In-Depth

Working Programmer: Five Questions with Ted Neward

We catch up with the MSDN magazine columnist on remembrances of things past, and ask him what he sees in the future for programmers living in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

Ted Neward gets around. He is well-known as a presenter at Visual Studio Live! and Live! 360 events and a columnist for MSDN magazine as the "Working Programmer." He ends each of his columns with a cheerful, "Happy coding!" Find him at one of the Visual Studio Live! events, and he will most likely be holding court with several eager attendees hanging on his every word. We caught up with him last summer and had a chance to ask him five quick questions.

1. What first got you into your programming?
My "speciality" is languages of all forms, and that dates back to when I was a C++ developer and first got a glimpse of Java. At first, I discounted the thing -- it looked like a crippled C++. No templates, no default parameters, no operator overloading. Who'd want to work with a crippled C++? But after six months of playing with Java 1.0 and 1.1beta, I realized the beauty of Java lay not in the language, but the virtual machine living underneath it. That opened up a whole new dimension to programming languages, and I've been chasing those "shaft of light from heaven" moments around different languages ever since.

2. What is it about your specialty that keeps you challenged and engaged?
Have you seen how many languages there are out there? And despite all their similarities, they often hide really interesting idioms, features, or approaches that influence how I build and write software. And the beautiful thing is, that's never going to end. For as long as we write software, we will be looking for better ways to write software, and incorporate them into our languages.

3.What are some of the biggest changes or advancements you see coming in the next few years?
I think we're going to see a proliferation of Ahead-Of-Time compilation tools (similar to what Xamarin does to allow using C# to build iOS apps). That seems to represent a really nice best-of-both-worlds compromise between traditional compiled languages (a la C++) and runtime-based languages (a la Java or .NET). I suspect Visual Studio will start exploring this already, pushing more of the ".NET Native" story as people warm up to the idea.

4. What would be your top priorities if you were a lead product manager?
For Visual Studio: Buy Xamarin.

For SQL Server: Ensure that Ruby, NodeJS, and Python all have Microsoft-blessed SQL Server drivers for better/easier access to Microsoft databases, and start looking at tools like Neo4J, FoundationDB, and MongoDB and see how/where/when we want to start thinking about non-relational storage in the SQL Server environment.

5. What do you think is missing in programming?
Not a thing. As I said, have you seen how many languages there are out there?

Ted's upcoming speaking schedule includes the following sessions at Visual Studio Live! in New York from September 28 to October 1:

  • Busy Developer's Guide to MEANJS
  • Busy Developer's Guide to NoSQL
  • Busy JavaScript Developer's Guide to ECMAScript 6

And at Live! 360 in Orlando, from November 16-20:

  • Busy Developer's Guide to NoSQL
  • Busy Developer's Guide to the Clouds
  • Workshop: Busy Developer's Guide to MEANJS

For details, check out the Live!360 event page here.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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