The ASP.NET Daily Community Spotlight - How posts get there, and how to make it your Visual Studio Start Page
One really cool part of my job is selecting the articles for the Daily Community Spotlight, on the home page of the ASP.NET website. The spotlight highlights a new post about ASP.NET development every day from a member of the ASP.NET community. You can find it on the home page of the ASP.NET site, at http://asp.net
These posts aren't automatically drawn from a pool of RSS feeds or anything - I pick a new post for each day of the year.
How I pick the posts
I have a few important selection criteria:
Interesting to well rounded ASP.NET developers
The ASP.NET website has a lot of material for all skill and experience levels, from download / get started to advanced. I try to select community spotlight posts to round that out with fresh and timely information that working ASP.NET developers can really use. Posts highlight solutions to common problems, clever projects and code that helps you leverage ASP.NET, and important announcements about things you can use today.
As part of that, I try to mix between ASP.NET MVC, Web Forms, and Web Pages (a.k.a. WebMatrix). As a professional developer, I want to keep on top of all of my options for ASP.NET development, and the common platform base they all share generally means that good ASP.NET code is good ASP.NET code.
Exposing new and non-Microsoft community members as much as possible
The exercise of selecting good ASP.NET community posts every day of the year has made me think about what the community is. Given the choice, I'll always favor non-Microsoft employees, but since Microsoft often hires ASP.NET community members and MVP's (myself included), I really think that the ASP.NET community includes developers who are using and writing about ASP.NET, both inside and outside of Microsoft.
I'm especially excited about the opportunity to highlight new and lesser known bloggers. Usually being featured on the ASP.NET Community Spotlight gives a pretty good traffic bump, and I love being able to both provide great content to the community and encourage lesser known community members by giving them some (much deserved) attention.
Announcements only when they're useful to working developers - not marketing
Some of the posts are announcements about new releases, such as Scott Hanselman's post on ASP.NET Universal Providers for Session, Memebership, and Roles. I include those when I think they're interesting and of immediate use to you on projects. I occasionally get asked to link to new content from a team at Microsoft; if it's useful and timely content I'll ask them to point me to a blog post by an actual person rather than a faceless team.
How the posts are managed
This feed used to be managed by an internal spreadsheet on a Sharepoint site, which was painful for a lot of reasons. I took a cue from Jon Udell, who uses of a public Delicious feed feed for his Elm City project, and we moved the management of these posts over to a Delicious feed as well. You can hear more about Jon's use of Delicious in Elm City in our Herding Code interview - still one of my favorite interviews. We ended up with a simpler scenario, but
Note: I watched the Yahoo/Delicious news over the past year and was happy to see that Delicious was recently acquired by the founders of YouTube. I investigated several other Delicious competitors, but am happy with Delicious for now.
My Delicious feed here: http://www.delicious.com/jon_galloway
You can also browse through this past year's ASP.NET Community Spotlight posts using the (pretty cool) Delicious Browse Bar
I'm always on the lookout for new articles to feature. The best way to get them to me is to share them via Delicious. It's pretty easy - sign up for an account, then you can add a post and share it to me.
Alternatively, you can send them to me via Twitter (@jongalloway) or e-mail (). If you do e-mail me, it helps to include a short description and your full name so I can credit you.
Way too many developer blogs don't include names and pictures; if I can't find them I can't feature the post.
Subscribing to the Community Spotlight feed
The Community Spotlight is available as an RSS feed, so you might want to subscribe to it: http://www.asp.net/rss/spotlight
Setting the ASP.NET Community Spotlight feed as your Visual Studio start page
If you're an ASP.NET developer, you might consider setting the ASP.NET Community Spotlight as the content for your Visual Studio Start Page. It's really easy - here's how to do it in Visual Studio 2010:
- Display the Visual Studio Start Page if it's not already showing (View / Start Page)
- Click on the Latest News tab and enter the following RSS URL: http://www.asp.net/rss/spotlight
- If you didn't previously have RSS feeds enabled for your start page, click the Enable RSS Feed button
Now, every time you start up Visual Studio you'll see great content from members of the ASP.NET community:
You can also configure - and disable, if you'd like - the Visual Studio start page in the Tools / Options / Environment / Startup dialog.
I'll do a follow-up highlighting some places I commonly find great content for the feed, but I'd like to specifically point out two of them:
Elijah Manor posts a lot of great content, which is available in his Twitter feed at @elijahmanor, on his Delicious feed, and on a dedicated website - Web Dev Tweets
Chris Alcock's The Morning Brew is a must-read blog which highlights each day's best blog posts across the .NET community. He's an absolute machine, and no matter how obscure the post I find, I can guarantee he'll find it as well if he hasn't already. Did I say must read?