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TechnologyI’m Thomas Dohmke, I co-founded HockeyApp and now lead a team making mobile developer tools at Microsoft. I’m here with my colleague, Ryan J. Salva. Ask us anything!

Jun 22nd 2017 by thomasdohmke • 13 Questions • 2424 Points

Hi Reddit,

I've been working as a Master Blender for 22 years, specializing in Swedish aquavits. The most known and popular is O.P. Anderson. I spend my days in a lab, extracting flavour from spices to create new products. A great aquavit comes down to craftsmanship and that's why we've just released a new documentary about our new distillery and the people who thrive to create an amazing product. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1orZomXx08 Proof: http://imgur.com/sNZFsUJ I'll start answering questions at 9AM CET

Edit: I am answering questions until 10:30 CET (4:30AM EST), back again at 4:00PM CET (10:00AM EST) I will be answering questions the same times tomorrow (June 21:st)

Edit 2: I need to check out now but, post your questions and i will answer as many as I can when I check in tomorrow :)

Edit 3: Checking out now 11 CET but keep posting! Back 4:00PM CET

Edit 4: Questions still to be answered, so I will check in again tomorrow 10AM CET to do that, so if you have more things to ask just post them.

Edit 5: Checking out. Thanks a lot for all interesting questions, it has been fun to answer them. I hope you have found my answers helpful! I wish you all a nice summer!

Q:

Hi! How do you describe the cloud to non-developers? Also what new tech is your team most excited about? Thanks!

A:

Is it true that Skåne is simply diluted OP?


Q:

Hm, good question. Depends how much the person knows about technology. I guess I would say something like: It's a lot of computers in a lot of factory buildings around the world, where companies can run their web pages and web apps. Those computers are owned and maintained by a company like Microsoft, which offers all kinds of services in addition to just the hardware.

Technology: AI/AR/VR is very exciting. On a day-to-day level, we do a lot of stuff in Node.js, React, React Native, and all kinds of container technology like Docker.

A:

For non Swedes: Skåne Aquavit is the second most sold Swedish Aquavit after O.P. Anderson Aquavit. It was launched in 1931 when there was a demand for a milder less spicy aquavit. Yes, it is true. It was based on the recipe of O.P., and to make it milder they simply halved the amount of the same spices (Caraway, Aniseed, Fennel)


Q:

So...why did you name it "HockeyApp"? It has nothing to do with hockey, I was confused.

A:

Swedish snaps are very hard to find in the US. For some reason it seems relatively easy to find the Norwgian Linie Aquvait. There's an American acquavit from Portland, OR called Krogstad.


Q:

Haha, I had to answer this question so many times over the years. :D

Our product started as an open-source project named "Hockey" which allowed you to install iOS beta apps on your iPhone (that's all it did, no crash reporting, no Android, etc). Apple calls this installation process ad-hoc distribution. The name "Hockey" was a word play on the Hoc in ad-hoc distribution and the word key. When we launched the HockeyApp in spring 2011, the open-source project had already gained traction in the community, so we kept the name and added App at the end.

Would I do it again? Maybe. Some people were and are confused as it has nothing to do with the sport, but then it enabled us to do all kinds of cute things, for example Our Mac app has a Zamboni icon and in 2015 we were sending out real pucks to product fans (https://www.hockeyapp.net/blog/2015/11/24/score-a-free-puck.html), and once you remember the name, it's pretty unique.

A:

O.P. Anderson Aquavit has been sold in the US from time to time in the past. Last time was in the beginning of the 00's. But I have good news! It will be back again soon! Right now we are in the phase of getting all the import permits and legal stuff in place. My guess is that it will be available again in 2018. :)


Q:

Have you guys been through an office hours review for office 365?

A:

What is the most memorable moment in your career so far?


Q:

I don't know if it was called "office hours review", but we are constantly giving feedback to the Office teams.

