What topics are important to you? Survey Results

The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal

Again, thank you for taking the time to respond to the survey, it was extremely helpful to me in planning the videos, tutorials and blog posts I'll be creating in coming months.

The survey is still open, but this constitutes my report. Unless there are any surprises, I'll read what comes in and incorporate it into my plans.


iStock_ScreamingAtLapTopXSmall The most significant aspect of the survey is that you took the time to let me know what you need, and I'm happy to say that what you need fits in well with what we're geared up to provide.

Overall, most of you are quite happy with the material here and find this a useful resource, but I'm convinced we can and must do a lot better.

What won't help is to keep saying that, so with this final report on the survey , it is my intention to stop blogging about  plans and start churning out new resources.


A Rare Medium Well Done

I asked about your preference for tutorials, walk through, video, etc.  You were of a single mind. Examining your first and second choices, we see that:

  • 85% value in-depth tutorials
  • 67% value videos
  • 44% value short walk-throughs
  • 10% value web casts.

As a result, expect to see more tutorials and videos, but also expect to see an attempt at making webcasts a more useful medium. They clearly are not successful as live versions of "how do I videos," and frankly I don't find them a good substitute for live conference presentations, but I've not given up. Live is live, and I'm convinced I can find a way, despite whatever barriers there are, to leverage that immediacy.

Please Sir, I Want Some More…

As for the level (novice to advanced), there was a very strong consensus (over 80%) that all the material should be at the intermediate to advanced level – but of course the folks who were most likely to respond were the most involved and most experienced users of the site. 

What comes through equally clearly, however is that you see the tutorials as the place for the most advanced material. 

Real Code for Real Programmers

iStock_ShockedManAtPCXSmallWhile there was no single topic that stood out as the most desirable, there was an overwhelming consensus that it was time to move beyond the introductory material and into the more advanced real-world, business oriented application-building areas.

Making sense of this kind of survey is 10% statistical analysis, 90% how you cluster the information.   Because this can't by its nature be a scientifically valid survey, I've aggregated where I can, looking for trends more than pin-point scaling. This led me to three groups:

  • Most Important indicates that 2/3 of the participants marked these as most important or very important.
  • Very Important   At least 1/2 marked as Very important or Important.  These I ordered based on the percentage who ranked a topic as very important or most important, but where the numbers were close I put similar topics together.
  • Unimportant These are the two topics that 1/3 of the participants marked as unimportant.

Here are the groups, brief analysis of some of the topics follows.

Most Important

  • Walk through of moderate size application
  • Custom Controls
  • Multiple page applications
  • Dynamic Loading
  • Web Services

Very Important

  • DataGrid
  • From SQL to Data Controls
  • Data Services (Astoria) 
  • XML into Data Controls  
  • Deployment
  • Blend
  • Mouse
  • Drag and Drop
  • Drawing, Brushes, Transforms
  • Animation
  • ASP.NET app services
  • Isolated Storage
  • Streaming
  • Asp.NET
  • Media

Consensus Unimportant

  • Markers in Video
  • Hypervideo

Additional Topics requested in comments

  • More about new controls
  • Authentication
  • Validation
  • A Learning Path


Brief Analysis

Without belaboring the point, this is almost entirely good news, because all of these are topics for which  we can readily provide extensive resources in a relatively short amount of time, and we can do so at the more advanced level you've requested. 

Let me focus briefly on the five members of the first group – Most Important:

App Walk Through This is very high priority for us. Most likely the first example of this will be related to Tim Heuer's new undertaking which I believe he has started to talk about and plan but has not rolled out yet.

As an aside, I also have another approach cooking in which I will be building some stand-alone modules that I hope to plug together into a larger application over time.  There is yet a third, unrelated project being developed in another group, that starts with design and walks all the way through delivery that I'm looking into and will report back on.

Custom Control Expect a 400-level tutorial & a series of videos within the next few weeks
Multi-page Apps Expect a brief 400 level tutorial or a solid walk through.  We have two videos. Part 1  and Part 2
Dynamic Loading Expect a brief 400-level tutorial and at least 1 video before the end of the year
Web Services Expect a brief 400-level tutorial and a series of videos  before the end of the year

A brief note on Web Services: I want to talk with some folks in the WCF team about this. While I'm more than happy to create a WCF server and then show how to interact with it so that you can see both ends of the cycle, Silverlight is more of a consumer; the WCF part is really outside of Silverlight's area of concern. That said, many of you have asked for this, so it may be faster to just do it.

Very Brief Note about Video Markers – This was the only topic that almost everyone marked as unimportant. I think this speaks to the poor job I've done conveying what these are for. Some time early next year I'll put together a project that shows what can be done with these that I think will transform the way we deal with video in the way that hypertext transformed the way we deal with text and images.

Additional Topics

Of course, in addition to the top 5, I'l be creating videos (and eventually tutorials) on each of the subjects in the second group, though not necessarily in strict order. Videos and shorter blog-based walk through's may be available before full-blown tutorials, though one way to get more information out there is to make sure both the videos and the tutorials are shorter and have a higher signal:noise ratio.

Note, a learning path was requested;  you may want to start here.

Other innovations are in the works, but there is enough substance in what is laid out above to serve as the central focus as we move rapidly towards release.

Again, thanks for taking the time to fill out the surveys and as always please feel free to post your concerns on any of the feedback forms or to send me email.


A Rare Medium Well Done was the VideoTex slogan at one time. How I wish I made it up. 
Please Sir, I want some more
… is a quote from Oliver Twist.


About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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