A couple of months ago, I first heard about the SharePoint Saturday UK event – not sure if it was through a tweet or an email. There have been a number of similar events around the world before, but this was the first in the UK.
I’m always interested in these types of events as they offer you the chance to learn new things, brush up on existing skills, and reinforce knowledge. It also offers the chance to network with other people in the industry, which I consider is always a useful exercise. On top of that, you often get the opportunity to speak with people that have highly specific knowledge of their topic.
SharePoint is a product that I have experimented with but purely for evaluation purposes. I believe that collaboration between staff is going to become a major initiative, and SharePoint is a tool that can really help bring people together and allow them to work more sensibly. I hoped that the event would enable to learn more about the latest iteration of the product and understand more about what it can do and what limitations it has.
The event was held at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole hotel at the NEC. This is a very nice location, quite central for most people (although a bit of a journey for me). The hotel had a lot of suitable resources and I think that it was a great location for the event. I should also add that the event was free to attend!
There were a really good mix of topics – some were quite technical, some were a bit more of a high level overview, so there was plenty for most people to get involved in. A couple even involved some demos of various issues which were really helpful. I particularly enjoyed the PowerShell administration demo by Penny Coventry; as I have been recently doing some work in this area, I was able to relate it to the stuff that I had been looking at, and had the chance to clarify a couple of small issues.
What was quite amazing was that the individuals organising and speaking at the event were doing so on their own time, and travelling to the event at their own expense. When you consider that a couple of them had travelled from the States, South Africa and further afield, this shows a particular level of dedication to the concept of passing on knowledge. Many other people have expressed their gratitude, and I think that I have to add my thanks as well; they certainly deserve high praise.
I also have to say that the buffet lunch provided was really excellent. I have to get the recipe for the Blue cheese, mascarpone and red onion quiche tartlets - they were really delicious and I must admit that I ate more than a few of them! Not good for the waistline, but for a one day event, very enjoyable indeed. My compliments to the chef!
Another big thank you has to go to the event sponsors; apart from paying for the whole day, they provided a large number of valuable prizes which were awarded at the end of the day. Among these were a Kindle, an iPad, an Xbox, about 70-80 books, t-shirts as well as some really valuable licences and training offers. There was almost enough on offer for most people to walk away with at least one bit of swag.
The day finished with SharePoint Saturday 2010 UK turning into SharePint; the chance for everyone to head for the bar. I carried out a completely unscientific study amongst a number of those present, and it was clear that everyone had had a great day; learned a lot, had the opportunity to see some really valuable demos and network with other like minded people.
If you missed the event and want the chance to see another, I would bookmark their web page and watch out for next year. I get the feeling that they hope that this can become an annual event. Certainly I wish them well; the work that was put in to organising it deserves the recognition, and I think that it could become a very valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about an under rated piece of software.