(Note: this isn’t a technical post per se. There are no code snippets or API references. This is just based on an observation I had today while working with the GREAT people at Ratchet and RBA.)
Microsoft has taken a bit of a bashing lately. Apple and IBM are surpassing them in a number of categories. However, I think it would be foolish to think they’re out of the game. One of the reasons (I think there are many) they’re a force to be reckoned, so help me, is: DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS!
(If you haven’t heard that quote, it was yelled by Steve Ballmer at PDC several years ago. Just so we’re clear, I’m not a Ballmer fan).
Today was an interesting day. We (RBA & Ratchet) held an all day internal developer challenge. The goal was to kickstart development on an internal application that can provide us with some great information about what matters most to us – our people. I won’t go into all the details of the app, at least not yet, but the general premise was to creat apps that run on multiple platforms that consume data from, you guessed it, Windows Azure (I know, imagine me doing something with Azure). All in all there were about 25 people split across four teams. Each team was assigned to one of the following platforms:
* Windows 8
I’m not going to say who won. However, I will say that I was very impressed by what each team came up with, but that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing because of something I, and several others observed. The teams that were using Microsoft technologies (HTML5 via ASP.NET, and Win8) created the most compelling experiences. You could argue that they may have mire experience in the Microsoft stack than the other teams did in their respective stacks. While that may be true for the HTML5 team, there is no way that holds up for the Windows 8 team. The Windows 8 team was using an alpha technology that only one person on the team had knowledge of. They had to solve some fairly complex issues (such as figuring out how to reference certain assemblies in a Metro app). Not only did they solve those issues, they created an app that aligned with the Metro design guidelines and had great aesthetic.
Why the post? Because the two Microsoft teams did so well because of the tooling. Microsoft builds the best developer tools. EVER. I’ve done some work in XCode and more work than I’d like to admit in Eclipse. I’ve never liked the tools, I felt they were slowing me down, but I had nothing other than personal anecdotal evidence for this. Today, I saw first hand just how much better Microsoft tooling is when it comes to team productivity. That’s how Microsoft can win, by creating tools that continue to leave the competition in the dust.