Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Want to stay connected to the Aussie DPE Team?


    I was chatting with Darren the other day and he said that he's been feeling increasingly disconnected from the DPE team here in Australia since Frank left, and also now that Chuck's gone. Putting aside the fact that they're impossible shoes to fill, I thought it was probably time to call out the other DPE team members who are still here and are still blogging.

    In addition there's the AusDev blog with thoughts from Jenny Savann and Finula Crowe. Please, don't forget to keep in touch.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Sneak Peak ...


    I'm not sure Kleefy had the first part right ...

    IMAG0040 IMAG0041

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    SharePoint Development – is it too easy?


    I was chatting to some community folk in the pub last night after presenting (on Architectural patterns on S+S – slides here) at the Sydney Deep .NET User Group*. I heard an interesting premise: “Good developers don’t want to do SharePoint development because it’s too easy”. To me, this passes the smell test. Developers like a challenge. As Nick intimated in his session on home-grown frameworks last night, there’s a significant proportion of developer work that happens because the devs enjoy solving the technical problems associated with, say, generalising access to back-end data sources.

    I hate to tell you, but someone’s already solved that problem! It really is all about the platform.

    Of course, this begs the question: “what about the move to model-driven development and composable applications?” Will developers be able to work by getting components and just linking them together? Discuss.

    If you want to learn more about SharePoint development, you could do a lot worse than visiting:


    * the site’s down temporarily, but will be back “rsn

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Want Help with that New Years Resolution? Take a Free* Certification Test


    Update – Sorry folks. All these vouchers are gone. I’ll post again if I can get any more.

    First, Happy New Year to all!Community, Certification, News, Static News, Database Editorial, Smart Client Editorial, Web Development Editorial

    Anyone who's followed this blog for any length of time knows I'm keen on the Certification Exams from Microsoft, but don't just take my word for it. Apparently:

    • 55% of hiring managers consider employee certification as a criterion for hiring1
    • 46% of hiring managers consider employee certification as a criterion for promotion1
    • 63% of hiring managers feel that certified individuals are more productive than their counterparts2
    • 40% of individuals reported that Microsoft certification was a factor in improving their ability to find ad keep a job or led to a promotion2
    • 43% of individuals reported salary increases as a result of Microsoft certification3
    • 53% of individuals believe that obtaining a certification makes them more marketable4
    • 14.3% of statistics are made up5

    If you've been hanging out, umming and ahing, wondering whether you should pony up your $ and see if you've got the goods, then wait no longer! I have 15 vouchers each for 1 free exam. All you have to do is contact me via this blog with your name and postal address and ask me for a voucher*.

    All I ask in return is that you do actually commit to doing an exam (note that it must be before 30 April 2009). If you'd like to report back on the results you're welcome to do so by leaving a comment here afterwards and/or sharing your MCP transcript.

    * Offer available to 1st 15 applicants. Must be resident in Australia. Vouchers valid until 30 April 2009
    1 2006 IDC Study
    2 2006 MCP Customer Satisfaction Survey
    3 Redmond Magazine 2006 survey of compensation for IT professionals
    4 2008 Intrepid Survey
    5 2009 random finger in the wind

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Starting the conversation at Tech.Ed



    The three themes of Tech.Ed this year are Learn, Explore and Connect. For me, at least, much of the value of attending a technical conference is to get to meet and interact with like-minded geeks and subject matter experts. I was having a chat with Dr Neil this afternoon and we were chucking around ideas to make this connect thing a reality. Neil had a suggestion that I've really taken to and I'd like some feedback from you folks too. What if we were to make the first session after the keynote on Wednesday a panel discussion and "track kick-off" (one for each track). We'd have most of the speakers from that track on the podium and a moderator. The agenda would look something like this:

    10 min: Introduction from the track owner - what's this track about, what will we cover, where are there cross-over sessions with other tracks etc.
    20 min: 2 minutes (max) from each speaker on what they're presenting on, what else they're passionate about, why you should come to their session(s) and where they'll be hanging out during Tech.Ed
    30 min: Moderated discussion with the panel and audience on a topic/topics relevant to the track

    Of course, this wouldn't be the only opportunity to initiate and continue the conversation. There'll be a discussion board on CommNet, a connect tool to help you to find those like-minded geeks, lounges in the expo hall, round tables for meals, an Ask the Experts evening, speaker 1:1s and lots more.

