Helpful Visual Studio resources


    Whether you are just learning Visual Studio because you are building a phone app, or you have been using it for a few years, here are some of my favourite and most requested links for Visual Studio resources.

    I taught developer courses for a number of years, and there were certain questions and requests that came up on a regular basis. In this post, I’ve compiled some of the most common requests I received from my students and listed the resources I shared.

    Bing and Google are great if you are trying to find the syntax for a specific method, or a code example for a particular API. What can be harder is finding more general help and tips.

    I hope these resources will help both new and experienced users of Visual Studio to help you get started or get more out of the tool you already have.

    What edition should I buy?

    I always have trouble finding this when I want it so here is the Visual Studio 2010 Comparison

    What can I get for free?

    Hey you are a student, you can get all kinds of stuff for free at Dreamspark! But when you graduate, or if you are talking to someone who is not at school, we have some free stuff for them as well

    How can Visual Studio help with testing or aspects other than coding?

    We often think of Visual Studio as just a tool to help us code, but it can help with the whole application lifecycle. There are some good intros to using Visual Studio as an ALM tool here. Interesting to explore for courses about the whole project lifecycle, and something you may encounter on summer jobs.

    Microsoft Test Manager was added to Visual Studio and helps track test plans, test cases and more on your project. Learn more about how to get started with Test Manager here. Often at school we focus on unit testing, but there is a lot more than unit testing required to release software into production. Tracking which tests have been executed and what requirements they met is a big challenge on big projects so these types of tools really help.

    I’ve been working with Visual Studio for a while, how do I find those “hidden” features?

    Are there labs somewhere I can launch to try out the tool and features?

    • We have some Visual Studio 2010 labs you can launch online at Techdays Canada
    • The Visual Studio team has also made a Virtual Machine and a series of Visual Studio 11 labs you can download and try.

    Where can I learn C#? VB .NET? F#?

    I want to get certified on Web? Windows? Where do I start?

    Check out this blog series that covers how to figure out what certification to take, the exams required, and some tips on how to prepare for the exam itself.

    Looking for anything else, I suggest you check out...

    MSDN Learning Visual Studio – helpful resources to help beginners and seasoned professionals build their skills.

    Microsoft Learning Training Catalog – helps you find both online and in person training resources

    Do you have any great resources or tips to share? Join us on the GoDevMental Facebook page and share it with other students!

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Windows 8–Start Coding!


    windows8campWindows 8 Consumer Preview is now available, and you can start building apps for Windows 8 now so they are ready to go when Windows 8 is launched. We are having camps to help you learn how.

    It’s time to register for camp, no tents required! I’m talking about a Windows 8 coding camp. It’s time to start building apps on Windows 8! Your first chance to get some in person training on apps in Canada is here! If you are in Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver check out the Windows 8 camps. Free, two day events where developers and designers can discover hands on how to build a Metro style app for Windows 8.

    The Windows 8 Camp is a free, two-day event where developers and designers will discover HANDS-ON how to build their first Metro Style App for Windows 8 and the next steps to get those apps into the Windows Store.

    Register today!


    April 3 & 4, 2012

    Fairmont Pacific Rim – Star Sapphire Ballroom


    April 10 & 11, 2012   

    Le Centre Sheraton Montréal – Salon ABC


    April 16 & 17, 2012

    Le Meridien King Edward – Sovereign Ballroom

    If you want to get started now here are a few resources to get you started

    What will you build?

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    Things to Remember for Making a "Good" App


    Take a look at our MSP Shreyans Dhaddha’s advice when making a good app. Make sure you don’t fall in the ever increasing scope pitfall.

    Most developers have a question on how to create a good app so that people will find it worth purchasing. It takes a serious amount of analyzing before even creating the app. There are always some rules that you need to follow in order to create something "Good".

    Before even developing the first concern should be on the value of the product. And no I don't mean value by price. By value in this case I mean, is there even a market out there for the app that you are creating. Is there any previously created app already on the app marketplace. What can I do better from an already published app? You need to answers all these questions to define the value of your application.

    The second thought of the developer should be regarding the app's focus itself? Who will the application focus as their major consumer. Will it target a person who is always on the run or a person who just wants to keep a daily log and so on... Using this idea you can break down and target the exact end user to improve the user experience even more and increase the value of your application.

