Day 1 - About the 2010 PDC

Technical content of this issue - 2 out of 5 (there's actually some code near the bottom!)

My usually griping about travel, some notes on what to expect (and not expect) this year and a remarkably technical question for our first edition.

The Trip Out

Longtime newsletter readers will be shocked to learn that it was actually a very pleasant trip out. I originally wrote several sentences here with specifics, but then I realized that describing a good trip is much less entertaining than cynically griping about a bad one, so, 'nuff said.

I should point out that my FINRA laptop cannot connect to the Web from my hotel room, so these newsletters may be slightly delayed for readers on the internal FINRA mail list.

PDC 2010 - Short and Sweeet

This year's PDC is much smaller than years past. Instead of 4 days of sessions, there are only 2. Instead of being held at the LA Convention Center (capacity - a bazillion) it is being held at Microsoft's home campus in Redmond (capacity - about that of the Grover Cleveland Rest Area on the Jersey Turnpike). Microsoft is trying to make it up to the several thousand would be attendees who missed out by providing almost all the content streaming live on the web. I'm not sure where on the site the video will be available, but you can look around here. If you would be so kind as to make up your own bad jokes and sarcastic commentary while watching the video, it would save me alot of work and I could spend more time enjoying the complimentary Manager's Reception here at the Residence Inn. Thanks.

There's also some sessions that are pre-recorded and available "On-Demand." I'm not sure why someone would fly out here to Washington to watch videos on the web (although did I mention it was a very pleasant trip?). To prove that my editorial content is not biased towards my hosts, here is an On Demand session writeup that I found wonderfully ironic-

Best Practices for Building Cross-Browser Web Applications
Tony Ross
On Demand

Learn how developers can address the challenges with creating complex sites that are safe and that work well across browsers. Come see how Internet Explorer 9 makes it easier to create Web sites using interoperable HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While the session focuses on Internet Explorer, these lessons apply to all browsers and we'll show you the best practices you can use today to target a broad range of browsers.

Here at Microsoft, cross-browser development focuses on Internet Explorer.

All of PDC '09 content is now available online here.

Letters! We Get Letters!

Once again this year we will close each newsletter by answering selected items from the Biff's PDC Newsletter mail bag (it's not really a bag). Normally for the first issue I use a letter from a previous year to fill the space, usually the email mocking SH from CA about C#, but this year we have an actual substantive letter in our first issue!

TB from VA asks an obvious question - "Why aren't you fully supporting the gmail client? Is this your way of still being true to Microsoft after all these years?"

Wow, that's an excellent question, I'm surprised it's never been asked before. It has nothing to do with a preference for Microsoft, I dumped the Hotmail client a few years back when they "improved" it with all kinds of AJAX gizmos - now I use the Gmail client myself. That's actually the only way I found out it didn't work, because I don't do any sort of multi-client testing (that's what users are for!). It's actually a limitation on how Gmail interprets styles. For browsers and most mail clients you can define a style at the top of the HTML and then reference it throughout the HTML, like this-

<style type="text/css">



<p class="Important">This would be boldfaced</p>
<p >This would be normal</p>
<p class="Important">This would be boldfaced</p>

This allows you to define how something classified as Important should be displayed just once. The Gmail client does not recognize style blocks at the top of the email, none of the text in the above example would be boldfaced.  Gmail wants the style defined for every element inline:

<p style="font-weight:bold">This would be boldfaced</p>
<p >This would be normal</p>
<p style="font-weight:bold">This would be boldfaced</p>

Needless to say, this completely eliminates the benefit of defining styles based on content type rather than formatting. I continue to use the former method since these emails go straight to the web page, Gmail users will just have to continue to live a drab, colorless existence. - Ed.

If you have anything you want to say, any technical questions or anything comment that gives me the opportunity to make a witty retort, send your mail to


Pay attention every day, there's only 2 tomorrows this year,

Proofreader, Biff's PDC Newsletter
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