    What do you think?

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    TechEd 2007 Thinking Part 1


    TechEd 2007 is happening in Australia (on the Gold Coast) August 8-10 and in New Zealand (in Auckland) August 13-15. As Chuck said some weeks ago, I'm the guy on point for content in Australia and have been thinking about content and delivery for the last few weeks. Here are some initial thoughts about which comments are sought, but please note that there's a good chance that 0 or more of these will end up on the cutting room floor.

    My Vision

    TechEd Spans a Year

    TechEd becomes an event that spans not just the 3 days of sessions, but an entire year. This means building up the community as people register (and perhaps allows non-attendees some level of access, maybe even at a free and a subscription level), and providing resources well after the event. It could incorporate something along the lines of New Zealand's TechEd Live, but also include a wiki for each session, recordings, presentations, contact with speakers/attendees, podcasts from before, during and after the event etc.

    Question: Would you use TechEd resources outside the event itself?


    TechEd means different things to different people. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it means something different to every person involved (not just each delegate, but speakers, partners, exhibitors, marketing folk and so on). One way to make it accessible and successful for all of these folk is through tagging. Every session, hands-on-lab, certification, partner exhibit, cabana session, showcase, party, after-hours event, promotion, etc has many tags. The more tags the more value there is. But that's not all. Every member of the TechEd community (attendee or not) tags themselves as well. This means that finding things at TechEd is possible from all sorts of angles. Want a hands-on-lab that covers a session you just saw? No problem, the tag cloud will allow you to click through to the other resources that share the tag. Want to find a partner that can help you implement something you just tried out in a hands-on-lab. Again, no problem, the tag cloud will make that a cinch. Want to find someone else who's implemented the thing you need to talk to the partner about so you can get a second opinion on that technique? Again, no worries. I think that this is the single most useful thing we can do at TechEd (as long as we can come up with an interface to make it easy to navigate).

    Question: What kind of tags would you find useful?

    Shorter Sessions

    Sessions are just one of the deliverables that we'll be concentrating on (see also hands-on-labs, certification, expo hall, party, ask the experts, speaker 1:1s and more), but they are the place where I am looking at the most radical change. I'm mooting the reduction of session duration from 75 minutes down to 35 minutes. This has some advantages and some disadvantages. I'd be very keen to hear your comments:


    • Logistics is harder - instead of 180 sessions, we could, potentially, have 360 sessions making planning and scheduling a lot harder from an event organisation point of view. Would it also make it harder for attendees? Potentially.
    • Moving between sessions is harder as there is necessarily less of a break (otherwise we lose too much time in breaks)
    • We either need more speakers, or speakers present more sessions on average. Although the total amount of time presenting is the same, it's probably more work to prepare four 35 minute sessions than it is to prepare two. 75 minute sessions.
    • Re-using US TechEd content is harder - those sessions are still going to be 75 minutes, so speakers who have already prepared that content for delivery in Orlando will have to either rework their session or deliver their US session as two sessions back-to-back.


    • This comes closer to the length/aim of the developer cabana sessions we had so much great feedback on in Sydney in 2006.
    • There's more choice. Instead of just 5 or 6 sessions possible in the day, an attendee can go to up to 12, or perhaps just go to 8 and have 4 more slots for Hands On Labs, networking, certification, expo hall or whatever.
    • If you do happen to go to a session that you don't find as interesting as you thought, you haven't lost as much time.
    • There's an opportunity for local speakers to talk in detail about a specific topic they're expert in without having to prepare a whole hour of content
    • We can be a little more flexible in session type. One great suggestion I've had is to have a formal session followed immediately by a session of open Q&A on that topic.

    Question: How does this strike you? What kind of sessions would you like to see?

    Everyone and Everything has a Site

    What if everything that happened at TechEd had a site? What if everyone at TechEd had a site too? The possibilities using MOSS2007 are pretty impressive. Every person has a MySite and every session/HOL/party/other thing at TechEd has a Team Site. This automatically enables some really interesting capabilities.

