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The level of satisfaction one gets from anything is inversely proportional with the level of expectation they have. I knew that in the RONUA meeting on the 9th there will be only two presentations, with subjects I can't use right now and with speakers I didn't exactly feel compelled to listen to. So, of course, I liked it!

But there was something more. Both speakers seemed more mature, more anchored on the subject than usual. It's not that Aurelian Popa did not seem overly arrogant or that the ever helpful Petru Jucovschi didn't have a lot more information than was humanly possible to present in the alloted time and resources, but their performance seemed way better than I was used to.

The subjects were pretty clear: WPF and VS TFS. If you are scared by acronyms you probably shouldn't be reading this :), but I did provide tooltips for them, so move the mouse over them.

The first presentation showed an ObservableCollection (new stuff from .Net 3.0 which allows notification on changing elements) containing SolarSystemItems, objects that encapsulated an image, a diameter, a name, an orbit and a temperature. It started from a simple listbox then, by changing only the presentation (Style) and the way data is presented (DataTemplate) in the XAML file, it gradually changed to a picture+details listbox, a combobox also with picture and everything, then with a details box next to it showing the current selected object, with filtering, sorting, grouping, etc. The grand finale was making the same listbox look like a solar system image, with selectable planets and the details on tooltip, with orbits and everything. The demo can be downloaded and seen at Beatriz Costa's blog.

The second presentation I was more interested in, since our company plans to use Visual Studio TFS to manage our work. Since that would mean a shift from the current Excel+Email+Messenger, I was glad to learn that the TFS learning curve is steep and usage can also start from source control only, moving ever so slightly towards a comprehensive development strategy, with testing, reporting, configurable XML files that describe any process (with out of the box or downloadable versions for MSF, Scrum, XP, CMMI) , etc.

I was surprised to see that not only the session was free, but we also received some gifts from Microsoft for attending. That included the MSDN subscription that I won, the WPF book that my colleague won, a kit with all kinds of goodies that I can't remember won by our boss and 40% discount for some Microsoft products for each. We cleaned house! No free food though :)

My conclusion was that the RONUA meetings are (as far as I have seen) the most techie, interesting and to the point Microsoft events. The MSDN briefings are nice, too, with more budget allocated to them and so on and so on, but they will never be able to replicate the sort of "gang of IT people" feel of the RONUA's meetings. And with people that are ever more implicated and interested in presenting, it can only get better.


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