Ask anything to Azure .NET Developer Advocates

1 May 2018, 6:00 pmAsk Question

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  • .NET Framework / .NET Core
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  • Enterprise solutions
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Thanks everyone for participating in today's AMA! There were a lot of terrific questions and I hope you found value in our replies. It is an exciting time to be a developer and the cloud is an amazing frontier to explore. On behalf of our team, I want to share we are all passionate about empowering you to have the best possible experience with the cloud. We are all open to answer questions, receive feedback and suggestions and help out where and when we can. Thank you for your time and don't hesitate to reach out as you have questions in the future.

Azure Advocates on Twitter: @azureAdvocates

Find a Cloud Developer Advocate near you: Advocates

Vlad Slav's photo

Hey guys! Thanks for the AMA. :)

How serious is Microsoft Azure about Blockchain? I know you have a Blockchain service, but I don't see many real-word apps built on the top of this. What is Microsoft Azure doing to bring Blockchain closer to average developers?

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

Our pleasure! I wish I could share more about Blockchain but it's not my area of expertise. I am curious though (am I allowed to answer an AMA with a question of my own?) ... what is the need behind making Blockchain accessible to average developers? In other words, if I take any random developer at any company, what problem is it I put them on that requires they use Blockchain to solve it?

Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

Not an area of expertise for me as well, but I would say based on the customer stories alone, I would say they're pretty serious.

Mildred's photo

Is desktop development still alive? What do you think?

Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

Great question! It is still alive, but I think that you will see it evolve over the next few years from what we've known as a Desktop application into Progressive Web Applications (PWA) and hosted web applications like Slack.

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

Yes, desktop development is very much alive. I see people working with desktop applications all of the time. However, I do believe ultimately what we call "mobile" will gain capabilities to replace what was traditionally "desktop" and what used to be the tower sitting under our desk will be replaced by compute power in the cloud. That used to seem so unrealistic but as WiFi and cellular network coverage evolves and spreads, I imagine we'll start to find our experiences are no longer about what platform or device but more about what is the back end service that drives it and which interface do we want to use to experience it. Personally I'm a fan of eventually sitting in a cafe wearing augmented reality glasses typing on air.

Alexis's photo

Why should developers consider joining Microsoft? What's the best and worst part about working at MS?

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Cecil Phillip's photo

.NET Software Developer, Podcaster, Educator & Mentor

@Maxime Rouiller we love you too Max!

Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

Developers should consider working at Microsoft because the things that were mentioned above, and also because they are interested in solving a lot of interesting problems. Because it's such a large company, it's likely there's at least one problem that a developer would find and love solving here. It's also telling that a lot of the employees stay for many years here, 10-20+ years long. My favorite thing is the ability be to remote. While not every team is set up for it, it's nice to have a work environment that works for me, and done well to where I don't feel in a vacuum. My least favorite thing is filling out forms/surveys/reports, a necessary evil, it's probably a personal problem :)

Charlie Chang's photo

How good is Azure for other languages like Python/Django?

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Cecil Phillip's photo

.NET Software Developer, Podcaster, Educator & Mentor

We have support for a variety of programming languages. Go, Java, Python, JavaScript, and a few others. We try out best to make sure there's parity between our service SDKs between different languages.

Specifically for Python and Django, we support running web apps using our App Service offering => https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/app-service-web-get-started-python?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-cephilli.

Our machine learning studio supports using python https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/machine-learning/studio/execute-python-scripts?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-cephilli.

Also, our Azure CLI is written using Python, which I think is pretty cool https://github.com/Azure/azure-cli

Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

There is great support for Python. Checkout the Azure for Python Developers docs - https://docs.microsoft.com/python/azure/?view=azure-python&WT.mc_id=hasnode-twitter-shboyer

Alexis's photo

Do you guys use anything apart from Microsoft products for coding? Imagine a personal project, what would you choose?

