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Microsoft MVP.
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Six Questions with Pluralsight Author: Shawn Wildermuth

On this week's Six Questions with... I'm delighted to be interviewing the super-knowledgeable, super-talented and super-nice guy Shawn Wildermuth. Shawn is a 14-time Microsoft MVP, author of eight books, and his excellent training courses are always in the top 10 Most Popular list on Pluralsight.

Shawn also gives a huge amount to the community, running the 'Hello World' podcast, regularly speaking at conferences and User Groups, and he's a serial World Tourer. I had the pleasure of meeting Shawn and his wife when they came to London on the last trip, and I heartily recommend catching him on the current tour if he's coming near you.

I can't imagine Shawn has much free time, so I'm very grateful for him agreeing to the interview.

1. What are you learning at the moment?

Docker and ASP.NET Core RC2. I’m preparing for the update of my course, and learning how to host it in Docker at the same time. Docker is an important tech and every developer should understand it (not necessarily know how to do everything in it).

2. On .NET Core, developing in the open is a huge step for Microsoft and it's not all good news. At the moment there's a lot of unease as the DNX framework - which was mature but unlikeable, is being replaced with the dotnet CLI - which is much nicer, but not yet fully featured. Are you advising .NET people to get stuck in now, or wait for everything to settle?

The DOTNET CLI is the 3rd or 4th iteration of the command-line. I think when RC2 hits, it will be welcomed and will be a better way of extending itself than commands. I’m really looking forward to it.

3. Your knowledge spans a wide range of technologies, from SQL databases through REST APIs to Web front ends and JavaScript. It's a huge effort to stay on top with all that breadth - do you believe the "full stack developer" really exists, or do you think some specialization is necessary?

I don’t think ‘full-stack’ matters. I think developers have to be two things: pragmatic and live-time learners. This means specialization is fine if you’re passionate, or being a generalist is fine…if you’re passionate about it. Having passion about what you do is more important than finding a label. I’m lucky in that I’m hungry to learn, always and my full-time job is to learn (and eventually help teach others). As a full-time developer you have to weigh the cost of learning and the responsibility of building. But keep moving forward. Don’t get in a rut. If you’re bored it’s a sign you’re not learning enough or the right things.

4. With your Hello World podcasts you've interviewed some of the industry's best people on how they got started in tech. Which has been your favourite story?

Brian Noyes. Without a doubt. Fighter pilot without any programming experience decides to learn DirectX and C++ so he can design flight paths for his squadron. Bad ass.

5. Recently thousands of software projects broke when Azer Koçulu pulled his left-pad library from NPM. Builds failed all over the world, but left-pad only had 11 lines of code. Do you think devs are too quick to reach for third-party packages, or is the sheer amount of good stuff on NPM and NuGet worth the risk?

Left-pad was a minimal library and lots of people used it because others used it. I don’t think that relying on other projects is a problem. The real lesson from left-pad is this. Builds failed and the world fixed their reliance on it in hours not days. The system worked. Sure, left-pad probably wasn’t really needed, but that’s more of a symptom of StackOverflow-based development than the dependency system.

6. I know you when you travel you take a guitar with you. Which guitar goes on the road, and what do you play in your downtime?

We have an off-brand six string acoustic that we take. It was about $200 so that if it gets broken or lost, then we don’t feel too bad. My main guitar is a 1985 Taylor 810 that is the first thing that I take out of the house in case of a fire. I’d never take it on the road, but it’s what I use to play when I’m home and when I record.

Thank you Shawn! The series will be back next week, until then there are plenty of Shawn's Pluralsight courses.

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Written by Elton Stoneman
Microsoft MVP | Docker Captain | Pluralsight Author