Ten years of blogging

Buck Hodges

This past week was the tenth anniversary of blogging here. Over that time I’ve written 560 blog posts. There’s clearly been a drop in my blogging frequency, unfortunately, in recent years. I’ve spent more time interacting with folks on Twitter over the last couple of years than on blogging because of the Visual Studio Online service. I started using Twitter to keep an eye on feedback and to look for problems that customers hit that we don’t know about (someday, I’d love that to be zero, but reality is that you can never have enough telemetry).

I started at Microsoft in 2003, and when I discovered the very open blog policy at Microsoft (basically, use common sense) and that anyone could do it, I decided to give it a try.

My first couple of posts were random, one on VC++ releasing a toolkit and another about Bill Gates visiting University of Illinois. Then I started writing posts about some of the issues I was working on and later really about how TFS version control worked, how to use the API, etc. It was a great way to get deeper technical information about the product out.

I quickly found that the more thorough blog posts on technical details generated the most readership and the most responses from people. That feedback was great encouragement to continue to blog. As those of you who maintain blogs know, a good blog post with depth takes some time to write.

As my role changed over the years, so did my blogging. I spent my first three years at Microsoft as a developer building TFS version control, then two years as dev lead of team build along with web access for part of that time. When I moved to dev manager, that was the start of writing far less code, but I was still contributing code to the product. I wrote at least one feature in every major release of TFS except for the TFS 2013 release. Unfortunately, I haven’t contributed more than fixing a few comments in the last 18 months or so.

Being the tenth anniversary, I can’t help but look back on my top blog posts as measured by page views. Here are some of the top blog posts.

  • With 8.5% of total page views, my number one blog post was about removing Visual Studio setup projects. That’s certainly not what I would select as my all-time best blog post, but it clearly shows that if you blog about something controversial, it’ll get a lot of traffic. Since we’re on this subject, I’ll point out the new Visual Studio Installer Projects Extension that was released last month that adds support for Visual Studio setup projects in VS 2013.
  • My second most popular post was about the licensing changes we introduced with the TFS 2010 release. That post taught me to be very careful about posting on licensing. The reason is that our licensing is very complicated. It’s why there’s a sizable white paper on licensing that still doesn’t cover everything. What happened was people started posting licensing question (because it’s very confusing, of course). Well, I couldn’t answer many the questions, but I wanted to help people. That meant I was constantly sending questions posted on my blog to the licensing folks. I’I haven’t posted about licensing since then (i.e., blog about what you know).
  • The next couple are about a path already being mapped in a workspace and authentication in web services with HttpWebRequest.
  • The first one from 2012 (all of the others are older) is Visual Studio 2012 features enabled by using a TFS 2012 server. Given that this post has less relevance over time than the others, it’s interesting how popular it was (I don’t have a graph, but I imagine it’s tailed off quite a bit). This is an example of a post that we should have with every release.
  • Skipping to the end of the top ten is how to delete a team project in Visual Studio Online. When we originally released the feature, it was pretty hard to find. Now it is more apparent in the admin experience.

Thanks for reading and for your comments over the years.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/tfsbuck


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