Tag Archives: Microsoft

Job: .NET Software Developer – Edinburgh

Sigma Seven Limited are looking for a .NET software developer to work out of their Edinburgh office, near Holyrood, beside the Scottish Parliament.

Job Description
This vacancy has arisen from increased demand from our customers and forms a key part of our continued expansion plans. As a part of our development team here at Sigma Seven you have the chance to make a real impact on the growth of the business, working on our industry-leading mobile mapping product “GeoField” – for tablets and ultra-mobile PCs.

This role involves working on a variety of projects, both implementing customer solutions and developing core product enhancements using the latest development tools, targeting leading-edge mobile technologies.

Our development team works collaboratively to deliver innovative solutions to our customers, working closely with customer project teams, and adhering to defined project plans. As part of this talented team, you will be involved in making decisions throughout the software development process from initial concept and design, through coding and operational handover, with an emphasis on using your own initiative to push the boundaries of our product and solution capabilities. The nature of our work requires excellent communication skills and an enthusiastic approach to problem solving and team work.

Desired Skills & Experience
Candidates will ideally have 3 or more years of commercial software development experience, and should be passionate and able to demonstrate expertise in the following:

  • .NET 4.0, C#
  • Experience of the full software development lifecycle, from requirements gathering and design through to solution testing and operational support
  • Working closely with clients and end-users

The following skills and experience would be an advantage:

  • A degree in software engineering, computer science or a related subject
  • Experience of GIS and spatial databases
  • WPF
  • LINQ
  • XML

Further information and the application process can be found here.

Results: Windows 8 devices & app development survey

Earlier this month, I ran a Windows 8 – devices & app development survey.

I asked four simple questions:

  • Do you intend to purchase a Windows 8 device?
  • Are you planning to develop your own “apps” for Windows 8?
  • Is your employer planning to develop ‘tablet’ apps for Windows 8?
  • Thinking about ‘tablet’ devices – what is important to you?

During the first two weeks of August, the survey was tweeted and re-tweeted. As such, it attracted enough attention to provide some very interesting results. 200 people responded within the first week of August; another 80 during the second week. I’m now in a position to share the results…having spent a “little bit” of time working out how best to display the data! Turns out Microsoft Excel was the answer all along!

Thanks are due to Matt Baxter-Reynolds for his input and contribution towards the design of this survey.

QUESTION 1 – Do you intend to purchase a Windows 8 device?
The answers on offer were:

  • Yes, I plan to purchase a device as soon as it’s available
  • Yes, I plan to purchase a device next year
  • Yes, I plan to purchase a “Windows RT” device this year and a “Windows Pro” device next year
  • Perhaps
  • No, I have no plans to purchase a device this year or next

Between now and next year, 61% of respondents are planning to purchase a device capable of running Windows 8.

36% plan to purchase a Windows 8 capable device as soon as it’s available. From what information is available at the time of writing, this device will be running Windows RT; it may or may not be a Microsoft piece of hardware though. Personally, I see the Windows RT device as something that I can have on the arm of a sofa. It’s not a device I plan to spend a lot of time “working” at, but a device that I will use for short periods of time on a regular basis. It may well be the device that we use when travelling, something to keep us connected in hotels, etc. It’s unlikely that a keyboard will play a major part in its use, although it may well be used if it’s part of the cover.

20% plan to wait until next year before buying into Windows 8. Like most things, some folks prefer to wait until a device / platform has been established before making their investment.

5%, myself included, plan to purchase a Windows RT device and a Windows Pro device. I am hoping the Windows RT device will be the device that is kept in the lounge, on the arm of the aforementioned sofa. The Windows Pro device I hope to be able to use in place of a laptop. I would like to be able to use it at conferences, as organiser, as attendee and as a speaker. By that virtue, I would like it to have sufficient performance to be able to run Visual Studio and the like, i.e. it should be able to “achieve” where many netbooks have tried and failed.

17% are considering their options when they responded with “Perhaps.” This is fine. Whilst Microsoft would love it if we all rushed out to by their devices running Windows 8, it’s understandable that many folks will want to wait and see how the devices and the operating system turn out.

