Microsoft Virtual Academy is a website for Developers and IT Pros, which offers free Microsoft training delivered by experts. Follow us on Twitter @MSVirtAcademy
Who better to learn from than Sage Franch, the Trendy Techie herself? She’s teaching Windows 10 App Development – Basics, a four-week course on edX that starts June 1. If you’re a novice or independent developer, or maybe you have a little bit of programming experience, join Sage to explore the basic concepts of consumer app development with Windows 10 and Universal Windows Platform.
In one course, create a single app package that can be installed and used across different device form factors. Build once and deploy to mobile, desktop, and other device families. Go from the design phase to publishing to the app store, and along the way, look at responsive and adaptive user interfaces for Windows Store apps. Plus, she’ll talk about application lifecycle management, binding local and cloud data, and creating rich user interactions.
This course, complete with hands-on labs (downloadable from GitHub), projects, self-assessments, and discussion opportunities, is a terrific first step in your dev career. And, looking forward, Sage wraps the course with some thoughts on the future of apps in general, from holograms to ubiquitous computing and the additional roles that apps can play in our lives.
Her next course, due out later this summer, will explore richer experiences with Windows Store apps, including Cortana, inking, maps, location, and more. Stay tuned for more info.
Want to brush up on C# before the class? Check out the popular Bob Tabor course on MVA, C# Fundamentals for Absolute Beginners. Pick and choose from 24 practical and easy-to-understand C# training episodes for a refresher (or a foundation) on the basics of C#, from code and tools to debugging and customizations.
If you’re curious about Universal Windows Platform, take a look at the Building Blocks: Universal Windows Platform MVA course taught by Jerry Nixon and Christopher Harrison. In this practical session, explore what UWP is and what it means, see how to design an app in UWP, look at the available tools, and find out how to get started with UWP in Visual Studio.
As for next steps, you might want to check out more Jerry Nixon goodness as he teams up with Daren May for Getting Started with Template 10. They demo Template 10 components and features, including templates, wrappers, and services, that can help you speed up the Windows 10 development process.
Roll up your sleeves, and join us for some app building fun, as we explore Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform consumer app development with Sage!
Do you have a favorite MVA course that you’d like to share? Or maybe you want your IT team or students to complete a particular MVA training. Either way, you’re in luck! Now, you can embed MVA videos and courses on your own site, blog, or other online destination.
From coding for Developers (cloud, games, apps, and web) to configuration and deployment details for IT Pros (enterprise security, mobility, and more), you can share MVA content with your audience, employees, user groups, and others. If you’re a teacher, you can post coding courses for your students and learning resources for your fellow instructors.
When you embed a video, you’ll see navigation tabs for the player, the course description, and sharing.
The great news is that it’s easy. To embed a video, use the Share feature to copy the HTML markup.
Here's what looks like!
You have the flexibility to embed a single video (like the example above) or a full course. To embed the full course, remove the portion of the embed code that refers to the specific video. In the example above that would be: /Video-Installing-and-Using-the-Template-10-Project-Templates-Part-1-R3bBb1LRC_4305918554
iframe src="https://mva.microsoft.com/en-US/training-courses-embed/getting-started-with-template-10-16336/Video-Installing-and-Using-the-Template-10-Project-Templates-Part-1-R3bBb1LRC_4305918554" width="636" height="480" allowFullScreen frameBorder="0"></iframe
Which courses and videos will you share? Let us know! Have questions or feedback? Talk to us in the MVA forums.
So you've heard about DevOps and now you’re considering implementing it? Get the help you need with hands-on training from Microsoft and edX. As the industry moves to a services market with 24/7 delivery, streamlining your delivery pipeline (with faster and better applications) becomes more and more important. Whether you’re a Developer taking the step beyond Agile or an IT Pro looking to bring DevOps to your organization, we want to help you get started.
From an edX “Introduction to DevOps” course (starting next week), to a Building Blocks training, the TechNet DevOps blog, the DevOps Factory, and more, get a detailed look—start to finish—at DevOps tools and processes, and learn to streamline your pipeline for a faster and better delivery cadence. We even explore next steps, so your DevOps journey can begin right here!
Introduction to DevOps (on edX). With exciting demos, experts show you how to make your application lifecycle faster and more predictable for both developers and the operations team. Start with the basics and then build, compile, and set up in Azure. Step through the complete pipeline, from end to end.
DevOps Dimension (on Channel 9). This show is for anyone beginning or continuing the DevOps journey. DevOps experts, the engineers building DevOps solutions, and partners discuss the latest news and information on DevOps practices, inside and outside of Microsoft.
DevOps Fundamentals (on Channel 9). This eight-part series focuses on what you need to know to get started with DevOps in your organization. Experts begin with the fundamentals of DevOps and an introduction to basic concepts and then drill into DevOps practices. Plus, they review the most commonly implemented practices and show technical demos for each.
Building Blocks: DevOps and Enterprise Development (on MVA). This //build prep course highlights ways to simplify the DevOps process with Microsoft Azure and Visual Studio, along with a look at how to manage repositories.
Modern IT: DevOps to ITIL, Creating a Complete Lifecycle for Service Management (on MVA). This next steps course offers a practical and helpful look at how to merge the movement of DevOps into your existing ITIL service management practices.
The DevOps factory (on TechNet). A gaming, competition, and learning experience enabling people to learn about a diverse set of technologies and practices around DevOps, this new factory from Microsoft aims to produce lasting business success with DevOps.
The DevOps blog (on TechNet). This helpful blog explores the latest DevOps news and concepts around the role of IT in DevOps and DevOps in the enterprise. Recent posts highlight the DevOps factory and the concept of “DevOps FoMo” (fear of missing out)!
Enabling DevOps Practices with Visual Studio Online Build (on MVA). Experts show how IT and Developer practitioners can use Visual Studio Online to accelerate their DevOps journey, thanks to flexible, cross-platform capabilities and built-in tasks that integrate with and preserve existing investments.
