From the Editor-in-Chief of PowerBuilder Developer's Journal

Bruce Armstrong

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Welcome to TechWave 2008!

What's new

As in prior years, the first thing I'll cover is what has changed (assuming that you attended in the past few years). We're back at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Near as I can tell, if you have to be in Las Vegas, this is the place to be. About the only complaint I had last year was that at times there were lines to get into the elevators to the hotel rooms. Other than that it was great last year, and I'm expecting the same this year.

Generally, the schedule is the same as last year, when the entire conference was shifted back by a day from prior years. There is a Welcome Reception on Monday and the conference doesn't start until Tuesday, ending mid-afternoon Friday (although there are pre-conference classes on Sunday and Monday). The one issue with that last year is that a lot of the people who flew in had to leave fairly early Friday morning to catch their flights out, and so most of the early afternoon sessions were sparsely attended. The special event is once again on Thursday evening. It hasn't been announced as I write this, but I can only hope and pray that it's not the House of Blues again.

Last year there were four keynotes, two plenary sessions, two customer panels, Innovation Awards, Special Agent 15 Awards, ISUG Journal Awards, and a presentation by an analyst. It was a bit too much for most folks. This year there are only two keynotes (yeah!): one by John Chen (chairman, CEO and president) on Tuesday morning and one by Dr. Raj Nathan (senior VP and CMO) on Wednesday morning. There is also only one plenary session, following the Tuesday morning keynote. That's a bit of a disappointment, because I thought the tools plenary session was one of the more interesting portions of TechWave last year.

I don't see continental breakfasts on the preliminary agenda, but it's not like I care. There still is a Sponsor Reception on Tuesday afternoon and lunch in the Exhibit Hall on Wednesday, same as last year (both of which went well last year). The Power Lunch has been moved from Tuesday to Thursday (where the lunch room is broken into interest areas). Perhaps that will help it work better, as I haven't been impressed with it over the last few years. I do hope that they'll have fewer and larger interest groups rather than so many smaller ones. In prior years it seems that they were either packed or empty.

There's an Expo Break on Thursday afternoon. Not sure what that is. Last year we had refreshments (ice cream) in the Exhibit Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Perhaps that's it again, but on a different day. The Exhibit Hall is only open on Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon and evening, and Thursday afternoon. That's about right. Last year it, like fresh fish, was getting pretty old after three days.

The ISUG Enhancements Sessions are back to late Thursday afternoon, just before the Special Event. That's when they were held in 2006 and it seemed to hurt attendance, though not as much as holding them in the morning on the last day of the conference (the morning after the special event) as they did in 2007. In 2004 and 2005 they were also in the morning of the last day of the conference, but attendance seemed better. But that was back when TechWave ended on Thursday as well. Then again, if all they are going to do is tell people "great suggestion, now go to the ISUG website and enter it" there isn't much reason to attend.

One big change is in the breakout sessions (just called "training" this year). The folks putting TechWave together have really focused on making sure they accept only the "cream of the crop" of the proposals. Last year they accepted a huge number of proposals. The upside is that there was a wide variety to choose from; you could be sure that for any particular opening in your schedule there were going to be several sessions in your favorite track to choose from. The downside was that a number of the sessions ended up being sparsely attended, and a some of the sessions were sub-par.

For example, last year there were 40 sessions in the "Application Development" track. This year (as I write this) there are only 18 sessions in the "Modern Application Development" track. That's not because there weren't a lot of proposals. I'm one of the people who provide Sybase with feedback on the proposals, and there were significantly more than 18 proposals submitted for that track. In fact, Sybase allowed me to approach proposal authors in the Modern Application Development track when I thought their material was worthy of being written up as PBDJ articles. We ended up approaching authors for 30 different proposals, and that was only a subset of the total number of proposals. You'll find a number of articles in this issue and in future issues resulting from that.

Since there are a lot fewer sessions, the time available for each session will be longer. Last year sessions were either 60 or 90 minutes. This year, all sessions are 90 minutes long. That should help with scheduling as well, as all sessions should begin and end at the same time. By the way, I'm giving three of those 18 sessions in the Modern Application Development track, so do try to drop in for at least one of them.

Finally, I'm excited about this TechWave, much as I was last year. I indicated last year that it would be "our" TechWave with the release of PowerBuilder 11 due about the same time as the conference. I think that turned out to be the case. The tools keynote and plenary session were terrific, and the PowerBuilder 11.0 launch event was a blast. Well, PowerBuilder 11.5 is also due out about the time of TechWave 2008, and I'm hoping to see a lot more of what has been under development for a while for PowerBuilder 12.0. I think it could be "our" TechWave again this year.

More Stories By Bruce Armstrong

Bruce Armstrong is a development lead with Integrated Data Services (www.get-integrated.com). A charter member of TeamSybase, he has been using PowerBuilder since version 1.0.B. He was a contributing author to SYS-CON's PowerBuilder 4.0 Secrets of the Masters and the editor of SAMs' PowerBuilder 9: Advanced Client/Server Development.

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