22% do not intend to purchase a Windows 8 capable device.

QUESTION 2 – Are you planning to develop your own “apps” for Windows 8?

The answers on offer were:

  • Yes, I am already developing software for Windows 8
  • Yes, I plan to start developing software for Windows 8 this year
  • Yes, I plan to start developing software for Windows 8 next year
  • Perhaps
  • No, I have no plans to develop software for Windows 8

63% of respondents are either developing software for Windows 8 or have plans to do so between now and next year. Do remember that it is possible to develop Windows 8 software without actually owning a device. Whilst it is possible, developing Windows 8 applications on a tablet-like device itself is probably an extreme, most respondents will use meatier development machines.

25% are already developing software. I would imagine that this pot included a number of Windows Phone developers who are busy porting their “apps” over to Windows 8. The programming model is very similar; so much so, one might consider the Windows Phone model a subset of the Windows 8 model. However, I would also expect this 25% includes those developers who have downloaded Visual Studio 2012 (in it’s pre-RTM releases).

31% are planning to start developing software during the course of this year.

7% are planning to develop software, but not until next year.

15% are sitting on the fence and might develop Windows 8 software.

22% are fairly clear and have no plans at all. In many ways, there is no obligation to own a device in order to develop apps for it. This has been proven in the Windows Phone space; students at the University of Hull have published apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace that were developed using the Windows Phone emulator attached to Visual Studio 2010. I expect that some of the 22% of respondents have gone on to answer the remaining questions with that in mind.

QUESTION 3 – Is your employer planning to develop ‘tablet’ apps for Windows 8?

The answers on offer were:

  • Yes, definite plans for off-the-shelf products
  • Yes, definite plans for internal use
  • Yes, definite plans for off-the-shelf products and internal use
  • We are planning to run a pilot/investigate further
  • Perhaps
  • No plans to develop Windows 8 apps
  • I don’t have an employer

21% of respondents are planning to develop ‘tablet’ software for their employers, whether it is for off-the-shelf or internal use only products. 12% are looking to develop off-the-shelf products, 3% are building for internal use only and 6% are targeting both. Internal use only development seems rather low, 3% equates to 8 respondents.

18% plan to run a pilot study. In the corporate world, this is a fairly normal thing to do. It is likely that some of the percentage points will convert themselves in to “Yes” responses as the pilot projects prove themselves. Equally, some will become “No” or may be put on the back-burner to “Perhaps”.

21% are sitting on the fence and might consider developing ‘tablet’ software if their employer asked. This is a demand driven approach – if clients ask for tablet-based software, many firms will weigh up the pros and cons of such a development venture. Given that Windows 8 devices have the ability to run applications that are built using Visual Studio, firms with a bedrock of Visual Studio development expertise may well find a new market has opened up for them. And it is a low-risk market at that – if the developers know the tools, there’s no cross-training to Objective-C (Apple devices) or Java (Android devices).

33% of “corporate” respondents have no plans to develop ‘tablet’ software. This ties in with Questions 1 and 2, where we saw 22% of respondents answer “No”. It stands to reason that some respondents may not have employer or may not be looking to develop software for their employer.

7% of respondents did not have an employer. This answer was included largely to provide an “out” for this question. I did not want the “No” vote skewed when folks reached this question, I would rather have the 7% broken out than have it bundled in with the 33% of “No” responses.

QUESTION 4 – Thinking about ‘tablet’ devices – what is important to you?
Question four was a “tick all that apply” style of question. It was added to gather sentiment towards slates / tablets.

The results are not very surprising: a device that is quick to power on, doesn’t cost the Earth and can run for a long time would be an excellent design goal. Having plenty of “apps” available is also a good design goal – it appears that people want to be able to use their devices “right out of the box”; we can perhaps infer that also means “right out of the box at launch“. This is not a bad thing: Microsoft are being very proactive and are rallying the developer community such that they might develop Windows 8 apps before the launch date in October. And that’s not all: there is a steady stream of DevCamps covering Windows 8 development, Azure, Windows Phone and the Web.

