From the EditorBack to School

Joshua Hoffman

Over the past few weeks, I've been fortunate enough to receive a refresher course in what it's like to be a working IT professional. As summer comes to a close and thoughts turn toward going back to school, this certainly seems appropriate. But I must admit, it was a bit of a shock just the same.

You see, the Magazine team here at Microsoft (the group responsible for publishing both MSDN Magazine and TechNet Magazine), is in the process of reviewing and enhancing our … well … process. We finally decided that, it being 2008 and all, we needed to let go of the remaining paper layouts and colored pencil markups and go completely digital. (I know, I know—we're such innovators!) Seriously, though, it was time for us to realize some of that extra efficiency those big software companies keep touting.

While adjusting to our new digital workflow, it quickly became apparent that we were being inhibited by the tool that tracked the status of articles. It was already "digital," but it was built on some pretty antiquated technology (which we hope to be ridding our world of forever) and was supplemented by little colored boxes printed at the top of each layout. High tech, huh? So I set out to build a proof-of-concept replacement, and I figured SharePoint would be perfect.

Let me skip ahead and just say that I have a newfound respect for the SharePoint administrators among you. This isn't a knock against SharePoint—if anything, it speaks to the power and flexibility of the platform—but creating a custom workflow solution in SharePoint is really hard! (Thankfully, we have our new Inside SharePoint column to help.) Getting my hands dirty with this challenge after a few years off the front lines was a clarion call for me, though—it is time for me to head into the classroom again.

There are a number of great resources out there to help you dig back into the basics, or ramp up on something new: everything from the new "How Do I?" series of videos on TechNet (, to the screencasts we're doing in the magazine (.com/video), to TechNet Edge (, and more. But I think it's probably time to expand our "basics" coverage in TechNet Magazine itself. Not to boast, but I think we've been pretty good about providing the deep-dive technical material you've come to know and (hopefully) love. Still, I don't think it would hurt for us to re-examine the fundamentals every now and again. So enjoy what's left of your summer, because pretty soon, we're all going back to school. —Joshua Hoffman

Thanks to the following Microsoft technical experts: Nathan Bigman, Nino Bilic, Mai-lan Tomsen Bukovec, Eric Charran, Trina Gorman, Gershon Levitz, Thomas Marquardt, Mandy Maxwell, Michael Murgolo, Sanjeev Nair, Michelle Rutzer, Jez Sadler, Jim Truher, and Shimon Yannay.