On November 18 and 19 I had the great pleasure of attending and speaking at the EMEA PUG Challenge conference in Cologne, Germany. This was put on through a collaboration by the various the Progress user groups in Europe.
This was a truly outstanding event. It was extremely well organized, held in a nice facility (the Excelsior Hotel Ernst, across the street from Cologne Cathedral), and had very good content by good speakers. Props to the organizers and sponsors. I can't think of a single thing that should have been done differently. Well, ok one thing: maybe Paul K. should not have overslept but he did give us something to rib him about for the foreseeable future.
The conference was very well attended with about 330 delegates. Due to space constraints, registration was closed well before the conference began. The hotel was just barely large enough to accommodate all the conference activities. There were many places where one could sit and talk with someone and an excellent (though a bit small) bar. The hotel provided very nice lunches and plenty of coffee and tea. They did a very good job.
There is an abundance of correct beer in Germany. I liked the Kölsch quite a lot, it is quite tasty and is served in 2 dl. (a little less than 7 ounces) tall cylindrical glasses called a Reagenzglas (test tube). These were refilled until you said stop.
[ edit: Mike Fechner has informed me that the proper name for these glasses is "Stange" (pole) and Reagenzglas is only a nickname. Not the only time I've been wrong. ]
The conference began with a general session with remarks by the PUG board, Chris Larsen from Progress, and Ken Wilner from Progress. This was followed by the technical program. There were 5 concurrent sessions going on both days for a total of 60 sessions. One track was a series of workshops and one was a vendor track with talks given by the various event sponsors.
The vendor track was a good idea and well done. The talks in it obviously had a goal to drum up business for the speakers but they were not simply blatant sales pitches -- there was worthwhile content. I was pleased to see that the ones I looked in on were well attended. This was good for the sponsors and also good for everyone else since the conference would not have been possible without their support.
Sufficient break time between sessions allowed for visiting the sponsor stands, engaging in unexpected conversations, as well as the ability to ask additional questions after a session was over.
I performed two talks, the first about the OpenEdge RDBMS Transparent Data Encryption facility and the second about the Multitenant database capabilities that will be included in the upcoming OpenEdge 11.0.0 release next year. Judging by the fact that the room was full, there is a great deal of interest in the multitenant database stuff.
There were several sessions about OpenEdge BPM, which also elicited a lot of interest.
Which sessions were the best? I can't say since I couldn't go to them all but every one I did see was excellent. You can see the conference program at http://www.pugchallenge.eu/ and eventually the slide decks will be posted there.
On Thursday evening we were shuttled off to an evening "festive event" -- drinks, dinner, and entertainment at the Odysseum, a science center/museum. It was great fun and had some pretty neat exhibits to play with. The entertainment included some great singing performances by Olf Jaennsch and Peter Van Dam.
I must say that while online conferences do have their advantages, the ability to talk to people face to face just can't be beat.
All in all, a great event. I hope to see more like this. In fact there is one planned: for those of you in the Americas, next June is the Americas PUG Challenge. 42 technical sessions, 8 workshops, a commercial track. You can learn more about it at http://pugchallenge.org/ You should go.
Another EMEA PUG Challenge is planned for next fall in Amsterdam. I hope I see you there.
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