Developer User Group 2014 Survey results

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 04/24/2014 - 21:01

This year we launched the first annual user group and let me say thank you to every single one of you for taking the time to help us improve the group. For this survey all questions were optional so you may see some differences in the numbers. This post is meant to share the data and I am not going to speculation about what this could mean or how we will adjust the group based on it at this point. Lets have a look at the data!

Comments

The final item in the survey is the first I want to discuss – the comments. Many where along the line of congratulations which is awesome but there are four I want to highlight here.

more code please, e.g. everyone has talked about 'everything must be unit tested', yet not once have i seen the actual code. I AM UNIT TESTING, BUT I FEEL THE COVERAGE IS NOT ENOUGH, SO IT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO HAVE A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE OF 100% COVERAGE REGARDING TEST DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT.

We will be having the awesome Martin Cronje in June doing a talk exactly on this! Another idea would be to attend the CodeRetreats where this is a major focus of the events. A personal comment based on the talks I have given; the time for a presenter is limited so if they are talking on SignalR adding unit tests not only takes time away from the talk but can also confuse the audience.

A suggestion to some of the discussions is to have a practical aspect where coders can code

I love the scenario where the audience can code with the talk but there are logistical reasons this doesn’t work well in our format. The presentation style is the one that works best.

Have more advice for novice/beginners to programming

Below I will talk about what type of events we run most often, and while the bulk of our talks are technology focused which can be very tough for novices we have a big chunk that are about methodologies, theories, stories and patterns. These are PERFECT for a novice since they share valuable information which doesn’t rely on technical understanding.

I haven't attended for some time due to other commitments, but for some time I thought it would be beneficial to have a bit more conversation / talks about the open-source languages and projects. I understand that the group was initially primarily started around Microsoft products, and that's great, but in my field open-source is more dominant. It's just an observation, though, nothing against the setup of the group per sé

I disagree with this view – having a look at our past events the break down of the sessions is as follows:

image

Looking at the numbers – we are more about open source technology and developer improvement than Microsoft.

Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the Developer User Group?

The first and most important was how satisfied or dissatisfied people are, on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being bad – 5 being great) and we hit at an average of just over 4! Smile

How likely are you to recommend the Developer User Group?

Second is very important for us, because we want to grow the group and being recommended is the best way for that. Here we did a scale from 1 to 5 and did even better scoring over 4.4!

Overall, how do you find the complexity of the sessions?

Third is  how members are finding the content – with this also on a 1 to 5 scale with 1 being too simplistic content and 5 being too complex content. 3 is the just right spot and we came in almost exactly at that!

 

Start time

imageThe most discussed issue in the group is the start time – it is brought up almost every month in the comments. Keeping the time the same really smashed the other options, both individually and if you group the times into early (16h00 + 16h30), medium (17h00 + 17h30) and late (18h00 + 18h30). We are planning to use the early start time to allow for longer sessions with multiple topics going forward so hopefully that will enable people to get the best of both worlds.

  • Keep it at 16h30: 49%
  • Start earlier at 16h00: 6%
  • Start later at 17h00: 15%
  • Start later at 17h30: 10%
  • Start later at 18h00: 15%
  • Start (really) later at 18h30: 5%

What do you hope to gain from the developer user group?

imageThe only item to allow multiple options to be selected, is also one of the most important – what do you want? Almost everyone said learning new skills and networking.

  • To learn new skills: 95%
  • Networking with other developers: 93%
  • Free drinks & pizza: 37%
  • To find potential employees: 20%
  • To find a new job: 12%

Age

imageMoving into the demographics for the group – the first one is age with the majority between 26 – 35.

  • 26 – 35: 75%
  • 36 – 50: 16% 
  • 18 – 25: 6% 
  • 51 – 65: 1% 

What is your level?

imageThe next item is the level, which shows a strong slant to the senior level.

  • Senior: 70%
  • Intermediate: 22%
  • Junior: 6%

What is your primary programming language?

imageThe third demographic which is vital for us in planning content is around primary development language and we have a GREAT mix of languages but the strongest community is c#.

  • C#: 59% 
  • Java: 9% 
  • C++: 3% 
  • JavaScript: 4%
  • Visual Basic: 1% 
  • I'm a QA: 1%
  • Python: 1%
  • PHP: 1%
  • Objective C: 1%
  • SQL: 1%
  • Many of the above: 1%
  • Scala: 1%
  • I'm a novice wanting to learn: 1%
  • Project management: 1%

What is your primary type of development work?

imageIn line with  planning content, knowing what people are doing is vital. Web work (internal and external) is a strong lead followed by integration and mobile.

