2011 was an interesting year. I added 47 posts to this blog, produced three training courses for Pluralsight, started contributing a pair of articles per month for InfoQ.com, released my 3rd book, had speaking engagements in New Zealand, Sweden and China, started graduate school, and accepted a new job. I’m extremely thankful for all these opportunities and I keep doing all this stuff because I find it fun and love learning new things. And I really appreciate the 172,000+ visits to the blog this year and the many of you who bought my books, watched my training and read my InfoQ articles.
In this post, I’m going to highlight some of my favorite blog posts and books from 2011.
First off, these are a few blog posts that I enjoyed writing this year.
- Is BizTalk Server Going Away At Some Point? Yes. Dead? Nope. I think this was the first blog post that I’ve written that ever went viral. I wrote this in my head on the way to work one morning and apparently it resonated with a lot of people.
- The Good, Bad and Ugly of Integrating Dynamics CRM 2011 and BizTalk Server 2010. This has inexplicably become one of the most popular posts that I’ve ever written.
- Using the BizTalk Adapter Pack and AppFabric Connect in a Workflow Service. This was one of the demonstrations from my New Zealand trip and I thought it was a cool way to do lightweight, stateful LOB communication.
- 6 Quick Steps for Windows/.NET Folks to Try Out Cloud Foundry. Lots of changes to cloud offerings in 2011 and in hindsight, I’m glad I looked into Cloud Foundry. It’s a cool platform and we’ll likely be hearing much more about it in 2012.
- It was fun to dig into the WCF Routing Service in a pair of posts. I’m not sure if this is heavily used software, but it definitely adds value in simple routing scenarios.
- Sending Messages from Salesforce.com to BizTalk Server Through Windows Azure AppFabric. I built this demo for the last book, and still think it’s a really neat way to run cloud apps but leverage onsite services.
- I had a good time exploring a pre-release version of StreamInsight Austin (“StreamInsight in the cloud”) and showed how to build an internet-friendly adapter and then how to deploy a cloud CEP app.
- Integration in the Cloud. This four-part series was the basis for my presentation at QCon Hangzhou and I enjoyed applying well-known patterns to cloud scenarios.
- First Look: Deploying .NET Web Apps to Cloud Foundry via Iron Foundry. If we assume that PaaS is the future of cloud computing, I suspect that Azure will be just one of the places that developers deploy .NET web applications to.
- I really enjoyed each of the “4 Questions” interviews in 2011 and had a blast talking to Rick Garibay, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Jon Fancey, Buck Woody, Sam Vanhoutte, Pablo Cibraro, Allan Mitchell, Ryan CrawCour, Scott Seely, and Clemens Vasters.
It was hard to keep up my regular pace of reading a book or two a month, but I still carved out time to read some memorable ones. I admittedly read fewer deep technical books and focused more on growing as a strategist and learning to manage my time effectively. Here are a few of my favorites from this year:
- Your Brain at Work. Great description of what tasks tax the brain most, how to decompose complex ideas, strategies for staying focused and how to be more mindful. Useful stuff.
- Blink. Gladwell is known for writing provocative books, and this is no exception. Instead of thinking that the quality of our decisions are based on the time/effort we put into it, we should trust our judgment more often.
- The Bullpen Gospels. I’m a sucker for baseball books, and this one was immensely satisfying. It’s a great story of a pitcher’s journey through minor league baseball.
- Do the Work. Nice little book that encourages us to jump into a task, not fear success, and to remember that “finishing” is the most critical part of a project.
- The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides. I’ve worked at becoming a better presenter over the past few years, and books like this help keep me focused on telling a compelling story without using slides as a crutch.
- fruITion: Creating the Ultimate Corporate Strategy for Information Technology. Good read about articulating the real role of IT in an organization and the value of better alignment with business partners.
- recrEAtion: Realizing the Extraordinary Contribution of Your Enterprise Architects. If you’re an architect, or even pretend to be one, this is a must-read. Fundamentally changed my thinking on what it means to be an (enterprise) architect. Continues the fictitious story from the previous book, fruITion.
- Little Bets. Food for thought about the value of experimentation as most new brilliant ideas don’t form out of thin air, but are discovered.
- Game of Thrones; A Clash of Kings; A Storm of Swords. I’m not a fantasy book guy, but after watching Game of Thrones on HBO, I thought I’d try the books. I read the first three and loved the characters and “did they really do that?” plot twists.
- The Two Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future–Just Enough. Excellent book on the real-time data revolution. Although written by the CEO of TIBCO, the book isn’t very technical but rather shows the reader the significant impact of real-time intelligence.
- A. Lincoln: A Biography. Fascinating, well-paced story of one of America’s most compelling historical figures. Lincoln was such a deep thinker and this book does an excellent job following his thoughts from early life through his successful navigation of the US Civil War.
As for 2012, hopefully you’ll see more blog posts, more training courses, and more interviews containing stupid questions.