Mike Swanson

January, 2006

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    I’m Hiring

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    So, are you interested in becoming a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft? Or do you have a friend or associate who might? If so, I currently have two open positions, and I’m looking for great candidates. Both positions focus on our next version of Visual Studio, code name “Orcas.” One provides broad tools and scenario coverage, and the other relates to our upcoming AJAX technology, code name “Atlas.”

    Although I’ve been working on an article that explains what a Technical Evangelist actually does at Microsoft, I don’t want to delay posting about these positions any longer, so the article will have to wait. In the meantime, here are some of the bullet-point attributes that make for a strong candidate:

    • Undeniable passion for technology – if I tried to remove any digital devices from your home, you’d say something like: “over my dead body!” Or, you’d pick up your light saber replica, stun gun, or Zero-Blaster and threaten me.
    • Ability to communicate with non-developers – yes, there are people out there who don’t write code (I know it’s hard to believe), and you need to be able to translate simple product features into a language that business decision makers can understand. If you find the phrase “business value” to be nauseating, this might not be the right job.
    • Enjoy public speaking – yes, you’ll find yourself in front of large audiences, industry influentials, and CxO-level executives. If you thrive in situations like this, a TE position may be right for you.
    • Out-of-the-box thinking – to help drive adoption in their areas of expertise, Technical Evangelists constantly push the envelope and define new strategies for tackling problems. There’s nothing wrong with the “tried and true,” but you understand that real innovation demands creative thinking.
    • Technical experience – TEs spend a lot of time talking to hard-core developers, internal product teams, partners, and customers. Although you don’t necessarily need to start out as an expert in the technology you’re evangelizing, you absolutely need to have technical credibility and the ability to grok concepts quickly. If you don’t have this, you risk being marginalized.
    • Persistence – no, I’m not talking about serialization or permanent storage (but extra points if those came to mind), I’m talking about your innate ability to push forward despite setbacks and frustration. Your friends probably use terms like driven and unstoppable to describe you, and in rare cases, maybe even annoying. Hopefully not too much of the last one.
    • Expert juggler – a good TE finds themselves (frankly, puts themselves) at the center of a lot of activity and needs to be able to respond and react to surprises, unexpected situations, and a torrent of electronic communication. If you’re able to slow the world down à la bullet time, you may consider this your Ninjitsu Zen. Think Cato and the Pink Panther, but with a lot more poise and grace.
    • Opinionated, yet diplomatic – you’re not afraid to share your opinion and maybe even change your opinion based on new information. Yet, you also understand that without diplomacy, your message may lose its effectiveness.

    Does this sound like you? If you’re not sure, have a close friend, relative, or associate read this post and see what they think. Or, if you think I just described someone else you know, please direct them to this post.

    But, most important of all, send me an e-mail, and convince me why you’d make the best Technical Evangelist we’ve ever seen.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    IE7 Beta 2 Preview for Windows XP

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    If you're a developer, power-user, or someone who wants to experiment with early software, you can now download the IE7 Beta 2 Preview for Windows XP. You can also take a quick tour of the new features. Here are some of the improvements and additions you'll find:

    • Includes the Windows RSS platform
    • Dynamic new security and privacy protection features
    • A significantly enhanced end user experience
    • Major platform advances for Web and application developers

    If you have questions or problems to report, you can use the microsoft.public.internetexplorer.general newsgroup, or send e-mail to IETell@microsoft.com. If you send e-mail, please include a detailed description of the problem and the steps to reproduce it.

    Last, be sure to visit the IEBlog for updates from the IE team.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    File Formats for Conversion to XAML

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    As WPF application development continues to pick up steam, it's becoming more and more important to consider which file formats make the most sense for conversion to XAML. Just based on discussions I've had with many of you regarding my Illustrator export plug-in, I know that there are other formats out there that—due to lack of tool support—are very difficult or next-to-impossible to convert to XAML.

    So, I'd like to identify a list of "top x" file formats that would help ease the pain for both WPF designers and developers. What tool does your company use to create 2D or 3D content? What file format(s) does it make the most sense to convert? If you don't have an opinion (possibly because you don't work with those tools), please forward this to your design staff. I'm very interested in feedback.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    WPF Components and Updated Lab Content

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    Phil Wright of Component Factory shares his insights about WPF and components in the article, The WPF Tidal Wave. Coincidentally, three of the component vendors he mentions are featured on our Third Party Controls for the Windows Presentation Foundation page on MSDN. Although this page was last refreshed for our September 2005 PDC, it does provide an early glimpse at some of the controls you can expect to see.

    Also, the Windows Presentation Foundation site on the Windows Vista Developer Center has just published updated hands-on lab content based on the recently-released WinFX January 2006 CTP. From the description, excercises are provided on topics including: "2D and 3D graphics, data binding, templating and styling, interop, imaging, XPS documents, custom controls, performance and XAML Browser Applications." The lab content is available in both Visual Basic .NET and C# and is a great way to get up-to-speed on WPF development.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Expression Interactive Designer January 2006 CTP Released

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    Okay. This is a big one. This morning, we released the Expression Interactive Designer January 2006 CTP (formerly known as "Sparkle"). This build runs on both the December 2005 and January 2006 CTPs of WinFX, and as a point of interest, the tool itself is written in managed code and uses WPF for its user interface (check out John Gossman's PDC talk for technical details on how Expression Interactive Designer was built). Unlike "Cider," whose primary audience is a developer working inside of Visual Studio, this is a standalone tool that is targeted primarily at designers. Of course—this being the real world—we realize that the skill set between developers and designers is a continuum, so I expect that Expression Interactive Designer will be interesting and useful to almost anyone involved in the development of WPF applications (this means you).

    Here's a list of resources that should be useful as you investigate this new release:

    I'd also like to point out a brand new version of Electric Rain's excellent ZAM 3D tool that works with Expression Interactive Designer. You can find it featured on our Partner Tools page.

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