Monday, April 2, 2012
Bangalore were mostly Windows 8 - Microsoft is offering both incentives and training materials
Bangalore Training Materials : The buzzwords at Microsoft TechEd 2012 held last week in Bangalore were mostly Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Marketplace and Windows Azure. But that wasn't the only focus of the conference. Anyone who paid attention to Sanket Akerkar's opening keynote at TechEd would not have missed out on the mention of women app developers. Microsoft's plan to increase app flow into the Windows Marketplace now also includes encouraging women developers, a new category that the company is looking to work with.
It's obvious that the IT industry is no longer a male dominated one, but women developers and those who come from a hardcore software background are still a rarity. However, there are a growing bunch of women who are looking at app development as a potential career option and while not all of them have the necessary skills, the interest does seem to be increasing. As part of its efforts to work with women developers, Microsoft is offering both incentives and training materials to those who are keen on making an entry into the field.
On the sidelines of TechEd, eWorld spoke to Harish Vaidyanathan, Director, Evangelism, Microsoft about this. “We are looking for women developers to create apps in certain categories,” he said. Apart from making app development more open to women, Vaidyanathan feels that Windows Phone's visually appealing interface requires apps that complement it. Microsoft is working with women developers because their inherent sense of aestheticism contributes to making apps which are beautiful, he said.
Vaidyanathan says that apart from working with established women developers themselves, Microsoft is also encouraging women who may have an idea about a great app but not the required skills to build it to also approach them.
“There are many developers out there who know how to build apps but may not necessarily have a concept in mind. We are encouraging women who come up with interesting ideas to get in touch with us and if we think it works, we can put them in touch with someone who'll be able to build the app for them.”
The company held an interactive app development workshop for women in February which saw over 50 developers participate. Microsoft also has an ongoing developer campaign online called ‘i unlock joy' which offers interested parties free developer tools and training manuals for absolute newbies. There is also a dedicated section for women in the form of a contest. Women developers have been asked to build apps for any of the following categories: entertainment, fashion, leisure, games, recreation or travel. Microsoft is offering winners of the competition a Windows Phone handset.
Among the more successful women developers is Srividya Vaidyanathan, co-founder of PixelMat. Her company initially made apps for iOS and Android, but she has now started working closely with Microsoft to design and build apps for Windows Marketplace.
Srividya has had 13 years of experience in the IT industry but the spurt in smartphone and tablet growth prompted her to explore app development as a potential career option. “After tablets became popular I felt that apps could be a great educational tool.” Most of the apps created by PixelMat were oriented towards children. Among them are ‘Yellow Pants', ‘Pointy and Pokey' and ‘Punshine'.
During her interview with eWorld, we asked her about opportunities for women in app development. “Globally there are many women developers but in India it is still a rarity. In order to build your own apps you need a software and technical background.” She says that it's actually quite easy for a woman to work in the field because the process is systematic and hassle-free.
Srividya has developed two apps that are featured only on Windows Marketplace: Toddler ABC and Toddler Numbers. On Women's Day, Srividya open-sourced Toddler ABCs, so fellow developers can have a chance to modify the app and subsequently learn how to build their own. “There is even an option to make the apps more regional, so you could change the background music and the language to Hindi, Kannada or Tamil if you wish,” she says.