October 2012

Volume 27 Number 10

Editor's Note - Cutting Edge

By Michael Desmond | October 2012

Michael DesmondDino Esposito has been at this job for a long time.

In fact, it was 1996 when the future Cutting Edge columnist began appearing in the pages of Microsoft Internet Developer (MIND) magazine, which in 2000 merged with Microsoft Systems Journal (MSJ) to become MSDN Magazine. As Esposito tells it, he contacted then-editor Josh Trupin at MIND about an article that had impressed him. During the course of the conversation, Esposito dropped the hint that he was anxious to write for the magazine.

“Josh swallowed the bait right away, and I then wrote my first article: ‘Using CryptoAPI in MFC Applications.’ It was a blast and I was asked to write a couple more,” Esposito recalls.

More like a couple hundred more. After writing a number of features for MIND, Esposito wrote his first Cutting Edge column in January 1998 and never looked back. His contributions to the magazine continue in an unbroken string that spans Microsoft’s remarkable Internet turnaround, the rise of the Microsoft .NET Framework and, most recently, the arrival of Windows 8 and the Windows Runtime. I don’t have access to back issues of MIND, but I’m guessing Esposito has penned more than 150 Cutting Edge columns over the years.

“As the name suggests, the mission of the column was to show creative ways of doing things using both existing technologies and new technologies,” Esposito says.

Esposito got his start working on the Microsoft platform—­Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups, specifically. “I’ve always been Microsoft-centric,” Esposito says. “Not necessarily by choice; it just went that way. I liked it so much that I dedicated the lion’s share of my time to write about Microsoft technologies. That was around the time the .NET Framework was released in the early 2000s.”

The emergence of mobile development broadened Esposito’s perspective. “I spent the past couple of years studying and working around a variety of different mobile projects,” he explains, calling mobile “a key paradigm shift.”

Fittingly, Esposito’s column this month is the fourth in a five-part series on mobile site development. The current installment explores how to classify mobile devices to build Web sites that serve different markup to devices based on their specific capabilities. In October, Esposito will finish off the series with a look at the HTML5-based jQuery Mobile UI system for mobile device platforms.

When I ask Esposito if there was a particularly memorable column that stood out to him over the years, he notes that his body of work in ASP.NET DataGrids made him something of an Internet celebrity.

“Someone, at some point, called me the ‘DataGrid Whisperer,’ after the movie ‘The Horse Whisperer.’ It was common for me to receive e-mails from readers asking more and more,” Esposito recalls. “I believe the best article in this regard was the one showing how to reorder, via drag-and-drop, columns of a DataGrid and make the new order persistent.”

It’s been 16 years and counting, and Esposito has come a long way from his days as the DataGrid Whisperer.

“Today I’m no longer the guy who spends the night downloading the latest bits and nightly builds. I only install RTM software and I’m only now, for example, looking into Windows 8. At the same time, the lesson I think I’ve learned is: Be able to know where you can find the tools that can help you do your job, and don’t use tools you don’t really need,” he says.

“This probably makes me much less geeky, but probably wiser,” Esposito says. “Who knows?”

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.