Microsoft Webcamp Belgium 2011

Hey everyone!

I attended the first webcamp Belgium in-person on Monday, 24th of January 2011 and I must say, I had a blast.
The top speaker for the event was Scott Hanselman with a session on the new ASP.NET MVC 3, WebMatrix, NuGet and the Web platform toolkit.
After Scott, Katrien De Graeve did a session on HTML5. Then it was time for lunch and after lunch, Gill Cleeren did a session on jQuery and after that Scott was up again with a session on oData.

So, let’s get started shall we? ^.^
I’ll discuss each session and at the bottom of the page you can find some resources related to the event!

What’s new in the Microsoft Web Platform (by Scott Hanselman)

Website: http://www.hanselman.com
Twitter: @shanselman
Video: http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Web-Camp-Belgium-2011/Keynote-Web-Camps-Belgium-by-Scott-Hanselman

I found this session to be very interesting! Scott’s a funny and hilarious guy and started his session with a few jokes.
Then he got started with his actual session and started off by explaining the Microsoft Web Platform Kit and what it’s used for.
He gave a demo as well, in particular of the Web Platform installer to prove how easy it was to install stuff with it. (I believe he installed a web app and WebMatrix to show the power of the installer)

After the installer demo he switched over to the WebMatrix part.
Scott explained the most important features included with WebMatrix and the general idea behind it. He pointed out that WebMatrix includes a “Just-in-time” IIS server (aka IIS express) and SQL compact. So you have everything you need to develop and test database-driven web apps in one software piece.
Then came along the demo of WebMatrix. During this demo he showed the power of the new Razor syntax that is included with the new ASP.NET MVC 3.

During the WebMatrix demo he explained the idea behind the Razor syntax and compared it to the classic ASP.NET syntax and PHP.
Apperantly, in the classic ASP.NET you’d have to switch between ASP.NET code & HTML 6x (using <% … %>) for a simple for-loop. In PHP you’d have to switch 4x (using <?php … ?>). In Razor, it’s a mere 2x you’d have to switch (using @….)
The new Razor syntax really does make developing ASP.NET applications a lot easier!
If, in the future, your web application would out-grow WebMatrix’s abilities, it’s very easy to switch over to a more professional development environment such as Visual Studio. No hassle at all!

After the WebMatrix demo, Scott reached the ASP.NET MVC 3 part. Oh boy, so exciting!
He explained the MVC concept in short, how easy it gets working with the MVC concept once you understand how the different parts work together.
The power of MVC 3 combined with Razor syntax really was an eye opener.
Scott showed the difference between dynamic views and strongly typed views. He also showed how easy it was to use NuGet to add open-source libraries and projects to your web application.
He also talked about the Entity Framework to show how easy it is to work with and how much time you save using the EF instead of doing everything from scratch.
One of the features he demo-ed was model binding (implicit & explicit).

After that he showed how the validation plugin for jQuery worked and a new feature called “UnobtrusiveJavascriptEnabled” in the unobtrusive validation library which literally hides all the validation rules from your source code that would otherwise show up as a JSON array at the bottom of your source code and adds them to your input elements using HTML5-tags.

At the end, Scott managed to build an entire! web app in a mere 3 minutes using MVC 3 & Razor. Very impressive Scott and ofcourse, a job well done!

HTML5: How about today? (by Katrien De Graeve)

Website: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/katriend/
Twitter: @katriendg

After the coffee break, Katrien was up with her session about HTML5.

Katrien explained what HTML5 is and how IE9 will implement it.
After that Katrien explained the basics of HTML5 such as the new doctype, the new doc structure and the new HTML tags.
She often mention the importance of having fallbacks when using HTML5 now, since not all browsers support it. Katrien also showed how we can use HTML5 and still have it supported on older browsers by using html5shim. html5Shim is a JavaScript library and it basically mask HTML5-tags if the browser does not support them.

After the HTML5 part Katrien switched over to CSS3 and it’s new features.
She explained colors & opacity, borders & shadows, fonts (including using custom fonts & new woff fonts with @font-face) and how dynamic styling works.

