A lot of new stuff has been coming out from Microsoft lately. Couple that with all the cool open source projects available for use and a developer can quickly get left behind from all the new technology. I try to stay pretty current but there is some new stuff that I’ve been wanting to use. I also wanted to brush up on some old skills and even use some of the technologies I am experienced with in new ways. I decided it was time to start a little project for myself. I’m often asked by developers about how they can gain experience with new technology (or even old tech that is new to them). My advice is that they should just write an application that uses the technology. As a hiring manager, I’ll give serious consideration to that kind of experience, provided it isn’t “hello world”. When I write an application like this, I treat it like a real world production project. And if you are creating a web application you can have it hosted and then it IS a real product. That should count as experience to a smart hiring manager. So when you write these applications, try to follow all of the best practices, use good standards, etc.

In my case, I am writing an application that I hope will actually get some use. I’m hoping to get some great blogging material out of this as well. I already have, but now I need to find time to write about it. Anyway, figure out what you want to build and then create a list of the things you want to learn. As you write the application, you can just keep adding other technologies, frameworks or patterns in along the way.

Here is my list of things I’m using or will be using in my new pet project. Obviously the beta stuff is brand new. And I’ve already got experience with MVC 2 (pre-Razor), jQuery, HTML, CSS, etc. However, this stuff gets better and better all the time and I like to stay on top of it. Working a few hours here and there for the past 2 weeks, I’ve already included all of the items in blue in my project.

  • Visual Studio 11 (beta)
  • Entity Framework 5 (beta)
  • Entity Framework Code First
  • Entity Framework Migrations
  • ASP.Net MVC 4
  • Razor
  • HTML 5
  • jQuery
  • jQuery UI
  • Git
  • Open Authentication
  • CSS3 & Media Queries
  • HTML/CSS Grid Systems
  • NuGet
  • SEO Toolkit (Microsoft)
  • C# 4.5 (including Async)
  • SignalR
  • Azure
  • ASP.Net Web API
  • BootStrap (from Twitter)
  • Facebook Integration
  • Of course, Dependency Injection, Unit Testing, and all of the other stuff I put into any app I am deploying.

I’m writing this as a web application and creating a mobile version at the same time. In addition, I plan to extend this to additional platforms. So my list continues:

  • Mobile Web
  • WP7
  • Metro (Windows 8)

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