Who am I and why should anyone care?

The "why should you care?" part is much harder to answer, so I'll just start with who I am =).  I'm Brian McMaster, and I'm a Test Architect at Microsoft.  I'm currently working on "Cider."  Cider is the codename for the line of business application designer for Windows Presentation Foundation (aka Avalon) apps.  I will continue to call WPF, "Avalon," because it's a much more elegant name and easier to type =).  Avalon is an extremely cool framework, and Cider is shaping up to be an awesome designer for these types of applications.  Some of the other products I have worked on in the past are Access, Visual Basic, Visual InterDev, and Windows Forms. 

I've been working at Microsoft full-time for almost exactly 9 years (excluding a few internships that I worked while in college).  In fact, that reminds me that I need to buy a bunch of M & M's.  There's a silly tradition at Microsoft where you put x number of pounds of M&M's outside your office where x is equal to the number of years you've been working there.  At 10 years, there's another silly tradition where the company gives you 10 shares of Microsoft stock.  Of course, since the stock experts have told me that Microsoft is more of a value stock now instead of a growth stock, this means that my 10 shares will not appreciate in the way that shares have in the past.

When I first started working here, there were daily conversations about stock prices amongst the employees.  Sample applications for app-writing contests often involved writing the coolest ticker controls, or stock option vesting applications.  Back then the 10 shares might have become exceptionally valuable in short order due to splits.  10-20-40-80-160, possibly several thousand dollars worth =).  Ah, but we must not give up.  With XBox already out, and Vista coming out, and a new Office, and of course Visual Studio + Cider, we have a lot of potential.

So getting back to why you might care.  My main expertise at Microsoft has revolved around automated testing.  I've worked on various automated testing tools for technologies like HTML, Win32, Office, Windows Forms, and now Avalon.  Windows Forms has some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) differences from Win32 which makes it tricky to automate your applications.  So far, we've done a less than optimal job of helping our customers automate the testing of their Windows Forms applications.  This is something we're trying to remedy as quickly as possible with our next version of Visual Studio Team System.  In order to help explain the diferences and offer some guidance for our customers on how they might adapt their existing automated tools to Windows forms, I wrote this MSDN article.  http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms996405.aspx.  It's certainly not a great article, but it is pretty good at describing the Windows Forms technology from an automation perspective.

I have a few more blog entries in mind right now, so hopefully, I'll be able to provide some useful tips and articles in the future.