  • Mobile apps: 11% 
  • Internal web sites or Intranets: 30% 
  • Integration projects: 19% 
  • External/Public web sites: 27% 
  • Coaching: 1%
  • UI/DB/Platform: 1%
  • Many of the above: 1%
  • Internal Projects: 1%
  • I'm a Novice wanting to learn: 1%
  • Server side development: 1%
  • Data warehousing: 1%

Organisation size

imageHow big are the companies that developers come from? Here it looks like a strong split between small (less than 20) and large (more than 90). Which I think is pretty accurate for the industry as a whole in South Africa.

  • >200: 25% 
  • 11-20: 8% 
  • 1-10: 29% 
  • 21-40: 12% 
  • 91-200: 14% 
  • 41-80: 9% 

Role in purchasing?

imageFinally, a question we can use when discussing with sponsors is what role people have in purchasing. Here there is some influence or none.

  • None: 37% 
  • I can suggest/influence purchases: 51% 
  • I make the final say: 11%

Raw data?

Want the raw data – you can download it below.

Why is it called the GAC?

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 04/01/2014 - 09:57

ArZg52WCAAAOyHAIn .NET we have a GAC or global assembly cache – which you may think describes it well and that is why we call it the GAC, but that isn’t true. One of the many things I’ve learnt since joining Microsoft last year is the real story of the GAC’s name and the fact that the acronym was chosen after the name to please legal. Think about it, the GAC is neither a cache (it is really a repository – a cache implies a temp nature to it’s contents) nor is it global (it is local to the machine) – that acronym just doesn’t make any sense.

The origin of the name is that Anders Hejlsberg when naming it wanted something to represent the only location on the device for assemblies. In addition Anders is a massive Dr Seuss fan and chose the name from the so in Cat in the Hat book. (emphasis below is mine).

At our house we play out back. We play a game called Ring the Gack. Would you like to play this game? Come down! we have the only Gack in town.

The name was used in the team until legal got hold of it and worried that Microsoft maybe sued, so it was shortened and an acronym made up to explain it. The original name does appear in the original beta documentation for .NET 1.0 which you can find here.

An independent .NET conference

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 01/24/2014 - 10:09

At the last developer user group, a discussion around .NET and the community came up where an issue  was identified that because Microsoft does such a good job of communication around .NET, anything outside their realm is pretty much ignored. The example was that open source doesn’t get enough coverage at big events – my response, why doesn’t the community run their own .NET event. The idea would be that it targets a .NET audience, but the content is not limited to .NET i.e. you could present on Perl, but as the audience is .NET it would make sense to tailor the talk to the things those people expect and address there concerns. I ran a small poll to see what the response would be.

425 people ended up loading the poll, yet a mere 35 people completed it Sad smile

So looking at the data (hint, that link takes you to the live report). It seems that

  • Free vs. cost: Isn’t an issue. I think the main thing here that if there is value people will pay.
  • Weekday vs. Saturday: A weekday seems far more popular an option
  • Multi-track seems a lot more popular than a single track.
  • Johannesburg FTW! Cape Town and Durban are just a fraction of the amounts (the colours on the charts don't match up Sad smile - so biggest is always blue, which doesn’t make sense).

So what is next? I am not sure – the numbers are surprisingly low which indicates to me that either we, as a community are horrid at sharing things, or there isn’t demand. Your thoughts?

image

Some analytical information

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Joining the AppFactory

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 09:04

appfactory_za_headerI am very proud to do a short announcement that I have moved to join Microsoft, and specifically the AppFactory. The AppFactory is a group of people, mostly consisting of interns who are gaining real world experience in software development. So what is this real world development focused on? Locally relevant apps which give all users a rich and meaningful experience on Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone.

I am joining as a senior developer with my focus on both development, but also skilling up of those involved!

Browser Link + LESS? Does it work?

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 11/01/2013 - 10:22

(You can grab the code for this from: https://github.com/rmaclean/BrowserLinkAndLESSDemo)

imageAt TechDays in Johannesburg, I showed a lot of cool stuff, but this post is about two specific pieces of awesome technology – Browser Link & LESS. In my talk (you can watch  a video of it here) I showed off how you use Browser Link with Web Essentials it can detect unused CSS. A rather sharp attendee came up to me afterwards and asked me, what happens with LESS? Does it do the same thing?

I went back and experimented with it – first was to setup some CSS that wasn’t used and test. Everything works as expected.

