You, Dear Reader, very likely don't need this information. I assume you're probably not a beginner. BUT, you likely KNOW a beginner. Share this information with them!
A bunch of people on Twitter discovered the MSDN Beginner Developer Center today. I tweeted it, figured it was a throw-away tweet and it was "re-tweeted" several dozen times. Apparently there's a hunger for Beginner content out there! Who knew? ;)
It's at http://www.msdn.com/beginner and here's some of the cool stuff. Tell your 12 year old and your great-aunt, Dear Reader. There may be a programmer inside one of them.
There's several tracks to go down, first the obvious Web Track and Windows Track, but also Aspiring Pro and Kid's Corner.
The Beginner Web Developer center has three tiers, so you can start at various levels of "beginner." You can even start at the VERY beginning with no understanding of how the web works and go from there. The "Introduction to the Web" Video is very good! I'm going to send it to my Mom.
This section has another nice video (in the absolute beginner part) in the style of "How Stuff Works" with an explanation of what an OS is, how a computer runs instructions, etc. It's a fun video. This section has lessons like "Life Before Mice" and "Problem Solving in Life and Technology."
Taking it from amateur to "professional" is the real trick. I personally like to say that we're ALL amateurs. I mean, if you can get a gold medal in the Olympics as an amateur, then who am I to call myself a professional?
Regardless, there's more than just programming skills involved, there's also working in groups, as a team, in an office and how the software lifecycle works. There's also sections on moving to ASP.NET from PHP and moving to ASP.NET from Classic ASP.
Do kids always get a korner because kids love alliteration? I assume so. They also get MS Comic Sans and other bright graphics to keep their tiny attention spans. Seriously, though, the videos are pretty cool and worth watching because it's fun to watch an 8 year old explain Object Oriented Programming.
As an aside, there's some really cool changes happening at MSDN...I've seen some artist comps and snuck stuff out before and used your feedback. I'm hoping to get a hold of some new screenshots and some insider stuff on the new low-bandwidth (and other) views for MSDN that will be launching soon. MSDN Libraries are getting faster, as fast as <2 second page load times worldwide is what I hear, so I'll try to dig up details on that also. More to come, soon.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.