2013 has gotten off to a great
start. This month, we are thrilled to welcome
Oliver Sturm back to the DevExpress team.
This month, I sat down with him to learn more about what he’s been up to
while he was away, what he’ll be doing at DevExpress, and superpowers.
Welcome back, Oliver. We are so
happy you rejoined the team. Tell us a little about what you’ve been up to the
past few years and what will you be doing in your new role at DevExpress?
OS: When I left DevExpress about three
years ago, I started spending most of my time working on consulting projects. While I had a large number of general software
architecture projects, I had a consistent number of customers who were focused primarily
on building applications with the DevExpress toolset. As often happens with consulting, many of my
clients began to look for mentoring as well.
As a result, I started building out instructor-led training around the
DevExpress toolset and scheduling public and private classroom training events
in Europe and the US several times a year. In late 2012 I released an online
course on the DevExpress ASP.NET WebForms component suite.
It was around that time I realized the
how much I really enjoy the DevExpress tools. I was using them long before I
joined DevExpress the first time and I never stopped using them, or telling
people about them. The time was just right now to come back and put some fresh
effort into the training program! In my
new role I will build a comprehensive portfolio of training content to be
delivered in online as well as classroom courses.
SF: That’s exciting for us and for our
customers, no doubt. What is it you love
What makes a
training class a great experience for me is the feeling that I'm telling the
students something they didn't know yet. In technology, any topic can be
exciting to somebody who wasn't familiar with it so far and who is just
learning how that new thing is going to make their life easier in the future.
Whatever the topic is, it is my job during class preparation to structure the
content in such a way that there is a clear path from beginning to end. I'll
identify what's particularly great about the topic, and the path will lead past
all those points in the right order. That's what learning is all about: being
told things you didn't know yet but you need to know, in the correct order. At
the end of a particular class I've taught, that one is usually my favorite one
- until the next one starts!
SF: It sounds very gratifying (and
fun). Along the lines of mentoring and
training, if a WinForms or ASP.NET developer were to ask you what
he/she should be learning today to ensure he/she has relevant skills for the
future, what would you tell them?
OS: First, and most importantly, learn
Knockout, LESS or Sass - everything platform independent programming requires
today. The reality is that mainstream programming today requires very few
actual client applications and the technologies I've mentioned lend themselves
more and more to the kind of client programming that is still important. If you
truly need to create client applications that interact with hardware or
integrate with the operating system beyond what's possible with the platform
independent stack, everything depends on your platform of choice - on Windows,
you should look closely at WinRT and possibly brush up on your XAML skills,
because that new platform is very likely to stay around.
SF: That’s sound advice. What technology trends interest *you* the
OS: I am most excited about the
openness we are seeing in software development. The traditional boundaries of
hardware platforms and operating systems are no longer so important today. It's great to see how technologies around
a degree of acceptance all around the industry that is unprecedented.
SF: I tend to agree. I think we are at an exciting inflection
point in our industry.
So from the present to the past - rumor
has it you wrote your first application in Turbo Pascal for DOS. Tell us
a little about the application.
OS: Well, that was probably the first
application I wrote that actually did something useful. It was a management
system for a doctor's practice, custom made for a friend's wife. I wrote the
whole thing from scratch: data storage, the user interface - which involved
some fancy data entry forms including validation - and printer drivers for dot
matrix printers to output the correct forms for medical supplies orders. The
last time I heard about it was actually in this millennium, but I believe
the system is no longer in use by now.
SF: Cool! If you were to rewrite it
today, what would you do differently? What would it look like?
OS: The problem I was solving back
then is certainly still current today, but I'm sure many details have changed.
I would probably want to write such an application as a multi-tenant enabled
web application so I could offer it as an installation-free service. If there
was the necessity of having an actual client component - perhaps to interface
with some special hardware locally - I would mainly target Windows, but try to
keep the client specific components to a minimum so I could offer support for
other or new platforms quite easily. I would certainly want to deploy to the
cloud - ASP.NET MVC 4 on Azure is a very strong platform now, but the same
project could be done with .NET or Java on Amazon AWS, or with Java or Python
on Google AppEngine. Isn't it fantastic how the requirements don't dictate a target
LOL! Yes. No doubt.
OK – so on to the not-so-serious stuff…if you had a super power, what
would it be?
What do you mean,
"if"? You haven't noticed? <g>
I think I'd like the ability to
communicate with anybody about anything. There are languages of course, and
then there are different backgrounds, experiences, cultures... most everything
that goes wrong in this world seems to be because somebody failed to get their
point across at the right time, in the right words, using the right tone etc.
Plus of course, it would guarantee immediate guru status as a trainer!
Failing that, how about being able
to guess lottery numbers?
brilliant. If you gain the ability to
guess the lottery numbers, hope you’ll share that intel with your co-workers
Finally, can you tell us one thing
most people do not know about you?
OS: If you look at me from just the
wrong angle in an unfortunate light, it looks like some of the hair on my head
is turning grey.
SF: LOL! That’s great! Thanks for your time, Oliver.
And again, welcome back!