Visual Studio News Channel: Give Hanselman a Go!
The main news channel in Visual Studio must be seen every day by millions of hard working developers.
It sits on the start page, prime real-estate for getting messages to real people who work with the dastardly complex tool that is visual studio.
Now look at how paltry this feed is!
In six months, they've sent a total of 4 items to this feed! FOUR items!
I can imagine some apologist at MSDN saying "oh yes, but there's all these loopholes to jump through in a company the size of microsoft and a quality bar that..." -- BALONEY!! I ain't buying it.
You can see that they arrive in little bursts, as though it's right down the priority list, as someone's part-time job, when they get around to it..
An audience of millions. Millions. And they do nothing with it.
There could be tutorials on new features, help on under-used features, showcases of great solutions -- basically, you could stick ScottGu's blog in there and get a much better first approximation of the right material.
Check out the settings in Visual Studio that control this:
By default it checks for updates every 60 minutes. At four updates per 6 months, that's about 1 update every 70 thousand minutes.
So let me go ahead and change the polling frequency to "every 70,000 minutes" ... oh wait, it won't let me set a value greater than one thousand. Because like, there's no way the dev-div team who wrote this feature would ever imagine that the MSDN team (who are professional journalists) could ever be so slow at publishing news.
I checked and Visual Studio 2008 seems to have the same feed, and the same settings around it.
This Looks Like a Job for Hansel-Man!
So here's my plan: Developer Division should wrest control of this feed away from the MSDN team and into their own hands. In particular, since Scott Hanselman is their new internal professional blogger about town -- I've decided to assign this job to ScottHa himself.
So if you're listening Scott -- here's your challenge: Get control of that feed, and start pumping it full of useful, thoughtful, educational news items. One per day ought to be sufficient. I'll check on your progress in one month.
'BradO' on Sat, 20 Oct 2007 13:07:07 GMT, sez:
excellent idea! and if 1 a day is too much for Scott with his many other new duties, why not let an intern rotate Scotts input, Sara Ford's Tip of the Day, and maybe even Irena Kennedy's "Something You Should Know"....then it may actually get used and read by developers and become a real plus rather than the clutter that I find it now
'lb' on Sat, 20 Oct 2007 13:15:42 GMT, sez:
"Sara Ford's Tip of the Day" ---
yep -- great point BradO.
Oh wait a second -- here's an idea: have it as a rotating task. Say there's twenty MS employees interested in contributing -- then they each get assigned one day in twenty, in advance, so they can schedule for it. If there's one hundred people, then you only have to worry about it one day in one hundred.
Have some legend like mike pope edit it.
'John' on Sat, 20 Oct 2007 14:02:35 GMT, sez:
I like the idea of rotating it around. I'm voting to add Mark Russinovich to the list as well.
'mike' on Sat, 20 Oct 2007 16:00:56 GMT, sez:
Excellent observation. Me, practically the first thing I do in VS is turn off the start page (well, the feed) ... startup time for VS is slow enough as it is, and when I do it, I'm rarely wondering, huh, is there anything interesting to read around here? :-)
But anyway, good point. Compare this with the ASP.NET site, which is updated about every 4.6 seconds. So, on the one hand, a starving feed reader, and on the other hand, a firehose of new information. Hmmm.
'Nick Hodge' on Sat, 20 Oct 2007 23:16:30 GMT, sez:
I just sent the link to Scott^2 and voted +1 for this.
'Andrew' on Mon, 22 Oct 2007 06:48:11 GMT, sez:
Yeah, good point!
Why isn't it just a feed of the posts on MSDN, www.asp.net and other prominent MS bloggers? Job done!
'zonker' on Mon, 22 Oct 2007 18:48:10 GMT, sez:
I've long since changed my VS2005 start page to use the generic MSDN feed. I had originally thought that something was wrong with the feed reader itself but eventually realized that they simply don't update it regularly.
It's easy enough to simply change the setting so that you use another RSS feed instead (such as Scott Guthrie's).
'Oleg Tkachenko' on Tue, 23 Oct 2007 14:46:32 GMT, sez:
That's a good one :)
'John Walker' on Fri, 26 Oct 2007 05:08:30 GMT, sez:
Finally, someone voicing an opinion on this. I couldn't agree more. Since the fist version of VS.NET I've been turning the start page off because it's been essentially useless. What a great opportunity for Microsoft to add value to developers' lives. Who better than Scott to get it rolling. I also like the idea of rotating it, but having a manager like Scott H would be great. So, I hereby declare that I second the nomination.
'Kyralessa' on Sun, 28 Oct 2007 17:53:04 GMT, sez:
Apparently you got somebody's attention. Yesterday my Visual Studio feed (in Google Reader) spouted no fewer than 23 new items. Perhaps somebody had accidentally unchecked the "Send these puppies out" box?
'lb' on Sun, 28 Oct 2007 22:08:58 GMT, sez:
WOw! You're right Kyralessa -- a whole slew of new items, going back the last few months!
They seems to have thrown in a how-do-i category... and it's largely focused on stuff like VS extensibility... almost like they did a search for any articles that mentioned VS and just assumed they were the most relevant topics for the audience of VS users.... hate to be a whinger, but that's actually a pretty bogus assumption. The average VS user doesn't care about VS extensibility: they do care about programming though.
'Scott Hanselman' on Mon, 26 Nov 2007 20:55:22 GMT, sez:
You did. I've been working this issue for a bit and getting on folks to let me take over. My boss took up the charge and some new content should start flowing soon.
'lb' on Mon, 26 Nov 2007 22:08:44 GMT, sez:
well i for one like the updated feed -- i actually pay attention to it and even follow the links at times.
'Mitch Spruill' on Thu, 19 Jun 2008 18:36:21 GMT, sez:
I for one would like to turn it off. I unchecked the "Download content every" check and blanked out the "Start Page news channel" and it still load every time i start vs2005. I finally added "none" to the "Start Page news channel" box and it quit loading, but now have to wait for it to time out.
'Dan Holman' on Wed, 02 Jul 2008 11:10:00 GMT, sez:
For the past several weeks, this news page has been giving an error message saying that the content is not available when I open Visual Studio 2005. After reading this message board, I went to tools/options/Environment/Web Browser, and just viewing that screen caused the page to reload and display. Now, it seems to load correctly on startup. Perhaps there is some feature of VS 2005 that if the page download fails, it gets stuck in that state and viewing the settings is one way to get it unstuck?
'Matt Frear' on Tue, 24 Mar 2009 18:46:51 GMT, sez:
Well it's a year later and that feed is still never updated. I actually thought my Visual Studio was broken and not downloading feeds since the last item was posted in March 2008, which was when I installed VS2008.
So many times I'd see a link to "Luca Bolegnese's presentation on LINQ" at the Tech Ed and the same old links.
So now I've changed the feed of the Startup page to Hanselman's blog.
'Phil Karras' on Fri, 21 May 2010 14:19:25 GMT, sez:
It seems that now in 2010 the update for the feed is averaging 5 a week (sometimes all five from one day) but I still find it bothersome so I've turned it off & included it as a favorite in IE so I can update it once a day to see what's up which it still more than sufficient for their news.
'Phil Karras' on Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:24:21 GMT, sez:
I just reread your article & got curious so I tested my VS. I'm using VS 2008 & there the limit on my system is 360 minutes = 6hrs, 4/day. The up arrow won't go beyond 360. (But I turn it off anyway.)