Steve’s Development Tools Newsletter – October 2010

Visual Studio 2010I receive a lot of email each week from you asking very specific, and valuable questions.  It’s my hope that a newsletter like this will help me communicate important announcements, tips/tricks, and other items to help you and your team ultimately be more successful!  Whenever I post a new newsletter, I will send email notifications to those of you who would like to be contacted.  If you don’t want to receive email notifications, just let me know!

In this installment (jump to):  Announcements, Upcoming Events & Training, QuickAnswers, Customer-Requested Feature: Who Does What at Microsoft? (new!), Final Thoughts.


Windows Phone 7 is Here!  Devices are coming soon, and the development tools are fully baked!  As a developer, now is the time to get a jumpstart on building apps for WP7.  There are developer launch events taking place all over the region (some have already taken place).  See the Upcoming Events section below for more details.

The Denver Visual Studio Users Group needs a new home!  My team has been happy to host the UG in our Denver office for many years, and it’s been great to watch it grow during that time.  But simple laws of physics apply:  the UG has outgrown our facility!  So we need your help in finding a new place to meet.

Speaking of the Denver UG, I’m slated to speak at this month’s meeting.  I’ll be introducing Visual Studio Lightswitch, and show how this type of tool is a GOOD THING for developers! 

Did you know that Forrester named Microsoft a “Leader” in their assessment of the agile development management tools.  More details here, but below is a nice excerpt:

  • Microsoft provides the most comprehensive platform for .NET development. With extensive project support and comprehensive integration into the Visual Studio development environment, Team Foundation Server continues in the tradition of Microsoft products with an easy install and simple configuration. Out-of-the-box process configurations supporting Agile and other popular process models make adoption simpler. The VS2010 release, which was not evaluated, demonstrates a firm commitment to Agile with improvements to planning, reporting, and task management.

Are you going to STPCon (Software Test Professionals Conference) in Las Vegas this month?  If so, I’ll see you there!  I’ll be trolling the conference and working at the Microsoft booth in the Expo hall.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of this offer, know that Azure benefits to MSDN subscribers has doubled!  Now instead of an 8-month introductory offer, you get 16 months!

Internet Explorer 9 is out in beta!  Take a look; it’s fast!

Upcoming Events & Training

With fall comes events!  The MSDN and TechNet calendars usually begin lighting up around this time of year.  You can see evidence of this on the site’s event calendar.  Here are some highlights:


Tuck this away:  PDC is coming, and it will be streamed live from Redmond.  There may be a PDC viewing in a Microsoft office near you.  As these places are confirmed, I’ll be sure to let you know!


  • If you develop against the mainframe using MicroFocus Mainframe Express, you can use TFS for version control using the TFS MSCCI Provider (MSCCI:  Microsoft Source Code Control Interface).  More information here.
  • When you download the TFS Installation Guide (and many other .CHM files), when you first open it you’ll think that all the documentation pages are broken.  What you need to do is “unblock” the content by right-clicking the file, selecting Properties, and then clicking the “Unblock” button at the bottom of the Properties dialog.  Then open the file again and you should be golden.  (Yes, it mentions this at the top of the download page, but who reads that part anyway?)
  • Here are some great tips for getting the most out of Scrum in TFS.
  • Yes, you can order your tests as part of a Team Build.
  • Do you used BizTalk 2009 and TFS?  Take a look at this hotfix.
  • Why yes, we do have a bunch of new code analysis rules & warnings for VB.  (This is part of larger list of updates to the VS ALM library.  For a complete list, check this out.)


Customer-Requested Feature: Who Does What at Microsoft?

Customer-Requested FeatureEach month, I’ll address a specific customer’s question as the newsletter’s “feature”.  If you have a burning question, send it my way!

This month, the question is, “There are so many different people and roles at Microsoft that I directly deal with.  Who does what, and who can answer my questions?”

I’ll try to provide some insight as to “who does what” at Microsoft as it relates to Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE, my division).

Microsoft has a lot of people in the field to help you:  sales & licensing specialists, technical specialists, account managers, and account technology strategists.  Related to development, you’ll have sales & licensing specialists, technology specialists, and different kinds of evangelists (developer, architect, user experience, IT Pro, ISV, start-up, and platform strategy advisors, to name a few).

So who you contact when you have a question?  Well, you may not like this first answer, but “it depends” on what question you have.  The best, most basic advice I can give you is, “contact whoever you know, and we’ll figure it out from there.”  My DPE team works really closely with each other, and we’re always happy to broker questions to the right resource for you.

So here are the basic roles that you, as a development organization, may come across at Microsoft (may not be all-inclusive, but should cover the basics):

  • Account Manager – This person manages the overall relationship between Microsoft and your company.  They handle new and existing agreements (Enterprise Agreements, etc.) and are heavily vested in your company’s overall satisfaction with Microsoft.
  • Account Technology Strategist/Specialist – This person is the technical right-hand to the account manager.  He or she is the apex for all of your company’s technical needs.  Think of this person as a knower of all products but master of none.  Your ATS makes sure all your technology questions are answered, and that your various Microsoft technology investments are maximizing your productivity.
  • Developer & Platform Evangelism
  • Developer Solutions Specialist – The DSS is your sales & licensing specialist for development tools (Visual Studio, TFS, MSDN, Expression, etc.).  He or she will make sure you’re properly licensed for your team’s needs.  The DSS works closely with the account manager and ATS to further align development resources for your team.
  • Developer Technology SpecialistThis is my role.  The DevTS is the technical pair to the DSS (above), and is considered the development tools expert in the field.  He or she can provide development tools overviews (100 to 400 level) and demonstrations for your team, as well as answer specific questions about tool functionality, workarounds, etc.  This person works in tandem with the DSS in making sure your development staff is equipped to be as successful as possible.
  • Evangelists
  • Developer Evangelist – The DE is usually your face for Microsoft development technologies.  You’ll find a DE speaking at MSDN events, maintaining a popular blogs, and generally spreading all the .NET goodness to the masses.  The DE focuses on the underlying frameworks and technologies (.NET, Silverlight, WP7, etc.) that the development tools enable. 
  • Architect Evangelist – Where the DE works “in the weeds” with the development team, the AE works from an enterprise architect level to help align your projects’ overall business needs to the best Microsoft platform available.
  • Find your local evangelist here.

Does this help?  There are additional roles which I may highlight later, but if your on a development team, chances are these are the types of Microsoft folks you’ll come across most frequently.

Again, if you have a question and you’re not sure which Microsoft person to start with, just pick the contact you know the best.  We all work together and want you questions to be answered.  I’d rather offer you this advice instead of trying to give you a decision tree for identifying a first point of contact.

Final Thoughts

Windows Phone 7 is all the buzz these days – Don’t be left behind!  Learn all you can either from the developer website or by attending a launch or MSDN event.

Thanks for reading, I really do appreciate it!  I’ve seen the hit stats for this newsletter going up, and have received a lot of email from people asking to be added to the mailing list.  Please let me know what else you’d like to see in this newsletter, and I’ll do my best to accommodate!

Also, I’d love to hear what else you’d like from the website.  My team maintains that site and are always looking for ways to improve it!

Reminder:  If you’d like me to email you when I post a newsletter, just send me a note at  I won’t email you directly otherwise!

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