A:

O that was a hard one ;) But I would say that it was a the 5:th of May this year when we opened our new Aquavit distillery in the city of Sundsvall in the middle of Sweden. That was a really nice and rewarding moment!


Q:

It's a security and privacy compliance review you need to be in boundary for O365

A:

Which snapsvisa pairs best with aquavit? Why?


Q:

We are part of Azure and as such our products are offered under Azure Online Service Terms, and are not part of Office 365.

A:

The one you like most! But remenber to sip the Aquavit to the food also!


Q:

Are there any exciting new features coming to the Analytics and Crashes API's that you can talk about?

A:

Why is it that Aquavit must have some certain ingredients to be called Aquavit?

OP Andersson and Norrlands Aquavit are my favorites

Edit: bad memory


Q:

Continuous export is coming for both Analytics and Crashes to Azure blog storage or Azure Application Insights. In Crashes, we will add Windows support, breadcrumbs (i.e. what happened before a crash), search, and handled exceptions. We are also bringing over the bug tracker integration from HockeyApp and more alerting features.

A:

From the beginning Aquavit was a medicinal drink, medicinal herbs and spices were steeped in spirit and then used as medicine. The name Aquavit is from Latin "Aqua Vitae" meaning "water of life". A lot of those spices were used to improve digestion and caraway was one on them. Over the years it developed to be something you drank also for the taste and intoxication. From that followed that the spicing that was best with the food became most used and Aquavit turned into a term used for Caraway spiced spirits. Nice choice of favorites! :)


Q:

Does HockeyApp have a end of life? It seems like Mobile Center will reach feature parity with HockeyApp soon. Which platform do you recommend on a new project?

A:

So the alcohol was just a side effect of needing to suspend the botanicals in a solution? Was the alcohol thought to have some beneficial properties too?

On a side note; are there any good Swedish restaurants in London that you would recommend for a smogasbord and Aquavit evening?


Q:

The way it works is that at some point we will announce the end-of-life for HockeyApp, then you will have at least 12 months before the actual shutdown. This announcement has not happened yet and we are at least a few months away from it.

Today, HockeyApp is a stable service, while Mobile Center is in preview with limited terms, SLA (i.e. uptime guarantees), and support. Feel free to use Mobile Center for new projects, but for your production apps you should definitely stick with HockeyApp (unless the app is only a hobby project).

A:

Alcohol in it self was also believed to improve health and it was actually alcohol that first were named "water of life". The traces of that is the name for wine distillate "Eau-de-Vie" and "Whisky" (originally "Uisge Beatha" water of life in gaelic). When the spirit was combined with the medicinal herbs it turned into a even more potent medicine. The history behind both today's Aquavits and Gins.


Q:

How long windows mobile be supported before noone buys anything but IOS and Android devices?

A:

What's your favorite glogg recipe?


Q:

It is supported in HockeyApp and Mobile Center, and we have no plans to not support it. If you are asking how long the Windows Group will support it as an OS or launch new devices, then I don't honestly know.

A:

"Glögg" is the name for the Swedish type of spiced wine, drunk hot in Christmas time. My favorite is the classical Swedish recipe, sweet and spicy. Made from red wine, fortified wines, sugar and spiced with cloves, ginger and cardamom. The original recipe sold under the brand name "Blossa" Yummy! :)


Q:

Hello! I am curious why was an ios version of HockeyApps was never created?

A:

What education do you have? What knowledge is recommended for a master blender? Also: how much snaps do you consume during a year?


Q:

You mean a native app? We have one internally, but it would violate the App Store Guidelines which prevent apps that can install apps from other sources. Maybe this will change in the future.

A:

I have a Master in Biology and Chemistry. A good natural science knowledge is needed to master the processes of extracting flavors from spices and herbs. Then you need to have a great interest in tastes and flavors in general, to really enjoy food and drinks is important to be able to develop your sense for taste and to create a memory bank for flavors. I don't belive that I have been born with a "super nose", most people have the physiological ability, motivation and training is the key. How much snaps I consume? I have no idea, I for sure taste more in my work than I consume privately. But of course at the traditional festivities and othervise as soon as I think it will give me a taste experience with the food or in a cocktail :)


Q:

Yeah, I use iOS as secondary for the same reasons. As a follow up question what's your experience of working at Microsoft like?

