Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Office Developer Center Redesign

My team, in conjunction with partners across Microsoft, shipped a new Office Developer Center experience at http://dev.office.com this morning.

The New Office Developer Center

The New Office Developer Center

I’m incredibly proud of the work we all did. This was a hugely complex project that saw us combine six different developer centers into one, consolidate a little over 200 pages down to 24, re-write every single page, and simultaneously reset the global experience across 11 languages.

This was arguably the most challenging project I’ve worked on here at Microsoft and presented the thorniest information architecture problem I’ve ever encountered.

The Office family of products spans multiple products with their own hierarchies of brands and tasks for developers. At the top level, there is Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync. Within Office alone there is Access, Excel, InfoPath, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, Visio, and Word. Microsoft is also asking developers to write apps for Office and for SharePoint, and the development details are a bit different between Office and SharePoint. Add in Office 365 service content, and you have many different pivots you could apply.

Then we had to consider that we’re always balancing between the past, present, and future when we’re talking about development. There is a huge audience of developers who have written code to older versions of Office, a smaller set that’s targeting the current version, and then Microsoft is trying to guide developers to be set up for the future evolution of the platform.

The challenge here boiled down to: what information architecture would expose the breadth and depth of the product offerings, feature current and future development options, and not alienate developers targeting previous versions?

We had many, long discussions around the right pivots here, and in the end we decided to stick with the top-level product names as the main pivots for the navigation, and placed app development messaging on pages where it was product-relevant.

How’d we do?

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Early Sailing – A Photograph

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Sunrise over Seattle from the 7:05 sailing from Bainbridge Island. October 29, 2013.

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Foggy Sentinels – A Photograph

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Anselo’s Poetry – Part 6 – A Story

And then I changed my mind.

Based on the boot squeaks, I had about a minute before I would be in sight.

Working swiftly, I moved back around to my cubicle, grab my backpack from the drawer and pull out my Glock .45 and iPod. I holster the gun, clip the iPod next to it, shove the earbuds into my ears and hit play. There’s nothing like a little bit of Crystal Method to get me into the mood.

Rummaging my desk drawer, digging through promotional keychains and discarded printouts on dead trees I should have sent to the 482 corners of my employer’s empire, I find my previously stored, (my grandfather worked for the civil defense, and I sure as shit wasn’t going to take any chances after the anthrax scare, particularly since I was in and out of the mailroom all day long,) Tyvek biohazard suit, face mask, and rubber gloves and don them, head bobbing. You could probably hear me from ten feet away. I was ready for action. I move towards the center of the building, peer around the partition. Looking safe, I dive down the hall and roll into kitchen.

I find the drawer where the CO2 cartridges for the whip cream are stored, grab a handful and then open all the doors to the commercial refrigerator and the sink, drop the carts on a fridge shelf, shove the cow milk aside, dump out a quart of non-fat soy milk on to the floor, get down on my knees, and then stuff my head as far inside the cold case as I can and try to look busy while making as much racket as I can.

I’ve just about got the third metal shelf out and on to the floor, when I’m roughly jabbed in the shoulder blade.

Turning, I see a SWAT officer with a mustache that would make Freddie Mercury jealous shuffle back a few steps, pulling a small soy puddle along with him. He’s motioning vigorously with his shotgun for me to raise my hands, which I do. I can see two more officers covering the door, guns trained on me. I go wide-eyed. He motions me towards the door and raises a finger to his lips to tell me to be quiet. It’s funny given the bass throbbing in my ears and I have to suppress my amusement.

I move to stand, and purposefully slip in the milk, reaching into the refrigerator to steady myself and pierce the end of one cartridge on a shelf corner, and it rockets out of my hand through the door as I fall back to the floor.

The bait’s too much, and I’m blessedly lucky. All three turn to watch it go, but one’s a bit trigger happy and fires off a round, embedding buckshot into the hardwood floor less than a foot from his partner. I giggle, and can hear the jack-boots getting even deeper into their machismo fantasy now that gunshot has been loosed, as a chain reaction starts with more shots and tear gas going off. It’s pure chaos, and I try and take it up a couple of notches.

Two of my would-be jailers are now busy trying not to shoot each other, but the one closest is still tracking me. I move to stand again, slowly, trying to look terrified to the man with the shotgun pointed at my chest. Visibly shaking, I take a step and slip face first into the cabinet under the sink with arms outstretched and pull the cold water supply line to the faucet out from the valve, causing a deluge to emerge from under the sink. I prick another CO2 cartridge open as well, but quickly cover it with my thumb.

Meanwhile, the tear gas sets off the smoke alarms and the fire doors start to roll down, sealing off the floors from each other. And because there isn’t enough water poruning onto the floor now, the sprinklers fire off.

The electric mains shut down when the sprinklers come on, dropping the kitchen into darkness except for the wan glow of the emergency lights in the hall and the strobes of the fire alarm.

I’m an easy target in white, but it looks like my mustachioed storm trooper is fogged in the goggles and struggling with what to do about it while repeatedly shouting, “DOWN! ON YOUR FACE! NOW!” He’s barely audible over my tunes. Totally fogged now, his gun wavers as he reaches for his goggles, and I use the opportunity to come up out of the sink, body hug him and ram the remaining cartridge into his neck with my palm.

He briefly struggles with me as I watch a goiter quickly grow from the inserted embolism, and I knew I had him when he began to claw at his neck.

“Yes thurr.” I lisp to myself as I let him drop to the floor, convulsing and then watch him go silent.

Fiscal Policy in a Nutshell – A Photograph

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Lamppost in front of the Federal Building, Seattle, WA.

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Land of the Lost – A Photograph

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Casino – A Short Story

“Can I get you a drink, hon?”

Green eyes framed in ochre eyeshadow that look like they’ve seen a thousand wars look beyond and through me. Her hair precariously towers in silver and gold ringlets with no apparent supports. It sways with her collecting motions, a sign language of gathering other people’s dreams glass by empty glass.

It is silent on the game floor. The table areas climb in slow terraces into the never-ending distance, arcing around the corner and out of sight. This place feels haunted.

“Double Jack and Coke, please.”

She vanishes as efficiently as she appeared.

The croupier taps the table insistently with his rake, “Place your bets, sir, place your bets.”

He wears a pencil-thin mustache, black and waxed with hair to match, severely parted down the middle and pomaded. In his uniform, he looks like a cartoon villain who’s lost his cape and top hat.

The stocky pit boss perches on his stool and compulsively tics. Fingers at his tied and collared neck, then a wrist shake with watch adjustment. Pull and flick, pull and flick, over and over, like a wild beast walking a cage in pinstripes. He stares at the table unsmiling, his personal rhythm only interrupted for the business rhythm of counting money splashed onto the table.

“New roller coming out!” is the bark.

Chips are placed and Newton’s benediction is sought while the dice are being raised and thrown to Schrödinger.

“Seven, seven, lucky seven! Winnahs!”

Clackety-clack-clack-clack the chips say to each other in their endless dances across the tables between dead wood and greasy palms. The winnings are scooped and pocketed in favor of a search for sustenance.

The arc is followed in and is chambered like a nautilus; slots in this section, roulette in another, and so on. All are silent, empty.

At the core is an arcade and bathrooms. A red-lit EXIT sign hovers above a nondescript door. It leads to a parking garage ramp that shares the same arc-radius as the floor. Pac Man is left behind in the maze to forever eat. A tangential journey into the desert beckons.