of product team members. While the topics ranged from TDD to language design to the future of different technologies, all of the hallway discussions were filled with incredibly smart people, and the conversation was rich with great ideas.
3. NDA Access
Before I was a MVP, I was frequently annoyed by Summit attendees who tweeted things like, “[REDACTED] is going to be so cool!!!”. I made sure to keep that in the back of my head during my time at the Summit, but it’s undeniably fun to get a sneak peek of the future. Day 2 and 3 of the conference were all about showing us the future and giving product teams feedback on what to improve before things go public. Day 3 was particularly awesome since Don Syme gave the F# MVPs a first hand chance to play around with some of the new F# features. The only downside is that it’s even harder for me to wait for the next release of F#!
4. Global Reach
The MVP Community is a global community. At the Summit, I got to know a lot of people from people from places outside of the US like Canada, Singapore, and the UK. Of course, there were also MVPs from all corners of the US in attendance. This wide variety of backgrounds led to a diverse set of opinions and helped me to make a bunch of new friends from around the world. Being part of the worldwide community is a great feeling, but it also meant that I felt a stronger connection to people from the Midwest. I even got to know a few people from my local area that I never got a chance to meet at local events!
5. Great Accommodations
Simply put, Microsoft takes care of you while you’re at the Summit. The week was filled with free drinks, free food, and free caffeinated beverages to keep you energized after you were up late at fun evening events. Oh, and they also rented Safeco Field for the attendee party. If a party in a baseball stadium isn’t the perfect way to cap off two weeks of awesome conferences, I don’t know what is!