Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
I’ve been chatting with a friend in the XNA Framework group about what is coming in his team. XNA allows programmers using managed code to write games that play on both a Windows PC and an XBOX 360. I’ve pretty much decided that I need to get an XBOX 360 soon. At the very least I’ll want to have an XBOX 360 controller to start game development once the beta bits become available.
And then there is LINQ. LINQ is a set of extensions to the .NET Framework that supports query, set and transform operations right into the languages. It’s going to change the way people, well programmers anyway, deal with data.
I’ve been looking at Windows Vista and the next version of Office as well. There are some exciting things coming down the line on those products. Some of the features in Windows Vista are going to greatly expand the options for developers of all kinds.
It’s kind of funny really. I hear a lot of talk about software note being interesting and/or exciting any more. I’ve been writing software for over 35 years now and I’d have to say that from where I sit there has never been more exciting things going on in software.
Maybe I’m just too much of a geek but I don’t think so. I’ve seen a lot of things come up that were touted as new but that were actually around years ago (think garbage collection for example) but a lot of the stuff I am seeing today really is new. I don’t know how to communicate this enthusiasm to people but trust me I am feeling it. I have never been as excited to be in software as I am today. And that includes the time someone first asked me if they could use a program I’d written. That is saying something to because that was a big moment for me.
A couple friends of mine are working on something called XNA that will let people write programs (like games) once for multiple devices including PCs, mobile devices and the XBOX 360. One of them sent me this link to some images of what this is going to mean for game developers. This is programming in C# but Visual Basic .NET will work too! This is awesome. What I like to think could happen is that more courses might be developed that allow programming students to work with art students to create really great games. In this case, to me, great means there is a lot of learning going on for both the artistic and the programming students.
More of this development as it becomes available. I'm hoping to be involved in getting some of this into the hands of students and teachers over time.
John Montgomery blogs about his "non-professional team." His team is the one that works very hard, and I must say very professionally, to look after non-professional developers. There are a lot of programmers who either program for the fun of it or they are learning to program and not yet ready to write code professionally. John's team works to make sure those people have tools to meet their needs.
I've written code professionally so I appreciate professional grade tools. But I have always written code for the fun of it. While I want a solid reliable tool for that fun coding I don't really want nor need everything in Visual Studio Team System to do it. John talks about the different needs and motivations of different types of non-professional developers in this blog entry. I think many people will find it interesting.
I've known that there was a lot of interest in this area among people at Microsoft for a while now. But John is a very important person and to have him express it this publicly is a good thing. For students, for teachers, for people who program as a hobby (which includes a lot of students and teachers) this should let you know that there are some really smart people who want to help you become successful. You are not being lost while everyone just worries about the professional developer in the large programming organization.
A big part of non-professional development is making programming accessible to more people. It is something we really think about. After all at Microsoft a lot of us think that programming is fun and we want to make it fun for others.