Excited about the Xamarin news? Here at MVA, we’re stoked to be a part of it. If you’re a .NET developer, you can use your existing C# skills to create apps that can work on iOS, Android, and Windows. No more worrying about three different compiles with three different languages—use Visual Studio to create cross-platform apps using one common language (C#).
We’ve got the training you need to get familiar with Xamarin. Start out with the basics, in the MVA Xamarin for Absolute Beginners course. Step through setup and installation with popular experts Gerry O'Brien and Christopher Harrison, and explore the basics of a Xamarin app. Take a look at a Xamarin project, get the details on using emulators, and go over debugging and deployment.
Then, go in-depth with the edX Introduction to Xamarin.Forms course. A team of knowledgeable instructors, including Helen Miller, Mark Smith, Adrian Stevens, and Mark Taparauskas, create a sample project with Xamarin.Forms. See how to build pages to collect and display data, look at common controls used to create a UI, and explore layout principles.
Can’t get enough Xamarin? That’s good, because we’ve also got a free, 1,200-page e-book from the legendary author Charles Petzold. Download Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms, and get code samples, practice exercises, and reference materials, along with tons of practical insights.
We’re super excited about Xamarin and all the cross-platform goodness it offers, and we hope you are, too. Check out these Xamarin resources, and go from zero to Xamarin in no time!
Explore Xamarin training now!
Like what you see? Join Visual Studio Dev Essentials for free, and get more helpful training, Azure credits, tools, and other great benefits.
Did you participate in last month’s “Know it. Prove it.” challenge? Tech superheroes from all over the world rose to the occasion, unleashed their brain power, and conquered technologies—from security, enterprise mobility, and the hybrid cloud, to big data, game development, and much more. What a month it was! Plus, this year’s event included more topics, introductory tracks, and new options, along with a leaderboard, contests, and even a sweepstakes.
Which brings us to our exciting “Know it. Prove it.” community news! We’re happy to announce the “Know it. Prove it. Build Pass Sweepstakes” winner, chosen at random from an amazing group of tech superheroes. Please join us in congratulating Carnegie Johnson, a Microsoft Certified Trainer from Columbia, South Carolina, and one of the few participants who completed seven (count ‘em—SEVEN) of the 10 challenges. He really is a hero! His prize is a coveted conference pass to Microsoft Build, March 30–April 1, in San Francisco—a sold-out event that explores the latest technologies from Microsoft to help today’s developers be their most creative and productive. Congratulations, Carnegie! You’re a true inspiration.
Check back in a couple of weeks, when we report on the details of this latest “Know it. Prove it.” challenge. We’ll look at the numbers, break them down by country and technology track, and find out what to look forward to in the future. In the meantime, keep your capes on and follow us on Twitter for details on the next challenge.
From the Internet of Things (IoT) to DevOps, big data, and much more, expand your skill set (and your mindset!) with this series of Building Blocks 2016. On March 22, 23, and 24, from 9‒11am each day, experts like Jon Galloway and Andy Wigley offer you an up-close look at the hottest tech topics today.
Whether you’re preparing for this year’s //build conference or just adding to your dev toolkit, you won’t want to miss these events. Take a look at debugging tools, IoT cloud services, the Universal Windows Platform (UWP)—and that’s just the beginning. In these practical and fast-paced sessions, walk through on-demand Building Blocks workshops and get your questions answered in a live Q&A.
To join live, register now!
Over half of the people who visit Microsoft Virtual Academy are from non English speaking countries. It’s our goal to make our training as broadly available and easy to use as possible, and we always want to localize as much as we practically can. Recently we’ve embarked on an experiment using machine translation to rapidly deliver localized subtitles for a large number of courses. But we realize the results aren’t always good. So we’re inviting the community to help us improve them. If you’re watching one of these courses, and thinking “that’s a laughable translation!” consider taking a minute to share your expertise with your fellow MVA community members and help fix it using the Engagement Portal.
If you use non English courses on MVA, you may have started seeing courses with a notice that the closed captions were created with machine translation and may contain errors and inconsistencies. The notice also informs you that you can visit the course’s forum to find an invitation to take part in this project. (To get to the course forum, click “Get help for this course” in the Support link on the footer.)
In the post you’ll find in the forum, click the invite link which takes you to the Engagement portal. Sign in with your Microsoft Account. Once you create a User Profile on the portal you’ll be able to see your current projects, how many you’ve been involved with, an option to feature your name on the home page, and more. The portal also offers translation guidelines and a Quick Start Guide with details on how to contribute, navigating the tools, keyboard shortcuts, context information, and search. Plus, it includes helpful support links.
Apply your knowledge to subtitles in different languages, including Arabic, Bahasa, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
We’re excited about the first set of courses and hope you are too! You can find links to a few below. Check out a specific course and visit the course forum for a contributor link. Register on the portal, and get started today!
Security in a Cloud-Enabled World (Forum) Brazilian Portuguese
Windows Azure Pack: Database as a Service (DBaaS) (Forum) Simplified Chinese
Deep Dive into Azure Resource Manager Scenarios and Patterns (Forum) French
Using Node.js with Visual Studio Code (Forum) German
Introduction to JSON with C# (Forum) Russian
How much can you learn in one month? February is when the MVA community comes together to cheer each other on as we all skill up together. If you are looking to take your technical chops to the next level and the idea of committing to acquiring a significant new set of skills excites you, sign up for one of the 10 Know it Prove it challenges and set aside an hour a day for the month of February. Each challenge is a set of courses mapped to a key scenario and adding up to about 29 hours of video. If you sign up to take a challenge, you’ll have a clear path forward to new knowledge and skills you can use to accomplish more and advance your career.
Do you need more incentive than achieving guru status? How about chance to win a ticket to Build? Build sold out in minutes, but we’ve secured a ticket that will be raffled off as part of Know it. Prove it. Simply complete a learning challenge, and you will earn an entry into the sweepstakes. Want more than one entry? For each learning challenge you complete, you can earn an entry.
