Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

September, 2007

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Standing on the Shoulders of Giants


    26-Sep Updated table formatting


    "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"

    Isaac Newton 1676*

    As a Developer Evangelist, I'm often talking about the value of "the Platform" and sometimes it takes a little while for people to see that value. I like to tell a story about the evolution of a platform

    image image Imagine it's 10,000 years ago and you live in a cave up the hill to the left. Getting water is a matter of walking the 500m down to the stream, using the water and then walking home. That’s fine if it’s a beautiful day like in this picture. The next day, however, there’s a severe storm so going outside is already unpleasant. To make matters worse, a large carnivore chases you when you do venture out into the elements go to get water. Once you get there, you find that one of your neighbours has slaughtered a woolly mammoth just upstream and the water is polluted and unusable. You have to go over the next hill (5 km) just to get water.
    image image Fast forward to 4,000 years ago and you’re living in a village in the African desert. Your village has constructed a well and you maintain it collectively. You still have to go outside for water, but not nearly as far, and all of the people in the village contribute to the maintenance.  Your water supply occasionally dries up, but is much more reliable than having to go down to a stream. 
    image imageFast-forward to 150 years ago** in the city of London. You now live in a lovely house in Broad Street. Just outside your front door, the City of London has installed a pump (or, more accurately, has contracted a private company to install a pump) connected to the new-fangled plumbing. You still need to go outside for your water, but you don’t have to worry about maintaining the pump, and there are public health professionals ready to remove the handle of the pump if too many of your neighbours catch cholera.
    image imageimageFast forward to today. Now you get water plumbed into every part of your house. The question now is not "how do I get water?", rather it’s "what do I want to do with water?"  Delivery of water is now a platform on which you can build, rather than being a task on its own.
    image We've seen this platform evolution (albeit on a much shorter time scale) in pretty much everything that happens with computers. From having to write your own code to read and write bytes from a disk (or punch card, or circuit board) to letting the operating system handle it for you. From having to write your own code to paint a window on the screen to letting the framework handle it for you. From sourcing drivers for every piece of hardware to having it just work when you plug it in and so on.

    One of the questions I often get asked is whether abstracting away the details of the working of the platform makes us less connected from the source and therefore somehow less capable. There's no requirement to not understand how the platform works (just like, as a Civil Engineer, I understand water supply systems pretty well), but equally, there's no requirement to rebuild the platform every time you want to build something on top of it. Whether I'm installing an espresso machine or a hydroponics farm, I can use the water supply platform without having to drill a well, install a reverse-osmosis plant, install solar panels for power and so on.

    MPj04008460000[1]This also makes a distinction between platform and services. Pat Helland pioneered the concept of a metropolis where he described the various utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity, roads, railway lines, ports, telecommunications infrastructure etc) as services (I haven't done Pat's work any justice at all here - go and read his paper). I'd argue that these are actually the platform on which services (schools, high-speed internet access, parcel delivery, banking, petrol stations etc) can be built. In a similar way, in the Software plus Services story both the software and the services are built on a platform (or platforms). The more common functionality the platform provides, the more time service providers can spend on the provision of the actual service. For example, pretty much every provider of any significant services in the cloud needs to have a way to authenticate and bill (or otherwise gain benefit from) users of the service. There aren't that many schemes for doing either of these things and so it makes sense to have the platform (on which the service is built) provide this functionality. By factoring out commodity platform capabilities (i.e. billing, provisioning, SLA monitoring and management, auth[n|r], messaging, CRM, monetization services etc.), the service provider is free to invest fully in an offering in their domain of expertise, without being encumbered by having to build out these concerns.  Customers are also free to pick and choose those services that make the most sense, again without having to build out (and care and feed for) commodity capability. 

    This has the related effect that the costs of these cross-cutting platform capabilities – which cost a lot to develop and maintain – can be amortised against a much larger population of users. In turn, this tends to bring the cost of the services down, which makes them more accessible to smaller organisations (i.e. further along the tail).  This is a democratising effect  - i.e. now a small software firm can afford an enterprise-grade provisioning, billing and SLA management engine, and can scale this according to their needs, and therefore potentially compete with larger players, or offer lower-cost services to customers who are also further along the tail.

    Time to value is shorter.  If a service provider can focus on their offering sans the surrounding infrastructure, they can deliver services much more quickly, and can respond to opportunities in the market more rapidly.   Related to this is the expectation that markets and offerings will evolve much more quickly than ever before.  If you aren’t tied down by infrastructural drag, you can innovate much more quickly.