  • VSCode or Sublime/Atom?
  • Azure vs AWS/DO
  • Microsoft Surface or MacBook Air? ๐Ÿ˜€
Show +2 replies
Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

I use VS Code and have been even before joining Microsoft. Prior to that I used Atom and Sublime as editors.

My daily driver for a machine is a MacBook Pro (non-touch bar) and I write in .NET Core and node.js. I do also have a Surface Book Pro for when I need to get into some legacy code or want to look at the latest and greatest features of Visual Studio.

If I were to start a new project - VS Code and shape it into the editor you need it to be with all of the extensions that are there. Regardless of the language, you'll find something that will make the experience better.

Azure gives me everything I need from a cloud experience and global coverage. I really enjoy Cosmos DB and Azure Functions for backend development. However, using containers for API development and middle tier services, you can use any cloud that supports Docker Swarm or Kubernetes if you need that type of scale for your app.

Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

I used Atom before Microsoft, but when working with .NET I use Visual Studio a lot - the tooling is perfect for me there. I was converted to VS Code when I joined Microsoft. I still use Atom for a few other things (I don't want to abandon my Add-on setup I worked so hard on!), but mostly personal projects. I primarily use a Surface Book (Work computer), MacBook Pro and a PC I built myself that runs Windows 10. I'll most likely start a personal project on my PC, and continue on my MacBook if I want to work on it somewhere else, like a coffee shop.

Daniel C Lapenna's photo

Hi guys! Thanks for the AMA.

What, according to you, should every beginner programmer know about the Microsoft Azure?

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

As a beginner developer I would know that Azure supports multiple programming languages (take a look at https://docs.microsoft.com/azure/?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-jeliknes) including SDKs across the board. Obviously as someone on the .NET team, there is great .NET support as well. Visual Studio Code is free to get started with and contains lots of extensions that make it easy to integrate with Azure. It makes it very easy to deploy web apps. You also have access to an interactive web portal to explore features and functions but can drop to a command-line interface as you become more familiar and want to take advantage of more advanced scenarios.

Cecil Phillip's photo

.NET Software Developer, Podcaster, Educator & Mentor

Ah.. I think it's pretty easy for beginners and more experienced developers alike to get lost in the sea of things to know about. Azure itself is a huge collection of features and services that solve different types of problems.

As a beginner I think it's important that you understand the problem you're trying to solve first and what are the constraints you're working with. Then if the cloud is a good option for solving your problem, definitely take a look at Azure or reach out to one of us via social media.

If you're building web applications, Azure App Service is a great place to start for hosting your applications in the cloud https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-cephilli.

If you're interesting in containers, Azure Container instances is also another interesting option to explore for getting up and running quickly https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/container-instances/?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-cephilli.

Luce Carter's photo

If you were to become a CDA in an area other than your current area of expertise, what technology/framework/language/stack or whatever would you pursue instead?

Show +2 replies
Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

I'm looking forward to watching how cloud computing impacts the gaming industry, so I think I'd branch out there.

Cecil Phillip's photo

.NET Software Developer, Podcaster, Educator & Mentor

That's a great question. I'd probably want to jump into Python. That's my next favorite language after C# :) Great community there and lots of innovation

jalpesh vadgama's photo

Where do you see the serverless things going? I have tried azure functions and looks good. So do you think its time to integrate them in production? Is any of your customers are using them in productions

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

I see the capabilities and use cases continuing to grow. They are in production for many companies and there are cases where organizations have found tremendous benefits from management, scale, resiliency to cost reduction. I believe the tooling will continue to improve, the debug and logging experience will be enhanced, and the development lifecycle tightening as serverless adoption grows. What intrigues me is the ideas of a serverless aftermarket where components will be available to grab and plug into your application ecosystem to solve common problems. We're already seeing some of that with public repos and templates. I look at serverless beyond just functions, though, and consider things like orchestration with logic apps and even databases with Azure SQL and Azure Cosmos DB. The idea is that you will be able to build rich, enterprise scale applications without having to work with virtual machines, configure clusters directly or deal with setting up geo-replication yourself. All of these building blocks are provided as an out-of-the-box component for you.

Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

We have a lot of very large customers using serverless. Container technology is the latest to be leveraging it, such as Azure Container Instances where you can start a container fast without having to know or manage the VMs. Functions, Databases and more will start to operate on a serverless platform as the cloud grows.

Arthur Brown's photo

How will Cloud Computing evolve in next 10-20 years? Any specific ideas/hypothesis around its growth?

Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

10-20 years is a lifetime in this space. Less than 5 years ago the terms "serverless" and "microservices" were either non-existent or just emerging as terms. The growth to date has shown existing companies moving there and new companies starting in the cloud. Hardware continues to get smaller, so I think that it'll will just get smaller, faster and better.

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

Technology moves so fast a 10 - 20 timespan is difficult. There will be breakthroughs we don't conceive of. We know that machine learning/AI is gaining momentum and perhaps quantum computing will come within reach (and understanding) of the majority of developers. We'll have more out of the box solution and more things -as-a-Service but if 25 years of professional development has taught me anything, the more technology we use to solve problems the more technology is needed to maintain the solutions so we're going to be seeing more productivity per developer at scale, but the scale of what's required will grow in proportion.

Arthur Brown's photo

What's your opinion on distributed cloud storage solutions such as IPFS, Storj, Filecoin etc?

Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

An interesting concept. There will be more applications of blockchain technology in addition to storage. It's always good to have your data stored in multiple locations (regions, clouds, etc) and securely.

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

Distributed storage is always a good idea and is available now within all of the major cloud providers. "Decentralized" storage is a different concept, I think, and one that probably comes with its own pros and cons. A pro because there is access to many nodes and ways to add storage (and people can potentially opt in to the business model, make some money with their extra storage, and that overall means less waste across the Internet) but now you are trading some control. A lot of IT want to know who's phone to call when something breaks, and with distributed storage in a cloud provider that's easy. What's that look like when a segment of nodes on a decentralized storage system fail?

Charlie Chang's photo

Hey team, Thanks for the AMA.

What are the few things that set Azure superior than AWS and other platforms?

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

It's really easy to get subjective with an answer, because we are all biased based on what we work with. I'm passionate about many of the Azure services and feel they have a phenomenal developer experience, great documentation and samples and give me what I need to build solutions. Having said that, there are literally hundreds of services and I've built expertise in only a handful. I would break down the specific areas you want to address in the cloud and look at things like: how easy it is to set up? What is the projected cost? How much coverage do I need and is provided (i.e. is there geographic replication, automated backups, and do the service level agreements meet my needs). That can help with determining what the best fit is for you. Things I personally think make cloud development amazing: Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Event Grid, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Web Apps and Azure for Containers whether it's Azure Container Instances, Azure Container Registry, and/or Azure Container Service for Kubernetes.

Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

+1 to Jeremy's answers, specifically setup. The most interesting thing I learned about recently is you can create a complete CI/CD pipeline with Azure DevOps Projects with very minimal setup.

John Eisenberg's photo

Why should one learn .NET in 2018? What advice do you have for beginner developers?

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

.NET is a widely used platform. It is mature so there is a large body of knowledge available, it's been used in production so there is a body of best practices available, and it is very popular with both small start-up companies and multi-billion dollar global corporations. That means there is a lot of potential for both learning and employment. Every platform and language has its pros and cons and I think you can take anyone who likes "x" and hear compelling arguments against "y" so you have to find out what clicks for you. As a beginner, my advice is to be involved. Don't just learn from books or courses or bootcamps or university - those are all great options - but network and go to code camps, meetups, and conferences. Network with other developers and learn where they work, how they like it, what they do and how they learned. Find new topics you can build projects against and go talk about them. Learning by doing I believe is extremely important if you are interested in a development career.

Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

There are MANY reasons I can think of but here are my top 3:

  • .NET Core is Cross platform: write .NET where you like it and with the tools you love
  • Languages: C# has a lot of support, but are you interested in a functional approach? Check out F#!
  • Open Source: about 50% of contributions to Core are from the community, you have the opportunity to alter the future of the technology

For beginning devs who want to learn, I'd say start small. There's SO MUCH information out there so it can be very overwhelming on learning where to start. When it comes to learning .NET, If you're an instant gratification person (like me) I'd say start here

Karan Sharma's photo

How do you guys deploy Azure's new features to the production?

Shayne Boyer's photo

Coding things in the open for the cloud @microsoft

They would have to using CI/CD process through VSTS. I'm sure that there are a host of processes within the build and deploy pipeline. But in short that is what it is. We even us VSTS to build and deploy VSTS.

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

Very carefully? LOL. I'm not on the team that would be pushing a new feature, but as you see new features on board you can probably guess based on announcements. Features come in through a set of stages, typically starting with a private preview that allows a smaller group to weigh in and test and provide feedback, before going into public previews and finally general availability. In fact there's a few features in preview right now: https://azure.microsoft.com/services/preview/?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-jeliknes and you can sign up to be a part of the process.

Karan Sharma's photo

Hey there! How does one get a job at Microsoft? What's the process like?

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

It starts with submitting for a position. You can find available positions online at https://careers.microsoft.com - if you know someone on a team you are interested in you can always reach out for more background. Each team has different hiring practices but you will find a lot of employees are involved to look at everything from culture and personality to technology, desire, and goals. It's a multi-step process but fortunately at least for me it was thoroughly explained to me what to expect from the teams I interviewed with. If you don't succeed at first, don't give up! Many of us had multiple interviews before finding the right fit and joining.

Maxime Rouiller's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

My process started with finding a Tweet by one of the first Cloud Developer Advocate Lead and applying like @Jeremy Likness said. My profile matched the job position perfectly but I applied for other jobs before and this job actually interested me more than those I applied previously.

My best bet? Follow Microsoft-ie on Twitter, check the job listings and apply.

Lots of jobs require relocation but it all depends on the teams. Don't let that stop you from applying. Personally, I still live in Montreal, QC, Canada and there's no plan to relocate yet. ๐Ÿ˜

Daniel C Lapenna's photo

What is your favorite emoji? โค๏ธ

Show +3 replies
Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

๐Ÿ˜‚ all day every day

Maxime Rouiller's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

๐Ÿž๐Ÿฅ“๐Ÿฅž because of the French Canadian in me. Also, I'm the bread baker in the team (I think). Don't use them much but I just love them so much. ๐Ÿ˜‚ <= this is also my most used one.

Mildred's photo

What are the skills required to become a Dot Net developer?

Show +1 replies
Cecil Phillip's photo

.NET Software Developer, Podcaster, Educator & Mentor

I think there's a lot of ways to answer this question. There's the "What do I need to become a developer" in general question and "How do I get started developing in .NET" question. I'm gonna attempt to quickly answer the latter (from my perspective of course).

  • Figure out what type of application do you want to build. With .NET you can write Native Mobile apps for iOS or Android, web applications, desktop applications, videos, etc.
  • Check out our docs at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/?WT.mc_id=dotnetama-hashnode-cephilli
  • Read code! This one is probably more generic across languages, but I always believe reading code is just as important as writing code. I regularly video Github to see what everyone else is up to.
  • Get familiar with the tools. Visual Studio today is still the go to tool for most .NET developers. Find out everyone else is doing for debugging, app designs, etc
  • Get involved in your local .NET community. There's nothing more valuable than getting community support.
Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

A lot of the skills required are like any other platform or language (conditions, decision making, etc), but with .NET you have a few additional options that will require separate skills:

This is just a very short list of possibilities:

In my experience, as someone who works mostly with C# with ASP.NET the skills that came in handy for me were:

  • Understanding generics
  • How object oriented programming applies to .NET
  • Making good use of implicit variables
  • General understanding of the ASP.NET web page lifecycle
  • How to work with data in a .NET application (preventing sql injection with parameters, when a stored procedure would be better than building the query or statement, how to map application objects to data)
Daniel C Lapenna's photo

If you could say one thing to someone new to programming. What would it be?

