Just when I thought that MSDN was a big pile of out of date information, confusing search returns, it morphs into a better place then I was thinking it about.  Or it might be that I h ve been listening to closely to the students who make up most of my customers. 

After all, Steve Jobs pointed out that you shouldn’t listen to the customer in his book, and at Microsoft our philosophy IS TO listen carefully to the customer.  So who is right?  I am going long term with the customer, but in the short term, I have to push back a little on the students and point out  that they need to get better at retrieving and utilizing unstructured information on how to get things done in software.  (Thanks Brian K. for the feedback!)

Tools like MSDN is not the same as using a book or structured learning guided by a professor or teacher, you have to retrieve that information and organize it so that you can use it in the future.  This is the purpose of blogs, and Jerry Nixon ( http://blog.jerrynixon.com/ ), Randy Guthrie’s ( http://blogs.msdn.com/mis_laboratory ) are both good examples of well written blogs that organize information.

So with the Imagine Cup, I have needed a concise process for the students who are participating in the contest to figure out how things work, many of the students are not great about retrieving unstructured information off the of the web and in Sept. 2011 it appears that MSDN has put together a very concise list of “How-Tos” that can be found at:

  • Code Samples (I tested one and it worked, haven’t tested the others, so you are on your own):

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff431744(v=VS.92).aspx

  • How To’s (Tested one, again, on your own):

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg278408(v=VS.92).aspx

So if you are doing the Imagine Cup or just getting started with Windows Phone 7 development, these are good links to review.