Tech Ed ends with delegates singing from Microsoft's songsheet

All we are saying is give SOAP a chance, sings Microsoft's XML guru Don Box, at the tear-jerking conclusion of Microsoft's developer event

Microsoft's Tech Ed Europe conference in Europe came to an end on Friday as more than a thousand developers waved glow-sticks and joined XML guru Don Box to sing: "All we are saying, is give SOAP a chance." The song, promoting the Simple Object Access Protocol, a Web standard co-written by Box to enable distributed transactions using XML, was an apt conclusion to a marathon three-hour session in which Box and fellow Microsoft architect Pat Helland described the fundamental requirements of transactions in distributed Web services.

The song also wrapped up a week-long conference in which Microsoft argued strongly for its position as a secure source of software to build business-critical Web services.

"DotNet, WhatNet, Scott says NotNet," ran one couplet, while another of around half-a-dozen verses consisted of a well-formed fragment of C# code. However, the performers declined to provide a full transcript of the lyrics for inclusion in ZDNet UK's IT Anthems page.

Box and Helland's session explained why developers must be clear about the roles that data and metadata play in transactions, so that Web transactions can be trusted. The two explained the right and wrong use of new XML-related protocols, and the best way to use improvements in .Net over its predecessor, COM (Box is the author of Essential XML, and Essential COM).

Above all, the presentation expressed clearly that coding, and the tools that support it, are creative endeavours. Previous versions of these tools had "stifled programmers' creativity", or else made it difficult to communicate by allowing ambiguities. Ending in song was, perhaps, an illustration of this point.

Afterwards, one delegate asked: "Could orchestration be the answer?" to distributed transactions, and Helland said that it might work within, not across systems -- but conceded it might help the song, which was accompanied by Box on the guitar.

Attendance at the session was impressive, given its length and the fact that it started at 8.30 a.m. on the day after a moderately heavy-duty party. Highlights of the party included the reported appearance of one Chemical Brother and a break-dance performed by a Steve Ballmer lookalike.

However, some delegates felt that the old Microsoft was still in evidence. The cloakroom at the party only supported Microsoft packages; that is, only the blue bags issued by Microsoft could be left there, leaving many delegates to dance round their laptop cases. Ironically -- and some naysayers felt typically -- the prohibition even applied to previous versions of the Microsoft bag, such as the yellow backpacks issued at Tech Ed Europe 2001, which many used this year as a badge of honour.

Box's last-day presentations have become a traditional grand finale of Tech Ed events -- at last year's Tech Ed Europe he closed the event from a bathtub.

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