I spoke at the 2017 Visual Studio Live Conference. The event ran from March 13 – 17, in Las Vegas (Bally’s). VS Live is a conference for software developers who use Microsoft technologies, and it’s one of my favorite conferences.
I estimate there were about 400 attendees. A typical attendee was a senior developer at a large company or a state or federal agency. For example, I talked to people who worked at hospitals, financial companies, energy companies, and all kinds of government agencies. Attendees were overwhelmingly male (perhaps 95%) which is normal for developer conferences.
VS Live has been around for many years, and the event organizers, Danielle, Brent, Sara, and the rest, all do a great job with regards to logistics. Unlike most developer conferences which happen once a year, there are seven VS Live events every year — Austin, Washington DC, Redmond, Chicago, Anaheim, Orlando, and my favorite location, Las Vegas.
I gave two talks. My first talk was “Introduction to R and Microsoft R Server”. I explained what the R language is from the point of view of a software developer, and gave a few opinions about how R might be useful. My R talk went OK, but not great — I was a bit flat and so was the audience.
My second talk was “Introduction to Azure Machine Learning”. I walked through a complete end-to-end demo that showed how to use Azure ML to create a prediction model for the famous Iris Data set. That talk went very well. I was energized and the audience was engaged too. The attendee feedback was very good.
Conferences are exhausting. You get up early, concentrate all day, stay up late chatting, sleep for a couple of hours, then start again. But attendees (and me too) get exposed to all kinds of new ideas and technologies in a very short time frame.
For me, I feel it’s important for Microsoft’s clients to understand a bit about what Microsoft Research is doing with regards to things that will affect developers. I’ve been in software for decades and I’ve never seen a more exciting time. The advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are accelerating and will likely change the world in ways that are hard to imagine.