Hello, #MSBuild 2021
We are hours away from the start of Microsoft Build 2021 - the second virtual edition of this event - and I'm still trying to figure out what to focus on live, and what to save to my backpack for later follow-up through resources and recordings. This event and community means a lot to me so I hope you join me and register or watch key sessions live on LearnTV
My #MSBuild Journey
I joined Microsoft Developer Relations at the end of 2018. I was new to the team and the company, and had a lot I wanted to learn about Cloud and AI. My first Microsoft Build was the traditional event held at the Convention Center in downtown Seattle. The huge crowds of developers, the Student Zone (where I gave a talk and helped students learn with hands-on codelabs) and the Imagine Cup finals (seeing remarkably talented young technologists speak with assurance about their projects and vision). It was an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience.
Fast forward to 2020, and the pandemic upended all tech events. I remember the nervousness and excitement of learning we were not going to cancel the conference, but instead would pivot to an all-online, multi-day virtual conference format with multiple tracks that would follow the sun, giving developers world wide a chance to engage on their timezones. The event teams brainstormed ways to bring that community feeling into this new format - from wellness sessions, to ensuring code of conduct and accessibility principle were enforced.
It was also the year LearnTV launched, and I learned a lot in the process - working on a team that was exploring ideas around growth and analytics for what would effectively be a 365-days, 24x7 developer-oriented browser-embedded livestream. A year later, looking at the variety of shows and creators that make up the LearnTV schedule, I am incredibly impressed by how much that project has grown and prospered!
And it was the year I did my first mainstream talk at #MSBuild, with a well-received community workshop on Sketchnoting that went on to launch my long-term initiative around visual storytelling for tech. From visual guides (@SketchTheDocs) to visual puzzles that test your tech IQ (A-B-See) to sustainability (Visual Green Tech) and workshops (#VisualizeIT) that help you jumpstart your own visual storytelling journey!
So, yes, Microsoft Build holds a special place in my tech heart. It's a conference that is at the intersection of community and technology - and to me, it's about possibilities and an ecosystem that can help you be innovative, productive, and inclusive, in your own tech learning/doing journey.
The event is free and online so I hope you register and join me as I try to figure out what #MSBuild 2021 holds in store, and how my experiences and learnings this year will influence my thoughts and actions for the year to come!
Microsoft Build is Microsoft's signature conference for
developers with a focus on tools and solutions to help us tackle real-world problems at cloud scale. This year the schedule has been organized around four themes:
Developer Velocity | focused on developer tools and an end-to-end platform. Topics I am interested in include: Visual Studio Code and GitHub ecosystems, and Low-code development (e.g., fusion teams).
Intelligent Cloud-Native Apps | focused on integrating Data and AI technologies to automate workflows and accelerate innovation. Topics I am interested in include: AI in real-world scenaros, and MLOps.
Cloud-Native Apps that Run Anywhere | focused on turnkey services to help developers move from idea to production-ready apps, in multi-cloud environments. Topics include: Azure Arc, Serverless, and Microservices.
Collaborative Apps for Hybrid Work | with a focus on how we can combine the richness of Microsoft Graph, Teams and Cloud technologies to deliver new collaborative apps for the modern hybrid workplace! I'm really interested in Microsoft Graph, and all things mobile!
If you register, you get a backpack that you can add sessions to, and receive access to relevant resources and recordings after the event. Let's be honest - there is no way you can attend and do everything now - so take time and save your wish-list to your backpack. Then pick a few things to focus on live! Here's how I am approaching that challenge!
Plan for #MSBuild2021
I'm saving a lot to my backpack - but I decided to focus on five things to explore live, some of which I am absolutely biased about since they relate to my own developer interests and experience.
The MSBuild schedule can be searched by session type - so just look for the keynote sessions! But there are also other sessions that I see as keynote-friendly because they provide the broad coverage of a theme that helps you decide which sessions to go to next. So here are my key sessions in context:
- Build Keynote | Satya Nadella opens the Build Conference
- Developer Velocity | Amanda Silver, Donovan Brown, Julie Strauss
- Intelligent Cloud Native Apps | Rohan Kumar, Jason Anderson, Deborah Chen, Umur Cubukcu
- Cloud Native Apps That Run Anywhere | Jeff Hollan, Bec Lyons, Gabe Monroy
- Collaborative Apps For Hybrid Work | Jeff Teper, Yina Arenas, Mary Anne Noskowski, Archana Sasseetharan
I'm also looking forward to the In Focus sessions with demos and roundtables from key executives across Cloud and AI products. And I'll be keeping my eye out for the 2021 "Book Of News" which always serves as a comprehensive guide to everything covered in the event. Here's the Microsoft Build 2020: Book Of News for reference.
Ask The Experts
The Ask The Experts sessions are 30-minute segments where you get to meet folks who have been working with these products and ask them your most pressing questions on development, design and best practices for adoption! Look for sessions in your field of interest!
In my case, I'll be joining the Surface Duo Developer Experience team team for an ATE session on "Building Dual Screen Apps For the Surface Duo". I hope you'll join us. And also check out the Application Design and Development For Android Dual Screen and Foldables if you're interested in mobile development.
Cloud Skills Challenge and Learn Live Sessions
Key to any developer conference is the ability to get hands-on training with technology, either in a self-paced manner or through instructor-led walkthroughs. At Microsoft Build you can have both.
- Check out the Cloud Skills Challenge for a fun way to complete relevant free courses online, at your own pace, with a sandboxed environment for hands-on exercises. Plus, with this challenge, you get to compete against other attendees on a leaderboard - and I hear there are some special prizes on offer this year!!
- Prefer instructor-led walkthroughs of learning modules or paths? Then check out the Learn Live sessions to see if there are topics of interest. I have three on my wishlist:
- Integrate your app with MS Teams using webhooks and connectors | hybrid workplace
- Develop apps with the Microsoft Graph Toolkit | knowledge graphs + web components
- Fusion development 101: Professional Developer Essentials | low-code + code-first
Student Zone & Imagine Cup Championship
When we think about developers, we want to think about everyone - from professional developers and IT pros, to citizen developers (using low-code technology to bring ideas to life) and students (who are the next generation of pro/citizen/IT devs). There are two key resources or sessions that I love to attend at Build.
Imagine Cup World Championship where the student finalists in four social good categories – Earth, Education, Healthcare, and Lifestyle - are going to battle it out for the trophy, a $75K prize, and a mentorship opportunity with Satya! Seeing these students present their hard work with poise and enthusiasm, on a global stage, is priceless!
Welcome to the Student Zone is the session to attend to learn all about the talks and resources available to students, career changers, and beginners in all paths of life. It's a friendly, inclusive space to explore everything from robotics to gaming. And a curated collection of learning resources to boost your developer journey!
Hello World: Build Special
Last but not least, check out the Hello World show, airing live weekdays on Learn TV. There are a number of 'Hello Microsoft Build' episodes that can give you insights into key sessions or tracks to watch out for - and there may well be some special recap episodes coming up later on, to help you review announcements or signature moments of interest.
And with that, I'm off to get ready for the day and everything it brings. Microsoft Build gave me a technology and community ecosystem for learning and innovation. I hope it does the same for you! Join me and my little posse as we listen, learn, and sketchnote, our way through the next 3 days!
What technologies or skills are you excited to learn about at Microsoft Build this year?