A:

Got any recipes for mixed drinks with aquavit? What alcohols/juices/flavors work best with aquavit if I wanted to experiment?


Q:

Microsoft is a great place to work, and it has changed for the better in recent years under Satya. I love how much open source Microsoft is publishing, how it is open to all platforms and developers, we are really active in inclusive hiring and supporting diverse communities, and I am meeting with cool teams every week and get to see their products. On the downside, it’s still a big company, so lots and lots of meetings and Microsoft is really crazy when it comes to how many emails one would get on a single day.

A:

I really encourage you to experiment! Check out what these guys do for inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im7KP6766yg&list=PLPr1o12ioO7OkJvfwYXTGAoXpwr2PHDLr


Q:

Haha, thank you. And good job on HockeyApp.

A:

Do you drink during work?


Q:

Thanks!

A:

No, but it taste and spit a lot ;)


Q:

As Thomas said, yes, we are actively working on bundle signing. The current specification calls for an implementation where you the developer embed a public key in your app for distribution, while signing bundles with a matching private key that does not leave secure storage your machine. In this way, the bundles that you distribute via the CodePush service will be validated prior to being installed on your customer's phones.

Independent of code signing, all of our services are already secured with TLS and packages can only be uploaded by an authenticated account holder. In the future we hope to provide signing key revocation and read-only account activity logging.

A:

[deleted]


A:

Either you can make a "instant" spicing with fresh herbs and fruits. Like I wrote in another answer. Or you can make separate concentrated extracts and use portions of them to blend your final product, that way it is easier to adjust how much taste you get from each botanical and to fine tune your recipe by making a small test blend first to check the result before blending a bigger batch. For recipes you will find a lot on the web.


Q:

Thomas says that since I'm American, my choices are white or yellow, so I'm going with yellow.

A:

Since you're a good blender... Can you make chocolate milkshake or are u vegan?


Q:

There is pretty great orange Cheddar cheese. :D

A:

I stick to Aquavit :) Good to know though is that Aquavit is completely "safe" to drink for vegans.


Q:

Thomas says that since I'm American, my choices are white or yellow, so I'm going with yellow.

A:

I heard from my partly russian friend that in Russia they believe hangover is caused by the methanol in the vodka. He says that in the distilling process methanol is always produced in small quantities and the better the vodka, lower the methanol concentration. That is why hangover is in Russia considered the be a "sickness" of the poor people. Is there any truth to this?


Q:

I really like Tilsit cheese, and for your pasta, you obviously want a real Parmesan cheese (from Italy!)

A:

It is not really true. Hangover is mainly due to over consumption of ethanol (the "normal" alcohol) in whatever form it is consumed. It is correct that in natural fermentation of sugar to alcohol (ethanol) a lot of other substances are formed, some of those will distill over during distillation and end up in the distillate. Among those are fusel oils (different higher alcohols) and methanol. Methanol is very poisonous if consumed pure, it will kill you, that unfortunately happens when people are buying "moonshine" but are sold stolen methanol (pure methanol is used in industrial processes). The methanol in distilled products are though harmless, it is low in concentration and the ethanol in the product is actually a protection against methanol poisoning. This is due to that methanol will be a danger first after being metabolized in the liver resulting in dangerous substances. Methanol and ethanol is degraded a the same "sites" but ethanol "fits" better. The reason being that during the evolution our bodies have been adjusted to metabolize ethanol (eating by eating fermented fruits). So as long as ethanol is present the methanol will be intact and leave the body without causing any harm. The first treatment of methanol poisoning is to give the patient normal alcohol to drink. The purity of the distillate will though have an impact on hang over due to that our bodies will have more substances to take care of if the spirit is less pure. So a pot-still distilled spirit will give you more hangover (cognac, whisky,..) than a column distilled spirit (vodka, gin aquavit,..) if you over consume them but the main part of the suffering is due to the same ethanol.


