John Montgomery blogs about his “non-professional team.” His team is the one that works very hard, and I must say very professionally, to look after non-professional developers. There are a lot of programmers who either program for the fun of it or they are learning to program and not yet ready to write code professionally. John’s team works to make sure those people have tools to meet their needs.
I’ve written code professionally so I appreciate professional grade tools. But I have always written code for the fun of it. While I want a solid reliable tool for that fun coding I don’t really want nor need everything in Visual Studio Team System to do it. John talks about the different needs and motivations of different types of non-professional developers in this blog entry. I think many people will find it interesting.
I’ve known that there was a lot of interest in this area among people at Microsoft for a while now. But John is a very important person and to have him express it this publicly is a good thing. For students, for teachers, for people who program as a hobby (which includes a lot of students and teachers) this should let you know that there are some really smart people who want to help you become successful. You are not being lost while everyone just worries about the professional developer in the large programming organization.
A big part of non-professional development is making programming accessible to more people. It is something we really think about. After all at Microsoft a lot of us think that programming is fun and we want to make it fun for others.