Sunday to Tuesday of this week, Jesse and I represented Gallery at Microsoft's invite only 3rd annual Web Developer Summit. This year their focus was on PHP, and 24 "important" people from the PHP community were invited. The two authors of the book "Pro Drupal Development" that are also Drupal core developers, several people form the PHP (and PEAR) core team, an engineer from SugarCRM, and the guy at Facebook that wrote their developer platform were among the other attendees. On the Microsoft side were the important "higher ups" that work with Open Source technologies (see microsoft.com/opensource).
Sunday was my flight out and a few hours of catching up with an old friend I haven't seen since middle school, followed by meeting up with Jesse for some beer samplers at a local brewery, followed by some snacks and drinks with the rest of the summit attendees.
Monday was a day full of sessions followed by dinner, and Tuesday was more sessions. You can read someone else's presentation notes here so I'll keep this to highlights:
Microsoft is seriously interested in Open Source now. They've realized that their value is as a platform, and PHP applications need to work well on Windows for people to be willing to use Windows in may server environments. Sure, it's just business because thats what their customers demand, but they're ready to work with us to do what needs to be done.
Monday after dinner (and after Jesse ordered a round of tequila shots for the entire conference on Microsoft's tab), I spoke with Sam Ramji, Microsoft's Director of Platform Strategy, for an hour or so. He runs the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft and was very interested in any ideas that I and the other attendees have for Microsoft.
Surprisingly, many of the ideas we had were news to them. It seems that there are a lot of things in the community that we all think Microsoft should do, but nobody ever goes to the trouble of telling them! Things like experienced Linux admins wish their BASH and Apache configuration skills could transfer more directly to PowerShell and IIS, etc. I don't remember all of these because they seemed so obvious, but they took notes and hopefully will get around to doing some of these.
Jesse and I were convinced at the last minute to do a talk on Gallery. We quickly put together a presentation and some people at least seemed pretty interested. We got a healthy number of questions and I looked at some number I haven't looked at in a while (Gallery gets ~150k downloads a month!). As a result of this, we may have 2 people contributing some code and one person starting on some more documentation for us. Hoorah.
While some of the presentations were pretty useful, much of it wasn't really targeted to the audience. Sure, learning about Silverlight and Expression were neat, but were they really the best use of our time? Probably not. However, internet worked well and it was easy to get other things done during the less interesting parts. (And most people in the room were on IRC so we could discuss things at the event as they happened.)
We were not given suitcases full of cash to use ASP.net, but each of us walked out with a full MSDN Subscription and Microsoft is going to be working with us to provide whatever products and licenses we need to be able to effectively develop for and test on Microsoft platforms including IIS7, Windows Server 2003 and 2008, Microsoft SQL Server, etc. No complaints there. (One attendee just hasn't gotten around to publishing something she's been working on yet, and it sounded like Microsoft will be shipping her an XBox 360 to encourage her to get around to it :) )
All in all, it was a pretty useful couple of days. I think the most important part was networking with other PHP developers and the Open Source people at Microsoft, as this should encourage future email conversations with everyone to be timelier and more effective. Hopefully, everything will come through and Microsoft will be able to provide Gallery with what we need to be able to test and develop on Windows, and hopefully Microsoft will be able to implement some of our suggestions for the way they work with Open Source. They do seem very interested in making this happen! If you want to read more from them (which you should, especially if you think I've just been drinking their KoolAid all week), check out: port25.technet.com and microsoft.com/opensource.