Microsoft Sri Lanka recently hosted a spectacular event “The Sri Lanka .NET Forum Developer Day-DevDay 2007” – which brought together developers, students, technology enthusiasts etc from various sectors. The DevDay 2007, held at Mount Lavinia Hotel recently, saw a turnout of over 500. The much awaited enthusiasts were elated by the new developments and innovations of Microsoft and were very much interested in holding hands with the software giant to garner more mileage in terms of technical expertise and guidance.
DevDay agenda included 4 rich technical presentations on some of the latest and greatest technologies from Microsoft, an ‘Ask the Experts’ session which gave the opportunity to the audience to closely discuss technical issues with industry experts, and a networking dinner which helped to build close relationships among the tech geeks in the community. Technical presentations included an overview about the new line of developer products coming out in the near future, an informative session in to Windows Presentation Foundation which demonstrated new aspects on enhancing the user interface of windows application, a session on Language Integrated Query (LINQ) which is definitely going to be a thrilling adventure for developers when it comes to working with data in their programs and finally about Silverlight which is going to revolutionize the way we develop and experience websites.
Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka said, "User groups are independently run volunteer groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss and share information on a variety of technology topics surrounding Microsoft products and technologies. Joining a user group is an excellent, inexpensive way to meet with your peers and to educate yourself to get more out of the latest Microsoft platforms, products, technologies and resources. By taking part in a registered user group, you will receive the latest technical education, content and offerings covering Microsoft products and technologies, in an environment emphasizing peer support and learning. Microsoft Sri Lanka strongly supports the user groups in Sri Lanka and works loosely with them to make the experience and knowledge of Sri Lanka’s industry professionals richer. "
Microsoft technical communities in Sri Lanka have established themselves as a key hub for industry professionals and students, whereby they can learn and develop their knowledge of the latest technologies in the world. The user base of registered members in Sri Lanka currently exceeds 3500 and the number keeps growing rapidly each day. Membership of the communities earns rare opportunities of meeting specialist speakers from around the world as well as industry specialists within the country and to closely interact with them. By joining a community, industry professionals can learn more, share their knowledge and gain greater exposure and recognition with the technical community.
These technical communities are formed by like-minded professionals and enthusiasts who are passionate about technologies. The communities are distinctly identified by their ethos of ’’Create, Share and Connect” and the spirit of this promise runs through all of their activities. The large numbers of skilled individuals who contribute to the knowledge base and experience with each community helps these technical communities transform themselves in to vast pools of knowledge that can be tapped into by anyone interested in the IT industry. Memberships of the communities are completely free of charge and members find themselves enjoying an ideal opportunity to network as well as learn from each other.
Wellington Perera, Developer Evangelist – Microsoft Sri Lanka who works closely with the communities says, "Over the past couple of years, the technical communities have enabled Microsoft to identify some world class skilled individuals from Sri Lanka. These individuals have been awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals - MVP title in recognition of their contribution to build the technical communities, and they have made us proud by excelling on the global arena. I work closely with three technical communities in Sri Lanka which primarily talk about Microsoft tools and technologies. Wheels are also already in motion to start a Designer related user group, which will mainly focus on Microsoft Expressions tools, Windows Presentation Foundation and Silverlight.
Speaking of his personal experiences with the communities, Wellington Perera said, "These forums have helped many individuals to build their careers – and I am one of those individuals. I have always focused on giving something bigger and better back to the community – and this is the spirit we inculcate among community members. My focus is to enhance both the size and the quality of technical communities in Sri Lanka.
Speaking of the modalities of the communities, he said "As the current offline activities, each online forum meets monthly as a user group. Further, the .Net forum hosts DeepDive sessions quarterly. Some of these activities are not limited to Colombo. Core team members in the forums are always willing to make their time available to travel to distant locations to share their knowledge. It has always been a great pleasure to us to make long trips to far-far-away destinations finding new groups of techies, sharing our knowledge with them and helping them out with their day-to-day technical challenges. So I encourage all those with an interest in the industry to join a community today – it was one of the best moves i made in my carrier and I encourage others also to do the same.”
Some of the key communities in Sri Lanka are the Sri Lanka .NET Forum, Sri Lanka IT Pro Forum and SQL Server Universe.
Sri Lanka .NET Forum (http://www.dotnetforum.lk) was started about 3 years ago and its user base has grown rapidly, especially after the first developer day. This enthusiasm has seen its membership increase to 3000 members, including developers, managers, IT decision makers, university undergraduates and school students. At its user group meetings, the .NET forum discusses technically rich presentations on Microsoft tools and technologies as well as other developer related tools and technologies. The .Net forum says “Today, .NET Forum’s job board has become the first place where many companies search for .NET developers. We have had many success stories on developers getting better offers and better technical positions in the industry."
Charith J, Software Engineer at Teamwork Technology has been a member since 2005 and says ".NET Forum is a superior blend of gurus, geeks, peers and greenhorns which always keeps me at the forefront of my career by giving me an edge on tomorrow’s technology." Jinath Premarathne (Senior Software Engineer – Teamwork Technology) (MVP) – a founding member and a key contributor of the .NET Forum agrees saying,”.NET Forum has become a key knowledge base among the developers in my team. Amount of time we spend on troubleshooting have significantly come down thanks to the experts who are passionately sharing their knowledge in the forum. Also all the feedback and compliments I’m getting from other user group members for helping them on their technical issues is a fulfilling experience and that combined with the passion for technology is what keeps me going.”
Sri Lanka IT Pro Forum (http://www.itproforum.lk) focuses on Windows Server, SharePoint, Exchange Server, ISA Server, and other server applications. It was started in 2006.
SQL Server Universe (www.sqlserveruniverse.com), the third community focuses on SQL Server and related technologies. During the past 6 months this forum has captured much attention in the corporate space where high level database skills are a must, and in this short time span the SQL Server forum has grown into a user base of 150.