Over the last six months or so I've ended up becoming the community business owner for the MSDN Forums. What does that mean exactly? Well it's hard to say. Basically I stand in between Microsoft and all of our community members on the forums to represent both sides.
Internally it's my job to make sure that the team responsible for making and supporting the forums has the voice of the MSDN customer. I also go around to teams at Microsoft and talk to them about how they can improve their forums, whether it's spending more time on them, or changing the way they interact with people on them.
Externally, it's my job to help establish moderator guidelines, and work with the moderators when issues need to be resolved (they can tell you whether I'm any good at that last part).
One of the issues that I've heard from a lot of different sources is the need for a tool that would let people read the forums offline, and compose responses when they don't have an Internet connection.
Several projects like this have been attempted before, each meeting with varied amounts of success. We're going to add another one to the list.
This time around we've got a couple things going for us to enable our success on this project.
First, the forums team is supportive of the project. We've talked with them about it, and we're keeping close ties to make sure they know what we're doing and so we can get help if we need it.
Second, since the team has just released a new platform (check it out here) they're really focused on making it a success. To the point that providing an API that we can work with has been a high priority. The API isn't publicly accessible quite yet, but it should be soon.
We've started up a project on CodePlex where we'll be doing all of our work. So far the scope document is published, so feel free to head over and give us some feedback on it.
The first question we need to answer is whether to build a standalone app or a plugin for something else. I'd love any suggestions you have. Especially since this tool is all for you my loyal readers! If we don't build the right tool then we haven't done our job.
As we go along there will be plenty more opportunities to provide input on the design and requirements, as well as helping us actually build it if you're that way inclined!
I'm really excited about this project, so I hope we can make it rock. With your help as always.