Feedback on My NxtGenUG Fest 08 Session - Handling Data in F#

It occurred to me today to look at the feedback that a lot of you have left for the session I did at the NxtGenUG Fest 08 event a few weeks ago. Thanks to everybody who did so, it’s always appreciated!

Now, there are a few points I’d like to comment on - feedback as usual was varied, the overall average not too high… but that’s to be expected, especially with a topic like that in the context of the day. To the 21 people who left an 8 or 9 rating - thanks! There’s not much to say about this since comments were very positive.

The comments on the 7s are a bit more interesting - some of them are still positive, some others are more critical. In order of appearance in the list.

Second time in a row Oliver has overrun and not covered everything on his agenda, the same happened last year with his WPF session. He needs to work on his timings.

Hm… well, I don’t agree. Perhaps I should post about this in general, because apparently my point of view in this regard isn’t well understood – I get comments about this all the time. In a nutshell, my sessions typically include content that most likely I’m not going to have time to present. The reason it’s in there (in the form of slides and/or samples) is because I found it interesting during the research phase of session preparation and I’m thinking it might be interesting to the people who download my slides and samples after the presentation. It might also come in handy when I deliver the presentation again, with a slightly different target time (this varies a lot from event to event – everything between 55 and 90 minutes for a session slot is quite common). If I remember, I try to explain this in most sessions – I don’t remember whether I did this time or not.

Of course there are also considerations specific to the event in question. For starters, Dave insisted when he talked to me that I submit something entirely new, not something that was previously done elsewhere. Looking at the presentations I saw on the day, I have my doubts whether everybody adhered to that rule, but I did – as a result, this was a first run for the presentation, and these will always be a bit less perfect on timing than subsequent runs, no matter how well prepared somebody is. Finally, of course, I didn’t run over – I simply adjusted the session content to fit the time frame and left out a few minor bits at the end because time didn’t allow for them. If you don’t like it, my apologies – these bits and bobs are out there in the wide world whether you like it or not. As it is, they are included in the slide deck, and it seems you’re saying I should have left them out. Go figure.

I think the session would have benefited from getting onto the code samples sooner.

Whetted our apetites, but didn’t make time to cover the more exciting parts.

Super fast, but I enjoyed having an introduction to this.

I thought drilled too quickly into the code examples.

Yeah well… what are you going to do in 60 minutes, when 90% of the audience are on the “F-what?” level to begin with? And as you can see, this is a subject that splits any audience…

There was no sense of where this language’s niche was._

Fair enough – I can’t tell you though. Still waiting on the MS niche definition committee to finish its work. In the meantime, just listen, get up to speed if it sounds interesting, and make up your own mind.

In places I felt that the presentation and samples could have been tightened up a bit. Removing a bit of waffle._

Interesting to hear that – I don’t think the majority would agree that there could have been much more in it though.

Oliver picked an interesting subject, but could really have benefitted from giving a concrete reason for using this language – the benefits of functional languages over imperative perhaps? As it was: interesting but ultimately not useful for everyday coding

I was leaving that part open to your own imagination at this point. I think I did mention areas in which people are currently using F#, and of course general internet content about functional programming will bring up a lot of ideas. Anyway, I think you got the right impression – for the majority of developers, F# is probably not an everyday programming language today, and who knows if it will ever be.

… I was left wondering why I would choose to use it for data access over c#

I wasn’t saying you would. Some of the techniques I showed were from the functional part of the programming world, but that doesn’t mean you can only use them in F# either. In general the session was supposed to be an introduction to the language and some of the more obscure (from the typical .NET programmer’s point of view) practices, as well as to point out that F# is a .NET language after all and a lot of the standard technology can be used just as easily as it can from C#.

Interesting stuff… though more of an introduction to F# than handling data!

Yes, that’s what it turned out to be. Or at least it was half and half, I guess… the NxtGenUG guys always ask for bleeding edge technology and their event focus was where the data handling part came from. On second thought, it turned out that the necessary basics took up a bit too much room in this presentation. Will have to ask for a double slot next time, to do a separate introduction and the data handling thing in its whole glory 😃

I liked the happy go lucky presentation style

Eh? 😃

… it was too left field for a mainstream session …

I agree. It wasn’t supposed to be a mainstream session. The way I’ve always understood it, the NxtGenUG Fest isn’t supposed to be a mainstream event.

personally I dont and neither did anyone around me have any real interest in F#

Out of the other 52 who left feedback, around 48 did though.

Really not sure

I think the answer is 42. 😃

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