January 2006 - Posts
When preparing a slide desk for a presentation I often look at other Microsoft talks and sometimes borrow common icons and graphics, but normally I can never find the one I remember seeing. So I collected up a few icons from the PDC/TechEd slides and put them together for easy download.
We've got people, buildings, computer, data sources, connectors, etc. Download the full ppticons.ppt (4Mb) file.
Also I've got a few slides with common layout and diagrams (4Mb) and backgrounds (2Mb).
If you are giving a talk remember these presentation tips (and these). Also structure your slides when you are selling a solution to focus on:
- Your solution
- Business model
- Underlying magic/technology
- Marketing and sales
- Projections and milestones
- Status and timeline
- Summary and call to action
(Note: These images are copyright Microsoft and therefore I'm assuming it is probably alright to use them when giving talks on Microsoft technologies but otherwise you should seek approval before use)
Excel '12' is being greatly enhanced in the business intelligence space, which is great news as alot of users would never leave Excel if they didn't have too.
I've briefly mentioned KPIs before and support for PivotTables is looking excellent.
A KPI has four main components:
- Value. The current value of the business metric – this could be a physical measure like Sales, a calculated measure like Profit, or a custom calculation defined specifically in the KPI.
- Goal. The target for the business metric – this is usually an MDX expression that resolves to a value.
- Status. A number defining the current status of the Value, normalized in the range -1 (very bad) to +1 (very good) – this is also an MDX expression.
- Trend. An indication defining how the business metric is developing over time – getting better or worse relative to its goal. Trend is also normalized between -1 and 1, and also an MDX expression.
Using simple graphics makes figures and KPIs much easier to quickly glance.
The quick formatting with data bars and icon sets should keep many a manager happy with RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status reports.
I've mentioned before about the Microsoft Technet site 'How Microsoft does IT' and they have another good video explaining one of their internal systems called ManagePoint.
"ManagePoint is a centralized intranet-based web application that provides key information about a manager's organization, staffing, expense, and policy compliance."
It takes alot of work and effort to get multiple systems talking together especially a cross business boundaries.
Griffin Caprio talks about how Microsoft's products work reasonably well together and I have to agree. They are far from perfect, but most companies have a difficult time getting their own internal IT systems and processes working together - whether it is a single username/password for employees to remember or multiple intranets or multiple CRMs or multiple similar line of business applications.
I noticed Barclays Capital have some public demos of their electronic trading systems, it's interesting again as these companies tend to be very competitive with each other on IT solutions.
Saw this interesting blog post on 'Estimating Project Costs - Not a Black Art' by a web development team at Microsoft. They discuss different way of estimating and how varied timescales can be - will the answer be different if you are asked on a Monday morning to on a Friday afternoon?
On the same subject Steve McConnell of Code Complete, Rapid Development and Software Project Survival Guide (to name a few) has a new book coming soon on Software Estimation. His books are a must read by any developer/project manager and they do stand re-reading every couple of years.
Also on the reading front, Matt Davey points out another upcoming book, Practical .NET for Financial Markets which sounds interesting.
Giving too much choice often confuses consumers, do you need Windows XP Home, Professional, Tablet PC or Media Center edition? Looks like it might be set to get worse with Vista.
Seems the same can be true for developers when trying to work out which version of Visual Studio 2005 to buy.
Lots of corporate developers seem to be wondering which of the many Visual Studio 2005 SKUs they need. If you are already using NUnit, TestDriven.NET, NAnt, etc. and you aren't planning on implementing Team Foundation Server then do you really need Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Developers? Yes, you would get the code profiling, static analysis, unit testing, code coverage and Office development tools, plus a CAL (client access license) for use with Team Foundation server. But haven't most .NET development shops got most of those bases covered especially source control via CVS/Perforce/ClearCase/Subversion - So Visual Studio 2005 Professional would do fine.
So looking at the prices:
Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite with MSDN Premium Sub = £7341 (Full) / £2,348 (Upgrade)
Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers with MSDN Premium Sub = £3670 / £1543
Visual Studio 2005 Pro with MSDN Premium Sub = £1677 / £1342
Visual Studio 2005 Pro with MSDN Pro Sub = £805 / £536
Visual Studio 2005 Pro = £536 / £368
Visual Studio 2005 Standard = £201 / £134
Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server = £1878 per server + £335 per CAL
Select/Volume license agreements might make it a bit cheaper, normally a 15%-20% discount.
In fact if you aren't targeting Sql Server 2005, you might actually get away with just Visual Studio 2005 Standard; which removes remote debugging (can only do local), Sql Server 2005 Developer Edition (just get express), Server explorer window (which no-one ever uses), Sql Server 2005 Integration in IDE, MSI setup projects (only get ClickOnce). Now remove the need for refactoring support and class diagrams and we're nearly back to the express editions!
Think alot of people are interested in Team Foundation Server and what it does, but worry about the cost and complexity; you can download the pre-configured beta Virtual PC images and I'm pretty sure MSDN Premium gives 5 user license to tempt small teams to try it out.
What do other think, should Microsoft have given developers all these different choices? Which versions are you using at home and work?
ps. Don't forget the express editions are currently free and if you download the full ISO images of the express versions you don't need to register them before use.