My New Playground

I’m proud to say that quite a bit of the HealthVault codebase still traces its roots back to the stuff that Johnson, Jeff and I wrote back in early 2006. But the truth is, that’s less and less the case every day (at least for me — Johnson and in particular Jeff are still going strong). We have created a world-class engineering team that has supercharged that early code into a remarkably robust, secure and scalable product. They often seem to revel in teasing me about the latest bit of my code to go under the knife.

These days, I rarely get the chance to write actual code for the HealthVault platform. Instead, my time is mostly dedicated to figuring out where the bottlenecks are that make it hard for current or future partners to build great HealthVault applications, and working with our team to design features and patterns that will open them up. As always it comes down to our steady drumbeat: find the next challenge, knock it down, go to the next one. Currently, I’m particuarly excited about some work we’re doing that may really open up the ecosystem to employers, many of whom have come to us with pretty neat ideas for improving their employees health and wellness. But I digress.

All is not lost for the geek in me — I do still write code, just not within the core of our products. Instead, I write HealthVault applications myself, because there is no better way to really understand the pain points than to actually build something.

Which brings me to the point of this entry. While our documentation, samples and how-to guides at MSDN are pretty good and getting better all the time, we are still a very new platform and it can be daunting to get started. Which is too bad, becase writing a HealthVault application is really quite simple.

My plan here is to do a few things. First, I’ve opened up some of my personal projects on the web so that folks can look at them, get ideas, see HealthVault features in action, ask me questions, whatever. Often the stuff I put up on my HealthVault playground will have the full source available; some will not for a variety of reasons, but usually it’ll be there.

Second, I will, over the next few months, write a series of “how-to” entries here documenting how to build a HealthVault application from the ground up, evolving a project a little bit each time. The application I’ll be working with is called HealthVault Happy; the first “skeleton” version of the application (with code) is available today on the Playground.

Important disclaimers: (1) Any code on the Playground site is both copyright-free and warranty-free, so you are free to use it, modify it, etc. with no license or attribution — but buyer beware. These are things I’ve written on my dime and have gone through virtually no formal testing or other quality processes. (2) All of the applications on the Playground are running against our partner environment, not the production HealthVault infrastructure. This means that our consumer guarantees of privacy/security do not apply; they run in a less secure environment (on purpose) and you may not store real health information in them. These are demonstrations only.

I hope that you’ll come along with me as I walk through the various aspects of the HealthVault platform this way. There really is a whole bunch of richness there just waiting for you to use it to help people out. I am super-excited about starting this process. Woo hoo!

Updated 3/27 8:00pm — links are back up. Sorry about that!

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