DevLink 2007 and Brad Abrams is My Hero

Jeff Blankenburg already did a fantastic post on DevLink. John Kellar and his crew did a fantastic job pulling this conference together. In its second year – I was impressed with the whole event from the speaker’s dinner to the quality of speaker that this event was able to attract. There were 5 regional directors, 19 MVPs and some of the heavy hitters from Microsoft including Ron Jacobs and Brad Abrams. For some reason they let me speak too.
Have I mentioned that Brad Abrams is my new hero! I’m not belittling any of the other speakers because there were some amazing speakers and things that happened but I feel compelled to brag on Brad a little here.
I saw Brad at Boston Remix but I got to actually meet and spend some time with him at Devlink in Nashville, TN. This is a community conference, large for a community conference but a community conference none the less which is what makes this all the more special. First, someone on Brad’s level is actively engaging the community is very cool. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he was one of the original 5 on the CLR team. He has moved all the way up from writing the String class to his current position as the owner of the entire UI platform. That’s WPF, Silverlight and AJAX.  Between him and Scott Guthrie (his boss) – I can’t think of another company whose brass get out into the community the way these guys do.

Anyways, back to the story. Brad did the opening keynote where he did a fabulous job. He also did some other sessions with a lot fewer people in them. When he wasn’t talking, he was attending sessions like a normal attendee and between sessions and at lunches he was hanging out in the lobby and just talking to people. It was fun sitting in on a lot of those conversations as they ranged from Test Driven Development to the Dynamic Language Runtime to Kathleen Dollard and Billy Hollis taking him to task over complexity in the frameworks, timelines and more. At this point in the conference I’m really blown away by Brad and how approachable he is. He told me to call him and chat about some of the questions that I have around Silverlight road mapping. I know that he meant it and I’m going to take him up on it after we’ve both had a chance to recover from our travel this past couple of weeks.
Then I heard the about what he did on Saturday afternoon and was completely blown away. John Kellar, the main conference organizer, wrote me to tell me about it and I found Brad’s post on it. Brad went to listen to a talk on AJAX but the speaker didn’t show. There were 30 people in the room that were, understandably, getting bent out of shape about it. So Brad steps up and asks – “Who wants to see me do some AJAX demos?” An hour fifteen later – the crowd was completely jazzed by the stuff Brad was showing off the cuff. That’s very cool of him and shows that he is truly invested in the community and still has the technical chops to backup any of his things he says.
It’s truly impressive and that’s why Brad Abrams is my new hero!

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