Q:

Is it on your team roadmap to improve the build clean vs. build changed logic in Mobile Center? (E.g., Make it so it's not always a full clean build, but more like a local recompile of only the changes.)

A:

It's not on our roadmap as this would mean we would need to cache your project and source code on the VM. Today, if you start a build, we boot a new, clean VM, clone your repo, install certs and profiles, then throw away the whole VM after the build is finished and the artifacts were uploaded to distribution, crashes, etc. We will never keep a copy of your source code or a copy of the VM for that matter.

As an alternative, you can use Visual Studio Team Services with your own build agents, then you have full control over what's stored and what not.


Q:

In a company as big as Microsoft (>125K), there are obviously teams with whom you work more often than others. But if there's a reason or opportunity for you to work with someone on another team, it's hella easy to collaborate across teams.

I personally haven't found many boundaries to cross-team collaboration. The more difficult part, I think, is being able to identify scenarios where your mutual goals align. I've always felt like I had the freedom to bring any idea to the table. So long as it's a good idea that (1) aligns with the team's goals and (2) has supporting evidence from customer conversations and data analysis, I've been given the autonomy and authority to run with it. The key is really knowing why a project makes sense.

A:

Silos: Highly depends on the team and project. Personally, I meet with other teams in Windows, Azure, Visual Studio / .NET, and even our IT folks every week and we have very close partnerships across most features. Almost all Microsoft apps are using HockeyApp for internal dog-fooding, crash reporting, and analytics, and they give a lot of feedback and we have great discussions.

Personal projects & skunkworks: Very easy. Microsoft has an internal project called The Garage, which allows everyone at Microsoft to launch their personal project to the public or pitch new ideas in existing product areas. People meet in multiple Garage locations around the world every week, pitch their ideas to advisors (I am one of them), and then can launch with the help of Microsoft marketing, legal, and other support teams and without the boundaries of existing product groups (like Office). Check out The Garage homepage, lots of cool projects there: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/garage/workbench.aspx


Q:

Do Microsoft encourage you to work on open source projects?

A:

Yes, but it highly depends on the team and project. It's unlikely that you will see Windows, Office, or Minecraft being open-sourced. But a lot of developer tools are (at least partially) open source, like .NET, Xamarin, Visual Studio Code, or our own SDKs. Most of these of projects are listed here: https://opensource.microsoft.com

We can also work on other (non-Microsoft) open-source projects, for example Docker or React Native.


Q:

How did you go from hockeyapp to Microsoft? I.e. how did u get hired?

A:

Microsoft acquired HockeyApp in December 2014 and this is how the whole team joined Microsoft: https://www.hockeyapp.net/blog/2014/12/11/hockeyapp-joins-microsoft.html


Q:

What's going on with Windows Phone?


Q:

What should i know about a developers work life so that i don't get as mad when my app isn't working?


Q:

How did you initially start the project? I am having a hard time knowing if I have the right skillsets and whether I can form a team or not.

A:

We were developing mobile apps (iOS and Android) back in 2010 and needed a tool like HockeyApp for beta testing and crash reporting. We initially build it to solve our own needs, and then made it a real product for other developers.


Q:

When making your app, what did you use to beta test and collect crash reports for it?

Did you use a beta version of your app to test the beta version and collect crash reports?

A:

We use HockeyApp to distribute the betas of our native apps and to collect crash reports, including from the HockeyApp backend.


Q:

Do you have developer tools for the developer tools?

