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[Canadian MVPs] Etienne Tremblay, Microsoft MVP

[Canadian MVPs] Etienne Tremblay, Microsoft MVP

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Etienne Tremblay (MVP profile) is a senior software architect for EDS Canada with more than 15 years of experience in enterprise application development. His primary focus has been the manufacturing and mining industries and lately configuration management and development tooling. He has developed systems to monitor quality in car manufacturing, claim management systems, mine monitoring systems and route management systems using n-tier application models with many different technologies. Throughout those years he has become a subject matter expert in software development lifecycle tooling and has been one of the architects of the corporately managed Visual Studio Team System solution for EDS .NET developers. As part of this initiative, he went around the world to deliver a customized level 200 training to EDS developers. He has spoken at international developer conferences in 2005, 2006 and 2007 about Visual Studio Team System and delivered Webcasts on adopting Visual Studio Team Systems. He also represents EDS on the Microsoft Customer Advisory Council for Team System. You may wish to view his personal blog here.

1. What does being an MVP mean to you?

So, what does it mean to me to be nominated as an MVP... It means a whole lot! For the second year in a row the Team System Product Team and the MVP award program I feel I helped grow the awareness of TFS and VSTS in the community. I have gone around the world this year talking about VSTS, did conferences, participated in the GUVSM User group in Montreal and blogged about VSTS. Do I like VSTS? Do I have opinions about VSTS? The answer is a big YES! Do I think it could be better, absolutely! And that's what I hope to help bring about, by doing my best to influence the VSTS Product Team. Your comments and feedback at all those events don't fall on deaf ears, I report back a lot of what I hear from you all to the product team; so don't stop letting me know how you feel and how the product could be better, trust me they listen, they listen a lot.

It is great to be able to influence the future direction of a product that we care about, and having this opportunity is a great honor. I hope to be able to continue to interact and influence Team System's product direction for a while to come.

Interacting with the developers, hearing their problems and helping them solve them is very gratifying. As an MVP, I can do that more easily.

2. If you could ask Steve Ballmer one question about Microsoft, what would it be?

I would love to ask him what is Microsoft's next big play for the next 15 years? SaaS? Complete shift of platform to the web to better compete with Google? Still a software company or moving to a service based model?

Does he still love developers like he used to ;-)

3. What do you think the best software ever written was?

That is a tough question. There is a lot of good software, I'm hard pressed to pick just one. Best of breed software often don't play nice with other software which limits their effectiveness. I like suites that are well integrated together and also play nice with other software and platforms. VSTS is striving to achieve this which makes it a very compelling offering. Being a developer, I really like tools that make your life easier, if I have to pick one software... I think I'll go with the .NET framework 2.0. It single handedly changed the face of development for the Microsoft platform as well as the web and I'm still amazed at the breadth and depth of the platform every time I use it.

Notable best of breed (for me): MindManager (to create mind maps), Outlook (don't know what I would do without it), Visual Studio 2005 (That's where the action is), DOS (it started it all...), oh and the last software I wrote obviously ;-).

4. If you were the manager of Visual Studio, what would you change?

Probably try to get more feedback from people that use the product. I know feedback is gathered, but a field trip would be good too. Send PM to real world customer and see how they work with Visual Studio and incorporate this feedback as well.

Keep doing what they are doing about communications, let the community know about the upcoming features, put the product in our hands, let us try it. Be very open to community feedback. Listen. I've been very impressed with the level of listening the VS team has shown in the last 2-3 years, it's very refreshing for a large company like Microsoft.

So right now I wouldn't change much, they are on the right track.

5. What are the best features/improvements of Visual Studio?

Well, I'll have to preach for my choir, but I think the best feature is TFS. The introduction of a great backend platform for Configuration Management was a monumental effort on Microsoft's part and it's only the beginning. The new features coming in Orcas and Rosario are only going to make this platform better and easier to use. All the quality tools that are added to VS in the Team Editions are monumental to producing the best code that we can with the fewest defects possible so they are a clean second. I really am intrigued by the new LINQ functionality and I'm looking forward to using those in projects in the future. But the best feature of Visual Studio by far is without any doubt IntelliSense, I can't code without it anymore which means much about that feature if it renders some of our coding skills obsolete.

6. What was the last book you read?

I'm currently going through the back novels from James Rollins. Great books, similar to Dan Brown's with great adventures. I rarely read technology books now (I use the Internet to find my info) and prefer the escape of a good fiction book.

7. What music CD do you recommend?

I'm into Porcupine Tree these days, good progressive band with a sound similar to Genesis/Pink Floyd/Marillion if you like those bands.

8. What makes you a great MVP?

Being passionate about technology. If you are, people see that and they seek you out for help and opinions. The ability to explain complex technology so people can understand and get on board with it is also very important. Public speaking skills although not a pre-requisite helps a lot.

I think the best value is to be passionate about what you do no matter what it is. Also, don't be afraid of your opinion, too many people are afraid of what others will think of their opinion. We only have one life to live...

I do have a passion for technology and love to interact with people. I think that's what makes me stand out and why people seek my opinion.

9. What is in your computer bag?

Way too many things with on/off switches, laptop, 4 portable hard drives, Zune, Bluetooth GPS device, wireless mouse, books, badges... it weighs about 15 pounds and my back is killing me... maybe I should do something about that ;-).

10. What is the best thing that has happened since you have become an MVP?

Getting to meet so many very cool and interesting people and expanding my social network exponentially. Getting to travel around the world in 65 days last year (New Zealand, Argentina, England, Egypt, India, US and Canada) training EDS .NET resources on the latest technologies.

11. What is your motto?

"It's all good!"

12. Who is your hero?

Boy that's a very hard question... I think Batman... :-)

So joking aside I'm having a hard time coming up with only one... my wife for sticking with me for 21 years now. If she's not a hero, I don't know who is. My parents for raising me to be who I am and I thank them for that. My kids for keeping me grounded to the moment.

An old friend of mine that has been through many tragedies, including losing one of his legs to bone marrow cancer. He has persevered, trained and become more than I could ever dream to become to participate to the Paralympics not only once but for 4 times. He won a bronze medal in Lillehammer, Norway; a silver in Nagano, Japan; and the gold medal for Canada in Turin, Italy. He's also training to participate in Vancouver in 2010. Johnny you are my hero!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Labonte

13. What does success mean to you?

Success means nothing if you are all alone. Success means that a whole lot of other people have also achieved success or it was not worth it. Success means I am balanced in work and personal life. Success means my children get to do whatever they can dream of doing. Finally success means I have achieved what I did not think I would ever be able to achieve.

To find out more about the MVP program, or to find MVPs in your area, visit the Microsoft MVP Portal.

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