Monday 3 September 2012

The F in PFE is for Fisherman

Four and a half months ago, I started at Microsoft as a Developer Premier Field Engineer (PFE). That means a few things and has a bunch of meanings that will emerge over time.

The main thing I do is problem solving for, educating and motivating people who have bought the Microsoft experience and are dealing with it post-sales or even post-implementation.

That's a fancy schmancy way of saying that I work in support.

In Microsoft, there is not a lot of glam around being a PFE. Everyone loves Evangelists. Sales is king of the hill. We kind of sit at the bottom of the hill dodging falling stones. Sometimes, falling monoliths.

Don't get me wrong. We have a great technical depth so we dodge falling stones like ninjas dodge... falling stones. We are much better at our given technical field than metaphors.

There is a lot of satisfaction in what we do. Technical people who love to do technical jobs will understand that. We are not driven by the cheers of the crowd or the mega bucks. That isn't part of a normal day for us.

Working with PFEs around Australia over this brief time has confirmed for me that like me, they get out of bed every morning to solve difficult problems and to teach others to solve them or avoid getting in to them to start with.

Microsoft has its motivators and its merchants. PFE are its fishermen.

A colleague of mine put it best when he said this is what PFEs do...

  1. I went fishing today” – Sometimes when things go bad, we have to go in and fix whatever problem has occurred.
  2. I taught someone to fish today” – This is where we want to be, teaching customers how to effectively operate and troubleshoot Microsoft environments.
  3. Someone showed me the fish they caught today” – These are the best stories, where a customer has resolved a difficult issue on their own using knowledge they’ve gained from PFE.

So far, I like it. I'll certainly be here until the end of the month :)

Sunday 2 September 2012

Preparing for Win8 App Excellence Labs

While running Win8 Application Excellence labs, I have seen developers hit similar situations each time, that take time away from the labs that could be used for more user experience (UX) and technical feedback.

These labs are sponsored by Microsoft Evangelists and executed by Microsoft Premier Field Engineers. We are trained and experienced in what a Windows 8 application built in the New User Interface should look like and behave.

The purpose is to enable developers as they prepare their applications for submission to the Windows Store.

You will hear people say that the labs are there to grant early access via developer tokens but this is not the case. Our primary purpose is to communicate a common understanding of the design guidelines (both technical and user experience) that make up the new Win8 user interface and underlying technology.

Over time, I have built up a list of useful links to help developers get their apps in to shape so they are most of the way there when they hit App Excellence labs or for when they submit to the store themselves.

Here are some links to help devs on their way to a well built and well design Win8 app...

Acknowledge Me

Apple started a user experience trend many iOSes ago when it accepted Settings changes and did not ask for confirmation. Once the chang...