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Win 8/RT, Cloud, Data To Be Key Themes at Visual Studio Live! Chicago

The Visual Studio Live! Chicago 2013 conference is set to open Monday, May 13, providing hands-on guidance and training for developers engaged with the Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual Studio development environment.

The event will kick off Monday with a trio of all-day workshops, before the formal event begins Tuesday morning with a keynote address by Jay Schmelzer, director of program management for Microsoft's Visual Studio Team. More than 60 sessions and a number of networking events are planned during the conference, which runs through Thursday May 16.

Visual Studio Live! Chicago features nine technical track, with the most heavily represented track being Windows 8/Windows RT. Sessions range from an all-day, hands-on workshop (Build a Windows 8 Application in a Day) to primers on things like WinJS and Windows 8 design concepts, to more involved explorations of data sharing with Windows Phone 8 apps.

Even so, Windows Azure may well be the star of the show in Chicago. Schmelzer's Day 1 keynote on Visual Studio and .NET Framework development will address the transition dev orgs are making toward cloud-based development. The Day 2 keynote by Microsoft Windows Azure Team Product Manager Craig Kitterman will focus entirely on Windows Azure and its facilities for quick and effective application delivery.

Rocky Lhotka, co-chair of the Visual Studio Live! conference series and chief technology officer at Magenic, says the cloud-focused curriculum reflects developers' "rapidly evolving" interest in the Microsoft Azure platform.

"Just a couple years ago most people were extremely skeptical of the cloud and what it could provide," he says. "Today I would say that most developers are starting to recognize that the cloud offers them some amazing value, potentially enabling them to incorporate features into their apps that would have otherwise been too complex or costly."

He adds that while few organizations have yet to make the transition to cloud computing, he sees a "shift in developer attitude" that is opening the way to adoption.

Microsoft's Kitterman agrees. "Azure demand is definitely picking up," he says, noting that developers are coming to terms with concepts like Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which holds a lot of promise for enterprises. He also notes that the new Windows Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) functionality launched last month enables virtual machines on-demand and flexible dev and test in the cloud -- things that can alleviate IT bottlenecks. "This, with the growth of devops, makes now the right time to take advantage of the cloud," Kitterman concludes.

Another point of focus at Visual Studio Live! Chicago will be data-oriented development. There are nine sessions in the Data Management track at the event, including a full-day workshop on SQL Server 2012 led by Visual Studio Live! led by co-chair and Blue Badge Insights CEO Andrew Brust and Sleek Technologies CTO Leonard Lobel.

Lhotka says that the conference agenda reflects a focus on practical technical guidance. "As conference chairs we are always sensitive to the balance between the 'cool' stuff people might use someday, and the pragmatic content attendees can use immediately," Lhotka says, citing the example of HTML5. He says few developers have switched their primary development platform from .NET to JavaScript, instead looking at HTML5 as an extension of ASP.NET. "Our goal is to reflect this reality in our choice of content for the conference."

Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/10/2013

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