Developers get a little more help from their friends

Microsoft Australia on Monday launched a developer-recognition program to link .NET user groups around the country and foster a stronger community.

Open to all developers free of charge, the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Connection program will utilise user group meets and a Web portal to build interaction among members.

Its main aim is to enable Australian developers to meet each other to boost peer recognition, help and support.

The program offers all developers a membership card based on radio frequency identification (RFID), a bimonthly magazine, and discounted training. Free Web hosting is also available for members to publish their profile on the Microsoft Web site.

The program has three levels of membership which are based on participation levels in the .NET developer community.

Entry level developers are assigned Recognised Developer status, certified developers are Active Developers, and "community influentials" such as user group directors will be appointed Dedicated Developers, according to Microsoft.

Active and Dedicated Developers' additional benefits include invitations to Microsoft events, with Dedicated Developers also offered speaking roles and regular contact with Microsoft.

Opportunities such as these will expand the Microsoft developer network, according to program coordinator Caroline Price.

"In the past we've had all these user groups around the country but there's been no way to get them talking to each other," she said. There are 11 Microsoft developer user groups around Australia.

"We'll also be looking at inviting more people to our MVP (most valuable professionals) Summit and our Dedicated Developer annual nights. Also we'll possibly do more movie nights, teleconferences...," she said.

Like Microsoft, Sun in Australia works with Australian Java Users Groups and provides assistance in areas such as access to skilled technical staff, VIPs and joint marketing initiatives, said Laurie Wong, Software Business Manager, Sun Microsystems Australia and New Zealand.

He said Sun works with Java developers both at a community/grass roots level in Australia (via the Australian Java Users Group) and at a commercial level. He said in the developer community, Sun’s Java Developer Program has been active in Australia for at least seven years.

"Java developers from around the globe can communicate, share resources and discuss developments in relation to Java and its various versions: J2EE, J2SE, J2ME, JXTA," he said.

RFID tags

All Microsoft user groups have been given RFID scanners to scan members' cards upon entry. The scan records data, such as identification and developer status, to improve future events based on members' attendance.

Previously user group directors had no way of tracking which topics (such as mobility, ASP.Net) attracted which type of attendees, according to Microsoft .Net evangelist Charles Sterling.

For details on MSDN Connection, see www.microsoft.com/australia/msdn/connection.

With Howard Dahdah

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