When you sign up to take a challenge, you’ll also be earning Microsoft TechRewards points where you can earn badges, increase your ranking on the leaderboards, and even spend points on rewards. We’re looking to do more integration between MVA and TechRewards in the future, so let us know what you think of the Know it Prove it experience.
For developers we’ve got
For IT Pros we’ve pulled together
Sign up now!
Today we released updates to MVA that turn off the current point system and leaderboards. We are working to evolve the site to improve performance and to better integrate the MVA training experience with other online learning and skills validation across Microsoft, and this is a necessary step. The good news is that when we implement our new system, your work on MVA will earn you Microsoft TechRewards. You’ll be able to earn points that can be redeemed for rewards like Starbucks or Newegg gift cards. You can even donate your points to Special Olympics. Plus, you’ll earn experience points for the TechRewards leaderboards and badges. We’re working through the details and will be sharing a more solid timeline soon.
The big picture
The reason behind the change is that we are migrating our user profile data to a new, more scalable infrastructure. As millions of users have joined MVA, our audience has outgrown our ability to deliver a consistently excellent experience. Last summer, we made the first big migration of our course catalog and implemented a new course player. Today’s release is the second major milestone, as we take MVA into the future. And we folks who love technology are definitely excited about the future.
Know it. Prove it.
Want to get a preview of what the TechRewards experience will be like? Sign up for a Know it. Prove it. challenge, and you can start earning TechRewards points for your MVA activity today. Be sure to let us know what you think!
The Founders’ Club badge
Did you notice that the folks on the TechRewards home page are watching an MVA course? If you recognized the old MVA studio set, congrats! You’ve probably been with us a while. The idea of the Founders’ Club badge is to recognize everyone who has already invested time skilling up here on MVA. When we release the updates, you’ll see the badge on your dashboard with your current point total.
Change is hard
We want to hear from you. Help us make sure we get things right as we move forward. Please comment here and, if you need help with the new dashboard, connect with us in the MVA forums. We really appreciate your feedback and thank you for being a part of the MVA community.
If you’re interested in developing for Windows 10, we’ve got a set of new courses created specifically for you! Whether you’re new to the Universal Windows Platform or you’ve got experience creating Windows 8.1 apps, you’ll find just what you need to explore the latest in Windows 10 app development.
We all know and love Bob Tabor’s detailed, step-by-step courses, and in this latest release, Windows 10 Development for Absolute Beginners, he walks through dozens of helpful modules, from “What is XAML” to “Working with Adaptive Layout.” Plus, see lots of demos and take interesting challenges, like the “Stupendous Styles Challenge.” You’ll even play games, including the “Album Cover Match Game,” all while building your Windows 10 dev knowledge.
More experienced developers who want to skill up on specific areas of Windows 10 can explore a series of eight courses taught by Crank211 experts Daren May and Geoff Morgan. These short, single-module courses cover specific topics in depth, like Getting Started with UWP, Managing the App Lifecycle, and Speech Recognition and Cortana Integration. Plus, there’s a look at Inking and the InkCanvas that you won’t want to miss. Check out all of this Windows 10 goodness!
January 13 would be a great time to dive back in! Not only are we featuring the always-entertaining team of Adam Tuliper and Christopher Harrison, but also we’re approaching the energetic Jump Start format from a slightly different angle. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the on-demand “Introduction to Ember” course (available soon), in this three-hour event for the MVA community, so you can expect a more in-depth and even richer live experience. Plus, get to know these popular instructors, as they take you on an Ember tour. And we’ll still have the helpful live Q&A session, so you can get your Ember questions answered.
Introduction to Ember
Date: January 13, 2016 Time: 9am‒12pm PST Where: Live, online virtual classroom Cost: Free!
Bob Tabor’s Absolute Beginners videos have been viewed millions of times here on MVA. And he continues to deliver with a great series over on Channel 9 “Windows 10 development for absolute beginners.” He’s absolutely one of the best trainers out there, and you just have to watch a couple minutes to understand why he’s so popular. He’s also gracious and accessible. When we asked him to answer a few questions about himself for our blog, he really went above and beyond in giving us thoughtful and inspirational answers. From all of us in the MVA community, thank you, Bob!
The “Tabor Effect”
You’re a tech hero to so many. What inspired you to get started in technology and in teaching technology? Who were your tech heroes?
First, it’s very humbling to read that statement and I’m flattered … However, if you were to pick a “hero”, I think you could aim a little higher. Be your own hero. Do the things today that make “future you” look back and thank “past you” for putting in the time and energy into trying, struggling and learning.
I didn’t have anyone I would call a “tech hero” … no one who inspired me or I looked up to. For the most part, I created my own path and I always felt I could make it in me who I am.
I think we each have an experience in our life where we gain a little confidence that we can bend and shape technology through some tangential experience – perhaps modding a game, writing a script to automate something, creating a basic web page for school. When I was in 5th grade, my parents bought me a Commodore 64 – but the catch was that they wouldn’t purchase games. The BASIC language compiler *was* the operating system. A friend’s older brother took some high school programming classes and gave me the printouts of his code. I taught myself how to create simple text based games by studying his code. I didn’t really act on this first experience until I got into college and I realized how desktop computers became more powerful and began to recognize the potential. I’m a creative person at heart, and the idea that I could bend and shape this machine to do what I wanted became intoxicating.
As far as teaching is concerned … as a self-taught developer, I struggled at first because answers didn’t come easily. There was no Internet, no forums, no screencasts and books never seemed to answer the questions I had. So I spent a lot of time making mistakes and reading documentation. I remember being very frustrated, even well into my programming career, that there were these major gaps in my knowledge mostly pertaining to application architecture and object oriented programming. I thought I was too dumb to push beyond the basics. But I had an epiphany at some point: I wasn’t dumb … the content was not being thoughtfully presented. I knew I could explain these ideas to people like me who think differently. That fueled a lot of the initial spark to start LearnVisualStudio.NET. (I never thought I’d still be doing this now 15 years later!) I’m naturally emotive and empathetic and like helping people, so teaching technology seemed like an obvious career trajectory.
