In part 2 of our Instructor Spotlight series, we learn a little bit more about Alan Long. Alan is a part of the .NET team for the April 18th cohort.

Quick Facts

What projects are you working on now at your "day job"?

Alan: I design and develop new web applications for a global financial firm, typically in C#/.NET and JavaScript. My current project is a massive vendor integration component of our main product, used by financial advisors around the globe, written entirely in JavaScript. It's currently being utilized by my company and several of our downstream vendors, so the scope and magnitude of the projects I get to work on is quite vast.

What personal projects are you working on right now?

Alan: "I have two primary development projects that I'm really excited about!

The first one is an Open Source content management system built on the MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular.js, Node.js). We analyzed the current Node CMS offerings and determined that they were either still works in progress (with a lot of progress still needed) or were lacking in features, so we decided to roll our own!

The second project is a web-based platform for pet shelters and pet owners to easily list the animals they have available for adoption. Giving them an easy way to maintain their web presence would prevent them needed to invest resources to update their web sites, and could hopefully focus more resources on housing and caring for the animals they have. It will also allow users to browse for animals, (hopefully) facilitating a greater adoption rate for these animals who are looking for a loving owner. As you might have guessed, I'm an animal lover!"

What's your favorite project that you've ever worked on?

Alan: So far, it has been the Pet Shelter management platform. Working on a project that can have a positive effect on an issue you feel strongly about really makes a development project feel like you're making a difference with your skills.

What got you into programming to begin with? What was that spark that made you say "I want to be a programmer"?

Alan: I've always liked building things. I was a Lego fanatic as a child, constantly playing and building things from my imagination. Fast forward a few years, and as I entered college, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I bounced around for a few semesters until I took a physics course that had a software modelling component. I loved it! Unfortunately, at that time, I was too far along with the Accounting degree to change course entirely, but I added a minor in Computer Science and ran with it. I also got a job at the University I was attending as a support specialist for our Online program. After demonstrating that I could program by writing software for the department, they moved me into their Application Development role, and the rest is history.

In your opinion, what's the most exciting thing happening in the world of .NET right now?

Alan: I would say right now is a very, very exciting time for learning C# and .NET. With the release of .NET 5, Microsoft is removing new development of ""legacy"" technology, such as Web Forms and Visual Basic, and are instead focusing on an MVC architecture for web applications. While not without it's problems, I feel that an MVC architecture is a superior software architecture for working over a stateless protocol like HTTP, despite the good job of abstraction & state persistence that Web Forms provided.

Microsoft has also made another massive change recently with the open sourcing of .NET. This is a very big deal, and I think it is indicative of the larger trend of open sourcing code whenever possible. With these changes, the new Roslyn compiler coming out, and the changes we will see in C# 6, .NET development is rapidly changing with the times.

If you could hang out with anyone from the tech world (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

Alan: Alan Turing. The man was a visionary, a truly brilliant individual, and I think it would be extremely interesting to hang out with him.

What's your favorite thing to do besides programming and teaching class?

Alan: Writing! I love writing my own stories. I don't have a definite favorite genre yet, but I typically work in the sci-fi or historical fiction genres.