SharePoint Conferences 2011 + Asia

This year marked a milestone in the SharePoint community and proof that SharePoint is going to be around for quite some time.  This was the year that a non-product release year (no new version announced) pulled more attendee’s at a SharePoint conference than its former self.

What does that mean?  Well it means that SharePoint is growing so strong in its role in the document management arena and its supporters are so pumped it doesn’t even take a new product to pull in the people for the conference. Eight thousand people that is by the way.

This year was actually a milestone for me as well. This was the year that I was accepted to give a session at SPC11, not just one, but three sessions in fact.  They were all scheduled for the same day so after transitioning one of the sessions got pushed to another softie.  It was a pretty daunting task to get prepared for this event.  Let’s be honest, you can’t go into this one and wing the delivery as you can with so much other content. Not necessarily because you don’t know it as well, but the simple method of delivering the content has to be refined. This is as I mentioned, the largest SharePoint conference in the world.

My first session was a SuperDashboard/DashMash/MashupDashboard? Regardless of what you want to call it, it was a demonstration of using multiple tool points to create a landing page where users can do more than just render and pivot data.  It involved using, Excel Services, BI Dashboard Designer, SharePoint Designer, InfoPath and of course the star of the show, SharePoint.

It was an unbelievable turn out, the room sat 800 people and at last count they closed the doors at 1,057 people.  It was funny because I was doing some revisions on my VM’s before the session started so I wasn’t looking up very much.  From when the first person walked in the door until the session started, I may have looked up 4-5 times.  Well when time came for the session to start and I looked up there were literally people sitting down the aisles and lining the walls.

The second session was co presented with Mark Rackley and I have to say it was the most FUN I’ve ever had giving a presentation.  We did a sort of Yin/Yang style on the pros and cons of using jQuery in SharePoint.  Mark talked about all the cool things you can do in jQuery, while I discussed how things can go horribly wrong, and you just might have to call in a PFE to debug the environment.  We showed querying the Document Object Model, speed tests and even ran a demo that would actually crashed our server live in the demo!
We were slated as the very last session of the day just before the conference wide trip off to Disney and that session started at 5pm (8pm for us East Coasters). Armed with this information we set out to make our session different from the rest.  We bought two cases of Five Hour Energy and bribed our way through it!  Ok well maybe not bribed but we were tossing out the energy drinks while being very free flowing and funny in the delivery of the content. Cracking jokes on each other as one would expect from a Yin/Yang session.

Shortly after the SharePoint conference I found myself jetting off to Asia for SPC’s little brother, SharePoint Conference South East Asia/Hong Kong.
The conference was a big success as I heard from an attendee that it was the largest SharePoint only conference on the entire continent.  That is a huge statement, attendees come from all over Asia as far away as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and all over IndoChina to meeting in Singapore or Hong Kong just to get a sliver of the amount of content that is available at the US event.

After 30 hours of no sleep I finally arrived in Singapore and delivered a session on setting up the Managed Metadata Service Application, deploying a Content Type Hub and syndicating that content to other consuming Site collections as well as using the new Metadata Navigation feature.  All the while meeting with and talking about every facet of SharePoint with the attendees during scheduled free times.

We had a great bunch of speakers from all over the planet there to present the sessions. The management of the entire conference was outstanding. As always it was great to put faces to avatars and personalities to tweets. I made some great friends in Singapore and solidified some others. Even the conferences food, as you would expect in Asia was outstanding!

Some free time included checking out the Marina Bay Sands casino. You know the one with the concrete island that spans the three buildings of the casino!  Wondered around down near the harbor, checked out the MerLions, Durian building, floating “football” field the parks and the skyline. Literally the cleanest city I’ve ever been in, by far bar none.

After some time in Singapore, Michael Noel and I took a run over the border to Malaysia and a sleepy town by the name of Johor Bahru (JB).  It was a sleepy industrial style city with not much to do in the way of sightseeing. But that’s just the way I like it anyway.  We checked out a few temples and mosques as well as the local shopping district. Seems very touristy but I had the best Naan bread ever out of a street cart in some back alley of JB along with my first exposure to sugar cane juice. Outstanding.

After Singapore wound down, many of the speakers went off to meet the remaining speakers in Hong Kong to wrap up the Conference with some time delivering to the China extension of the conference.  At this event I delivered a session on actually doing a database detach-reattach method migration.  This session is unique in that there are very few slides in fact there are only 6 slides including an opening, closing and agenda slide.  I sat in on many sessions in the past where the entire process is talked through via slide after slide for an hour and a half. I wanted to change this by actually doing it in front of the attendee, what issues that come up, and how to fix them.

Hong Kong ended up being more about the experience I had with friends from all over the world and the local folks. It had nothing to do with where in the world it was. In fact I made the correlation of Hong Kong to China town in NYC. If you weren’t paying attention they seem pretty close, minus the obvious nature of where you were.  I finally got to spend some time with Ken Lo after he moved to San Francisco. Ken was born in Hong Kong and has his entire family there so he visits quite often.

Ken showed us around all over Hong Kong from Victoria harbor to Mon Ton from Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) to Wan Chai. It was a great time, I even got a (legit) 25 dollar hour long massage. It was so awesome and cheap I went back the next night. Picked up some ceramic chop sticks for 5 bucks and some amazing Asian food.  Roast duck, giant prawns, rice, chicken knee’s, squid, chicken, pork ribs etc etc. All good stuff all happy Eric stuff.

After the conferences have wrapped up and the 26,385 miles in a single month all in the name of SharePoint have been put behind me, I reflect on the unique nature of our community.  A collection of smart SOCIAL people who are excited about what they do, how the product is changing the way the way enterprises do business and having good time while they do it!





(Thanks to Ken Lo, Mark Miller and Michael Noel for the collective photos)

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