Katrien also showed how the <video> and <audio> tags work and how we can use & style them. The difference between HTML5 and previous versions is that in HTML5 we now use something called “Binary Attributes”. For the <video> tag for example, if we’d like to have controls to control the video we’d only have to specify <video controls> and not <video controls=”true”>

And again, Katrien specifically mentioned the importance of using fallbacks when working with HTML5!

After HTML5 & CSS3 Katrien demo-ed how the canvas & SVG works.
With the canvas she made a cool snapshot demo where she could make snapshots of a <video> element and display the snapshot on the page.

After canvas & SVG she mentioned ECMA Script 262 and what’s it about.
It has a native JSON object that is like, 100x faster then the original JSON library. It also includes new functionality (trimming strings etc).
ECMA Script 262 also features an enhanced object model.

At the end Katrien provided us with some general guidelines, what we can and cannot use, how to use it and what to keep in mind.
An important point she made was that we should use feature detection instead of browser detection. A usefull library for this is the Modernizr javascript library.

In my opinion Katrien did a good job explaining what HTML5 is about, which new exciting features it has and what we have to keep in mind when working with HTML5.

* EDIT: Katrien has just published her slide deck that she used during her session. It can be found here

Wewt! Lunch break!

Come in as jQuery zero, go out as jQuery hero (by Gill Cleeren)

Website: http://www.snowball.be
Twitter: @gillcleeren

I actually missed the first 20 minutes or so of Gill’s session since I was doing my interview with Scott Hanselman at the time.
By the time I joined the session again Gill was explaining the different kinds of selectors available in jQuery and showing us how they work.

After that Gill explained how to work with Attributes in jQuery and what they’re used for.
He then showed the AJAX functionality within jQuery and how easy it was to perform various AJAX operations with jQuery.

Gill also explained jQuery UI effects, interactions and widgets. Nice clean and simple demo’s to prove his point(s).
Gill probably was the one with the most demos of all the speakers ^.^

To be honest, his session was a bit basic. Nothing too fancy. Perfect to refresh my jQuery knowledge with but didn’t really learn anything new during his session.
But still, hats off to Gill for putting such a fantastic presentation together! It’s always nice to see presentations with lots of demos and not just the theory behind it.

OData: Open Data for the Open Web (by Drew Robbins Scott Hanselman)

Website: http://www.hanselman.com
Twitter: @shanselman

Yes, you see it right. Initially this session would’ve been brought to you by Drew Robbins but at the last moment Drew cancelled?!? and Scott took over his session.

Sadly, I did not follow the final session. My driver didn’t feel much like being stuck in traffic for another 2 hours again like we did on our way here (well, not exactly 2 hours) so we decided to leave now and beat rush hour. (which we did ;P)

From what I’ve heard / read this session was amazing and I’ll watch it online when I have a spare moment!

Microsoft Student Partners interview with Scott Hanselman (by Dirk Schuermans)

Scott Hanselman here, in Belgium?!?
ZOMG! WE HAS TO INTERVIEW HIM!!!

So yea, I was the only MSP attending Webcamp so I suggested I would interview Scott since Wouter Devinck missed him at PDC 2010.

Basically, during the interview Scott & me had a chat about ASP.NET MVC 3, WebMatrix, the new Razor syntax and some other general stuff.
Scott really is an awesome guy and I loved interviewing him. Altho I only got like, 1 hour of sleep due to my nerves I think the interview went well.
He really knows his stuff and he’s now on my personal awesome people list. Scott is someone to who starting/student developers like me really can look up to!

Resources

The entire event is now available on demand at the following URL:

http://www.zendster.tv/webcamps/

I’m not sure how long it’ll stay available on there but I assume it’ll be a few more days / weeks ^^

If you have any questions, suggestions or remarks related to this post, feel free to comment and let me know 😉
I had a blast at Microsoft Webcamp 2011 and I think I speak for everyone that attended that it was a succesfull event.

A job well done!

– Dirk

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