    Most startup developers run into a problem that haunts them during their development phase which is Scope Creep. In simple terms scope creep usually means when a developer keeps adding requirements which makes the project's scope grow continuously. This is one of the main reasons for new developers that their projects don't get completed on time. In order to avoid this situation, design how the application will flow between screens and define the logic in a simple flowchart before implementing it. This rough design technique before the actual implementation would keep you more focused on the current goal. See the sample below for how to create a rough screen design.The third and last topic is creating the user interface.

    clip_image002clip_image006clip_image004As we all know that the heart of an application is the functionality it provides. Even thou the functionality is a crucial part of an app, the user interface may have a big role to play as well. If the user interface is acceptable then your users will switch to another application that does the same thing but better looking. There should be an equal tradeoff between the functionality and the design of the application. Some things to remember when creating a user interface is to create a consistent flow for the app. There should be a very small learning curve to the application. Things should be very easily be accessible. Keeping the layouts consistent between each other. Once these targets are met, you will know for certain that you are making a "good" app.

    Shreyans Dhaddha
    Microsoft Student Partner at Algonquin College

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Top 3 Successful Presentation Tricks


    Quick tips on how to have a successful presentation.

    There are many do's and don'ts that make a presentation "AWESOME". But I will share with you my three top presentation tricks to give a powerful presentation.

    Prepare, Prepare, Prepare:

    Prepare the slides till you have memorized them by heart. Prepare it with your colleagues, friends, family or even your pets. Some people don't know that most of the valuable presenting time is lost between switching slides and remembering what comes next. So if you want to give a solid presentation PREPARE.

    Show your confidence level:

    There is a trick to showing confidence levels when presenting. If you are speaking in front of a huge audience only share information that you know. People in the audience always tend to ask you questions based on what you tell them. That is why the first trick is the most important one. Also to make it a great presentation avoid using adverbs like maybe, possibly, perhaps, can be, and so on.... These words define the judgment level of a person. Therefore, if a question is being asked, assert in a direct answer.

    Start and End:

    The last trick that can seal the "AWESOME PRESENTATION" title is by starting and ending the presentation strong. The most attention span of people is at the start and at the end. Make sure every word during this sections is spoken clearly and loudly to show a high confidence level.

    Shreyans Dhaddha 
    Microsoft Student Partner at Algonquin College

  • Go DevMENTAL

    I’ll have some Cloud with a coffee please!


    So what is that cloud thing? 42Spikes has this great picture of it:

    This is a metal container filled with interconnected servers and cooling systems. Not very puffy, I should say.

    Now that we know what it looks like, we can learn why we should use it.

    If you’ve had a chance to watch the D³: LIVE & INTERACTiVE special with Paula Rainford, Current IT Market Conditions and Hiring Trends in 2012, you'd know that the need for developers with Cloud Computing knowledge and skills is increasing. So for the student, this means new graduate + Windows Azure skills = improved changes in the job market. Windows Azure skills and knowledge are being sought after by companies of all sizes. When you have a chance, take a look at these videos that teach you all about Windows Azure and what you can do with it. If you prefer to learn in-person with an instructor, look for a Windows Azure Camp in a city near you.

    So why bother learning it right now? Aside from a brighter future, Microsoft Cloud Evangelist Jonathan Rozenblit has a Tim Horton's gift card for you to reward yourself for learning something new. A student will never say no to something free, right?!?! How do you get your hands on the rewards? Simple. Jonathan has a very easy 4 step tutorial that will get you those Canadian drinks in no time. He even gives you a finished sample that you can deploy right away and learn the code later! Just make sure you follow his instructions, learn and have some coffee with that cloud.


    Offer good only in Canada and is available to the first 200 individuals, including residents of Quebec, who complete the hands-on lab, are verified by the Microsoft Canada Team, and have received a verification email from cdnazure@microsoft.com. Limit one gift per person. The gift is a $10 Tim Horton's gift card. The offer is non-transferable and cannot be combined with any other offer. Due to government gift and ethics laws, government employees are not eligible to participate. This offer is valid until all 200 gifts have been awarded. Any gift returned as non-deliverable will not be re-sent. Please allow up to 3 weeks for verification and 6-8 weeks for delivery of your gift which will be provided to you via mail. We reserve the right to substitute a gift of equal or greater value

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