“Popular” is an understatement when describing your MVA courses! We see so much positive feedback on your MVA courses. And, in a slow month (August 2015), you had more than 143,000 unique visitors—from all over the world. What’s your secret?
As far as my approach to teaching … If I can simplify, exercise concision and precision, be approachable and offer encouragement, keep examples as simple as possible to let the core idea shine through without a high noise to signal ratio, then hopefully I can keep learners around and keep them coming back. I genuinely love the absolute beginner and I’m passionate about software development. I aspire to be the one who introduces new developers to the Microsoft developer ecosystem and community in order to realize their own dreams.
You tweet a lot of motivational quotes. Is there one that’s foundational to the way that you work and teach, or one you’d most like to share?
Zig Ziglar was known to say “You can get what you want out of life if you help enough other people get what they want.” As corny as that may sound, it has been my North Star since I was young. I take my role of serving others very seriously and I believe my secular work is part of a higher calling. Your value to the world is not what you can get for yourself, but what you can give to others. And while we all search for the meaning of our lives, the great irony is that our life’s meaning can only truly be understood in the context of the impact we’ve made on others. Many times, the seeds you plant become trees long after you’re gone.
I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to serve others – helping them get what they want out of life. The things I really want out of life cannot be purchased, but because of LearnVisualStudio.NET, Channel9 and Microsoft Virtual Academy, I was able to be around my kids everyday they got home from school, help my wife realize her dream of staying home with our young children, provide for my family and on occasion help those in my community in need.
Can you share an excerpt from a fan letter or post?
People are kind enough to share their gratitude for my work with me on occasion. I probably should keep some of those around and read them on a rainy day. However, I really don’t think about those sorts of things often; adulations are nice but you have to keep them in perspective. I made the mistake early on of identifying too closely with the health of my business or the effectiveness of my work and that made me absolutely miserable when I had a bad sales day or got a grumpy note. I’ve learned to be more even keeled with both praise and criticism. Like I tell my kids, how others regard you will resemble a bell curve. 10% will love what you do – no matter what. 10% will hate what you do – no matter what. The other 80% -- they don’t give it a lot of thought one way or the other. The only thing that matters is focusing on doing the best job you can in this moment. Having said that, I’m thankful that some people find my work engaging. It’s nice to know that I’m a tiny part of others’ success.
Behind the scenes at LearnVisualStudio.net:
How would you describe LearnVisualStudio.net, and what does a typical day look like for you?
I believe I’m building something special. LearnVisualStudio.NET is not an “all you can eat buffet” … it’s a five course meal prepared specifically for you and your tastes by a chef. It’s not a library; it is a guide leading learners down a path to get to a very specific destination: helping them get their first software development job at a good company. Everything I do has to contribute to that end goal. So, if you want 10,000 hours of videos (you’ll probably never watch), LearnVisualStudio.NET is not the right fit. But if you’re headed towards gainful employment, then I think it’s the best system available to achieve that, and I’m very proud of that accomplishment.
A typical day … I’m not a very disciplined person. Some days (when I have clarity and energy) I’m slicing through butter with a hot knife. Some days (when I don’t know what I need to do next or I’m mentally tired) I’m trudging through wet concrete.
I work from home, and I have no employees except a friend who answers email for me part-time. When I have a big deliverable – like a course for Microsoft Virtual Academy – I spend a lot of time reading and thinking. It looks like I’m doing nothing, but I’m trying to connect the dots and figure out how best to approach a given topic. Then I start building scratch pad applications – usually these turn into actual examples I demonstrate, but at first they are a tool to get my head around the topic. This usually leads to insights into how I should approach a given topic. Those are fun times – when hours pass like minutes.
But as a sole proprietor I wear all the hats. I’m the IT support guy, the accountant, the customer service guy, the janitor, the CEO. It’s taxing, and those days are not as fun. I keep check lists, I’m writing emails, I’m contacting support, I’m searching for resources – art, software, etc. – to help me complete a task. A lot of mundane busy work.
Do you teach any “train the trainer” courses? If so, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to those new to training roles?
No, and I’m not formally trained as a trainer. My “training” came from trial, error and feedback, receiving – literally – tens of thousands of emails and forum posts telling me what I did right and what I did wrong. (This necessitated I that grow a thick skin.) So, I’m not sure I’m the best resource to train others how to train. I’m very opinionated and I have my own personal style – but I’ve never attempted to articulate my approach and I’m not sure it would work for everyone. My approach consists of thousands of little interactions through the years … “don’t do this”, “say it like that”, “try saying”, etc.
If I had one piece of advice, it would actually be two pieces of advice: First, be empathetic for the learner. When you know something, you have the “curse of knowledge”. It’s difficult to remember how it felt when you were just a beginner – you lack context, you lack a mental model of how everything fits together, you’re flailing trying to make sense of it all – I analogize it to learning to swim … there’s panic as you let go of the side of the pool. So, as a trainer, be precise in your explanations. Give simple examples that illustrate just one idea at a time. Be thorough, but concise. Be encouraging and passionate about your topic and demonstrate your affection and love for the learner. Another old corny quote: “People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.” Yes, corny, but true.
We’ve all had days where a project isn’t working and we want to throw in the towel. What motivates you to keep going and complete a project, such as a new course?
Here again, I’m not sure I have any special insights. I frequently hit road blocks and get discouraged. Again, that’s part of owning your own business, working in a highly competitive environment, and feeling the stress of constantly learning new things. When I’m really frustrated, walking away, getting a cup of coffee and re-gaining my composure and perspective is all it takes.
