One thing I like to do at the start of a new year is tackle some tasks that have been sitting in my “do someday soon” list for far too long. One of these tasks is “Start posting articles on Canadian Developer Connection.” So here I am!
First, an introduction: I’m Joey deVilla, the new Developer Advisor at Microsoft Canada. I come from the world of startups and small consultancies, the sort of places where your office is either the kitchen table or a spare room in your house, or a drafty warehouse space in the nightclub part of town. I’ve developed multimedia applications for floppies (remember those?) and CD-ROMs in Director, custom software for businesses in old-school VB and VC++, handheld applications for Palm using NSBasic, and a number of web apps in C#, PHP, Python and Ruby. If it’s programmable, I can’t resist noodling with it.
I came into the world of technical evangelism by accident. Back in 2000, I took my accordion (which I like to refer to as “social hardware”) to a big conference in New York on a whim. While walking about the exhibitors’ floor, I spotted a major news network camera and decided to jump in front of it, playing a hastily-improvised parody of The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go as “Should I Sleep or Should I Code”. I parleyed this into an interview, where I talked about the startup I was working for. When I returned from the conference, the CEO and CTO called me in for a meeting and said “Congratulations, you’re our developer evangelist now.” Since then, I’ve done all sorts of developer relations work, from working for Tucows as their Tech Evangelist, to non-profit activities like DemoCamp Toronto.
After a long stretch in the land of LAMP, I’ve returned to the Microsoft world. It’s an adventure, what with the changes going on in the company as well as in the industry, the largest platform and some of the nicest tools I’ve ever had to promote, and the opportunity to work with some of the brilliant and passionate people I know. They’ve given me the opportunity to do the work that I love most and do best: building software and communities at the same time.
I don’t know if you’ve got this feeling, but I do: over the past few years, while Microsoft has continued to deliver its excellent developer tools, the outreach seems to be directed at the decision-makers — the people with the “buy/don’t buy” powers of approval — rather than at those of us who get our hands dirty with the code and make the stuff actually work. I call this the “Fourth-Party Developer Feeling”, the sense that although you’re person who has to ultimately use our stuff, you’re not the one getting the love and attention. I think it’s time for that feeling to end.
Along with my fellow Developer Advisors, I’m here to help in a number of ways:
- Blogging…a lot. Those of you familiar with my personal blog, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century, and my tech blog, Global Nerdy, know how much I love to write. Starting today, I’ll be posting very regularly here on Canadian Developer Connection, with stories covering software development, programming tips and techniques and what developers like you are doing. I’ll also continue posting regularly at Global Nerdy, so be sure to check it out as well.
- Answering your questions. Got a question? Ask me — in the comments sections of any of the blogs I write for, via my Twitter account, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the other ways listed on my personal “contact me” page. If I don’t know the answer myself, I can leverage the power of “The Empire” and find someone who can.
- Visiting in person. I’ll be speaking at conferences, hosting developer gatherings, attending user group meetings and meeting with people over the liquid refreshment of their choice. Please feel free to come up and talk to me! I should be pretty easy to spot — unless there’s another one in the room (and it’s happened), I’m the guy with the accordion. And yes, I take requests.
I’m looking forward to a new year of working and talking with all of you! (And really, even if just to say “hello”, please feel free to drop me a line.)