Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

June, 2008

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    How do you become a "Successful Developer"?

    • 6 Comments

    Fin asked a few of us inside and outside Microsoft for tips in becoming a successful developer. I’m not sure that she expected the deluge (or verbosity) of responses – I think she only had about 300 words to fill in total – she asked 15 people so it turns out 20 words each was the target. I’m going to post my full response here and will link to the others' if they post their full responses as well.

    For me, the most important characteristic of a successful developer is an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Take the time to deeply understand the tools and technologies you use. Read blogs from the people who develop and maintain the tools. Take a course from a visiting expert. Ask questions in online forums. Read in-depth books about the field.

    Unfortunately though, this deep knowledge will only get you so far. Equally important for a successful developer is a broad knowledge of the tools and technologies only peripherally related to your area of expertise and even some completely unrelated fields. In some ways, this knowledge is harder to acquire than the deep knowledge The first hurdle is to think about what peripheral knowledge would be useful. There are some obvious candidates like a broad understanding of the industry in which you’re working, but for the rest, I’d recommend attending a community group of some sort, for example one of the local developer user groups. Regardless of the topic, make a point of attending every one of these you can. It’s incredible how often you’ll have an "Ah Ha!" moment sitting in a session in which you have ostensibly no interest at all.

    Last, but by no means least, learn to enjoy sharing knowledge. Take every opportunity you have to present to a group, engage with other developers and generally socialise. The benefits are huge.

    So, what do you think makes a successful developer?

    Of course, you should got to TechEd :)

    Update – Craig’s posted his response. One word – Practice.

    Update 2 – Andrew’s response: "Be Humble"

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Tech.Ed US Day 0 - The Journey Begins

    • 2 Comments

    After 28-odd hours (and some of them were very odd) of travel, I arrived in Orlando ready to start the TechEd experience. After a brief sleep, I declined the complimentary buffet breakfast (served on the very best Styrofoam) at the hotel and jumped on one of the shuttle busses to the convention centre.

    Shuttle bus and convention centre

    Making my way up the stairs I was confronted with the TechEd Credo:

    Learn, Connect, Explore - Be part of the experience.

    Learn, Connect, Explore - Be a part of the experience. This banner is about 6mx6m.

    Next, to registration. I was there at a special pre-conference session attendee time, so the registration area was not very crowded, but there was significant latent capacity.

    Registration area not in full swing.

    Of course, the big question was - what's the bag like?

    TechEd Bag from Orlando

    Not bad - certainly better than last year's in terms of usability post-event. Interestingly, this year they've also included a reusable water bottle which will, apparently, do away with about 120,000 disposable water bottles that would otherwise have been used.

    Reusable water bottle for TechEd

    There's also a bunch of bits and pieces from sponsors, both internal and external, as well as the usual pad and pen etc.

    I spent most of the day in Ted Pattison's pre-conference session, "Developing Office Business Applications" in which he did a good job of talking about Office development on both the client and the server.

    The last part of the day I spent going to a great session by Corey Hynes called TechEd 101. This was chock full of tips for getting the most out of TechEd and was very well received. I'm hoping to convince Corey to deliver something similar for us when he comes down for TechEd Australia

    Finally, I caught up with Dr Neil and went to buy some small electronics bits'n'bobs at the local mall.

    Tomorrow promises much, with the Keynote, some cool sessions and the Partner Expo Reception.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Day 1 - Developers, Developers, D-d-d-d-d-developers

    • 2 Comments

    BalmerBot in front of BillG

    This is as close as I got to BalmerBot at the TechEd keynote on Day 1. I enjoyed, but wasn't blown away by the content. I'm not sure whether this is indicative of the way we generally have access to most information before a conference or event or whether being inside the organisation, the stuff we talk about at out conferences have been talked about for some time prior. I guess it's probably a combination of the two. It does lead me to think that we need to make sure that keynotes at events such as TechEd Australia don't try to be product demo-fests. It makes much more sense to have a keynote with the roadmap and some generally future-looking discussion (as well as to set the scene for the conference and make sure that people have all the information they need to make the most of their time at the event).

    I also used this day to catch up with the folks from EventPoint who are providing the CommNet application used to provide the onsite delegate scheduling, access to the slides used in presentations and much more. The EventPoint guys are going to do a couple of sessions in the Technology of TechEd Track about the infrastructure they use and about the application itself. It's an interesting storey as the have a very seasonal requirement, with almost no load on the application and infrastructure until the event itself where suddenly they need to be able to handle 10s of thousands of simultaneous connections.

    I went to a couple of sessions (Linq to SQL and OOXML with Linq) and then attended the partner expo reception. I ran into Dr Neil again and we wandered around the sponsor pavilions.

