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TechEd – Friday

A shorter day today – and the last day of a whirlwind week in Orlando. I caught sessions on SharePoint Designer, LINQ, and a great security presentation that was both fascinating and a bit scary.

SharePoint Designer is one of those tools, like its predecessor FrontPage, that I think many developers may look down upon – you know, "real developers don’t use this." I’m now convinced that it does have its place in even the most hard-core SharePoint developer’s toolkit. You can learn to use it pretty quickly, and can use it to develop no-code applications that are free of the risks of installing custom code on to your production servers. It also has the powerful Data View Web Part, which has an easily customized UI and can combine data from multiple sources including SQL, RSS, XML, and the Business Data Catalog, among others. I’m still not convinced that it can be the primary tool for developing large SharePoint applications that have heavy customizations and many sites based on those customizations (the one-list-only workflow tool comes to mind), but I do plan on spending more time with SharePoint Designer to leverage it’s benefits.

.NET Language Integrated Query (LINQ) is a new feature of .NET, and it looks like this really might change the way you code applications in a pretty significant way. Essentially LINQ allows you to query .NET collections of just about any type using a SQL-like syntax. Rather than using any other way you may have used in the past to search for data in a collection, you can replace it with the execution of a simple query. The upshot is the promise of simpler, more elegant, and less code.

Marcus Murray demonstrated how easy it can be to hack a server. Word about this guy was spreading around TechEd like wildfire – his sessions were very popular. In the demo I saw he showed us how simple it can be to brute-force hack an FTP server and write a buffer overload to execute nasty code. The upshot of his presentation is that you can protect yourself against attacks by understanding potential threats, configuring your systems for security, and keeping your systems updated with the latest patches. A very entertaining, and somewhat sobering session.

Wow – what a week. All that was left to do was head to the airport, hold tight thru a flight delay, and spend 3 hours in the air with my knees jammed into the metal bar of the magazine pocket on the seat in front of me. A fantastic week behind me, and some great ideas for the work that lies ahead.

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