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Silverlighting... Ramblings on Silverlight and occasionally WPF

A long overdue post. For months I haven’t posted to this blog and I feel terribly guilty at having neglected it. So here goes a brand new post.

A coupe of weeks ago, Silverlightshow.net concluded their annual Ecocontest and announced a bunch of deserving winners who win passes to attend Mix 11 at Las Vegas.

About the contest: Silverlightshow conducts an annual Ecocontest promoting eco-awareness. This year’s theme was Deforestation. Participants were asked to develop a Silverlight based application on deforestation. The grand prize winner gets an event pass, 3-night hotel stay at Mandalay Bay Hotel and travel expense coverage of up to $800, plus Developer License for Telerik Premium Collection for .NET. The other winners such as runner up and community vote winner also get great goodies.

I was one of the participants too but let alone win, I didn’t even make it to a decent spot. I guess I should feel embarrassed to admit this but am not - I finished last in the contest. So why am I not embarrassed? Why am I not ashamed at the thought that I finished last? It’s because despite being last, I was still a part of it, the whole experience of participating was something unique. And what’s more, I got to learn some valuable lessons. Hopefully, someday if you aspire to participate in a programming/developer contest, these lessons may help you too.

Lesson 1: Participate:

Win or lose is all part of the game but being in the game is what matters more. Just think, there are thousands of Silverlight developers out there in the tech world and yet only a handful (just 26) participated. Perhaps for some seasoned developers, such a contest was like undervaluing their talents so they stayed away from it. But what about the others? There are scores of developers who could have participated but didn’t. They may or may not regret their non-participation but I for one felt glad to have participated. That I was one among the 26 who at least took some efforts to spread the word about deforestation and its impact on our future.

Lesson 2: Start Early

Underestimating the time was one of the crucial mistakes that I made. I’d heard about the contest quite some months back but I was sitting on the fence, in two minds, whether to take part or not. Eventually, just a week before the contest, I jumped off the fence, and in 3 hours flat, produced an application and uploaded it to the contest site. If in 3 hours, one week before the deadline, I could create this, had I started early and put in proper planning, design and coding efforts, I would have made it to a decent place (top 5 perhaps) at least. So you can learn from my mistake, don’t repeat the same mistake. If you intend to take part, start early.

 

Lesson 3: Know Your Subject

 

This is where in my own view, I scored better. Because my application, pathetic though it may have been, did showcase some abilities of Silverlight. So you need to think on these lines – does your application leverage the benefits that the software has to offer? Could your application have been created by any other software to produce the same outcome?

 

Lesson 4: Evaluate Your Competition

Yes, this is an important lesson, even if you may disagree. Knowing what you’re up against always helps you hone your skills better and put in extra efforts to go the extra mile. This way, you can be one step ahead of your rivals.

 

Lesson 5: Have Fun!

A contest is not merely a chance to showcase your talents but is also a great opportunity to have fun while coding. For one, you’re not coding for your boss/client but for a theme, and it’s completely upto you to decide how and what to create. This kind of freedom is hard to come by unless you are a veteran freelancer. So take this chance. I did. At my workplace, they don’t even use Silverlight let alone encourage participation in contests. I learnt Silverlight on my own, worked on a couple of personal projects and am glad to be learning it. The learning curve is steep though and the topics to learn seem to be never ending. But that’s why participating in a contest, especially an ecocontest, where you can let your imagination and creativity run wild, is fun.

Thanks to Silverlightshow and their team for giving us this opportunity!! Silverlight rocks and so does Silverlightshow.

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2011 11:09 PM | Back to top


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