Step two, was to use LESS directly, so I setup the HTML with

  • I used Nuget to pull down LESS.js
  • I put in the the link to the LESS file
<head runat="server">
    <title></title>
    <link rel="stylesheet/less" type="text/css" href="/Content/Awesome.less" />
    <script src="Scripts/less-1.4.2.min.js"></script>
</head>

Next step was to configure IIS Express, using the web.config, to serve the LESS file. To do that I added the following to the web.config file:

<system.webServer>
  <staticContent>
    <mimeMap fileExtension=".less" mimeType="text/css" />
  </staticContent>
</system.webServer>

and I ran the app again. You know what happened? It all just worked – Browser Link’s CSS logic detected the unused class in the LESS file, and when I clicked it – it took me directly to the class in the LESS file Smile

Missed TechDays? Check out my LightSwitch talk on YouTube!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 11/01/2013 - 09:49

I you couldn’t make TechDays in Johannesburg or Cape Town (or maybe you did & went to Dave Russell’s awesome MVVM talk which was at the same time as my LightSwitch talk) then you can watch a recording of my LightSwitch talk I did recently.

If you want to get the slides, the completed demo or the script, you can find all of that in my earlier post.

Missed TechDays: ASP.NET

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 11/01/2013 - 09:27

Did you miss the awesome TechDays events in Johannesburg and Durban? Fear not – I recorded my ASP.NET talk for you! This is no way as good as being there as the excitement and energy from the event help a lot, but this is still a great talk to watch!

All the slides, assets, demo bits etc.... can be download in this post.

TechDays 2013: LightSwitch

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 10/31/2013 - 09:11

I had an awesome time recently at the Microsoft TechDays events in both Johannesburg and Cape Town where I presented on Visual Studio LightSwitch and ASP.NET! Below you can find the slides (SlideShare does a poor job with them, but if you go to the website you can download the original PowerPoint!), the demo script, the completed demo and the assets used in the demos!

TechDays 2013: ASP.NET

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 10/31/2013 - 09:04

Missed the event? Watch the YouTube video!

In both Johannesburg and Cape Town with the awesome Microsoft TechDays events! I was lucky enough to present on two talks: LightSwitch and ASP.NET. Below you can find the slides for ASP.NET (SlideShare does a poor job with them, but if you go to the website you can download the original PowerPoint!) - See more at: http://www.sadev.co.za/content/techdays-2013-lightswitch#sthash.zYVT7SR…, the completed demos, my demo script and the assets I used!

The final part of this ASP.NET talk was a streamlined version of my Visual Studio is awesome talk I did at JSinSA – I recommend looking at that for even more awesomeness (I have even more cool demos in that).

Visual Studio 2013 - WHERE IS MY PRESENTON?!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 10/29/2013 - 22:44

Update: The pro power tools for 2013, which includes PresentOn is now out!

A mere seven months ago, I wrote about an awesome trick in Visual Studio 2012: PRESENTON. This trick optimises a bunch of fonts really quickly to look good on stage – not just the text editor but the IDE too!

However this relied on the Pro Power Tools extension which doesn’t exist for Visual Studio 2013 yet. So how can you achieve the same results? With just some manual settings in the IDE.

Backup

imageBefore you start, make a backup of your current settings by going to the Tools menu, then Import & Export Settings. In the next dialog, all you need to export is the Fonts and Colors options (see image below). This will ensure that after your presentation, you can roll back to your normal experience. It is also a good idea to do this again after you are setup for your talk, so that next time you can just import it in minutes & be ready (in fact I did that & you can grab my one below).

Changing the settings

Step one, get to the font settings – which is REALLY easy. Hit Ctrl+Q, which takes you to the Quick Launch & type in font.

 image

Now you are in the font dialog and you can change all the settings in here. The key ones I find are listed below.

image

  • Text Editor : Naturally, this is the text that appears on the screen!
  • Environment Font : This badly titled item is for the IDE, all menus and text rendered in the IDE that is readonly is affected. This really makes your IDE much easier to see.
  • Code Lens  : For VS 2013 Ultimate*
  • Statement Completion : This is intellisense – since I use it a lot, I find it helps the audience see better what I am doing
  • Editor Tooltip : If you are showing off the editor which may include tooltips you can make them larger**.
  • Package Manager Console : If you are demo’ing Nuget and/or Entity Framework Migrations this is very useful to increase**.
  • Output Window : Always something worth having large because compilation is a big part of any talk.
  • Locals Window : Another one that is good for IDE demos or demo’s where you are doing demo’s focused on debugging**.
  • JavaScript Console : Lastly for the JS demos, a must have. **

Font Choice

Something to think about when doing this, is what should this look like. For almost a decade, I’ve followed the advice from Don Box on what goes into a great technical presentation which is min font size of 14 point (I use 16pt). While I think he was spot on with font choice, now days I use a different font called DejaVu Sans Mono which I think looks amazing.

My Presenter Settings

Since I did this for the recent TechDays, you may want to use my presenter settings file so you can grab it below!


* If you want Code Lens for versions of VS other than ultimate, go and make your voice heard: https://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio/suggestions/4150271-make-codelens-available-outside-of-ultimate

** This setting is not included in my presenter settings which you can download below.