    Many thanks to Nigel Watson for his insight and additional thoughts.

    * Yes, I'm aware that Isaac probably wasn't the first person to use this phrase, but he's probably the most famous
    ** OK, OK, the picture's obviously not from 150 years ago (of course, the first one is from 10,000 years ago), but I really wanted a picture of this pump - it's because of my background in GIS

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT - for Windows Live Developers


    Tatham and Dr Neil alluded to it in their fishbowl interview, and now Anna's been plugging it too. From the developers of ViaVirtualEarth, there's a new site for Windows Live developers. Check out the plethora of topics on the nav bar:


  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Four more Fishbowl Videos


    The Virtual TechEd Fishbowl Editors have been at it again. Four more great videos.

    Click to Play

    The Wide Ranging Applicability of Team Foundation Server

    Ron Jacobs, host of ARCast.TV, sits down to talk with customers Justin Butcher and Michael Daniel about using Team Foundation Server in a scenario with hundreds of developers, not all of whom are on .NET. How are the developers reacting to using TFS on all these other platforms? They also cover using TFS in a Wide Area Network environment, check-in policies, and other TFS-relevant topics.

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    Spotlight 2007 Campaign on Integrated Collaboration

    Joseph Mortimer, Solutions Architect with Data#3, and Charlene Clark, former Microsoft Program Manager in Brisbane for the Spotlight 2007 Integrated Collaboration program, discuss the highlights of the campaign—one that upskills and develops Microsoft Gold and Certified Partners in new and innovative technology. This year’s campaign focused on SharePoint Server 2007 and Office Communications Server. Learn more about Spotlight 2007 here.

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    What Is Via Windows Live?

    Learn all about Via Windows Live, a community site where anybody who is working with Windows Live Services can access a wide range of resources (for example, learn about using Virtual Earth with a Messenger activity window), in this video session recorded with Bronwen Zande, Windows Live Services Development Specialist, and John O’Brien, Windows Live Developer MVP (from, formerly

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    Women in Technology

    In this WIT video recorded at Tech·Ed Australia, Nikki Curtis from the Australian Computer Society and Charlene Clark, Queensland Rail, talk about how they got started in IT, some of the challenges women face when growing their IT careers, and tips for young women considering entering the field.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Office DevCons - Sydney (November 3-4) and San Jose (February 10-13)


    As I posted previously, Grahame Seach is pulling together the community Office DevCon in Sydney this November (3-4). The website is now live with the list of 29 sessions and speakers, information about the conference and the facilities, as well as a registration link.

    Sign Up Now!


    There's also another Office Developer event on the cards, this one organised by Microsoft:


    So to Summarise:

    Sydney, November 3-4 (Community, CodeCamp-like event)

    San Jose, Febrary 10-13 (Microsoft event)

    Looking forward to seeing you at one or both.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    (fish)Bowling for TechEd


    Two new videos from the Virtual TechEd FishBowl.

    While you're at it, check out the BuilderAU video section for even more TechEd goodness.

    Click to Play

    XNA Gaming Tools and Technologies

    XNA, Microsoft’s latest suite of game creation tools, is composed of industry-leading software, services, resources, and communities focused on enabling game developers to be successful on Microsoft gaming platforms. Luke Drumm and Daniel Crowley-Wilson from Readify provide an introduction to XNA, and you can learn more by visiting

    Watch Now

    Click to Play

    The Near Future of Developer Technologies

    Mick Badran and Anthony Borton, Microsoft MVPs, have a quick chat about their respective areas of expertise and Tech·Ed Australia sessions around the near future of BizTalk solutions, Windows Communication Foundation, Visual Studio Team System, Team Foundation Server and more.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    SBS Technical Training - Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth


    Via Wayne.

    The Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2 Readiness program is a Microsoft initiative to introduce new and innovative features to their Small Business partners.

    The intended audience includes Microsoft Small Business Specialist partners, System integrators, OEM Builders and professionals that have used Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. Previous knowledge of SBS 2003 is required.

    Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 – Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 SP2 Features:

    This session introduces the new features on SBS 2003 R2 in regards to Exchange 2003 SP2 and Outlook 2003 SP2.

