Friday, May 22, 2015

ISUG Tech Conference 2015 Report

ISUG-TECH held their second annual user conference in Atlanta again.

Monday

Location 

My feelings about the location haven't changed since they held the conference here last year. See my report from last year. While I much prefer Atlanta to Las Vegas, there are still better options (e.g., Washington, D.C.). The Atlanta downtown area is rather dead at night, except for large number of somewhat aggressive homeless men who make walking to and from the hotel at night somewhat uncomfortable.  Recommendation:  Next year select a location that is a bit more friendly for after conference activities.

Registration

Registration once again went fine. I arrived rather late, so I didn't register until the morning of the first full day of the conference, which meant I was probably one of the last people to register and was the only person registering when I did.

Welcome Reception

The reception was held on Sunday night.  Because I arrived so late that night, I missed the welcome reception and can't speak to how it went this year.

Breakfast

Ok, first a caveat.  I'm a major food snob.  At home I'm on a six-small-meals-a-day, high protein, lean meat, no pre-processed food diet.  I don't expect to find them serving that at conferences, but I like to have options that allow me to stay as close to my diet as possible.  100% carbohydrate continental breakfasts don't cut it for me.  That doesn't mean that some of the other people at the conference, perhaps most of them, didn't enjoy it.  Perhaps they did.  I opted to pick up my breakfast from the overpriced and rather low quality coffee shop in the hotel instead.  Recommendation:  If it was up to me though, I'd suggest not serving anything and saving the expense (and lowering registration costs) rather than serving the typical breakfast that is offered at most conferences.

Opening Keynote/Plenary Session

The keynote and plenary session were done by folks from the SAP Database & Technology group and was almost exclusively about products within their group.  Because PowerBuilder is under the Mobility group, it (and the other mobility products) were not covered.  In fact, the only reference to PowerBuilder at all was a passing reference to a session being done during the conference that demonstrated how to use it to work with HANA (which does fall in the database & technology group).  Irfan Kahn did the keynote last year, and seemed to do a much better job of covering the entire gamut of SAP products.  In addition, last year there was a separate plenary session that focused on PowerBuilder.  Recommendation:  Make sure that keynote sessions and plenary sessions cover the entire SAP product line.

Lunch

See my comments about being a food snob above.  With that in mind, I was actually quite happy with the lunch served this year.  Last year the food was mostly deep fried, and I ended up going off site to grab a lunch.  This year I was able to participate in the lunch without blowing my diet.

Technical Sessions

Monday afternoon I attended two sessions: Deployment and Development approaches for the ISV using PowerBuilder and SQL Anywhere by Jeff Gibson and Improving Development Practice: Test Driven Development (TDD) by Yakov Werde.  Jeff did a good job.  Yakov, who is normally one of my favorite session presenters, seems to be a bit off his feed for his session.  Of course, Yakov a bit off his feed is still as good as many presenters on their best days.

Sponsor Reception

As last year, the sponsor reception was held in the lunch room / exhibit hall.  And, once again, it seems to be mainly drinks and little food and I didn't stay long.

Tuesday

Breakfast

See notes from Monday.

Technical Sessions

Tuesday morning I did two sessions:  Using .Net Non-Visual Assemblies in PowerBuilder Classic and Using PowerBuilder Non-Visual Assemblies in Visual Studio.Net.  I also managed to slip in John Strano's session on HANA and PowerBuilder 12.6 – The Solution Mix. I found the section on OData in John's session particularly interesting, and am thinking about making OData the topic of one of my sessions next year. 

Lunch

See notes from Monday.

Technical Sessions

Tuesday afternoon I start off with Datawindow Ancestor with Service Objects by Rik Brooks followed by PowerBuilder 12.6 – The Overview by John Strano.  Finally I did my own session on Using PowerBuilder.Net Visual Controls in Visual Studio.

Wednesday

Breakfast

See notes from Monday.

Technical Sessions

I started off Wednesday by doing my last session of the conference:  Using VS.Net Visual Controls in PowerBuilder Classic.  That was followed by ELMO and the Census of Agriculture by George Murnu and Resurgence of the Rich Client in conjunction with the Cloud by Jeff Gibson.  This was the first time that George had ever presented, so John, Rik and I spoke with him a bit afterwards to encourage him.  Jeff's presentations was quite interesting and engendered a lively discussion.

Lunch

See notes from Monday

Technical Sessions

My last session of the conference was Swift Programming for PowerBuilder Developers - Hands-On Workshop by Dave Fish.  Except that Dave was having problems with the virtual machine that we were going to use for the workshop, so he ended up repeating his Overview presentation from earlier in the conference (which was fine by me as I had missed it).

Summary

Once again I thought the conference went well overall.  Attendance seemed to be down a bit from last year.  Once again, the event was held within a month of a regional PowerBuilder user group meeting at a location less than 150 miles away, and I believe that impacted attendance.  In particular, none of the PowerBuilder related sponsors were at the event this year.  Having to make a choice between the two events, they opted for the one that was specifically focused on PowerBuilder customers.  That user group meeting had a particular draw for PowerBuilder users this year, as the SAP executive vice-president of mobility was there on the last day of the meeting to make an announcement concerning the future of PowerBuilder.

Recommendation:  Either

1.  Change the date or location of the event (or preferably both) so that it doesn't coincide with the regional PowerBuilder user group meeting OR

2.  Work out an agreement with the regional PowerBuilder user group so that the events can be co-located and there is some registration reciprocity.  That is, people that just want to attend either event can register for just that event, but if somebody wants to attend both they could get a registration that covered both events for less than the cost of registering for each independently.

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