The greatest motivator is knowing that I’m flying without a net. Keeping alive the notion that “if I don’t bust my butt today then I’ll be out on my butt tomorrow” is a pretty good motivator to fight through the fog and frustration and finish. I have too many people depending on me to entertain the idea of throwing in the towel.
I read this book called “The Obstacle is the Way” which quotes Marcus Aurelius saying: “Our actions may be impeded … but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and convers to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
I understand that to mean that all of us have the capacity to progress in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It’s a matter of will, and if there’s a will, there’s away. Furthermore, and more salient to the matter, is that inside the road block is an insight or an epiphany just waiting to get out. When I hit an obstacle, it highlights something I lack, a deficiency. In my world, that means I don’t fundamentally understand some core idea. In my mind, I try to get clarity. “If I knew __ better, I could accomplish ___.” Then, I adapt; research, trial and error. Once I master it, I realize what the impediment was, and if I hit that impediment, chances are others will, too. That helps me articulate the solution to others.
And when all of that fails, I take a nap. When I wake up, I’m in a better mood and I’m ready to try again.
Bob on technology:
If you had one piece of advice for someone trying to start a career as a developer (or just in the tech sphere, in general)—whether this person is a student just starting out or is an adult who wants to change careers— what would it be?
In the software industry, your knowledge is “ever brown”. You always feel like you’re “getting behind”. I used to look at learning “all the new stuff” as a necessary evil. Eventually the knowledge churn of the IT industry is like sandpaper to the soul, wearing you down.
One of the best epiphanies I had is that learning is my full time job. It’s what I do best. I’m marketable as a software developer because of *what I know*, and growing out of that *what I can do*. I’m worthless (or, rather, worth less) if I don’t have the knowledge my company needs. To a greater degree, the software development industry is a meritocracy: your value is evaluated on what you know.
So, learning is my full time job. Whatever work product or deliverable comes out of that is a by-product of learning. Since it is my full time job, I decided to treat it with the importance it deserved in my life: I created a fail-proof system for consuming new information (I follow about 100 team and team member blogs, and have new posts sent to my inbox), I spend quiet time reading and writing little throw-away examples.
So, my advice would be: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
There are so many coding languages out there. How did you identify your favorite one (or the one you use most often)?
It all started with learning the BASIC language on the Commodore 64. Then, in college, I discovered Visual Basic. That lead to a career writing VB – the “entry drug” into the Microsoft developer environment. When C# and .NET was announced in 2001, I saw all the excitement and momentum and decided to take the time to learn it. Nights, weekends, holidays … I was working at home teaching myself C# and all the new .NET related technologies.
There’s a popular school of thought that studying many programming languages gives you access to heuristics you wouldn’t gain from studying just one language. There’s a lot of value in that.
My tact is more practical: there’s not enough time in the day to “do it all”. I’d rather be really good at C# (or, more accurately, the Microsoft development ecosphere) than just ok at a bunch of different languages. I have limited time and energy, and *gasp* there are more important things in life than sitting in front of a computer all the time. With the degree of market penetration Microsoft has in the enterprise and their constant investment in innovation, I’ve decided put all of my eggs in Microsoft’s basket. I think that’s a pretty safe bet.
What do you think the IT landscape is going to look like in 5 years? 10 years?
That’s a toughie because it’s such a broad field … In general, I think the IT landscape will be even more fragmented than now. I think IT is driven by investment, and much of that depends on the economic landscape. People are talking about a bubble in tech on par with the early dot-com bubble. I believe those sorts of things are self-fulfilling prophecies: the more you talk about them, them more likely they are to happen. But the valuations on some of these start-ups is ridiculous. A correction is inevitable and its effects will reverberate through the entire industry, even corporate IT.
Fortunately, “this too shall pass”. The great thing about bubbles is that there’s always another popping up somewhere.
I took a quick peek into my crystal ball and I saw:
The near ubiquity of the Internet of Things. Sensors. Everywhere. Communicating with each other. As you know, it’s already here. But I think we’ll see deeper penetration into every aspect of life.
The automation of everything, both robotic and localized-AI (specific to a given industry).
Companies scrambling to integrate Machine Learning into their organization in every department. You have a flood of data from so many sources, including sensors gathering data. You need to make sense of it all, then use those decisions to better automate processes. It’s the glue that holds the first two items together. Finding people that can analyze the need and stitch together solutions will be the bottleneck to adoption.
Companies becoming increasingly aggressive in pursuit of software developers. Did you happen to see the commercials recently by a really big company that were attempting to convince Computer Science college graduates to come to work for them and change the world? I think we’ll see more and more of that.
Cloud computing as the center of *every* developer’s universe. Vendors will offer more services, and more granular micro-services. Developers will increasingly rely on them in their apps because it will be cheaper to call a web api than develop and maintain that piece of functionality themselves.
Natural language will increase in strength and utility. Cortana will be a more integral tool in every Microsoft developer’s toolbox as companies and customers desire to have a Cortana experience.
Implantables. Wearables are nice, but I won’t be happy until I have a Matrix-like experience, complete with a USB 7.0 port in my noggin.
Bob on teaching:
As an instructor, what is your favorite class to teach? And as a student, what was the best class you ever took?
I enjoy teaching application architecture because that’s when learners begin the path toward professional software development. They learn how to mitigate the inevitable effects of change on a software system by thinking in terms of layers of responsibility in the system. I see lightbulbs switching on in people’s minds when they have these things explained to them.
I’m sorry to say that the classes I took in college were … underwhelming. I get that feedback often from others as well. As a professional, I only took two in-class training sessions. Fortunately, I didn’t pay for either. In one case, the instructor didn’t even crack open the course material until the night before he began teaching. It was a complete waste of time. I just went back to the hotel and read through the material myself. By the third day, I realized I wasn’t going to get anything by going to the class and just toured Los Angeles instead. But it was then that I knew I could do something better and offer it cheaper.
If you were tasked with teaching a high school course on programming, how would you motivate the students and keep them interested?
