Project "Velocity": A first look at Microsoft's Distributed Caching Framework
This session gave us a look at a very new project that has started at Microsoft. Distributed Caching is a common practice for any high traffic website. There have been a few products offering this on the market for years but this is Microsoft's first attempt to enter this market. We saw some demos of installing and running the cache server. The installation was simple enough and had some nice configuration options. The cache server had a very simple API for putting and getting cache items. The cache items can be split into regions, these regions restrict the item to being on the same cache server. This is helpful for grouping items together when you access them all at once. The down side of this is that it wont be distributed across multiple servers, reducing scalability. The project does look very promosing and would be ideal for any large scale websites we need to build. The final release date is due mid next year.
Real life experiences: Building your first service application
This session was presented by someone that had written an actual solution on the Microsoft Windows Azure Platform. As the cloud works very differently from anything we have worked with before, this was an excellent session to find out the pit falls and restrictions when working with the Azure Platform. The cloud has a few storage mechanisms, tables, blobs and queues. The session went into detail when working with the queues. When you take an item off the queue, it will just mark it has hidden, then once you have completed your work with the message you can remove it. If you do not remove the item from the queue (Like if your process died) then the message will reappear after a time out. This makes the system very resilient.
Do's and Don't in Silverlight 2 Applications
This session included excellent advice when working with Silverlight. The first item he covered was changing the loading screen for Silverlight. He then went into detail about avoid resizing videos and text as these have a heavy performance hit. He showed a nice user control for tracking memory usage in your silverlight application. Finally he covered Xperf, which is a nice performance monitor for windows.
Top 10 Web Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
This was the final session of the day. It was a nice interactive session on tips and tricks for building websites. Some nice tips on building websites, including headings to be searchable. Make your colour scheme friendly. The "what not to do" sites were shown, that were well amusing.