A:

We use the same developer tools to develop our developer tools. :D Our team is very diverse in what tools they prefer, for example, I like to edit in Sublime Text, others prefer Visual Studio Code or even vim.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Correct. HockeyApp is a platform for mobile and desktop app developers to distribute their apps and collect telemetry like crash reports. I explained the history of the name here: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/6iun25/im_thomas_dohmke_i_cofounded_hockeyapp_and_now/dj9lz38/


Q:

Thanks for doing this AMA. I know I missed the window, but I'd appreciate your insight.

I have a great idea for an app, how the UI should look and perform, but no coding experience. Other than the general advice of 'just teach yourself', is there a realistic option of say, photoshopping the entire experience, tactically creating a slide-show and pitching a VC for the resources to hire people who can code?

How viable of a strategy would this be?

A:

Personally, I would rather find "partners in crime" that are willing to found the company with me and complement my own skills. VC or not, you would still need to find the right people to hire and work with you.


Q:

Why did MS kill SQL Compact (sdf files)? I have several apps that rely on this (these apps used merge and transnational replication to MS SQL Server) and as a result, we will be using windows mobile 6.x forever OR... simply move all the mobile apps to Android.

A:

Sorry, we are not in the SQL team and don't know why they deprecated certain products (I hadn't heard of SQL Compact before your post).


Q:

How does education ie. a Bachelors in CompSci versus contributing to open source projects and having a strong CV with references factor in with the hiring process at Microsoft? Do you guys look for anything in particular such as knowing the latest and greatest in used technologies or is it more along the lines of 'deep fundamentals, everything else you can learn on the job'?

A:

There is an official FAQ here: https://careers.microsoft.com/help/studentfaq

We don’t require specific courses of study. A degree in computer science (CS) may be helpful. While we don’t require this degree, it typically provides the kind of experience we need. Solid experience in the CS field, work on CS projects outside your regular course work, and a great GPA are also nice to have on your resume. For any position, regardless of your degree, we look at the skills you’ve gained through your education and experience.

Getting an interview may be harder than without a degree, so make sure to build a strong network, for example by contributing to open-source projects on GitHub, sending pull requests, writing technical blog posts, etc.


Q:

CodePush looks neat. Does it work with CRNA/Expo?

A:

As of today, Codepush does not work with CRNA/Expo, which has it's own update feature.


Q:

What is your favourite dinosaur?

A:

The ones that you can build with Lego. 😎


Q:

Thanks! What is your most used IDE in the field you are in?

A:

The native IDEs for each platform: Xcode for iOS and macOS, Android Studio for Android, and Visual Studio for Windows, ASP.NET, etc.


Q:

Hi! I'm a stay at home mom of three and I'm about to start working! Is it worth it for me to learn anything coding/computer science related? Is the market saturated? I feel too old, but at the same time- I loved math in high school and early computers are in my family history.... Am I too old(37)? Are females needed in the industry? Are post kid-popping ladies a thing? I've started learning some on Khan Academy and Lynda.com- but I'm wondering if I should invest the time?
Even asking this makes me feel old! If you read this- thanks!!!

A:

It's never too late, and - yes - more women in tech are needed! You can learn more about Microsoft's diversity efforts here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/inside-microsoft/women-at-microsoft/default.aspx


Q:

First of all, great work on the product. You saved me and my team lots of stress and time. Thank you.

Q: what was life like in the weeks following Apple's takeover of testflight and announcement to drop support for Android/absolutely mangle your competitor's product?

A:

It was a very busy time for us on-boarding all these new customers. I was at a ski trip in Austria shortly after the announcement and remember vividly how I did a lot of demos and customer support instead of being on the slopes. ;)


Q:

Today I learned Microsoft does TypeScript.

Love it.

I know it's not your division, but can you yell at the people working on .Net Core. I was really excited to try it, but it's a cluster fuck.

Back to Play!

A:

Oh, we do it all the time. All our SDKs are open-source under the MIT license, for example: https://github.com/Microsoft/mobile-center-sdk-ios and https://github.com/Microsoft/mobile-center-cli

Most of my conference demo apps are open-source on GitHub as well.