I’ve thought about this because my son recently took an uninspiring Java class in high school. Personally, I would try to excite the kids’ imagination and show them what’s possible. Getting results quickly would be the key. My goal would be to try to build some confidence in their capacity to harness technology, bending and shaping it to their will. Any language or API that they learn will likely be out of vogue by the time they’re ready to hit the workforce. So, focus on core ideas (not ticky-tack language gotcha’s) and build cool stuff together as a team. First and foremost: demonstrate passion for the topic. I would also flip the class by assigning them to watch videos that teach language at night, then work on projects together in class. I would have them work in pairs or threes. Camaraderie and collaboration is one of the coolest things about working in tech.
From basic React.js concepts and tools, to a comparison with other front-end frameworks (like jQuery, Knockout, and Angular.js), Jon and Christopher will give us all the details. We’ll even build up to full single-page applications (highlighting Flux and Redux application architectures) with back-end data on ASP.NET. Join us for what promises to be a lively and informative session! (NOTE: If you'd like a refresher on jQuery or Bootstrap concepts before the course, check out Introduction to jQuery and Building Responsive UI with Bootstrap.)
Introduction to React.js
Developer Setup: Getting and Working With React
JSX Templates, Components, and Data
React Application Architectures with Flux and Redux
Single Page Applications
Date: October 21, 2015 Time: 9am‒5pm PDT Where: Live, online virtual classroom Cost: Free!
IT Pros, if you’re familiar with telephony concepts and have experience with servers and databases, be sure to check out this newly available on-demand course! We’ll hear from Bryan Nyce and other Skype for Business experts, as we get a thorough look at steps required to plan, design, deploy, configure, and administer Skype for Business Server 2015. The course can also help you prepare for Exam 70-334 ("Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015") as part of your work toward Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification
We’ll focus on unified communications features, with particular emphasis on coexisting with and migrating from legacy communication services. The course includes slides, videos, interactive games, and in-depth hands-on labs to get you up to speed. Check it out to see what you need to plan and design a Skype for Business Server implementation that meets your organizational and user needs.
If you are already working with Node.js, but you're not sure how packages and modules work, don’t miss the opportunity to see how the magic comes together! We’re excited to join experts Jeremy Foster and Chris Kinsman on September 2, for “Mastering Node.js Modules and Packages.” We’ll see cool demos, including a detailed look at real-world packages and how they are structured. And we’ll learn how to create and consume modules, how to bundle them into a package, and how easy it is to publish to npm.
This server-side application framework is really popular, and we’ll learn why. The Node.js online repository, npm, contains just about any code your project might need, and it's easy to plug in that code and to keep it up-to-date. Plus, you can start giving back to the vibrant node ecosystem by sharing the clever things you have built. (NOTE: If you'd like to review Node.js concepts, take a look at the Microsoft Virtual Academy MEAN Stack Jump Start and the popular course, Using Node.js with Visual Studio Code.)
Mastering Node.js Modules and Packages
Date: September 2, 2015 Time: 9am‒5pm PDT Where: Live, online virtual classroom Cost: Free!
We’ve come a long way in the last two months! We’ve made a slew of significant improvements to the Microsoft Virtual Academy website, and we’re still going! Today’s release brings new functionalities and exciting offers that we can’t wait for you to see. As always, we strive to improve your experience with MVA, making it easier for you to find the courses you’re looking for and helping you to stay engaged with the course material.
Here’s what you can expect from our latest update:
Teachers and students, we now have a dedicated section for you on MVA! Imagine@MVA aggregates existing training, as well as new courses. Whether you want to learn to code, skill up on cloud computing, or validate your skills, you’ll benefit from MVA’s streamlined user experience and variety of content. Teachers, we’ve got you covered too! Check out the educator resources page for help to light up technology in your classroom and to stay current with computer science trends to infuse in your teaching.
Richer Microsoft Press experience and discount
In our last release, we revamped the Microsoft Press landing page on MVA, which features a collection of free e-books, ready for you to download. Today, we’ve included a richer books experience through the course catalog so you can quickly and easily find the appropriate reference materials. In addition, we’re announcing a new offer, reserved for MVA members only: 50 percent off of e-books and 40 percent off of print books at the Microsoft Press Store! If you haven’t already, register on MVA and get your discount codes! If you’re already a member, sign in and click “edit profile” to view your discount codes.
Loving the feedback!
We continue to listen to your feedback and to include your suggestions in our sprints! For example, as a result of your feedback, this release includes improved course player performance and more in-depth course descriptions on the topic and product pages. Keep it coming, and share your thoughts and suggestions with us on the MVA site feedback forum.
The MVA Team
Windows 10 is here, and we’ve got some great training resources to help you skill up, and there’s more on the way! Our experts walk you through real-world scenarios and offer helpful demos to help you get familiar with new Windows 10 features, including security enhancements, Microsoft Edge, and multifactor authentication, along with a modern UI, the new Windows 10 app model, open source tools, and mobile device management. Welcome to the exciting new world of Windows 10!
Developers, check out these courses, and download the SDK.
A Developer’s Guide to Windows 10
Get an in-depth look at the Universal Windows Platform! Experts Jerry Nixon and Andy Wigley show you how Windows capabilities and social integration can help you create amazing experiences on devices running Windows 10. Get demo-rich Windows 10 guidance in 30-minute modules, so you can explore the topics that interest you most.
Developing Universal Windows Apps with C# and XAML Jump Start
Get real-world guidance for developing universal Windows apps, and save yourself valuable time when creating apps for today’s mobile workforce and consumer marketplace. Learn from Microsoft experts as they build a working app using tools and techniques that can give you a dramatic advantage as a developer targeting both Windows and Windows Phone devices. See what's smart to share and what's not, when developing for the two platforms. Explore a broad range of features, covering both consumer and enterprise scenarios.