High up the list, at 45.1%, “Availability of free software development tools”. In keeping with earlier releases, Microsoft has Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8. With the exception of any membership fees that developers must pay in order to submit apps to the Windows Store, Visual Studio Express won’t cost you a penny. If you have an MSDN licence, the membership fees are waived for the first year.

Lower down the percentage points, we see a reasonable drop from 28.5% down to 13.4%.  Screen size, Flash support, packaging and colour appear to be the less popular options.  The problems of the Nexus 7 packaging did not seem to ruffle any feathers in this poll, only 6.5% of respondents were keen on easy access packaging! Looking at everything from 28.5% upwards, the specification for current Microsoft hardware devices hit all of these percentage points. I am sure we can expect to see many third party hardware manufacturers using these percentage points as differentiators in what promises to be a heated lead up to Christmas 2012.

Only 9.7% of respondents expressed the need for Flash support. With HTML 5 becoming ever more prevalent, many web-sites are moving away from using Flash. Plus, it would appear to be the subject of a rather emotive debate that involves some rather choice language!

Colour choice does not seem to be a deciding factor in this survey, 5.1% equates to 14 respondents. Elsewhere, colour is number 9 (out of 10) on Debra’s list of 10 reasons I can’t wait to get a Microsoft Surface tablet! Colour choice is probably useful if you have more than one similar looking device at your disposal. It also provides choice to the fraternity of folks who complain “I don’t like black”. That said, my wife loves her Nokia Lumia, despite the fact it’s not the right shade of pink for her (it’s magenta wasn’t the correct answer it seems!)

I am happy to update this post with your thoughts, please note them in the comments below.

Next Steps
If you are thinking about developing software or apps for Windows 8, find your nearest DevCamp! They are a great place to meet like-minded developers and your local Microsoft Developer Platform Evangelists (DPEs)!

Windows 8 development
Windows Phone

Edinburgh – Aug/Sept – Windows Azure, Windows 8 UX and Windows 8 Dev Camps


As mentioned at the recent Scott Hanselman tour of Scotland, Microsoft are running a bunch of dev camps in Edinburgh.

These dev camps are great opportunities for you to spend a day with like-minded individuals and the talented evangelists from Microsoft. If you are looking to build apps for the soon-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system (and indeed, Windows Phone), attending a dev camps is the perfect way to kick-start your development!

They are free to attend and you will get fed and watered!

Windows Azure – 30th August, Edinburgh

Windows 8 UX Dev Camp – 30th August, Edinburgh

Windows 8 Dev Camp – 31st August, Edinburgh

Windows 8 Dev Camp – 1st September, Edinburgh

Do you want a sneak peek at some ideas Microsoft are working on?

Microsoft’s Steven Clarke is looking for five JavaScript developers to help him with a user experience study!

The study starts on 31st of July and runs until the 2nd of August – please get in touch with Steven to arrange a convenient time.

You’ll need to make your own way to Microsoft’s Edinburgh office (it’s pretty much at Waverley railway station)

You’ll have to sign an NDA to participate as the prototypes are confidential. It’s a great opportunity not only for an early look at some ideas Microsoft has, but more importantly for an opportunity to significantly influence the direction Microsoft take.

Please contact Steven if you are interested.

Smartphones: unbalanced exposure? [Part 1 of 2]

In my last post, I was singing the praises of Windows Phone and the devices that it’s installed on. This post is going to serve as a brain dump of my thoughts relating to smartphone marketing, as I see it in the UK. It seems so unbalanced, it seems to favour specific devices, platforms and device providers.

Since it’s launch, Windows Phone has picked up significant momentum such that it is a very credible alternative to the other black slab smartphones that are out there. I’m not planning to use this post to share huge amounts of “market share” information with you, there are plenty of sites doing that already, some better than others. However, what I do want to get off my chest is the unbalanced advertising that I see for the other black slabs. Everywhere I turn, I see full page spreads offering me ‘droid devices, ‘berry devices or the “i” device. Around about the launch of Windows Phone during late 2010, I did see some newspaper adverts, however they seem to have all but dried up.

