Our next version of Visual Studio (the next version of the product is known internally as 'Orcas') is getting built out.
John Montgomery, a PM in the VS team, is looking for feedback - specifically on how the Express editions of the product could be improved for the "Software Enthusiasts".
In case you're wondering, "Software Enthusiasts" are not professional developers - these could be people just starting out on their developer journey, or those that have learnt some of the basics at one time and to want play again, or hobbyists who like building simple apps for their site or desktop or phone.
It's a tricky segment to design a product for - the range of knowledge varies enormously within it, so much so, that it would be reasonable to segment this 'audience' still further. On the one hand you need to ensure that the very basic concepts can be described where needed (through documentation, wizards, walkthroughs, options, prompts, etc) and yet on the other hand you need to ensure the functionality is readily available for the more experienced hobbyist looking for which new features are available when attempting certain tasks (e.g. connect to database).
John has asked to spread out the improvements / changes you propose as a $10 investment broken out. Examples of the feedback you could provide might look like this:
- $2 on making it more obvious on how you can see the data in the database you want to connect to - i.e. improve the experience in terms of finding the right starting point on this task and making the browsing and viewing of the data (within the data source) more like the experience they might be used to when looking at data in a spreadsheet program.
- $2 on making it even more intuitive to consume the simple APIs provided by the likes of MSN, Yahoo, Flickr, Technorati, blogware firms, etc. I'm not talking SOAP. I'm talking about the simple stuff here. Make it easy to build APIs into the data the developer wants to expose to third parties (as RSS for example...) and auto-generate the associated documentation required for the third parties.
- $6 on generating loads and loads and loads and loads of screencasts for the most commonly tried scenarios - show how these things are done. And make it *dead easy* to find the right screencast per task / scenario.