Scheduling Tips from Alumni Simon Davis: “How I Select My TechEd Europe Sessions”

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With hundreds of sessions and labs available, determining what to add to your TechEd schedule may be challenging—particularly if you're new to TechEd. We asked TechEd Alumni Simon Davis to share his advice for new delegates (and seasoned veterans), and he provided tips, insights, and his own TechEd agenda to help you get started building yours. Read on, and get scheduling!

Simon Davis, Principal Software Engineer, Remsdaq Limited, @sidetnee

It's one month out from TechEd Europe and things start to get real. Flight and accommodation are booked and the social side is coming together, but now it's time to set aside an hour or so to take a look through the Schedule Builder and work out what is to be done on "Company time."

To a first-timer, looking at the list of sessions that are available may be a little overwhelming, with so many choices and decisions to make and so few slots to fill. What I hope to do here is give you a few ideas as to how to spend your precious time. With that in mind, I give you SiDetnee's Session Selection tips.

First and foremost, you need to understand what you are trying to get out of TechEd as an event. Is it learning about new and upcoming products or getting expert-level detail on existing products? Do you want to reinforce or gain knowledge that will be of immediate use to you or go for the more "interesting" sounding sessions? In my case, it is a mixture, so anything goes in this regard.

Next, try to put the tracks or topics of interest into an ordered list, most important things first going down to the least important ones. For me, as a developer/team lead, the list looks something like this (but can change depending on wind direction):

  1. UI/UX sessions
  2. WPF/XAML sessions
  3. .NET Framework
  4. SQL Server
  5. ASP.NET and web development sessions
  6. Mobile development
  7. Agile development/methodologies/project management
  8. Testing (automated/TDD)

If there are speakers you have either seen before or have heard of that "bring it" or are "must see" then make note of them as well. I hear good things about the Marks, Russinovich and Minasi, although I have never had the opportunity to take in one of their sessions (more IT Pro centric) and Andrew Bettany's Windows To Go session is another one that I have heard good things about.

OK, so now hopefully you know what you are looking for, it's time to put it to the test. Fire up the Schedule Builder and select the first time slot, take a look at what is available, and then apply your selection criteria to the sessions listed. DO NOT just select one session, there are many reasons why your "first choice" fails, it could be as simple as it being cancelled or in some cases may not be what you think it is from the abstract, the room may be full, etc. You always need a plan B (and even C and D).

Repeat for all the remaining time slots and see what you end up with. Typically, you will end up with some timeslots with 3 or 4 sessions, some with none, but most having 1 or 2, which is just about right.

An important thing to consider when planning your schedule is not to overload it. Make sure you have at least one free slot per day, especially towards the end of the week. Four days (or five if you are doing a Pre-Con) full-on is just too much for anyone to handle. I know from experience that if you front-load your week with every slot being filled, by the end of the week your brain gets frazzled and you are looking for any excuse to not go to a session.

Make time in your schedule to explore the TechExpo floor. There is a good chance that you will find a vendor that has a product that will be of interest to you and leaving some time to chat to these people is a wise move.

Finally, make sure that you have time to connect to others, be prepared to abandon your plans and continue that conversation, be it with the experts on the floor or just another attendee you got talking to in the corridor. Chances are it will serve you better—remember all sessions are recorded and you can catch up with what you missed later online, but it is far harder to get that face-to-face time.

So what did I end up with? Here's my starting point for the week:

TechEd Europe 2014 Schedule for Simon Davis

Tuesday, 28 October

08:30   Keynote Session, Hall 6
11:00   Foundational Sessions, various rooms
13:30   DEV-B211 Architecting and Implementing Domain-Driven Design Patterns with Microsoft .NET
DEV-B323 Building Web Apps Using ASP.NET and Visual Studio 2013
DEV-B215 Case Study of an Agile Transformation in a Large Organization
DEV-B330 Developing Enterprise Web Applications on Microsoft Azure Websites
DEV-B221 Programming Windows Presentation Foundation with Model View View Model
17:00   DEV-B410 ASP.NET Web API: Beyond the Basics
18:00-8:30 PM   TechExpo Welcome Reception, Hall 7

Wednesday, 29 October

08:30-9:45 AM   DEV-B223 The Next Generation of Microsoft .NET
10:15   DEV-B347 Discovering Performance and Scale Impediments in Your Web Applications
12:00   DEV-B217 Go Mobile with C#, Visual Studio, and Xamarin
15:15   DEV-B219 Latest Innovations for ASP.NET MVC Development
DEV-B224 Architecting Secure Microsoft .NET Applications
DEV-B326 Decomposing AngularJS
20:00   Country Drinks, Barceloneta Beach

Thursday, 30 October

DEV-B311 Advanced XAML Techniques to Super-Charge Your User Experience
DEV-B344 The Future of Microsoft .NET on the Server
10:15   CDP-B373 TWC | Malware Hunting with Mark Russinovich and the Sysinternals Tools , 8.0-C1 (1174)
DEV-B315 Async Best Practices for C# and Visual Basic
DEV-B327 Deep Dive into Agile Planning for Team Foundation Server 2013 and Visual Studio Online
16:00   TechExpo Happy Hour, Hall 7
17:00   DEV-B328 Deep Dive into Dependency Injection and Writing Testable Software
18:30   Ask the Experts, Hall 5

Friday, 31 October

10:15   DEV-B343 SignalR: Building Real-Time Applications with ASP.NET
14:45   DEV-B324 C++ Scenarios for C# Developers

Have you registered for TechEd Europe 2014?  Register to begin planning your personalized session schedule with Schedule Builder, today!

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