wolfgang ziegler

„make stuff and blog about it“

Personal Highlights of Build 2018

May 16, 2018

I had the pleasure of attending this year's Microsoft Build conference. Although it did not bring any groundbreaking announcements or sensations, it was definitely a great conference, packed with awesome content. The sheer amount of sessions provided was almost overwhelming and usually made it hard to pick a favorite one for a given time slot. I am still in the process of rewatching those sessions, that I could not see live, on Channel 9. Thus, I won't bother you with summarizing the sessions I actually watched and rather pick a couple that I recommend watching. Also I will pick a few other general topics that I considered my personal highlights of this conference.

Yours truly at MSBuild registration


  • What's New in TypeScript
    For those interested in language design (or in TypeScript for that matter) I can definitely recommend this sessions. Anders Hejlsberg geeking out on type system questions is a must see.
  • Empowering the quantum revolution with Q#
    Honestly, I still haven't wrapped my head around Q# and how quantum computing is supposed to work. But I think this sessions has brought me a bit closer to my goal of understanding this new paradigm, that will most likely change all our lives fundamentally once it's there.
  • Meet the new stack for real-time web communication: ASP.NET Core SignalR
    Long awaited - it has finally arrived. SignalR on .NET Core demonstrated by Damian Edwards and David Fowler. A must see session!
  • The Future of C#
    This session by Mads Torgersen and Dust Campbell has almost become one of this conference's cornerstones. If you are interested in which direction the C# language is moving (spoiler: a functional one) definitely go and watch this sessions. Also, you will probably be surprised by all the features that are already in C# and you lost track of (ask me how I know).
  • How to Adopt Modern C17 into Your C Code
    No other than Herb Sutter himself will give you an overview of the innovations in C++ 17 and how to make use of them best.
  • Demystifying Machine and Deep Learning for Developers
    This was one of my absolute favorite sessions at this conference. Since AI and machine learning were such dominant themes throughout the whole conference I figured taking a step back and looking and the fundamentals would make a lot of sense. And I have to say I have never seen the concepts of neural nets and deep learning better explained than in this session by Seth Juarez and Chris Lauren.
  • Microsoft AI overview for developers
    This session was a good overview of different AI services and approaches provided by Microsoft. But the actual reason I am mentioning this session here is that I had the most amazing live demo I have probably ever seen: A conversation between Harry Shum speaking Chinese, getting live translated to English and a hearing impaired person who was using a custom trained speech model live-captioning what he said and translating it back to Chinese. WOW!
  • An Introduction to Blockchain with Mark Russinovich
    This sessions (that for some reason advertised with the speaker's name in its title) was another one of my personal highlights. It provided value for all kind of audiences IMHO. If you were new to BitCoin and Blockchain you probably had a good understanding of how it works. If you already knew about it, but were unsure about some details you would close these knowledge gaps. Or if you were an expert on those topics you probably just had a good time because of the entertaining way Mark Russinovich approached them.
  • Amplify your Awesome
    This was the last session I had picked for this build and I could not have chosen better! Six great speakers (Chris Jackson, Jennifer Marsman, Donovan Brown, Jessica Payne, Lorraine Bardeen, Raymond Chen) giving inspirational and highly entertaining lightning talks - if you have not seen this already, go and watch it now!

Live Transcriptions

I know that Microsoft (and probably others) are doing this for a while now, but I still find it fascinating and proof that AI / machine learning / or whatever you what to call it actually works and has great usage! All the live captioning during the talks were generated by speech to text analysis and that worked amazingly well! I even noticed that sometimes, if I wouldn't understand something a speaker had said, I took a lot at those captions and the software usually had it right.

Satya Nadella and live captioning at work

.NET Core 3.0

This was one of the announcements that actually hit me by surprise. Microsoft apparently has very concrete plans for the next version of .NET Core and what will be a compatibility pack for Windows applications using Windows Forms and WPF. The way they are advertising is the possibility of side-by-side installation of desktop applications which is rather diametrically opposed ot the story we heard so far about the benefits of shipping .NET with the operating system. To me this clearly indicates and end of life of the .NET full framework which is interesting news in itself.

Visual Studio Live Share

I tried this out during the breaks between sessions and I have to say I was really, really impressed. Visual Studio Live Share allows live collaborations cross operating systems and IDEs (I was part of a demo running PCs, Macs with Visual Studio IDE and Visual Studio Code). People can code and debug together on all kinds of projects, everyone with their favorite tools and editor settings without even the need of checking out the source code let alone install of the packages on their machines. Really impressive and a game-changer for distributed teams!

Visual Studio Live Share Demo

Meeting the Actual People!

Even though sessions, demos and collecting swag in the expo area are awesome, one of the coolest experiences of attending a conference like MSBuild is the actual people you meet and can talk to there. I guess, I spent a lot of time in star-struck-fanboy-mode.

  • Scott Hanselman
    A selfie with Scott Hanselman

  • Anders Hejlsberg
    A selfie with Anders Hejlsberg

  • Mark Russinovich
    A selfie with Mark Russinovich

  • Raymond Chen
    A selfie with Raymond Chen

Developer Day

The day after the conference, I had gotten the opportunity of attending Developer Day. This is basically a huge feedback session organized by Microsoft where each attending developer meets representatives from a dedicated product or feature team, talks about it, gives feedback and switches to the next one after 20 minutes. Kind of like speed dating.

Here's the people I talked to:

My Developer Day schedule