Directions US 2016 – Final Thoughts

What an exciting couple of weeks it has been .. . I was in the States for 8 days for Directions US. The first half, we stayed in Flagstaff at our fellow-MVP and good friend Daniel Rimmelzwaan. That dude lives at an awesome place: Sedona is nearby, as well as Grand Canyon, … and lots of other great stuff. So besides the usual work, we needed to check these places out – so we got to Sedona and the Grand Canyon .. and that literally takes your breath away. Just look at this (behind us, I mean :-))

But .. there was obviously a business-reason for this trip: Directions US.

The Venue

This year, the convention was hosted in the (very hot) Sonoran desert in the conference center of a beautiful place called “The Wild Horse Pass Resort” in Chandler near Phoenix, Arizona. A special place .. especially when you think about rattle snakes that manage to get into the hotel’s lobby, run trails where you need to watch out for coyote’s, mountain lions and – again – rattle snakes, golf courses in the middle of the desert, … and a bunch of NAV guys (probably the most special thing of all).

Some stats

It was quite a bunch .. In fact: 707 registered attendees managed to get its way to the rattle snakes! Most ever, I was told! And the conference had an immense amount of 57 sponsors and exhibitors. That’s a lot – I don’t think that many are at NAVTechDays, while NAVTechDays hosts many more people.. .

The agenda was quite interesting as well. There were:

  • 91 breakout sessions
  • 35 ISV sessions
  • 20 Microsoft and ISV workshops
  • 15 Townhall meetings (aka “chalk-and-talk”)

That’s massive! Many concurrent sessions, which makes it always a challenge to choose where to go to. And also there was a solution: there were repeats :-). And I used one of them – I was happy to be able to attend the session on the new developer environment. Which brings us at the topic about “sessions”…

The sessions & the content

Well, let’s be brief on the content: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017 and Dynamics 365. Doesn’t say much, does it? :-). Well, I’ll try to do a separate blogpost on that in the near future .. as there is much to share. Lots of good stuff!

The sessions were very good. I didn’t attend one single bad session. Not one. Then again .. I haven’t attended all I would have wanted .. simply by the fact that I had my own sessions (4) and had to finish up on the preparation of those as well. Which means I did spend quite some time in the “Speaker’s Room”.

First of all I attended a session on PowerShell. Actually because I wanted to learn new stuff from different people. Thing was that the guy (don’t remember his name) was using my scripts :-). That was cool to see they are actually being used – but unfortunately nothing new … .

Next was a session that was called “Extensions & Events – practical examples“. For me, that was an interesting session to attend, because of my own session about “Extension Best Practices”. Now, it turned out that Michael Hammond and Adam Trukawka made it into a “Best Practices” session themselves :-/. Didn’t see that coming .. . I was lucky that there are enough “best practices” .. only a few overlapping topics .. so no harm done :-).

Another session I didn’t want to miss, was Vjeko’s session on “Polymorphic Event Patterns“. Well, that guy did it again. Mind boggling new ideas to do true polymorphism in the current development environment, by combining multiple already existing patterns, like:

  • Façade Pattern
  • Handled Pattern
  • Variant Façade Pattern
  • Discovery Event Pattern

He is already blogging about it, so pay attention to his blog! These are already out:

Then the session by Stuart Glasson and Esben Nyhuus Kristoffersen about “The new development experience“. Well, it’s not going to be there at the release of NAV2017 – there is still quite some work to do – but it is coming. And it is going fast! In the next blogpost, I’ll try to explain what it is. But for now: in the future, we will be coding in VSCode! And this is what it looks like:

I attended both Key notes. This is not of my habit as I usually don’t like all this marketing and business fluff. I just want to dive into the tech stuff. But as a lot is changing, and new markets are opening – I guess it makes a lot of sense to attend these, and see what the messaging of Microsoft is all about. And hope (I repeat: HOPE) that I understand some of it ;-). Well, it was clear to me that “On Premise” is not dying .. . That’s good. There are a lot of people in that business! And it is also clear that new markets are opening: Dynamics 365. And for partners that are there .. new opportunities are opening: AppSource. And a lot a lot more. But for now, let’s share this slide:

Yes indeed: the release date for NAV 2017 is October 24th 2016! Dynamics 365 will follow shortly after .. and the bloody sexy new development environment is not yet to be released, but we’ll get a preview by Christmas this year (2016 that is, right Stuart? :-))! How’s that for a Christmas present? :-).

This year, there was no MVP track.  That’s too bad.  I don’t really know why it was cancelled, but I do hope to see it back next year!

My Sessions

As you could read in one of my previous posts, I had planned to do 3 session. The truth is I did 4 .. . I do admit, I was quite nervous as all I want to do is just do a good job. That means, be thorough enough, clear enough, all that. And when I need to do that amount of sessions, I just don’t feel comfortable enough. Well – it’s over now – and to quote Gary: now I’m happy to have done all of these. It was fun, the audience was great, interacting, attentive, .. good stuff! These were the ones I did:

  • NAV2017, Extensions, Best Practices“. The hardest one. I was not particularly happy with the demos .. so I’m going to work on that for Directions EMEA. And for NAVTechDays, I’m going to add a lot more stuff :-).
  • Bad Habits of NAV Developers“. One of the most fun sessions ever that I had to prepare and deliver. It was a session with Vjeko. My first actually with Vjeko. And you all know him .. standing next to an icon like that .. well .. I was proud :-). We prepared the session together in one day .. the same day we had to deliver it. Pressure, but fun – and also quite confronting! I’m not going to share too much just yet – because I have a feeling that this was not the last time we did this (#NAVTechDays ;-)).
  • My First Extension“. I actually only prepared this session on the evening before. Just because I was quite comfortable doing this, as I have been doing it for all PowerShots for NAV 2016. This session was very well received. I had people coming up to me saying things like: “I have been here all convention, following sessions about Extension – but now, I finally get it” :-).
  • Town Hall on Extension“. Town halls are unprepared sessions where attendees can ask away, and the speakers pretend to know what they are talking about ;-). I attended a few of them myself, and co-hosted this particular one.
  • Workshop: Build Extensions“. Last one. I didn’t need to host this, because it was concurrent to one of my sessions, but I did need to prepare the complete workshop. The reason for this is that the speaker was not able to attend Directions, I was not able to host it, and Arend-Jan Kauffman (who hosted the session) was not able to prepare it. Well .. we all try to help each other out, so there you go :-). I was happy that all turned out ok! I just hope the attendees liked the example, the scripts and I hope they learned something.

The last day, a guy came up to me and said: “thanks so much for doing so many sessions, man .. I enjoyed each and every one of them”. Well .. that’s the feedback that makes we want to do this :-). Thanks so much.

The overall organization

Well .. I was quite pissed at the moment I found out that the committee didn’t foresee enough rooms for speakers. First year I wasn’t at the conference hotel. You know, during the conference, you are so busy that all you want to do is just not loose time in taxis and all that. I ended up in a crappy place 15 minutes from the conference center. A good thing about it, it didn’t cost all that much

But that’s about all the comments I have .. the rest of the convention was very well organized. All you expect was present. The infrastructure for speakers was very good, very big screens, comfortable chairs (well, you still can’t beat NAVTechDays), good content, great partner celebration party (I had a “ball”! :-)), .. .

Good stuff, I’ll be there next year (if you still want me ;-))!

Talking about next year .. Directions US 2017 will again be hosted in Orlando (I was hoping for something else .. but then again .. Orlando is not that bad ;-)).

See y’all there oh’y’all!

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