Dev Profile: Cory Fowler

Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4) has a lot to share when it comes to working jointly with Microsoft and open source technologies. He’s a Windows Azure MVP and has a huge history of working with open source technologies. Here at Port25, we’re stoked that he’s going to be doing some guest blogging for us on more technical things like getting started with PHP and Windows Azure. Before he starts blogging regularly, here’s your chance to get acquainted with Cory.

What are you currently working on?

As a consultant at ObjectSharp, I work on a wide variety of projects. Currently, I’m working on training materials with our new developer division around the Windows Azure platform. It’s a lot of interesting stuff. Windows Azure is still relatively new andCory Fowler is exciting.

How did you become involved with the Open Source team at Microsoft?

Because I work in the .NET ecosystem for the most part, I reached out to the Developer Evangelist team when I was starting to get going with my career. Rick Claus and Christian Beauclair were the two main evangelists I reached out to. After they got the chance to get to know me, they invited me out to Confoo last year because in my past I’ve worked with ColdFusion, Java, Perl, and PHP. They asked me if I wanted to speak there based on my open source background. When I was at Confoo, I met Nik, who is a really interesting guy. He showed me the VanGuide project, which was cool. It was the first open data mashup I had ever seen. From there, the rest is just history.

What sort of Open Data projects are you involved in now?

I ended up helping with the VanGuide project. Then, I made a little project called OpenTurf which is kind of the same project, only it abstracted things away to make any city fit within that mold. VanGuide was very specific to Vancouver and they ended up porting it to Edmonton but if you wanted to add anything, there wasn’t much you could do with it.

(Note: Rumour has it that OpenTurf is set to launch in early April. Stay tuned!)

What’s your favourite experience working with Microsoft?

It’s pretty hard to narrow it down to one instance, but the thing that stands out in my head is Make Web Not War. Last year, when it was in Montreal, we got to go on the DevTrain and that was an interesting experience. I think it was something like 30 people on a train to Montreal. It wasn’t any particular brand of people: A whole bunch of PHP developers and .NET developers. Then, when we were at the conference, it was neat to be able to share stories between the open source world and the .NET world. It’s interesting to see how many commonalities are there.

What is your opinion on Microsoft and Interoperability?

Microsoft has been taking some big strides into the open source development world and it’s really good to see them move that way. I’m onboard with it; I think it’s a great thing. If they start to blend the tools they have now with tools from the open source world, it might work out really well for them. The Web Platform Installer is a great way to get started with Microsoft interoperability. I’m also a big fan of Expression Web, which does some great HTML and PHP work. And because I’m a Microsoft MVP for Windows Azure, it’s great to see that they’ve opened that up to allow people working on Java, Ruby, PHP, and Python to make highly scalable applications in the cloud.

What sources influence you on a regular basis?

There’re two people at Microsoft who touch on Open Source whose blogs I really enjoy. The first is Scott Guthrie and the other is Scott Hanselman, who is just a really crazy, interesting guy. Beyond that, probably the Windows Azure team blog,, a webcomic called “Not Invented Here,” and then anything that randomly catches my eye on Twitter.

What is the next big bet in Web dev?

I would definitely say that services are going to play a large role in the future of web. Mostly because, with the mobile landscape opening up, things are going to move more towards the apps. So, I can see services as being more of an infrastructure behind a native app on a phone or tablet. HTML5 is starting to look like a promising way to have a web presence that moves across to the mobile plaform.

What three things would you bring on a desert island?

Definitely copious amounts of dark coffee, a fishing pole (because it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to fish), and my beach volleyball gear.

Photo cred: quapan’s Flickr Stream