It's been an interesting couple of days in Palm Springs, California, the site of the 2008 ESRI Developer Summit.
1300+ developers descended on the city. Not all of them are "developers" in the traditional sense. Many of these people started as ESRI product users, becoming experts in ArcObjects by using them. They started extending GIS products, and now they're developers... often without background or formal training in software development.
This may well explain the unsatisfyingly basic preconference sessions. The session on "Introduction to Planning, Developing, and Maintaining ArcGIS Applications
" would have been better titled "Software Development 101
." Far too much emphasis on basic software development life cycle, not enough emphasis on GIS-specific concerns.
The second session, "Introduction to ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Engine Development
," was similarly targeted. After spending far too long on re-learning the basics of UML and how and why interfaces are used, I wandered out of that session... and promptly remembered why I enjoyed this conference so much last year.
ESRI has 250+ members of their development staff here. While I may not always agree with what ESRI does (indeed, often I don't!), the people in the trenches are professional, polite and passionate. They know about the problems out there, and are committed to finding solutions.
Allan Laframboise (a fellow Canuck, who I was delighted to meet last year), Evan Brighton, Eleanor Davies, Laurene Koman, David Cardella and many more have been willing to listen to my issues, and have invariably found the holes in my knowledge or logic, and gently rectified them so that I could get on with making things work right.