.NET is used in a variety of software applications and industries – but what’s all the hype about? We spoke with Orange County-based Redwood Code Academy Founder, Harrison Spain, to learn all about .NET development. See which companies use .NET, learn the top skills you need to excel in the field, and check out how Redwood Code Academy equips their .NET students to succeed.
Tell us about your background in .NET and at Redwood Code Academy.
I am the founder and lead instructor for Redwood Code Academy. I have been coding since grade school and have been a professional developer for 17 years. Through my career, I have worked for and founded several startups, published two games, built many software teams, and worked for Fortune 100 companies.
My current goal is to help teach and mentor the next generation of software development talent.
Let’s start with the basics: What is .NET, and what are its origins with Microsoft?
Which industries most commonly use .NET as their operating system?
You will find .NET as the technology of choice across a broad range of industries. Any business that needs a robust system with the support of first class tooling and time-proven infrastructure can benefit from using .NET.
That said, you will certainly see some industries that are especially heavy users of .NET:
These are all risk-averse industries which need a platform with a history of stability but also a clear future of innovation.
What are some examples of products or apps built with .NET?
What is the demand like for .NET skills/jobs? Are they concentrated in specific parts of the world?
The demand for .NET coders is higher than it has ever been. .NET coders can find work anywhere in the world and the demand is becoming relatively spread out geographically. With the introduction of .NET Core and the open sourcing of the tools and framework, typically non-Microsoft regions such as San Francisco are finding a resurgence of .NET adoption. It would be really hard not to find a part of the world that isn’t using the technology.
What’s fueled the growth of .NET over the past decade?
Stability. The tech world is renown for being fickle and moving from one fad to the next relatively quickly. .NET has been one of the common threads through the last 17 years of technological changes and I think that it attracts businesses and developers because of that.
Since Redwood Code Academy is an Orange County bootcamp, do you anticipate that most of your grads will get hired in the area or move around?
We anticipate most of our grads will stay in the area – who doesn’t want to live in Orange County? We have seen some graduates find work a bit north in Los Angeles or up to San Francisco, but there is plenty of work in OC to go around. The nice thing about graduating with .NET skills is that you don’t have to stay local. There is work wherever you want to go.
Would you recommend someone learn .NET as a first programming language?
There are a lot of free online content to help people learn to build apps with .NET, so why do people need a coding bootcamp like Redwood Code Academy to learn?
A coding bootcamp like Redwood Code Academy gives students the ability to interface with industry professionals and peer students in a rigorous and personal environment every day. Coding is almost never a solo venture and gaining the ability to code with other people will help tremendously once in the professional world.
Also, it’s tough to be able to progress with coding skills when roadblocks, errors, and understanding issues take hours or days to resolve. By having someone literally right next to you to look over your shoulder, students can progress at a much faster rate and really accelerate the entire process.
Redwood Code Academy teaches .NET. What can students expect to learn in the curriculum?
We specifically teach C#, ASP.NET, .NET Core, and Web API 2. Using these technologies, we add Entity Framework to manage our databases and PostreSQL as our relational database. Students are able to build entire enterprise ready back ends for their web and mobile apps using these technologies. This includes an HTTP RESTful API, file processing systems and data management processes. We also introduce students to Xamarin, which is Microsoft’s way to build native mobile applications using .NET.
What do you think is missing in .NET development education these days? Is Redwood Code Academy working to solve this problem?
The main thing missing with .NET development education is that most schools and coding bootcamps don’t teach it at all. Given the market share that .NET has in open software developer jobs, there is a large disparity in what schools and coding bootcamps teach, and what the market is looking for.
Redwood Code Academy is working to be the leading coding bootcamp that also teaches .NET.
As an educator, how do you build a .NET curriculum from scratch? Are you receiving feedback from potential employers?
Our .NET curriculum was built from our experience developing for the platform since it’s alpha days in 2001. Our educators and curriculum authors, including myself, have built multi-million-dollar products from the ground up using .NET as well as platforms for businesses such as enterprise space exploration companies, and financial underwriting engines. Through building the teams to build these systems, we know what is important to teach and how to lead someone from A-Z in these technologies. We also have a cognitive science specialist on the team who uses the generalized theories of learning to ensure that our methods can be understood by a wide range of students.
Our employer network also uses .NET extensively in addition to many other technologies. They continue to keep us up to date on what the needs are of the market and we adjust accordingly.
On top of .NET, what other technologies are you excited about right now? What do you think is “next” in web development?
React is huge right now and it’s only getting bigger. We are very excited to now include this as a core part of our curriculum and to stay current with its progress. React Native has become a go-to platform for mobile development – you can learn React for web development and essentially get mobile development with it.
The most recent addition to our curriculum and something we are excited about is GraphQL. We are also super excited to offer this as a part of the program as it solves so many real-world problems. Our employers are also happy we are teaching it as many of them use it in their core products.
What skills and qualities do you need to be a good .NET developer? Are there specific things you’re looking for in the interview process?
Being a good .NET developer isn’t any different from being a good all-around developer. During our interview process, we are looking for the ability to understand abstract logical concepts. Someone who likes puzzles, taking things apart, or is interested in the way things work, is going to succeed in our program and as a professional developer. We look for those traits in various ways including an in-person interview and technical assessment.
What would make someone stand out in a .NET developer job interview process?
In an interview for a .NET position, interviewers will usually look for some basic object-oriented knowledge and how it relates to C#. Understanding the core principles of OOP and how they relate to C# syntax will get you a long way in an entry level .NET interview.
Because .NET is such a wide-ranging platform, you usually will have to pick a niche within it once you start progressing beyond the entry-level positions. Picking that niche around web development will often be the best choice because it is the most sought-after skill set on the market right now. Understanding ASP.NET and its many components will make a candidate stand out in those interviews.
For people who are interested in learning more about .NET, what resources or meetups do you recommend?
Because .NET is such a proven technology with a long history, there are tons of online resources to learn more about it. Microsoft’s own documentation is some of the best you will find and you can often get entire example applications and walkthroughs through their docs. For instance, if you were interested in the open source .NET platform (.NET Core), you can find out all about it and get started with Microsoft’s .NET Tutorial.
As for meetups, most software meetups will be applicable to .NET as the technologies involved will touch .NET in some way, or can be used through the .NET ecosystem. Technossus, a software consulting agency with a local office, often hosts meetups with topics in relation to .NET which are highly recommended.