    • Subscribe to alerts about a session (changes to location, times etc)
    • Calendars for individuals, tracks and overall that appear in your outlook
    • A blog, a wiki and a discussion forum for each session
    • People finder capabilities, including anonymous broking of introductions based on tags
    • A repository for each attendee allowing sharing of materials
    • A repository for each session allowing  upload and indexing of a wide variety of resources including external links. Want to find an external website (maybe a blog) that Angus was talking about in one of the SharePoint sessions? No problem, he's included it as a resource on that session's Team Site and the content's all been indexed. Search will find it for you.

    This also means that my vision of TechEd spanning a year becomes even more viable as the content owner for a particular session is the person who cares about it the most.

    Angus and I had a brainstorming session the other day about what the architecture of the MOSS implementation might look like. This is what we came up with (don't forget that there's a reasonable chance that none of this will end up happening):

    TechEd MOSS2007 Thinking

    Question: Would such infrastructure be useful?

    Comments, suggestions, reactions?

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    More Developer Goodness at TechEd Australia


    [updated - Added a link to Eric's Impact Analysis blog post from his Cabana Session]

    Back in May, I asked, "What would make you come to TechEd?" both here on my blog and on the AUS-DOTNET list. I got a number of responses. These can be summarised as follows:

    • Make it cheaper
    • Give us access to the speakers
    • Let us play with the bits
    • Give us more/better swag
    • Give us more content
    • Make the content deeper
    • Make the content less deep

    We've been working hard on this list and while it doesn't address the cost, I hope you agree that this is a pretty good result:


    Also known as the Developer Expo Area, this will be the place to hang out while you're at TechEd. All of the speakers will be here while they are not in sessions (we've threatened to turn on the sprinklers in the speaker room). There'll be power and connectivity - both wired and wireless.

    Dave Lemphers has rebuilt, boxed up and shipped some awesome infrastructure from the Dev'Garten project in Melbourne. So in Dave's words:

    So make sure you drop by the Dev’Garten area when you’re at TechEd and say hi. We’ll have some great giveaways, lots of cool kit, and best of all, a full blown, production grade, completely distributed Team Foundation Server environment for punters to play with!

    That's right! Delegates will have the chance to use VSTS and TFS in a production-quality environment. Play with bits, create projects, do some reporting, collaborate, or simply check out what TFS and VSTS together have to offer. We'll have 10 client machines available and kitted out with all the latest bits, or you can use your own box to work in the Dev'Garten.

    Which brings me to the next point:

    Smith Family Project

    When we were looking for ways to make it easier for delegates to explore the platform that is TFS, we had a couple of ideas - coding competitions and such-like came to mind, but the problem with these things is that they only really last for the duration of the competition. The tag line on my blog is "It's all about community", something I really believe. Well, here's an opportunity to both be part of that developer community and to contribute to the community at large. As part of TechEd, we (the delegates) are going to build a system for the Smith Family to use to automate the currently manual process they use for collecting information at the Unlimited Potential Centres they run.

    Mitch Denny and Joe Sango will be running the project for us at TechEd and Mitch has already blogged about how to sign up and get involved.

    Ask the Experts

    This is the formal time for interaction with the "experts". We'll have a panel discussion for an hour or so followed by a break-out where all the speakers (and other experts) will be available for 1:1 or 1:few discussions in and around the developer expo area.

    Additional Cabana Sessions

    You asked for it! 22 pithy, 20-minute sessions on all sorts of developer-related topics, delivered by experts in their field. You can sign up for these on CommNet and come along in the breaks between the "real" sessions to get the good oil on some great topics.

