If you don’t know him already, Mike’s a Developer Evangelist and has been on the Microsoft DPE team for a little over 8 years. He must really love his job!
What’s your area of focus - and why?
I work with web technologies – essentially the Microsoft web stack, so IIS, ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC (Model View Controller), Ajax and of course Silverlight. Basically, anything you would use to run a web application. I guess I gravitated to the web partly because there was a gap in the team expertise. In a small team you all have to muck in to cover the different areas; I’ve also covered Office development and Smart Client development in my time, so when the need was to have someone dedicated to web technology I was the man to fill that role!
What are the key pain points you see in this field?
It’s quite difficult to generalise when there are so many factors involved – there are very broad types of applications of differing scale and richness and varying target audiences. There’s definitely a clear push towards rich applications with more AJAX and of course RIAs (Rich Internet Applications); that’s where Silverlight fits in. There are always the day to day considerations like performance, scaling, stickiness, maximising traffic through SEO etc, trying to make the site capture people’s attention and ensuring there’s rich content. Designers and developers are always looking for better and easier ways to do those things and it’s my job to help them find ways to do that. A great weapon in our arsenal is ASP.NET MVC – it’s an alternative for people who are put off by traditional ASP.NET Web Forms and want a different approach that’s closer to http and html (an over-simplified description). ASP.NET Web Forms has a massive following but some developers just don’t like the way it abstracts you from what’s going on “under the convers”. We listened and created ASP.NET MVC based on a well-established pattern
Tell me about the most exciting/fun project you’ve worked on and why it was so cool.
The big events are always exciting, we don’t do as much as we used to but speaking at events like Re - MIX and meeting the developers in person is always great. Before I joined Microsoft I worked for a company that makes payment systems for casinos. I spent a lot of time shut in a secure room trying to create $100 bills and fool the machine that they were real, in order to test the system. That was fun!
Who’s your hero and why?
I’m not really the kind of person to hero worship anyone but my parents both come pretty close to the mark. My Dad risked (actually lost) his life to save someone else, and I hope I’d have the same strength of character if faced with a similar situation. My Mum then had to bring up 3 kids on her own, which in itself is heroic. Having just had our first child, I’m just beginning to appreciate what a tough job she had (and she had a “career job” as well).
What do you do for fun (outside work)?
Yeah I do have some fun in work too! There’s a few things we used to do that we’ve had to put on hold for now as we’ve recently had a baby, so it’s all about her at the moment! The only thing I get the time for now is DIY – I planted a hedge in the garden last weekend, which was an achievement in itself but not sure it really counts as fun… my main passion is cars, particularly classic cars, so I suppose you’d call me a petrol head. I’ve been lucky enough to own a couple of Porsches in the past but would really like to own a Porsche 914. If money was no object I’d have to go for a Lamborghini Countach – pretty much what every boy had on his wall growing up.