SPTechCon Boston 2012 Recap and Highlights

SPTechCon Boston took place on July 22-25, 2012 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston.  There were a plethora of technical classes along with some pre-conference full-day and half-day workshops where you could learn all you wanted to know about SharePoint.  Covering topic areas like Developer Essentials, IT Pro Essentials, Architecture Essentials, and Business User Essentials, there was something for everyone.  With 5 of the 10 workshops and 41 of the 96 technical classes being brand new, attendees were exposed to plenty of new content.
With so many sessions obviously one can’t attend them all, and I definitely had a hard time choosing which to attend for the majority of the time slots.  I finally decided, however; and Natasha Felshman (@TeamEUSP) and I had the opportunity to blog about a few of the sessions we attended, which appear on  The sessions below are listed in the order they were presented at the conference:
Lightning Talks
One of the attendee favorites was the Lightning Talks, where various presenters and vendors each had 5 minutes to talk about anything they wished.  Of course there were some product pitches, but there were also some very funny sessions.  Todd Klindt (@ToddKlindt) and Shane Young (@ShanesCows) taught us about the meaning of life in SharePoint’s eyes; Mark Rackley (@mrackley) told us why SharePoint is like a woman; Mark Miller (@EUSP) explained how to save the planet from the aliens who brought us the default SharePoint 2010 interface; Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) presented his theory around the “Bieber-ization of the SharePoint Community”; Geoff Varosky (@gvaro) conveyed his top ten reasons why SharePoint is better than sex; and Chris McNulty (@cmcnulty2000) delivered an entire session on governance and adoption in less than five minutes (let’s just say he talked really, really fast).
Jeremy Thake (@jthake) filmed all of the Lightning Talks and uploaded them to YouTube.  I created a playlistthat links to all the talks if you’d like to check them out.
Women in SharePoint
For the ladies attending the conference there was the Women in SharePoint Luncheon hosted by Cathy Dew (@catpaint1), who is a member of the National Board for Women in SharePoint.  The purpose of the luncheon was to allow the women at the conference to gather, share stories, and provide positive examples of women succeeding in the SharePoint world.
Many ladies gathered for the Women in SharePoint luncheon at SPTechCon in Boston
The luncheon was such a popular event that there weren’t enough chairs for everyone.  There was lots of great conversation and my only other complaint was that it ended too soon.From the Eyes of the Attendees
I had the opportunity to talk to several of the attendees throughout the conference to get their take on the event.  One of the first people I met while attending the Sunday night SharePoint Experts Meetup was a guy named Jason.  He has only been using SharePoint since December of 2011 as a contractor working on a large InfoPath and workflow project.  This was his first conference and he was very excited to learn more and meet some SharePoint experts.  He also told me how much of a foreign concept it was to him to develop his forms and workflow on a single server and then deploy to production, without a staging environment or strict testing requirements.  Myself being a developer I could totally relate to his plight, as very strict development and testing processes are an essential component of traditional development projects.

I also met Heidi, who described herself as a trainer and business liaison between the technical staff and end users at her company.  This too was her first conference, and she was very skeptical that she’d get much value from attending.  However she was pleasantly surprised that she had been wrong.  She said she loved Susan Hanley’s (@susanhanley) session on user adoption, and that they were already implementing many of the things suggested by Susan at her company.

A women named Laurie explained to me how she facilitates regular SharePoint Lunch and Learns at her company in an attempt to boost user adoption.  She holds the sessions on a monthly basis and that it’s basically a forum for everyone to share their knowledge and best practices with a group of SharePoint power users.  She said it’s really had a positive effect on all involved.

Sharon was one of the women I conversed with at the Women in SharePoint lunch.  I asked her what her role was with SharePoint, and she chuckled a bit and said that she didn’t really know yet.  In fact that was one of the reasons she was attending the conference.  She and a couple others from her company were tasked with breaking down the different roles they would need in order to support SharePoint, and that was one of the questions they hoped to get clarification on by attending the conference.

I met many more attendees but unfortunately I don’t have the space to write about each and every one of them.  The overall consensus I got from visiting with them though was that they were very happy they attended the conference and they were learning a lot from it.The One ThingOn the final day of the conference, Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) cornered me and forced me to participate in his “The One Thing About SharePoint 2010” video series.  Basically he asked me what I thought was the one thing people should know about SharePoint 2010, and I got to sound like an idiot for about a minute trying to explain myself (I really hate seeing myself on video!)  Oh, and he really didn’t force me to do it either; it was actually kind of fun!

After Hours Fun
One of the highlights of the trip for me outside of the conference was walking the Freedom Trail with Mark Miller (@EUSP) and Natasha Felshman (@TeamEUSP) of (thanks to Marc Anderson (@sympmarc) for the great suggestion).  The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile long red path, mostly brick, that goes through downtown Boston leading to 16 significant historic sites.  Some notable sites along the route include burying grounds, churches, the site of the Boston Massacre, and Paul Revere’s house.
Mark Miller outside the Old State House Museum and Boston Massacre Site along the Boston Freedom Trail
Along the way we decided to stop for dinner at Chipotle’s since we were starving.  We joked that it was probably the site of some historic landmark in the past.  After we left we indeed discovered that we had been in the exact location of the Old Corner Bookstore, a bookstore and printing shop founded in the early 1800’s that produced the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, and Louisa May Alcott. In Mark’s words, “the oldest printing house in the United States is now a damn burrito factory!”
Two of the last stops on the trail include the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument, although we didn’t make it quite that far because a sudden torrential downpour ended our tour prematurely.  I’m sure we looked hysterical scurrying past TD Garden Arena to the subway station in the pouring rain.On one of the other nights a large group of us enjoyed a late dinner at the Helmand restaurant in East Cambridge, an Afghani restaurant named after Afghanistan’s longest and most important river.  Since there were a few vegans amongst us, and myself having allergies to dairy and gluten, it was a great choice.  I had never eaten Afghani food prior to that night and was delighted at how delicious the food was.  Thanks to Mark Miller for suggesting we eat there.
In Conclusion

I had a great time at SPTehcCon attending technical classes, catching up with some old friends, and meeting lots of new friends that are too numerous to mention here.  David Rubinstein (@drubinstein) and everyone on the BZMedia team organized another great SharePoint event.  Everything flowed nicely and I didn’t have any problem locating any of the sessions or special events.  At first I thought it a little strange that the vendor exhibit hall was not on the same floor as any of the technical classes, but it turned out to be a non issue, as every time I entered the exhibit hall it was packed with people.With over 1,200 attendees it was a fairly good-sized conference but not as overwhelming as the Microsoft SharePoint conference can be.  It still had a personable feel to it, and I would definitely recommend this conference to anyone wanting to further their career in SharePoint by learning new concepts and networking with the experts and other attendees.
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About Me

Wendy Neal

Wendy Neal

I am a .NET SharePoint Developer for DMI. I've worked with SharePoint since 2007. I love to share my passion for SharePoint and Office 365 by speaking at various industry and user group events, as well as writing articles for various publications and this blog.   Read More

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