So what’s the deal? How do the phone vendors and carriers decide which devices to promote? I’ve heard that in the US, staff that sell a particular device receive additional commission. I can’t imagine it’s much different here in the UK. However, since it’s always the ‘droid devices, the ‘berry and the “i” devices that are the subject of such huge promotion, it makes me wonder how Windows Phone devices will ever reach the mainstream. I’m fairly hooked into the developer community and I know that there is a lot of excitement in the Windows Phone application development space. What can we do to take that excitement and enthusiasm for the device out to the consumers?

That leads to my next question, are the phone vendors and their staff geared up and armed with sufficient knowledge to sell Windows Phone devices? If they are receiving a higher commission for selling a ‘droid device over a Windows Phone device, why should they skill up on Windows Phone? All they have to do is convince the customer / punter that the ‘droid device is the device they are looking for. The playing field has to be levelled if there is to be genuine competition. The phone vendors need to play a major part in balancing their pitch point and they need to ensure that their staff are given all the necessary training to be able to compare, contrast and sell Windows Phone, ‘droid, ‘berry and “i” devices.

The key draw of the application logos in the cutting below is clearly there to capture the social audience, those with an interest in online shopping and the casual mobile gamer. Windows Phone can do all of that; it has an official Twitter app, an official eBay app, an official Facebook app, Amazon and of course the much-played Angry Birds. So why does this particular advert need to use an array of five non-Windows Phone devices? Both adverts in this post carried the word “free”, yet also had a monthly cost of £15 or £25 attached. There is the obvious irony of “here’s something for free, that will cost you ££ per month”, however that’s not for discussion here!

Choice is important in the marketplace, so why offer such an array of devices, yet limit the actual choice of phone operating system? I’m confused, I’m looking for answers and I can’t find them; well none that don’t involve money in some way.

Perhaps this is what the marketplace actually wants? Is today’s phone buyer driven by much little more than the knowledge the device is the right colour, it looks good and it can run Facebook and Angry Birds? What does the competition really look like? Are we looking at an underworld of competition between Apple, Google and RIM? Looking at the vendor sites, it certainly looks like it’s a tight market with directed competition. I really want to see Windows Phone succeed and make its way into the “top 3” sooner rather than later. However, until the phone vendors and carriers iron out their competitive issues, I think it’s going to be a struggle.

Of course, Microsoft’s partnering with Nokia should provide a means of getting Windows Phone devices in front of vast numbers of consumers, certainly in Europe. I understand that Nokia have built bridges with the carriers in the USA, which does bode well for market penetration over there too. Nokia are well-known in Europe, they’ve recently ordered a couple of million devices, which suggests that they mean business. One would hope that with the might of Nokia, its existing distribution infrastructure and its need to succeed in the smartphone space that we’ll see some serious competition for the “i”, ‘berry and ‘droid devices that are omnipresent in the newspaper adverts.

I’m keen to hear what you have to think about this subject, please feel free to comment. Thanks in advance!

In the meantime, ignore the phones above, the Windows Phone devices below can run all of the big name apps, games and tools!

And there’s all this other Windows Phone swag at Amazon too!

Event: DDD Dublin 9th Oct 2010, NDRC #DDDIE10

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper Dublin – the second outing for the DDD brand to Ireland!

9th of October 2010

The event takes place at the NDRC, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8.

How much does it cost?
Nothing. Nada. It’s totally free to attend. You’ll get a free lunch and coffee/tea throughout the day. The event is made possible by the kindness of Microsoft, the NDRC and the Digital Hub. There’s even free WiFi available, so you can tweet during the event!

Ben Hall -TDD Painkillers
Jackie Pollock – Developing Workflows : Things I’ve learnt along the way
Mark Rendle – Functional Alchemy: Tricks to keep your C# DRY
Niall Flanagan – The Incidental DBA
Colin Gemmell – From .NET to Rails, A Developer’s Story
Micheal O Foghlu – Cross Platform Apps (Windows Phone 7)
Anne-Marie Charrett – Discovering your inner Tester
Liam Westley – Commercial Software Development : Writing Software Is Easy, Not Going Bust Is The Hard Bit
Billy Stack – A Practical View of Domain Driven Design
Daniel May – Learning Software Development the ‘right’ way
Craig Nicol – HTML5(.1) : The language of the cloud?
Nathan Gloyn – So you want to try Scrum?

