Here’s a community interview from our Italian Visual Basic MVP Alessandro Del Sole with John Stallo, a Program Manager working on RAD tools. I first met John on my interview loop at Microsoft. What immediately stuck me when I met him was his Italian name but he has a very cool Australian accent. Being that we both have an Italian heritage, in the first part of my interview we talked about where we were from. That broke the ice quickly and I think I did well in the rest of the interview.
And if you haven’t seen them already, check out the Visual Basic Team page for pictures and bios and visit the home page of the Visual Basic Developer Center for a link to all these interviews as well.
Here’s the interview with John:
1. Nice to meet you John Stallo! Let’s begin by asking a simple question: where are you from?
I was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, and now live in the Redmond area since joining Microsoft. My connection to Italy is special because both my parents are originally from Taranto, Italy, and I grew up surrounded by many Italian family friends. I was 19 years old when I first visited Italy and I got to meet many relatives for the first time. It was an awesome experience and I fell in love with the people and culture, returning several times afterwards. I guess it may seem a natural progression that I also met and married my wife in Italy, herself a native of Puglia.
2. We all know that you’re a Visual Basic Team member, but could we know something more about your role inside the Team?
I work with other team members on building RAD tools that help developers consume data in rich client applications. I love my role as a Program Manager because of the creative aspects of designing user experiences, plus I get to work with VB developers and make a difference in helping them be more productive. Some features that I’ve worked on are RAD data binding, local data caching, web service tools, and Class Designer.
3. What’s your favorite Visual Basic feature regarding the language and/or the IDE?
XML Literals – it’s a great example of a feature that helps you focus on the domain (in this case, XML), rather than .NET’s view of the domain.
4. How long have you been working for Microsoft and what was your occupation before joining the VB Team?
I joined Microsoft in early 2001 after graduating from Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. I’ve worked on several teams here but always part of Visual Studio – I love building productivity tools for developers!
5. Why do you think VB is such a great language?
One of the reasons VB is a great language is because it attracts such a diverse set of users. I first got into programming by recording macros in Excel and dabbling around with the VBA code that was generated. It may seem quite basic, but when you think about it, that experience in Excel enables users to be very productive.
I also remember when I was in my first year studying Computer Science, and in my own time I was learning how to build user interfaces with VB. At the same time, one of my courses at university was “Programming Windows UI” – but it was all in C++ and using the Win32 API. I had to understand about how things like Windows message pumps worked to build even the simplest UI forms, and as a student I couldn’t understand why things just couldn’t be as simple as what I was learning in VB!
So with many VB developers coming from similar experiences like that, I find that most have high expectations of being productive in their tasks. This has contributed to the VB user experience – the language, IDE, and tools working together – to always be focused on developer productivity and ease of use.
6. Would you like to tell us something about your life outside the office (how do you like to spend your free time, what do you like to do when/if you go out in the evening or when you’re at home and so on)?
Food and great company go well together! Some of my favorite evenings are when we’ll cook something special and invite friends to join us. I also recently got into motorcycles, and riding around town on a warm afternoon is a great way to relax.
Thank you very much for taking time to answer these questions and letting us know something more about you!