Robert Scoble believes that MSDN Magazine is like the PDC (in terms of content) but a cursory glance at the articles over the last 17 months doesn’t support that claim. There wasn’t a single issue in 2003 with content (that made the cover – most articles are referenced on the cover) focused on future technology. Three of five this year have covered/focused on future technology. I don’t think that is very consistent and it certainly does not indicate that it is like the PDC (which is virtually 100% forward looking) as you suggest.
The bottom line is that we (Microsoft) have development tools (VS.NET 2002, 2003) in use today. These tools have bugs (some big, some small) and they have not been fixed in the current versions of our software. There are many scenarios in which these tools can be used and many of the scenarios have not been written about in MSDN magazine or the MSDN on line presence. Don’t get me wrong, I think the content that is out there is generally quite good. However, if I’m a software developer trying to get my job done today, I want the following things:
1) Microsoft to fix the bugs (in Visual Studio .NET, .NET Framework, etc.) that make it harder for me to build software
2) Microsoft to create more content that addresses the topics/scenarios that I face everyday
3) Microsoft to give me the ability to redistribute .NET Framework QFEs with my product (regardless of what size ISV I am) and make QFEs available to a wider audience (yes, I know that means more testing, etc.)
4) Microsoft to put more mployees on the lists, newsgroups, forums, etc. That is, I want folks that can help me with support type issues and I also want folks with experience actually implementing the technology.
5) Microsoft to expose a Bugzilla like database for .NET development related bugs. I would like to know if a bug I’ve encountered has been reported, if a fix is in the works, etc.
If Im a software developer, I want Microsoft to spend as much of its resources as physically, humanly, and financially possible to address the things above. At face value, any sign that Microsoft is doing otherwise will be viewed as negative (waste of money in the case of Greg but there are many other negative views) by many. I think most executives and employees feel we are doing everything physically, humanly, and financially possible to achieve those goals. That said, I think there are many developers who are not happy with the some of the results.
I’ve been compiling many gripes, concerns, bits of feedback, etc. from the blogosphere and the field for over a year now and what you see above is a 30,000 foot level view on the problems most developers face. What are your thoughts? Am I way off base here? If you were in charge, what five developer related things would you have Microsoft focus or invest in to make the developer experience a better one?