    Lots of people waiting to go into the partner pavilion

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    New CTP for Live Writer – now with hooks for pre and post-publish

    • 2 Comments

    Via Keith Combs

    I love Live Writer, I especially love the extensiblility hooks. However, up until now, the SDK hasn’t allowed you to take action before or after publishing a post. I wanted to write an auto-twitter plugin to notify people who follow my twitter feed that I’d posted something new on my blog. Well, the latest CTP of Live Writer now has pre- and post-publish events you can hook. Even better, the samples that come with the SDK include a Dig This and a Twitter This plugin, saving me the hassle of doing it myself. Please note the warning on the SDK post from the team:

    PLEASE NOTE: These updates are experimental and the APIs are not final--we may make changes based on your feedback that break plug-ins that use these new methods. Further, you will not be able to upload plugins that use the updated SDK to Windows Live Gallery.

    From the main post announcing the CTP

    New Features in this iteration

    Video and Image Publishing Enhancements

    • Upload videos to Soapbox
    • Image cropping and tilting
    • Additional border styles
    • Support for LightBox and other image previewing effects (like Slimbox, Smoothbox, and others)
    • Support for centering images

    Editing Enhancements

    • Auto Linking
    • Smart quotes/typographic characters
    • Word count

    UI Improvements

    • Revised main toolbar
    • Tabs for view switching
    • Improved category control with search/filtering

    Go crazy I say!

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Silverlight 2 Beta 2 Game

    • 1 Comments

    Just got this from a contact in the know …

    Now that the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 bits have gone public I’d like to share a project I’ve been working on recently: http://www.buddyknavery.com

    If you’re a fan of classic adventure titles (Maniac Mansion, King’s Quest, etc.) then this game will most likely be up your alley. Please feel free to pass along any comments and suggestions, and more importantly, have fun! J

    Many thanks to everyone involved with Visual Studio, Silverlight, and Expression. Your achievements make projects like this possible.

    Have fun.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Day 2 – The Conversation Continues

    • 1 Comments

    See also Day 1 and Day 0

    Another fun day at TechEd in the US started with a great session from Amanda Silver on VB and LINQ.I then spent a couple of hours in the massive Hands On Labs area, where there were 600 colour-coded machines set up.

    While I was there, I ran into a couple of familiar faces who were proctoring in the lab.

    Local boy come good, AB with another local boy, AC. Notice the DG shirt.

    Hmm... Jeff in his natural state?

    The Hands On Labs experience is one we’re bringing to TechEd Australia in its entirety, complete with dual-monitor machines and a huge range of labs. It was one of the most popular elements of TechEd last year, and I’m sure it will be just as well-received this year.

    Finally, I saw a great session by Sara Ford (the no 1 blogger in Microsoft!) on Microsoft Visual Basic 2008 IDE Tips and Tricks. Check out her tip of the day (she’s up to #234).

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd Technology Sneak Peek – tonight only

    • 1 Comments

    This evening at the Sydney .NET User Group, in addition to the great session that Nick Randolph will be doing as well as the Demo Comp demos, we’ll be testing some of the cool RFID technology that will be in use at TechEd. Come along and be part of the crowd.

    Tonight, June 18 at 6pm at the Microsoft building, 1 Epping Rd, NORTH RYDE.

    Microsoft Building
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Deploying VSTO v3 Applications - Session at our internal conference

    • 1 Comments

    I just got confirmation that the session I proposed for our internal technical conference, TechReady has been accepted.

    Deploying VSTO v3 Applications

    Building compelling, contextual applications on the Microsoft Office platform has become much simpler with the release of VSTO v3 with VS2008. Often, though, one of the key impediments to adoption of this technology is the difficulty in deploying and maintaining the applications. This session explores the options for deploying VSTO applications and provides a step-by-step checklist for deploying both inside and outside the firewall. Finally it will cover troubleshooting deployment issues.

    I'll be spending some time working on this topic over the next 3 or 4 weeks. If you've got questions or observations on this topic, please drop me a note and I'll do some research and incorporate my findings in the session if appropriate. It looks like I'll also be giving this session in the Developer track at TechEd Australia.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Speaking at WDNUG next Wednesday

    • 1 Comments

    Update – I’ve pushed this out a month and Adam Cogan’s going to present this month on LINQ.

    I got a note from Kirk Barrett last night to say that his speaker for next Wednesday had had to withdraw. I'll be making the trek South to deliver a session on Developing Office Business Applications.

    Visual Studio 2008 and the Office Development Platform

    The 2007 Microsoft Office system has evolved into a business application platform that developers can use to build and deploy Office Business Applications (OBAs). This session provides an overview of OBAs and demonstrates how developers can use Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) to customize Microsoft Office applications, improve the User Experience with Ribbon and Region customisations, enable business workflows with Sharepoint Services and simplified deployment and manageability of Office applications with the new Microsoft Office Clickonce support.

    See www.wdnug.org.au for details on location and times.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    New Australian Windows Mobile Blog

    • 1 Comments

    Don Kerr and Rick Anderson are blogging now at http://blogs.msdn.com/wmoz. It’s going to be a great source for news and tips about the Windows Mobile platform if the first couple of posts are anything to go by.

    Of course, the lads have already blogged about the TechEd mobile virtual track.

    Subscribed.

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