Universal Windows App Development with Cortana and the Speech SDK
Want to add Cortana to your app? Whether you're into text-to-speech (TTS) technology for accessibility, social responsibility, or gaming (or all of the above!), you're probably excited about the possibilities that Cortana offers. Explore the why and how of speech apps, tour Cortana, and review the capabilities of the Speech SDK in Windows and Windows Phone. Work with speech synthesis, look at integrating Cortana, check out voice commands, and find out how to build speech-enabled mobile apps with Visual Studio for Windows devices. You'd be surprised at what you can do with as little as three lines of code!
IT Pros, we’ve got a wealth of information to make your lives easier!
Getting Started with Windows 10 for IT Professionals
Learn how you can securely enable your organization with Windows 10, in this practical and informative course. Windows offers management features that empower IT Professionals to address the current shift toward a mobile workplace, including BYOD and CYOD scenarios. Walk through what's new in Windows 10 deployment and management, and look at runtime provisioning, mobile device management (MDM), and secure authentication.
Windows 10: Update for IT Pros
Microsoft Australia Senior Evangelist Jeff Alexander takes you through Windows as a Service, Windows 10 deployment, what’s new in management and the Windows Store, Runtime provisioning in Windows 10, and the new era of security features. Check it out!
Coming up! We’re looking forward to a deep dive into Windows as a Service and all the good things it means to your organization. Join us live to get your questions answered in real time.
Preparing Your Enterprise for Windows 10 as a Service August 13, 9am–1pm PDT (The Americas) August 14, 8am–12pm CEST (Europe) August 14, 2pm–6pm SGT (Asia)
Get an in-depth look at some of the features that make Windows 10 such a powerful platform for IT Pros! Gain core skills around new infrastructure components to take advantage of everything in Windows 10. Find out how Windows will evolve through servicing, and learn how you can make the most of servicing to get new features to your users faster.
Take advantage of our Windows 10 training, and be sure to let us know about the great new things you’re doing in the comments below!
If you’re looking at the cloud, you probably have a lot of questions about available solutions, including whether they meet industry standards, attestations, and ISO certifications. And whether you are researching a hybrid or a public cloud model with Microsoft Azure, the questions remain the same. To get information and the confidence you need, check out Getting Started with Azure Security for the IT Professional, where we recently hosted a team of security experts and Azure engineers to demystify security in the cloud.
In this demo-filled course, we go beyond basic certifications and explore what's possible inside Azure. You’ll find out how to design and use various technologies to ensure you have the security and architecture needed to successfully launch projects in the cloud. And you’ll get to dive into datacenter operations, virtual machine (VM) configuration, network architecture, and storage infrastructure.
Here’s the course outline:
Earning Trust in the Microsoft Cloud
Inside a Microsoft Datacenter
Architecting Secure Compute Solutions on Azure
Virtual Appliances and Security
Understanding Virtual Appliances
Extend your Network to the Microsoft Cloud
How to Manage Encryption Keys for Your Cloud Apps with Azure Key Vault (be sure to check out the demos for that one)
Disk Encryption with Key Vault
Antivirus Options in Azure
Encryption for SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines
Azure SQL Database Security
This course was originally delivered live, and we’ve posted highlights from the chat Q&A.
If this course is interesting to you, stay tuned! We’ll be releasing a number of security focused courses over the next few months.
This cross-platform tool is far more than a text editor and is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to its many cool features. Want to walk through them? We’ll take the opportunity to do just that, on July 29, with the always-entertaining experts Stacy Mulcahy and Rami Sayar, in “Using Node.js with Visual Studio Code.”
We’ll see why the feedback has been so good since the tool’s debut, as we learn to use Visual Studio Code to create sites using Node.js (one of the easiest and fastest ways to develop real-time apps on the web today). We’ll even see how to customize the features, and we’ll explore key commands. Want to create a basic REST API using Node.js with Express, connect your web app to a database, and learn how to debug Node.js apps using Visual Studio Code? We’ll do that, too! Plus, see how to deploy your sites to Microsoft Azure, and create, test, and schedule Azure Web Jobs. Don’t miss it!
Using Node.js with Visual Studio Code
Date: July 29, 2015 Time: 9am‒5pm PDT Where: Live, online virtual classroom Cost: Free!
As we announced a few weeks ago, we’ve begun making changes to the Microsoft Virtual Academy site that we think (and hope!) will allow you to enjoy and learn even more with us! We are working diligently to improve our mobile experience, to make it easier for you to find the courses you are looking for, and to help you stay engaged with course material.
Here’s what you can expect from our second and latest update:
New topic and product pages
Thank you for the great feedback on the new home page design and navigation! We’ve now applied the same new streamlined MVA home page user interface to our product and topic pages. This new mobile-friendly design allows you to search and filter through a comprehensive list of courses, by difficulty level, popularity, alphabetical order, or even product version, to not only view the breadth of courses in our catalogue but also to pinpoint the exact one you need.
New Microsoft Press e-books landing page
Looking for e-books? We’ve got ‘em! Check out our revamped Microsoft Press landing page on MVA for a collection of free e-books, ready for you to download. The new design and navigation allows you to filter by topic, release date, title, and popularity, to easily scan through the options and to quickly download your choices.
You’re part of the MVA team!
Since our first release, you’ve been GREAT at providing feedback! Please keep it coming. We love it and always make sure it is communicated to the folks who are actively working on the site. Be sure to give us your thoughts and suggestions in the MVA site feedback forum.
Our dedicated design and engineering teams are still hard at work on new functionalities, so watch for more updates in the coming weeks and months!
How do you like the new home page? Have you tried the new player yet? Did you try it on your phone? We’ve been working hard to make it easier to find courses, to help you stay engaged with course material, and to improve our mobile experience. And the changes you see today are just the first wave of several you’ll see over the coming months, so stay tuned!
For today, here’s what you can expect from the new site:
Simpler site navigation
So you don’t have to scan through long lists of course categories, the home page now features three tabs tuned to key topics, which are based on whether you’re a Developer, IT Pro, or a Data Pro. Can’t find a specific topic? In the header, check out the Course drop-down menu for a full list.