    Date Time Title Speaker
    23/08/2006 11:20 Visual Studio Team System - Impact Analysis Eric Lee/David Lemphers
    23/08/2006 13:10 Team Foundation Server Tips - powertoys and offline support Eric Lee
    23/08/2006 13:35 Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals - Schema Comparison Michael Leworthy
    23/08/2006 15:20 Visual Studio Team System - Goal-based load testing Eric Lee
    24/08/2006 11:20 Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals - Source Code Management Michael Leworthy
    24/08/2006 13:10 Why native code matters Jason McConnell/Nick Wienholt
    24/08/2006 13:35 XBAP Apps with Vista Joseph Cooney
    24/08/2006 15:20 Migrating Visual Source Safe to Team Foundation Server Eric Lee/Michael Leworthy
    25/08/2006 11:20 BLINQ Jason McConnell
    25/08/2006 13:10 Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals - Data Generation Greg Low
    25/08/2006 13:35 Visual Studio Team System - Using the data warehouse Eric Lee
    23/08/2006 11:20 SQL Server 2005 Encryption Architecture Mark Morton - DDLS MCT
    23/08/2006 13:10 Building the TechEd Session Picker Part 1 Bill McCarthy and Paul Stovell
    23/08/2006 13:35 Building the TechEd Session Picker Part 2 Paul Stovell and Bill McCarthy
    23/08/2006 15:20 WPF Data Templates Joseph Cooney
    24/08/2006 11:20 TBA Object Consulting
    24/08/2006 13:10 Earning more per hour as a developer I Steve Herzberg and Adam Cogan
    24/08/2006 13:35 Earning more per hour as a developer II Adam Cogan and Steve Herzberg
    24/08/2006 15:20 Integrating Compuware with VSTS Sean Salisbury (Compuware)
    25/08/2006 11:20 Visual Studio Team System - Awesome Add-ins Michael Leworthy/Adam Cogan
    25/08/2006 13:10 Enhancing SQL Server Management Tony Finnemore (SQL Tools)
    25/08/2006 13:35 How Readify deployed Team Foundation Server in the cloud Mitch Denny (Readify)

    Hands On Labs

     There are so many great labs to do this year, I don't know where to start. Have a look at the selection and fill your boots. The labs will be proctored by MS people, MCTs and MVPs, so there's always someone there to keep you in the learning groove.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    WPF in a box(s)



    We’ve got some sensational WPF training kits just in. There’s some great content in these 2-disk sets and we’re looking to get them out widely.

    Disk 1 is an install of all of the VS2008 express editions.

    Disk 2 is where the real goodness is. It installs WPF Reactor (about which, more in a later post), pre-configured with the WPF-in-a-Box content

    In-a-box in WPF Reactor


    • WPF Whitepapers
    • Instructional Videos
    • Hands-On-Labs
    • A reference application (with all the source)
    • the WPF Toolkit
    • Links and resources

    And, when I say some, I mean LOTS.

    In-a-box in boxes

    If you can think of more good ways to distribute them and get their content widely used, then let me know.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    New Machine Checklist


    I'm doing a (long overdue) rebuild of my Toshiba M200 to get rid of any Beta1/Beta2/CTP/RC gremlins.

    Here's the process I use, as well as the checklist of things to install (in no particular order)

    0. Backup the data that live on my HDD and are not replicated elsewhere. I use folder redirection for my My Documents folder, so all that lives on a server somewhere that's backed up, volume shadow copied and generally made available offline. I use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard and also do an xCopy of my working folders to an external HD

    1. Install the base OS from the media or the network (in this case it's from my VISTA CD burnt from the internal share)

    2. Install Patches, SPs and Hotfixes (Microsoft Update is your friend)

    3. Install Anti-virus

    4. Join the Domain

    5. Install all the Apps

    Application Installed From
    Wireless Certs Internal Share
    ISA 2004 Client Internal Share
    Office 2003 Internal Share
    Office 2003 SP MSDN DVD
    Office Hot Fixes Office Update
    Plus! Super Pack Internal Share
    VFP 9.0 MSDN DVD/Internal Share
    Acrobat Reader
    VS2005 (Team Suite) MSDN DVD/Internal Share
    SQL2005 (Developer Edition) MSDN DVD/Internal Share
    HeadTrax Internal Share
    Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK for Pocket PC
    Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK for Smartphone
    MS Smart Card Utilities Internal Share
    Tablet PC Platform SDK
    Virtual PC 2004 SP1 Internal Share
    Virtual Server 2005 Internal Share
    RichCopy Internal Share
    MS Anti Spyware
    E-Learning Offline Player
    MSN 7.5
    Refactor! DevX
    iBurst Drivers CD
    Experience Pack for Tablet PC
    Streets and Trips 2006 Internal Share
    MS Timezone
    Voice Command Internal Share
    Nero CD
    Power Toys for Tablet
    Power Toys for XP
    SOTI Internal Share
    WinZip Internal Share
    ActiveSync 4.0
    Mobile Developer Power Toys
    MapPoint WebService SDK
    Pocket PC Powertoys
    MSN Toolbar
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    71-528 Second Study Group Chat Session Transcript Posted


    We got "together" again last night for our second study group session. Once again, I've posted the transcript. This is also linked from our Skills Being Measured page.

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