Kevin Griffin on Technology Evangelism and Agile Development,

Kevin recently organized the TDD Firestarter in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Kevin graciously agreed to sit down with Typemock (over email, at least!) to discuss Agile development and community involvement.

Kevin Griffin is a Technical Evangelist for ComponentOne.  He’s a Microsoft MVP, ASPInsider, and the leader of the Hampton Roads .NET Users Group.  Additionally, he KevinGriffinserves as an INETA mentor for the state of Virginia.  He can often be found speaking at or attending other local user group meetings or code camps.  He enjoys working with new technology, and consistently works on being a better developer and building the best software he can.

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TM: Tell us a little about yourself.
KG: My name is Kevin Griffin, and I am a Technical Evangelist with ComponentOne.  I’m a Microsoft MVP and an ASPInsider.  I’m also the founder of the Hampton Roads .NET Users Group, based in Virginia Beach, VA. I’ve been developing professionally for 5 years, but I would say that I’ve been an active developer for 18 years (too bad those don’t count on resumes).

TM: What technologies do you develop in?
KG: I’m fluent with most aspects of the Microsoft stack.  I’m a C# developer.  My past two years has been heavy in ASP.NET.  I started with WebForms, but moved on quickly to MVC when it became available.  I’ve also worked a bit with WPF and Silverlight.  I’m also experienced with Windows Azure.  I prefer working with client side technologies, like JavaScript and jQuery.

TM: How important is Agile Development (in all its forms: XP, Scrum, etc.) in your personal and professional career?
KG: Agile fits in well with the way I think.  It’s too much work for me to consider the whole picture and all aspects of it.  Especially when several aspects of the project will change months down the line.  An agile way of thinking keeps my mind focused on the tasks I have to work on immediately.

TM: You’re the leader of the Hampton Roads .NET Users Group and an INETA speaker. Why is involvement important for you and for other developers?
KG: I like to say that I was forced into the community.  I was a developer for a small consulting company where all the other developers were focused on their 9 to 5 jobs, and didn’t strive to learn and be better at what they did.  I turned to the community because I wanted to socialize with people who were more “like-minded”.  In fact, I had to drive two hours to attend my first user group meeting.  That became a regular occurrence, and I still make the drive on a monthly basis to hang out with those guys.

I’ve built many relationships with many people in the community.  I have no idea where I would be as a developer if I didn’t get involved.  In fact, I can thank the community for my current position.  This wasn’t a job you submitted an application for.

TM: You were also involved in sponsoring the TDD Firestarter. How did that go and why did you think that was a topic to bring to the community.
KG: It went fantastically.  Since our community is young (about 3 years old), we’ve been working on new ways to pull people in.  We do this by hosting small events that are focused particular technologies.  For example, last year we did an Azure Boot Camp and a Windows Phone Firestarter.  The TDD Firestarter was actually the brainchild of two of our community members, Perry Neal and Jeff Muller.  I did very little work on this project.  It was all Perry and Jeff.  They felt TDD, as I did, was a pattern that would help developers be better developers.  All we wanted to do was promote what we thought would be useful information to the community.

TM: You’re a frequent speaker at events and as of this month a Developer Evangelist at Component One. Why are you so engaged in the developer community?
KG: As I already discussed, the community called to me.  It’s very enjoyable for me to talk with other developers and teach them something that I’ve taken the time to learn myself.  The first time someone sent my an email saying “Thanks for the session.  It helped me a ton at my job.” it felt awesome.  It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you can give.

Our industry is unique.  We are in a position where we freely give our knowledge away to folks we would technically compete against in the market.  You don’t commonly see this with other industries.  When was the last time you saw a “Doctor Camp” or a “Lawyer Camp”?  You don’t.

TM: How would you suggest developers get involved in the community?
KG: Go to www.communitymegaphone.com or www.ineta.org.  Look for events in your area.  Depending on how remote you are, you might have to drive.  Commit to one event, either a user group or a code camp.  Don’t be the guy that comes in and sits down.  Walk up to a stranger or a group, and introduce yourself.  This is how conversations start, and relationships grow.  Before you know it, that person you randomly talked to at code camp will be your best friend at the next event.

TM: As a developer, what are your biggest challenges?
KG: Time.  There is not enough time in the day for me to play with the technology or techniques that are out there. 

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