MSDN Flash: Volume 14, Number 18 - August 30, 2010
Editorial News and Notes from Developer Evangelist G. Andrew Duthie

Help Me Help You, and Flipping the (Light)Switch

This issue, I’ve got some tips on how to put your local developer evangelist to work for you! Plus, I’ll tell you why I’m excited about Visual Studio LightSwitch.

Help Me Help You!

Whether you’re an average developer, a local technology speaker (or want to be), a user group leader, or want to plan an event, if you’re working in the Mid-Atlantic as a developer, I’m here to help you. My job as a developer evangelist is to support the local developer community in a number of ways:

  • Make technology news and information available on my blog
  • Support and present at local user groups
  • Support local events like code camps
  • Participate in Microsoft-organized events like our roadshows and launch events

So what does this mean for you? How can you best take advantage of your local developer evangelist to help you succeed as a technologist? Here are some tips:

  • Subscribe to my blog. When I find out about interesting developer news, or have tips to offer, I will be posting them there, and you’ll occasionally see deeper dives on technologies, particularly web technologies, since that’s my particular focus area.
  • Follow me on Twitter. For quick updates, Twitter is hard to beat. While it lacks the depth of a blog, for rapid-fire information, it’s great.
  • Let me know if you run a developer user group, or are the organizer (or one of the organizers) of a local developer event. I can help you promote your events, and may be able to help you with resources to help your group grow. I also maintain a user group map for the Mid-Atlantic, and I’m always happy to put new groups on the map.
  • Get your events into Community Megaphone. One of the ways that I keep up with what’s going on in the community is with Community Megaphone, a site I created for promoting and discovering local developer and IT pro events. Putting your events into Community Megaphone gets them listed on the site, the RSS feed, the OData feed, in a web gadget viewed by thousands each month, and into the MSDN Flash. If you want to integrate Community Megaphone into your group’s site or workflow, we’ve got a web service API you can use, too.
  • Listen to the Community Megaphone Podcast. I co-host this podcast with Dane Morgridge, and every two weeks or so, we have a new guest from the developer community, someone you may get to see at a local user group or code camp. Take a listen and find out what these folks are all about, so you know what you’ll be getting when you go see them speak. 

If there’s something you need that isn’t covered above, I’m always available via email, and I will do my best to help. I may not be able to answer all questions, or fulfill every request, but if it’s in my power, I definitely want to help.

Flipping the (Light)Switch

You may have heard by now that Microsoft has announced a new technology called Visual Studio LightSwitch, aimed at bringing back the power of rapid application development (RAD) that folks enjoyed with tools such as Access and FoxPro.

LightSwitch allows you to rapidly build forms over data applications, quickly creating data tables (or connecting to existing databases) and automatically generate input, search, list, and related forms in a Silverlight framework. LightSwitch applications run as Silverlight out-of-browser applications by default, but can also be deployed over the web for flexibility. And because LightSwitch is built on top of .NET and Silverlight, once an application has been built, it can be customized by developers familiar with .NET.

Whatever your reaction to the announcement, I definitely recommend that you take the time to view the videos available on the LightSwitch landing page, and grab the beta. You can also grab the Visual Studio LightSwitch Beta 1 Training Kit, which contains demos and labs that will help you get up to speed with this new tool.

As soon as I watched the VSLive Keynote with Jason Zander, I got pretty excited. Keeping track of all the aspects of what I do at Microsoft usually involves many Excel spreadsheets, some SharePoint portals, etc, etc. I’m already prototyping an application in LightSwitch that will allow me to centralize a lot of the things I manage, simplify data entry, enable easy searching, and generally make my life a lot easier.

As you watch the videos and play with the beta, what ideas do you have for LightSwitch? Let me know!


To find out about and/or promote upcoming local developer and IT pro community events, check out Community Megaphone. Check out our podcast, too.

You can also find out about local and national developer and gadget stuff on my blog. You should also follow me on Twitter.

Want to learn more about the speakers you'll see at user groups and code camps, and up-and-coming personalities in the developer community? Check out the Community Megaphone Podcast! You can find the podcast on the web, on Zune and iTunes, and you can follow us on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook!

Interested in hosting a Code Camp or similar community event, and not sure where to start? Drop me a line and I can help you get started.

Want to share your information or make suggestions for future updates? You can contact me via my blog.

Until next time...

G. Andrew Duthie
Developer Evangelist, Mid-Atlantic States District

Andrew Duthie has been working with computers since the days of the Commodore PET, hacking game programs loaded from cassette tapes to say funny stuff, and has been writing and speaking about developer technologies for more than a decade.


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