What would I be learning if I were a developer today looking for work? Not to pat myself on the back, but that is a great question. For starters, let's talk about the client side of the equation. To me, the most obvious skill to get is Silverlight. Given the trend toward browser-based computing, Silverlight offers a compelling story, and more importantly, a good employment outlook. The adoption of Silverlight is strong, yet the number of developers ready to deliver code is not quite there.

The Client
While we are talking about the client, HTML-based Web coders might enjoy the MVC Framework, which gives developers more control than traditional ASP.NET architectures.

Touch - the Obvious Future
Touch computing is here, with Windows 7 supporting multi-touch, providing support like rotating and zooming. Many of you who have done Windows Forms (WinForms) development can add powerful touch support, especially useful for kiosks. This is much easier to do than you expect. Just make a reference to an assembly and paste in some boilerplate code, and you are off and running. Please e-mail me if you think that ignoring the mouse and touching the screen is not the future. Yes, the mouse will still exist, but the writing is on the wall that touch is here to stay.

You can be sure Apple is thinking about this as well as the open-source community. I'm proud to announce that Microsoft is currently offering this innovation right now. Fine, the iPhone offers touch, but so do most phone offerings.

Promising Server-Side Technologies
On the server side there are some easy picks that everyone should know. For example, WCF is huge and offers the solution to many of the problems that developers need to solve. Why re-invent the wheel if you have threading or security challenges? And if you are doing transaction-oriented database programming, WCF offers a robust solution. WCF can shave months off debugging, testing, and maintenance - it does the grunt work for you. Other server-side technologies include ADO.NET Data Services, a derivative work from WCF that can expose your data "RESTfully" and make it easy for clients to get at data without relying on the SOAP protocol. Don't worry, SOAP is alive and Silverlight RIA Services has provided us with a "Silverlight-Enabled WCF Service," which simply means it uses binary data to speed up the flow of data between Web server and client.

More Server-Side
Of course it makes sense to learn about the ADO.NET Entity Framework, which dramatically simplifies the bridging of relational data to the objects in a typical .NET application.

So how do you learn all this great stuff?

Practical Silverlight 3
This event is very valuable and the price is deeply discounted. On October 27th, one of our partners is offering a one-day, deeply technical dive into Silverlight 3. The guys putting on this class are all about programming for the enterprise and offering you very useful skills in the marketplace. This class is not about spinning cubes or dancing bears. This is about writing production business applications. If you are looking for a job or preparing to interview, this one-day class can make all the difference. See more details and register.

Juval Lowy, Microsoft Regional Director and Software Legend - October WCF Master Class
October 5 - 9, San Jose, CA
I took Juval Lowy's Master Architect class. Juval's understanding of WCF is world renowned. He's worked directly with the product teams at Microsoft. Master WCF in five intense days with, covering WCF programming, design guidelines, pitfalls, his original techniques and best practices. Read the class outline and register.