Well, Tech.Ed 2006 has just concluded and it was really quite good. Better than expected actually.

There were a few things that really clicked with me. One was the Guidance Automation Toolkit and software factories in general. From what I'd read in the press and various web sites, I had the impression that a software factory was a bit of a silly name invented my marketers for code generation.

In reality it's a lot more than that. It's the processes, practices, standards and everything else that sits around the code, as well as automation of the actual code being generated (although that's probably a bit too simplistic an explanation). It's about assisting developers through the whole software development process in your organisation, and is especially useful for large developments, complex projects or places where there is developer churn. I'm actually quite excited about this - especially when I saw a demo of a guidance package in which NHibernate business classes were generated visually (class designer style), the column/property mappings done and then the hbm files built, all in about 5 minutes with no code and working perfectly. Given that this process can take hours by hand it's a real productivity enhancer.

The other thing that got me really excited was LINQ. This thing is awesome! It's very similar to NHibernate in both syntax and usage, but it offers much more than NHibernate, it's built into the compiler and works across not only databases, but object collections, disconnected datasets, XML data sources and can be extended to cover a whole bunch of other things as well. For example there's even an Amazon LINQ provider that works off the Amazon.com API's so that you could, for example, write LINQ queries for tech books less than $10.00 for example.

Unfortunately LINQ is still probably 12 months away from a 1.0 release, but I'll be grabbing the CTP and giving it a run through very soon.

I'll post some more detailed session summaries in the coming days.