DevExpress and Telerik have kindly provided us with swag in the form of wearables and product licenses – register and attend the event for a chance of winning a high-value prize! We should have plenty of wearables, so your chances of going home with something are high!

More details can be found here:

Meet Joe Duffy – Parallel Programming Talk @isntv 30/06/2009 4PM GMT

It’s fair to say that today’s processors are getting pretty advanced.  The arrival of dual core processors marked a significant change in processor design and the performance we can expect from them.  Whatever your beliefs about the limitations and upper limits of Moore’s Law for single core processors, multicore processors are here to stay.  And with multicore (or manycore), as developers, there’s a whole new way of programming to master: parallel programming.

Microsoft has recognised this with their Task Parallel Library (with a focus on the .NET architecture here).  Indeed, Microsoft’s commitment and vision in the parallel space, particularly for developers is recognised by those on the ground and by those further up the corporate ladder: “Microsoft’s goal is to make the benefits of building software on manycore architectures simple and accessible to the broad developer community.” –  S. Somasegar.

Processor manufacturers are keen to promote development for manycore.  It’s easy enough to sell processors (or so I believe), however if programmers have to re-align their development techniques and thinking, writing applications that run on manycore devices is going to mean a change to the rules.  Historically, programmers have shyed away from parallel and concurrent programming.  The challenges of understanding and dealing with race conditions, task-to-task communication and synchronisation have played their part in chasing developers away.  In the concurrent programming space, predictability, re-orderability, reconciliation and data stability cause similar concerns.

Intel are in the software library space too, they have their Intel® Parallel Studio which promises to deliver simplified, end-to-end parallelism to Microsoft Visual Studio C/C++ developers.  Indeed, Intel are providing considerable support for those of us learning parallel whether it’s as a beginner or an advanced practitioner.

June 2009 saw Intel launch their own on-line TV channel: the Intel® Software Network TV.   Of course, you can follow the show on Twitter: @isntv

Whilst the channel isn’t 100% dedicated to parallel programming, there are two specific shows of interest:

  • Parallel Programming Talk (Every Tuesday, 8AM Pacific – 1600 in the UK)
    June 30: Joe Duffy of Microsoft will discuss the Microsoft Parallel Extensions to .NET and Microsoft Task Parallel Library. Joe Duffy is the lead developer and architect for Parallel Extensions to .NET.
  • Teach Parallel (Alternate Tuesdays, 10AM Pacific – 1800 in the UK)
    June 30: HPC Centers can help support curricular change. Tom interviews Scott Lathrop, Blue Waters Technical Program Manager for Education & TeraGrid Area Director for Education, Outreach and Training.

I’ve been watching the shows since the June 9th launch: they’re professionally done, yet have the air of flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants about them…which adds both realism and that little something to each show!  Typically the shows are live and bring together big names either in person or over a video link.  Remote presenters often appear on a laptop screen which gives the show a real sense of community.  Most shows are 30 minutes long, which is good insofar as they don’t take too much time out of your working day. And they are “right-timed”, live broadcasting doesn’t start until 8AM Pacific which is 1600 London time.

So far the shows have focused on parallelism in academia.   However you may have noticed that I’ve included details about the June 30 shows.  I’m particularly interested in Joe Duffy’s inclusion on the agenda.  Joe’s the author of a couple of very popular books:


If you are developing applications using the Microsoft tools, listening to what Joe Duffy has to say is a not-to-be-missed opportunity.  Learning how to take advantage of manycore processors that are available is going to be a key skill to have (if it isn’t already).  Joe’s a lead developer and architect for the Parallel Extensions to .NET.  He probably works very closely with The Moth, and we know that Dan’s content is second-to-none: I’m sure we can expect the same from Joe.

See you online at Intel® Software Network TV on the 30th of June at 1600 (London time)!

Dealing with Concurrency: Designing Interaction Between Services and Their Agents
Parallel computing
Concurrent computing