As promised, here’s part II of this post.
This is a great tool that aids learning the .NET framework: FxCop (or Code Analysis in Visual Studio Team System). FxCop analyzes assemblies and checks whether the code conforms to a series of rules, which go from performance-related rules, to interop, naming convention, security, globalization, etc. If you’re not familiar with FxCop, check out this video about it.
It’d take forever to read all the documentation at MSDN on those topics, and nobody would do that before writing code anyways; it’s much easier to write the code, and then run a tool to analyze our code and tell us what’s wrong, or what could be improved.
Brown Bag Meetings
Another thing we’ve been doing at the company here is Brown Bag meetings. We do it once a week. Basically, every Wednesday, everybody who’s interested will bring in their lunch (hence, the “brown bag”), and we all have lunch at the conference room together, and we take the moment to share tips & tricks.
Everybody brings something in. It can be a new shortcut the person found out, a new tool, an article, a book, anything. Don’t be afraid of mentioning about something that you think everybody would already know: nobody know everything, and somebody may benefit from your quick tip.
Somebody may also choose to do a quick demo of something that he or she has been working on, what kind of cool things are in there, what kind of hurdles the person has encountered, etc. That is great to keep the team aware of each other’s skills and knowledge so that people don’t spin their wheels trying to figure out something that somebody already has a solution for. Also, it’s great for the person to get some feedback from the others; who knows, somebody else may have some great suggestions after seeing something you’re working on.
Now, in case you don’t have anybody in your company interested, well, maybe you could team up with the neighbor next door. Or in case you are really on your own and have nobody to team up with, maybe you could start blogging about the things that you’d be sharing with somebody else. At the very least, you’d have some where to look up the stuff that you once found to be interesting (in case you forget). 😉
Certification Study Group
One other thing we do here: certification study groups. Twice a week, again, during lunch time, we get together and study together aiming for any of the Microsoft certification exams. We choose one preparation book, and we cover one chapter by meeting.
On each meeting, somebody will take the lead, by trying to learn a little more of the chapter and centralize the questions. This is a great way for the team to build knowledge together. Besides learning a lot, each person at the end can go take the exam and eventually become certified.