    After completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Describe the new flexible client licensing in SBS 2003 R2.
    • Identify ways to increase mobile security and efficiency through new Windows Mobile 5.0 policies and Direct Push technology.
    • Provide increased message hygiene by using the Open SPF standard as well as an improved Intelligent Message Filter.
    • Show how to allow for more storage with an increased mailbox size limit of 75GB.

    Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 - Windows SharePoint Services V2.0\V3.0 Features:

    This session will introduce WSS v2.0, however it will be mainly focused on WSS V3.0. Students will learn the advantages of using Windows SharePoint Services in their SBS 2003 R2 environment.

    After completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Describe the benefits of using SharePoint as an information sharing tool.
    • Show the advantages of using WSS V3.0 in their environment.
    • Prepare for and upgrade to WSS V3.0.
    • Integrate WSS V3.0 into Microsoft SBS 2003 R2 environment.
    • Utilize advanced WSS V3.0 features to enhance the current environment
    EXCOM Education
    150 - 160 Gladstone Street
    South Melbourne, Melbourne 
     Melbourne 1
    24 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 24 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST  Melbourne 2
    25 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 25 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST
    EXCOM Education
    Level 2
    549 Queen Street
     Brisbane 1
    24 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 24 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST  Brisbane 2
    25 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 25 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST
    EXCOM Education
    Level 1
    203 Clarence Street
     Sydney 1
    20 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 20 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST  Sydney 2
    21 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 21 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AEST
    EXCOM Education
    Ground Floor
    191 Pulteney Street
     Adelaide 1
    20 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 20 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM ACST  Adelaide 2
    21 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 21 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM ACST
    EXCOM Education
    Level 2
    23 Barrack St
     Perth 1
    27 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 27 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AWST  Perth 2
    28 Sep 2007, 9:30 AM to 28 Sep 2007, 5:30 PM AWST

    Register Now!

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Recognising Talent


    <disclaimer>If it's not obvious from the content, I have a personal interest in this post</disclaimer>

    I was going to thinly disguise this post as a follow on from Frank's ASP.NET Site of the {insert time period here}, but I'm just going to boast.

    Telstra's Business Women's Awards have just announced the 151 finalists (see, it's an ASP.NET page) for 2007. Check out the first name in the list of NSW finalists.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    More Great .NET 3.0 Training in Australia


    I just got this note from Faith Rees about some exciting .NET 3.0 training being conducted by our partner, Readify. Contact them directly for more info.

    Juval Lowy’s Windows Communication Foundation MasterClass– Registrations close 21 September

    Juval Lowy is returning to Australia by popular demand to deliver his best-of-breed WCF Master Class from 15-19 October 2007 in Sydney. This 5 day intensive course covers WCF programming, design guidelines, pitfalls, original techniques and best practices.

    For More information and to book your place or email

    First Time ever in Australia, Jon Flander’s Applied Windows Workflow- Registrations Close 6 October

    Jon Flanders will come down under 13-16 November 2007 to Melbourne to deliver his 4 day Applied WF intensive course which affords experienced .NET developers training in WF tools and services needed to add rich workflow capabilities to their ASP.NET and Smart Client applications as well as Web and Windows services.

    For More information and to book your place or email

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT - for all your OpenXML Development Needs


    As you might expect, there's been a bit of discussion on the internal aliases about the results of ISO ballot DIS29500. Kleefy asked me about resources for developers wanting to write apps that read and/or write the new formats regardless of the programming language. Of course, I pointed him at There's a wealth of resources up there for OpenXML developers including these gems:

    There's more going up all the time, so check it out.

    While you're at it, head over to the community site,, to read some of the business reasons you'll want to consider OpenXML as your document format of choice. If you feel so inclined, you can sign up as a supporter of the format.

    Finally, if you are developing an application that uses any of the OpenXML formats, or the Open Packaging Convention and you'd like help publicising it, please contact me.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Funniest Home Videos - Oz Partner Style


    Great initiative from Christian Longstaff and the local Partner Team

    Subscribe to our Partner video podcastFollowing the success of Channel 9ON10, we now have an Aussie video blog for Partners: Partner-TV Australia.  This new blog consists of short videos of fellow Microsoft’ies and partners with some cool solutions, which you can watch via stream or download and even listen to with an audio podcast.  As always, we are keen to hear what you think.  Please send us any feedback, especially on what you would like to hear and watch via

Page 1 of 2 (15 items) 12