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Switzerland, Microsoft and the JumpInCamp!

Posted by David in Azure, Cloud Computing, Microsoft, Open Source, PEAR, PHP
Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 16:13

As some of you may know from the tweets I’ve been posting for nearly 3 weeks now, I was invited to attend the very first edition of the JumpInCamp organized by Microsoft in April 2010.

The goal of this camp was to get the European PHP community leaders together and learn about the new products and new ideas Microsoft are working on. For those of you who read about the Microsoft web developer summit that took place in Redmond in December 2009 you might think it was the same thing however you would be utterly wrong.

While the camp in Redmond was very informative and we are learnt a great deal of new features coming up with Microsoft, it was vastly different than the JumpinCamp in Zurich where the focus of the camp was to get the developers to interact with the actual Microsoft developers instead of only learning about new features. The point of the JumpinCamp was to get your hands dirty in code so we all got a few hours of lectures, then sat down and worked on either implementing those solutions into our respective Open Source projects or even discussed and raised concerns we might have regarding some of their products.

I thought it might be nice to share some of the projects I’ve started working on while I was over there and what I had interests in:

OData

After meeting with Claudio Caldato, the program manager for the Interoperability team, we went over the OData project and after looking at the position of OData and it’s potential, I decided to join the team and start by developing a PEAR package that will allow producers to publish valid OData Atom Pub feeds and serve as a base driver for the PHP community (Which could be easily ported to Zend Framework, Symfony, Lithium, etc.)

Obviously one of the reason for and OData producer package is to be able to make all the Frapi users potential OData producers. Moreover, as some of you know, sometimes I get into rants about web semantics and microformat. When I saw OData I realized that we could potentially bring some microformat standards within OData Atom Pub feeds (Or JSON Feeds).

Another thing that lit me up was the JSON feed. As some of you may have read on this very blog a few months ago I wrote an article about having something called PJSF which basically is the concept or idea of defining a standard format for JSON feeds. When I saw that OData has the ability to generate JSON feeds, I obviously jumped on the occasion of making a difference in the semantics world :)

Azure

Azure basically is a platform that offers a flexible, familiar environment for developers to create cloud applications and services. With Windows Azure, you can shorten your time to market and adapt as demand for your service grows.

What does is really mean? Azure is an all-in-one cloud solution. Even though the concepts are a bit arduous to grasp, we can all thank Josh Holmes and Maarten Balliauw for their essential presence at this camp to help us with all the questions we had and their thorough understanding of their baby (Azure).

Azure was another thing that sprung to my mind for Frapi. What if we could get our Frapi customers to be deployed directly into the cloud? Obviously it’s possible to hack around all the possible Amazon web services and to get somewhat arranged so our customers would be on EC2 servers, however with Azure it seems almost natural to deploy and it’s clearly made for enterprises.

TableStorage

This is Microsoft’s very own NoSQL answer. The Table service offers structured storage in the form of tables. It also exposes a REST API for working with tables and the data that they contain.

This one I am still uncertain about. I think I like it, but I’ll have to work a bit more into finding more information regarding it’s internals. I really like the idea of their multiple slave replication however with the lack of documentation I could not, right now, take the executive decision of opting for TableStorage instead of say CouchDB or MongoDB. Nevertheless, the fact that it’s part of Azure gives it a big +1.

Pivot

Alex is probably one of the coolest guy to hang out with and also has a brilliant product called Pivot. I couldn’t tell you much more about Pivot apart from the fact that it’s a great tool if you want have to analyze large amounts of data with many different criteria. Seriously though, check it out, his demo and seeing it live is simple stunning. He also briefly introduced me to the art of DeepZooming and the SeaDragon technology

Altogether I suggest you give the livelabs a look. They are doing some amazing work there!

SQL Server

Even though I haven’t been into the RDBMS world for quite a while now (Being sucked into #nosql), I used to do quite a bit of SQL Server, in fact I’m still involved in the SQL Server MDB2 package and it was nice to finally be able to discuss with a developer of the SQL Server Engine Jason Stowe and the Program Manager of the SQL Server Connectivity with PHP Ashay Chaudhary (Who is now on twitter @ashay_c!) about the status of the SQL Driver in PHP (Or lack thereof) and intensively vent about a few things like the lack of up-to-date PDO SQL Server driver.

Fair play to both the SQL Server guys who have done a brilliant job at the camp helping everyone that needed help as well!

WebDeploy

This is definitely one of the tools I would have like to have 1-2 more days to play with. After a filled in event and work week, I finally managed to get some time to discuss the potential of deploy Frapi on Windows machines with the lovely Faith Allington. After playing for a few hours we had the base of the package however the day was ending and we were going to a lounge. Having our priorities set very straight in conferences, most of us headed out to the bar/lounge and so we didn’t have time to finish the Frapi WebDeploy implementation. Faith being of good nature gave me her email address and told me we could setup a conference call and keep working on the WebDeploy implementation of Frapi! How about that!

Finally

During this week, not only did I learn loads of stuff about Microsoft product, I also learnt some russian card game which encourages cheating (lovely!), I learnt how to say: “Ich lebe in einem Pilz!” and how to play cow-poo-golf. Great Switzerland!

On a more serious note however, I would just like to finish on the usual cheesy note and say thanks to Microsoft and especially Yuriy Zaytsev for organizing, Josh Holmes for his general welcoming and helpful attitude, Nicole Zahnd for organizing the flights and hotels perfectly and obviously everyone from the Microsoft team that stayed with us this week and listened to our rants and complaints about their product! Looking forward to next year (wink)

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Coallier. David Coallier said: Blog post :"Switzerland, Microsoft and the JumpInCamp!" http://short.ie/7m4wba #jumpincamp #php [...]

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