With the “sticky” site header and footer, as you scroll through each page, you always have access to the search bar, the Course menu, and the forum and feedback links in the footer.
Responsive design for mobile devices
One thing we’ve heard over and over is that we need to deliver a better mobile experience. With the updated site, responsive design delivers an optimized experience based on how you are accessing the site, whether on a phone, a tablet, or a PC.
New course player
Enjoy the smooth learning experience! As we work to increase the range of training experiences we support, we’ve been thinking of the video player really more as a stage than just a rectangle for rendering video. This stage has the ability to seamlessly serve up videos, assessments, PDFs, and other files for you to download, helping you to concentrate on the courseware rather than on the navigation. As we migrate our catalog, over the course of the next week you’ll see more and more courses available on the new player.
To make the self-assessments more useful, you’ll now be able to go back and review the questions after you successfully complete one.
And, best of all, the player now remembers where you left off in a video, no matter which device you last used. Did you start to watch a course on your phone during your commute? When you sign in to continue watching on a PC, the video starts up right where you stopped watching.
New friction-free MVA trial experience
It used to be that, after you watched a few videos, you were asked to create an account before you could keep watching. But today, we are opening up our trial experience to include unlimited content viewing.
Nevertheless, being a member of the Microsoft Virtual Academy community still has distinct advantages. Going forward, you will be prompted to register on MVA when you attempt one of these features, which are exclusive to MVA members:
Manage your learning plans.
Attend a live Jump Start.
Track your progress.
Take a self-assessment.
Ask questions in forums.
Did we make it easier to skill up? Tell us!
We’re very excited about these updates to the site and hope you are too! Help us continue to improve. Try out the new updates, let us know what you think, and tell us what else you would like to see as part of the MVA experience!
Give us your thoughts in the MVA site feedback forum.
There are now more than 3 million registered users of Microsoft Virtual Academy! Give yourselves a round of applause! I encourage you to take a break from skilling up and get to know each other. You can meet on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Born To Learn, and in our course forums, and the stories behind other techies’ journeys will fuel your own passion for learning. To celebrate our community of 3 million lifelong learners, we’re inviting you to share your own story about how MVA has helped you meet your goals, big or small.
Did MVA help you get a job? Are you one of the more than 700,000 people who have started coding, thanks to Bob Tabor? Did we help you get certified? Did you find the right course at the right time, just as you started a new project with a new technology? Did MVA help you get your career back on track after big life changes? Did you complete “Know it. Prove it.” challenges? Did you complete a lot of them?
We’d love to find out about how MVA has been a part of your learning, and you never know who your own story will inspire. To join the party, go to the “Know it. Prove it.” forums, where people are posting about completed projects and achieved goals.
Another fun way to introduce yourself to the community is to photograph yourself with our new mascot, Brain the robot. He’s easy to assemble—just download him here, cut him out, and fold and glue along the lines. Then, post a photo of you together to Twitter with the hashtag #MVAStories. With MVA users all over the world, we’re looking forward to seeing how much he gets around.
On behalf of everyone who contributes to MVA, thank you for joining, and I look forward to getting to know even more of y’all!
Dear MVA learners, one of our great new additions to the MVA team, Andrew Parsons, has an exciting learning opportunity he has created this month to accelerate your skill building called Know it. Prove it
He just kicked this off this week and if you are not already involved you still have time to be a part of this exciting challenge. Thousands of people all over the world are joining every day.
Whether you're a relative newcomer to development or a deeply experienced IT professional seeking to add another string to your bow, Know it. Prove it. is sure to help you kick start your year off right with 28 days of awesome, quality training from Microsoft Virtual Academy.
All of the courses that make up each of the eight challenges were hand picked to give you a great walkthrough of the area, ramping up from introductory level stuff and getting a little meatier each time. By the end of the four weeks of February, you're going to look back and think, "wow, I actually did that, and now I'm a better technology professional than before."
Step 1: Go to Know It Prove It and register. All you need to do is sign up with your MVA account.
Step 2: Find a great challenge where you want to improve yourself.
Step 3: Binge learn on the topic of your choice!
Finally, make sure you blog, tweet and post on Facebook all about your journey. Snap screenshots of your challenge badge slowly filling up with that gorgeous green. Challenge your friends to join you on the journey. And make sure you use the #kipi2015 hashtag so we can find you!
Dear MVA learners,
As 2014 comes to a close, we wanted to send all of you around the world a personal note of thanks for all your support this past year. Your excitement about MVA and how it can help you build your skills and your careers has taken us to new heights.
Just last week we hit 2,600,000 million registered users. This is an incredible milestone especially given less than two years ago we were celebrating our first 1,000,000 registered customers. Now we see over 1,200,000 unique people coming to MVA to learn every month. 2 years ago is was 400,000 people per month. We now have thousands of courses across in 14 different languages spanning 20 diverse topic areas. We are humbled by your interest, and the amazing growth we have experienced because of your passion to improve yourselves.
While the usage of MVA has skyrocketed, your feedback continues to help us improve to better meet your needs. In the last few months we began regular monthly surveys to better understand where you are satisfied and where we need to improve both in terms of the site experience and course topics. This is helping inform our plans for improvements in 2015.
Thank you all for not only learning on MVA but also taking the time to help make us better. Please keep the feedback coming, we are listening!
On behalf of the entire MVA team we want to wish you all around the world a happy and healthy 2015!
Dear MVA learners,
While it is great to deliver a new feature people love, it is also fulfilling to fix something quickly when we don't get it right.
We got some great feedback on our new course player experience but one of the things we didn't do well was turn on "autoplay" when you first visit. I am happy to announce we turned this off today for the entire MVA world.
Your voices of honesty help us improve MVA and this is another great example of that.
Keep the feedback coming because we are listening!