Azure Development Community Interview – Microsoft Partner: Peter Laker a.k.a. XAML Guy


Sunday is our day for Azure Development Community Interviews!

This week's interview is a remix with...

XAML GUY

MSDN/TechNet Achievements:

  • Galleries: 91 Gallery Samples & 319K+ Downloads!!!
  • Forums: 1,900+ Posts & 856 Answers!
  • Wiki: 118 Articles & 2,500+ Edits!
  • Blogs: 191 Posts with 1,244 4/5 stars!

He's had one blog post so far on the Azure Development Community blog:

Example Wiki Articles:

Example Gallery Samples:

  • Easy MVVM Example
  • How to Build, Manage and Navigate the User Interface of a WPF Application
  • Best ComboBox Tutorial Ever, Ever!
  • WPF Printing Overview
  • Watermarked TextBox and PasswordBox
  • The Mediator Pattern - Communicating anywhere across your application
  • Mutually Exclusive CheckBoxes, Across ListBox Rows
  • World Clocks - Animated Icon (shown in a RadioButon) - Animated Button Icon

Let's get to the interview that I'm remixing/hacking together!

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Who are you?

Peter Laker, Director of Digital Eyes Ltd.
Microsoft application/system development (design, develop & manage)

Where are you (from)?

I'm from the South of England, half an hour from Brighton beach, and an hour from London.

What do you do?

Develop client and server applications for many companies including Microsoft, IBM, Marconi, Guinness World Records and, oh so many more..

What are your big work projects right now?

During the day (and often into the evening) I am working on various Interior Automation projects for an internationally renowned automation company, like an airport-scale lighting control interface, and an AutoCAD to XAML conversion tool.

What I have been most impressed with lately is the extent to which you can load up a Silverlight or WPF Canvas with tens of thousands of individually controllable objects. And how smoothly you can animate flying in and out of huge AutoCAD style floor plans.

I have also been moving into Windows 8, ASP.Net MVC4 and HTML5 development. XAML is still by far the richest and quickest way to develop most Line of Business applications, where you have control over client machine specifications. However, I clearly see the Mobile/BOYD potential of common denominator JS/HTML5. Welcome back old friends!

Where do you contribute on MSDN and TechNet?

I post projects to MSDN Samples and spend a lot of time on the MSDN forums. Whichever technology I am using the most, that is where you will find me. The WPF forums mostly, but increasingly interested in the Dev Center. I find the tech forums the best way to increase my own knowledge as well as pass some of it on. If I find a question I can't answer, I want to know what the answer is, I research (often TechNet has the answer), and code a solution. This way I learn AND contribute. It is easy for a developer to just code to what you know, you get less and less "eureka" moments as your knowledge levels out to "proficient". However with the forums I get to test myself and learn new technologies and methods. Constantly growing, from "proficient" to "expert". When I DO encounter a similar problem in my day job, I will already have learnt the solution!

What are some Wiki projects you'd like to highlight?

I'd like to highlight the weekly Top Contributions Awards, and Microsoft's TechNet Wiki Guru Awards.
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The weekly round-up of contributions is always fun to do. I wrote a crawler which scans every change over each week.
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When I started, the crawler was easily able to crawl all the changes and generate a giant DataGrid of results that I manually interrogated for winners. Wiki popularity grew so much, that this ended up taking hours to crawl and then manually write the weekly blog from. The Internet and the website can at times be a little flakey, so I also had to contend with crashes and reruns.
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Here is a video I made some time ago of the crawler and the process of collecting the data for the weekly blog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufaReEg36FE
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The crawler has now matured into a much more stable database application that can be stopped and restarted at any point.
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However, I was still spending a lot of my spare time writing the actual blog, off the back of that data. Which was preventing me from moving forwards with any new ideas.
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So I automated myself, so to speak. I now auto-generate certain portions of the HTML template for the weekly blog, like the most articles and most revisions awards. It saves me heaps of time building the blog post from scratch, cutting, pasting and formatting article titles, names and hyperlinks. This has freed me up to add new features and analytics to the crawler, plus other internal spin-off reporting features, for the Council to monitor, and our Ninja bloggers to blog about.
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The TechNet Guru Awards have been an amazing experience. It is incredible to see so many high calibre contributions, from so many prominent members of our technical community.
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Between you and me (and anyone who reads this blog) this is a chance for many high ranking Microsoft technology experts to meet the developers (their users) and get to know some of the regular contributors. This is real ground-to-top contact, between developers and makers of the actual technologies.
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I am very excited at how many note-worthy MS names we have judging the contributions, and proud to have them involved in this project. I believe it helps to break down the Ivory Tower image that some technology departments portray. Now has never been a better time to make your mark, get your name known in the highest circles of your favoured technology, and even add to your portfolio/cv, with some worthy praise from some very important players.
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Forget LinkedIn friend endorsements, get endorsed by someone who actually MADE the technology!!
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On what articles have you spent the most time?

Troubleshooting WPF
A growing article that I find useful to point people to, who are just starting out, or unaware how to catch their illusive bug.

Easy MVVM Examples (in extreme detail)
One that could go on forever, but trying to keep as an introduction/overview.

Software Design Patterns
A hub article for everything on software design patterns. As an old passion of mine, I figured TechNet was a more appropriate home for such a subject. But with so many other projects to split my time between, it may take a few years to complete, unless I can get others to help...

Blackboard Design Pattern: A Practical Example - Radar Defence System
A complete example of a useful, but under-documented design pattern.

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Special thanks to XAML Guy, for the interview! It's been a lot of fun to virtually get to know you, and it's great to have you helping lead the Azure Development community!

Is your head in the clouds? Good.

- Ninja Ed

Comments (4)

  1. Mike-EEE says:

    Very insightful and great interview! LONG LIVE XAML!!!

  2. Great interview. Nice to know more about Peter.

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