Show +2 replies
Jasmine Greenaway's photo

Cloud Developer Advocate

Don't be afraid! You can really make that thing you want to make! YES, YOU!

Cecil Phillip's photo

.NET Software Developer, Podcaster, Educator & Mentor

YOLO!!! I'm kidding.. maybe.

I've always told my students to find something they care about and try to create a solution around that. If you care about something you're more likely to stick with it. For example, maybe you like cars or sports or gardening. Try to creating small programs around those ideas. As you learn more about programming, trying adding more features and continue to challenge yourself to go further.

JF's photo

In terms of languages across the .NET ecosystem, some would say VB.NET is going to be more core functionalities (legacy?) versus a language like C#, which MS seems fully invested in. Most universities (that I know of) are teaching more Java/Python. How does MS break into the educational realm, so that students can gain experience in moving to Enterprise vs. the startup world. The Imagine program is good, but are there other initiatives? Learning things like SSRS, AS, IS are skills employers seem to want. Essentially it seems like you need to keep developers trained on the .NET platforms/languages so they use them, or the numbers would diminish.

Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

In high school I studied Pascal. In college in the 90s we were using Fortran, years later it was C++ and my first paid job was using a midrange computing language called RPG. I share this because I don't think the language you learn in college/university matters as much as learning how to program, and I think as much as they teach about systems at scale there is still no substitute for hands on experience. I know we are making initiatives like the Azure University Tour, providing student subscriptions, etc. to help students on board. I do believe now that .NET is open source and .NET Core is cross-platform you'll see .NET languages making their way into curriculums. It may not be the right language choice for statistics or machine learning (hence Python) but it's possible to supplement your education with a variety of activities. This is why I believe the key is:

  • Internships - to learn what challenges are faced by enterprises
  • Conferences - to learn and network with other experienced developers
  • Bootcamps/Code Academies - for a formalized/deeper dive into the language you are looking to master

This is where I see a lot of those I know who are experienced with SSRS, etc. learn and grow.

David Paul McQuiggin's photo

Do you feel that F# is receiving enough love from Microsoft? Personally I feel it deserves much more support and promotion.

Show +1 replies
Jeremy Likness's photo

Empowering developers to be their best.

There is a dedicated team with many passionate people behind it. I believe it was even the language behind QSharp used for authoring Quantum computing. I'm not sure how to define "enough love" but I know it's a popular language. What support do you feel is lacking? Microsoft was heavily involved with/supportive of the latest conference: http://fsharpconf.com/ and our employees are actively on the foundation.

David Paul McQuiggin's photo

@Jeremy Likness Traditionally F# templates in Visual Studio have been behind the C# templates, or in some cases, non existent. It's also only recently that F# documentation has been reorganised; previously it has felt like a community effort sponsored by Microsoft, rather than an officially supported language.

F# is certainly not promoted as an equal partner to C#. Although it has to be said, F# examples for Azure Functions are quite comprehensive - but there is no Visual Studio 2017 template for them, unlike C# ;-)

There's definitely an active user community around F#- it just seems that Microsoft are missing out on an opportunity to promote an alternative to say, Scala.

David Paul McQuiggin's photo

Any suggestions for implementing CQRS with Event Sourcing on current Azure feature set? Examples / references? ('CQRS Journey' is a little dated w.r.t newly available Event Grid, etc).

Show +1 replies
David Paul McQuiggin's photo

Excellent, thanks...

I have a prototype with Event Hubs for accepting Commands, Functions (one per Command) that apply the Commands to an Aggregate Root, then Events routed via Event Grid to Functions - one per Aggregate type, that processes any and all Events that might be raised by that specific Aggregate type.

At the moment, one Function per Aggregate type is the only way I can think of to work around cold starts leading to Functions per Event type processing Events out of order for Projections etc.

Lots of reading to do - cheers!