Achievement Points for Doing My Job?!
Like many of you, I’m an avid gamer and I got into this business because of video games. Modern games allow you to brag about your virtual conquests with achievement points awards. Achievements aren’t just about bragging though. Video game achievements also act as a guide prompting you to try to accomplish specific goals. (My Xbox GamerScore is 76,594 – which I’m told is pretty high – maybe a bit too high for an adult with two kids and a full-time job.) Speaking of jobs, wouldn’t it be cool to have those same bragging rights as a developer?
Back in January of this year, Microsoft released Visual Studio Achievements Beta and it was downloaded by more than 120,000 people. This version is still available for download, but it is only for Visual Studio 2010. When I went to see how many people had downloaded the Visual Studio Achievements for VS 2012, I only saw 8,958 downloads and I wanted to write a blog post to help get the word out as many people may not even know there’s a new version.
You can download the new achievements utility from the hyperlink above or from within Visual Studio by going to Tools | Extensions and Updates… After the extension is installed, you’ll have to take a couple other steps.
To list all of the available achievements, from the Visual Studio menu, go to Tools | Achievements. The following screenshot shows the achievements dialog. There are achievements for Visual Studio features, Azure development, Windows 8, and some off-the-wall items as well (e.g. use the goto statement). The blue-ish icons are achievements that I’ve accomplished, while the gray one is an achievement I’ve yet to earn. A list of achievements can also be found here.
Click one of the achievements in the Visual Studio dialog and a browser window will open. From here, you can tweet or otherwise socialize your achievements. Your achievement progress is located on your Channel 9 profile’s page.
The complete leaderboard can be found here. It’s just a simple list of the registered users and their achievements progress. (It’s at least entertaining to see what the rest of our industry looks like in their profile pictures – wow!)
There’s a Windows Phone application that displays your achievements. You can download it from the Windows Phone Marketplace here or download the source code from here and sideload it. By the way, the source code solution requires the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit.
The Visual Studio Achievements widget can be placed on any web page. You can get a copy of the script and its various customization options here.
The phone and the widget work by utilizing Channel 9’s achievements web service. Get a complete list of achievements by using http://channel9.msdn.com/achievements/visualstudio?json=true or get a list of a particular user’s achievements with http://channel9.msdn.com/niners/[registeredUsername]/achievements/visualstudio?json=true
And finally, you can submit other ideas for achievements to the Channel 9 Q & A section here.
A couple of my customers not only see this as an employee satisfaction effort, but also see it as a way to enable some peer pressure to get their developers trying new features of the IDE and related technologies.
Are you using the Visual Studio Achievements extension? What other features would you like to see? VS Achievements started as a blog post from the community, so the team is definitely listening.