Welcome to our continuing series of Code Project interviews in which we talk to developers about their backgrounds, projects, interests and pet peeves. In this installment we track down Julie Lerman, author, long-time MSDN Magazine columnist writing the Data Points column, and all-around Entity Framework expert.
Who are you?
I'm Julie Lerman, aka Julia. Julie is my nickname which seems to confuse so many people I have an explanation on my blog. I live on the western slopes of the Green Mountains near Burlington, Vermont.
I've been self-employed since 1989 which certainly makes me feel a bit doddy. I'm a developer and have focused over the past few years on finding ways to help other developers get over some learning curves ... mentoring development teams, writing and even creating video training.
What do you do?
My daily work is very disjointed. I always have too many projects going on at once. Currently I'm co-writing my third book for O'Reilly, which means that I'm concurrently learning and writing.
I write a monthly column for MSDN Magazine so am either working on the next column, reviewing edits from the previous column or reviewing the column before that before it goes to press.
I have mentoring clients that I work with remotely and sometimes on site and I still maintain and adapt applications for a client that I've been writing custom apps for since 1997. That last bit means I could find myself slogging through some 15 year old VB6 code or worse, some FoxPro 2.6 code. I'm happier when I'm creating new tools for them because I get to use [.NET 4])http://www.codeproject.com/KB/dotnet/ and Entity Framework.
What is your development environment?
I am currently working on three computers but soon will be down to two. One is dedicated to coding. It's not too special .. a Dell with Windows 7 64-bit. I mostly work with .NET and SQL Server so it's got Visual Studio & SQL Server on it along with a variety of third-party tools.
I find that for a lot of the stuff I write, I need to stick with what's "in the box" (the Visual Studio box) so that readers can follow along.
I was a VB developer for so many years, but now code in C#. Since I still have a lot of VB habits, I use a coding helper to make sure I'm writing the prettiest C# I am able to. I happened to pick up Resharper first and lean on it a lot, though my friends at DevExpress and Telerik also make great alternative code assistance tools. I recommend folks check out their offerings. Tools are, after all, a personal choice.
What new tools, languages or frameworks interest you?
I have dreams of learning a new language just for fun one of these days ... definitely one of the OSS languages, but I never seem to get caught up with the work at hand.
What is your coding pet peeve?
I think I have two coding pet peeves. One is all of the unnecessary using declarations in code files. I'd prefer to opt-in rather than have to opt-out of those.
The other is that people insist on the readability of using braces for an if statement even when there's only one line. I guess my desire to dispose of them is because I'm still dazzled by the more efficient code.
I can't seem to get away from camel casing control names (txtFirst, txtLast). So, shoot me.
Indentation: 2 spaces. That's from having to squeeze code samples into magazine and book formats.
How did you get started programming?
Oh that ... why not just ask me my age and get it over with!
My first real coding was in college ... BASIC on Heathkit computers that were built by our math professors. I definitely had a knack for it, but was not interested in pursuing it then. I was a History major who spent most of my time in the pottery studio and darkroom.
Eventually I moved to New York City after college and, at my first job, inherited the only computer in the 1000-person company since I knew how to tame it. That was just word processing and spreadsheets. Then I landed a job where someone had left behind an already dog-eared copy of a dBase III book. And so it began ...
How has the developer community influenced your coding?
The dev community has had a huge impact on my coding. I think in the last 10 years I shifted from "getting it done" to really caring about my code, processes, reusability. I have to admit that even though I was a bit of a target of the ALT.NET community because of my involvement with Entity Framework early on, their passion piqued my interest and I've really embraced a lot of what they were "preaching".
I've been pretty involved in developer communities for a long time, even back in my FoxPro days in the late 80's. I spend way too much time on Twitter but I actually end up doing "tech support" on there, too. I peek at the MSDN forums and StackOverflow. I have avoided LinkedIn because I'm over-networked as it is.
What advice would you offer to an up-and-coming programmer?
I want to say that if your interest in coding and learning spans only from 9am to 5pm, it's probably not for you. But I met a very bright and passionate programmer who was worried that perhaps he was in the wrong industry because he makes a point of "shutting it off" at the end of the day so he gets great quality time with his family. I have to say the fact that he was so worried about it spoke pretty loudly to how much he does live coding and I think he will do very well and contribute, too.