Microsoft Build 2018 - Day 1

Written on May 7, 2018

I’m attending Microsoft Build conference this year! I’ve been wanting to go to //Build for a long time now and this year it finally happened. I figured I’d share my perspective on all the things that were announced today as well as some thoughts on certain sessions I went to and the conference in general.

First impression and Registration

First of all, the conference is just massive. There are about 6000 people attending + plenty of stuff to make it happen. That’s a lot of people and definitely the biggest conference I’ve even been to.

I decided to register pick my badge on Sunday and I have to say that was an excellent idea.

When I showed up this morning the lines for registration were just crazy.

I’m glad I was able to skip all that and head over to see the Keynote.

Satya’s Keynote

Speaking of the keynote, if you haven’t seen it you should! It’s available on official Microsoft Build website and on YouTube.

It started with Satya sharing some thoughts on Privacy (including GDPR), Security and Ethics. I really liked how he considers Privacy to be a Human Right. I also loved Satya saying that we should ask ourselves not only what computers can do but also what computers should do. It’s definitely something every developer should keep in mind when writing software, not just AI.

Later on it was very interesting to see how much time during the keynote was dedicated to Intelligence. I guess this whole “Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge” thingy is not just words but actual commitment to products and services allowing people to do things much better, safer and in more efficient manner.

For a long time most of the devices required the data to be sent to the Cloud, where compute-intensive processing could be performed and results could be sent back to the user. With IoT Edge most of the processing can happen on the devices themselves. Running code closer to the data and where the action is happening definitely has potential to completely change the competitive landscape and enable a new set of scenarios. It was also announced that Azure IoT Edge is being Open Sourced, which is another reason to trust that Microsoft is taking Open Source seriously.

From using AI-capable drones to inspect pipes and power grids to optimizing order fulfillment at Starbucks intelligent devices are becoming more and more how things get done. I’m very happy to see Microsoft participating in that revolution. And based on the little I know not just participating, but also leading the way in some aspects of that transformation.

Scott’s Keynote

After Satya’s keynote (and some ) there was another part driven mostly by Scott Guthrie. It showcased a bunch of new Azure capabilities as well as some developer experience improvements in Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. There were two favorite moments in that keynote: Visual Studio Live Share and Scott Hanselman’s microphone failure.

Visual Studio Live Share is a new capability allowing developers to participate in a shared coding sessions. Each session allows for collaborative coding, debugging and more. It works between Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, across Windows and Mac. Seeing how Visual Studio user can drive a debugging session on a remote machine running Visual Studio Code without cloning the underlying git repository was just great. And all that completely for free for everybody!

And things got even better from there. The experience allows for the debugger, local server and terminal to be shared too! And all that in a secured and intuitive fashion. No surprise that part got the biggest applause throughout the entire keynotes block …

Until Scott Hanselman started demoing Azure Dev Spaces (which btw is a great new feature) and suddenly his microphone stopped working. The failure was quickly turned into a success when Scott Guthrie saved the day offering to “add some value” and act as a mic stand :D You should definitely watch it if you haven’t already:

Breakout sessions

I attended two breakout sessions today but I’m only going to write about one of them as the other one wasn’t that interesting.

Mark Fussell and Vaclav Turecek gave a great session on Service Fabric and how it can be used to both modernize existing applications as well as design brand new, Cloud-first distributed solutions. But that wasn’t the best part of their session. The best part was the announcement of Azure Service Fabric Mesh: a fully managed Service Fabric offering. It’s currently in private preview (they are planning to open the preview publicly in a few weeks).

With Azure Service Fabric Mesh you can focus on writing Service Fabric applications and services without having to think about clusters at all. They also provide a new ways to manage auxiliary resources like network interfaces, secrets and certificates, volumes and more.

Another nice update in Service Fabric space has to do with the way applications and services targeting Service Fabric are written. Historically for both stateless and stateful services the application had to be somewhat tightly coupled with Service Fabric. You had to inherit some based classes, add specific things to Startup class and more. Things got even uglier if you wanted to use Reliable Collections. All that changes now.

The application doesn’t have to know anything about Service Fabric, which allows for better decoupling and better developer experience. Instead of deploying the service to a local SF cluster on every F5 you can simply run the ASP.NET Core app as a console app for fast innerLoop and later on deploy to Service Fabric without any changes. That’s true even for stateful services using Reliable Collection. A new NuGet package will provide Reliable Collection APIs for you to use which when run outside of Service Fabric context (e.g. in a consol app) will not give you true availability and reliability, but once deployed to a Service Fabric Cluster it will become truly highly available and reliable.

I’ve been waiting for something like that for a while now and I’m super excited to try it out myself.

See Azure Service Fabric at Microsoft Build 2018 for a bit more details.

General thoughts

After just the first day I can definitely see things that could improve but overall it’s a good experience. It’s definitely refreshing to see so many developers from all over (70+ countries if I remember correctly) excited about what Microsoft has to offer. I’m looking forward to the remaining two days of the conference.