I attended Austin Code Camp 2009 yesterday.
It was free for attendees and and paid for by the sponsors. There were quite a few interesting sessions centered around agile practices and bleeding edge technologies (mostly, but not all Microsoft related.)
My software background has been heavily influenced by databases so I made sure to attend the Dynamic Data session presented by Shawn Weisfeld. The technology basically drives and automates the data portions of the UI by integrating rich meta data from the data model (Entities Framework) with the user interface components. Currently it only works with ASP.NET Web Forms, but it looks like the technology will be extended to other front end frameworks before too long. Basically Microsoft Access for the web :-).
Later in the day I also attended the Entity Framework session by Rob Vetter. This is the foundation for a number of other Microsoft technologies including Dynamic Data and ADO.NET Data Services. This session went into some detail on the Entity Framework but did not compare the framework against other ORM tools such as NHibernate or Subsonic. I'm definitely going to have to try this technology on a future project.
I have an ongoing interest with web technologies and with ASP.NET MVC in particular. So I attended the ASP.NET MVC Views session presented by Jimmy Bogard. It was a good presentation. But I'm already fairly familiar with the basics so it didn't offer much new information for me. One question I still have: How do the tool vendors plan on supporting MVC in a meaningful way?
I've been working hard to internalize the SOLID principles and put them into practice. Along these lines I attended the session on Practical Inversion of Control presented by Matt Heinz. This session helped to clarify a few points and answer a few questions that I had about this method of writing loosely coupled applications. I believe I'm getting close to making this technique a core part of my daily coding pattern.
The final session I attended was on the Ruby language session presented by Scott Bellware. This presentation focus on newby Ruby developers, like myself, who have a background in C#. This session tickled my curiosity to the point of firing up NetBeans when I got home and working through a 20 minute Ruby tutorial. Maybe I'll whip up a Ruby on Rails app sometime soon to cement the key concepts and ideas into my head. Scott's passion really showed through as he presented his topic well.
I will be looking forward to Code Camp 2010. Who knows--maybe I'll even present a session...