- Paying for Developers is a Bad Idea (Charlie Kindel) — The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform provider incents developers to target the platform by paying them. Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation. Doing so means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up and will not succeed in the long run. A thesis illustrated with his experience at Microsoft.
- Learnable Programming (Bret Victor) — deconstructs Khan Academy’s coding learning environment, and explains Victor’s take on learning to program. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose. This essay will present many features! The trick is to see through them — to see the underlying design principles that they represent, and understand how these principles enable the programmer to think. (via Layton Duncan)
- Tablet as External Display for Android Smartphones — new app, in beta, letting you remote-control via a tablet. (via Tab Times)
- Clay Shirky: How The Internet Will (One Day) Transform Government (TED Talk) — There’s no democracy worth the name that doesn’t have a transparency move, but transparency is openness in only one direction, and being given a dashboard without a steering wheel has never been the core promise a democracy makes to its citizens.
Humid, harmonious, and happy
People weren’t kidding when they told me New Orleans is humid, but the good news is the conference venue has great air conditioning. As expected TechEd is focused mainly on system administrator issues, but I’m feeling that even more so this year with BUILD right around the corner on June 26. However, that isn’t keeping the ASP.NET team from letting us in on what they’ve been working on these past few months.
I wrote a post a little more than a year ago on how Microsoft was starting to embrace open source. Well, it seems to be paying off with Web API 2: two of the new features, CORS and Attribute Routing, were initially contributed by community members and then perfected with the ASP.NET team. These two features are making writing code for your website more streamlined.
In other impressive updates, layout and styling are now based in Bootstrap and cross-browser testing is now much quicker with a tool codenamed “Artery.” We saw, Damian Edwards, Program Manager on the ASP.NET team, make a change in the code, rerun the program, and show us the updated website on local versions of Explorer and Chrome. In addition to upgrade announcements, a welcome change came in the form of a consistent toolset offering with Visual Studio 2013 that makes working across Web Forms and MVC much easier for developers. All new versions of these technologies, ASP.NET MVC 5, Web API 2, and Signal R2 will run only with .NET 4.5.
Sitting in the front of the packed room I kept thinking this is what Microsoft needs—an engaged audience that can work with a brilliant team to consistently update the technology and encourage change.
Oh, and Microsoft (in what I think is a smart move) is selling the Surface RT and Surface Pro, to full attendees, at deep, deep discounts, with the RT priced at $99 and the Pro at $399. The lines have been massive since the offer was announced. Hopefully this will provide Microsoft with more mindshare if not market share in the coming months.
And a note about Google Glass: I brought them to the conference in my continued social experiment to see how people would react. It has been a mixed bag of folks wanting to talk to me about them, those afraid I am recording them, and even a few that aren’t sure what it is. It continues to be good conversation starter as is the story of my eating my first crawdad—a New Orleans staple!
Tech events you don't want to miss
Each Monday, we round up upcoming event highlights from the programming and technology spaces. Have an event to share? Send us a note.
Modern Web Applications Utilizing HTML5 APIs webcast: Ido Green covers techniques and tools for building great “modern” web apps, including tips on Chrome DevTools, HTML5 power tools, and modern web app design techniques. Register for this free webcast.
Date: 10 a.m. PT, May 30 Location: Online webcast
TechEd North America: This is Microsoft’s main conference for IT professionals and enterprise developers. Get hands-on experience with more than 200 self-paced labs. If you need to convince your boss to let you go, there’s even a guide to help. For more information and to register, visit the TechEd website.
Date: June 3–6 Location: New Orleans, LA
Admittedly, the idea of Ballmer, Cook and Schmidt all battling it out Highlander-style is appealing...
As long as most people can remember, the smartphone space has been a contested one. Before the iPhone became temporarily ubiquitous, RIM and Palm were fighting it out to own the market, and today you have a plethora of platforms to choose from, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry. And because many mobile OS vendors license their products to third-party manufacturers, some mobile operating systems have little market share wars of their own, such as HTC fighting it out with Samsung and Motorola for the Android customer base.
I’ve talked before, in the context of languages, about the damage that the paradox of choice can bring to societies. Having more product choices may not make us any happier, or even lead to better products, but only create the vague uncertainty that whichever product choice we make, it wasn’t the correct one.
For obvious reasons, a monopoly doesn’t usually work out that well either, at least in mature markets with stable standards. Very few will argue that Microsoft’s most innovative years occurred during the period that they sat “fat, dumb and happy” with 90%+ desktop market share. But I would argue that there comes a time when some choices should be left to die a dignified death, and that both Windows and Blackberry mobile products are at that point.
Don't Pay Developers, Teaching Programming, Second Android Screens, and Democracy
Why the ASP.NET Web API Framework is an essential tool for RESTful applications.
Glenn Block (@gblock) is an O’Reilly author and senior program manager on the Windows Azure Team at Microsoft.
We sat down recently to talk about the newly released ASP.NET Web API Framework, which he helped develop, and why it will become essential to building RESTful applications.
Key points from the full video (below) interview include:
- ASP.NET Web API enables a rich set of clients to consume info [Discussed at the 1:47 mark]
- Find out if one comes out on top – MVC vs. Web API [Discussed at the 2:41 mark]
- Different clients negotiate content differently – Web API handles this with ease [Discussed at the 5:50 mark]
- Self hosting is a big deal but beyond that Web API introduces flexibility – you no longer need to use IIS [Discussed at the 9:04 mark]
- An HTTP Programming Model for Microsoft [Discussed at the 11:04 mark]
- The newest of the new – Hypermedia, OData, and Web API Contrib [Discussed at the 18:08 mark]
You can view the entire interview in the following video.
Async, Roslyn, and how to create your best C# 5.0 program
Longtime C# developer, Eric Lippert, speaks about new C# 5.0 features, updates to the forthcoming Roslyn compiler, and ways to optimize your C# programs.
Greg Shackles on using C# and .NET to build apps that work across mobile platforms.
Web developer and author Greg Shackles reveals the advantages of using C# over C++ for writing mobile apps. He also explains why Android and iOS developers should give C# a serious look.
Microsoft invests in B&N, Target evicts Amazon, and ebooks teeter on the brink of extinction (perhaps).
B&N’s Nook gets Microsoft’s bankroll and will soon incorporate NFC, Amazon loses its shelf space at Target, and a publishing platform architect makes a strong argument for the end of ebooks.
Thoughts on how Microsoft could play a role in Barnes & Noble's stores.
Joe Wikert: Microsoft should use its investment in B&N's digital business to create an end-to-end consumer experience that rivals Apple's.
Cartographic Data Tool, Astronomical Volumes of Astronomical Data, Faster Touch, and Why MS Open Source?
- CartoDB (GitHub) — open source geospatial database, API, map tiler, and UI. For feature comparison, see Comparing Open Source CartoDB to Fusion Tables (via Nelson Minar).
- Future Telescope Array Drives Exabyte Processing (Ars Technica) — Astronomical data is massive, and requires intense computation to analyze. If it works as planned, Square Kilometer Array will produce over one exabyte (260 bytes, or approximately 1 billion gigabytes) every day. This is roughly twice the global daily traffic of the entire Internet, and will require storage capacity at least 10 times that needed for the Large Hadron Collider. (via Greg Linden)
- Faster Touch Screens More Usable (Toms Hardware) — check out that video! (via
- Why Microsoft’s New Open Source Division (Simon Phipps) — The new “Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.” provides an ideal firewall to protect Microsoft from the risks it has been alleging exist in open source and open standards. As such, it will make it “easier and faster” for them to respond to the inevitability of open source in their market without constant push-back from cautious and reactionary corporate process.