The leagues of @dmacvittie followers are surely aware, but for the benefit of the rest of the community, I’d like to share that DevCentral’s own, Don MacVittie, has moved over to another team within the F5 family.  Fear not (or be more afraid, take your pick!) as Don will continue to display his wit and charm through his series of information blogs. 

Don has been a consummate professional since I joined the team.  Even through his final days, which happened to coincide with the launch of the new DevCentral, he was intimately concerned with the quality of the product and worked tirelessly to help the team deliver on time.  His vision, planning, and execution in two key areas (navigation and categorization) are a major component of the improved look and feel now featured on DevCentral.

But enough about the now, let’s take a look at some of Don’s crowning achievements during his DevCentral tour of duty, at least the ones visibility to the community, there are countless more background achievements that mean the world to us that would have no bearing to the community at large.Moving On!

  • Java wrappers for iControl – Prior to Don’s arrival, most of the iControl development was focused on .NET and to a certain extent from forum demand, perl.  Don changed the game somewhat with this effort.  Says Joe:

    blockquote_thumb_1 … also appreciate the work he did on the Java iControl front. He really took the steer by the horns on that and did several projects with customers and consequently wrote the Java iControl Wrappers.

  • BIG-IP Monitoring Application for Blackberry – This was fun.  I remember when I was still a customer I had to download the blackberry emulator to check it out as I was still a dumb-phone user and new nothing of these fancy new tools.  Very handy to check on your BIG-IP babies while mobile.
  • iRule Redirector Generator – Help with redirects is a very common request in the forums, and this quick tool handles the 80% load of queries.
  • Thought leadership on storage  - Via blog, tech tip, or forum help, Don’s experience and skill in this arena will be missed.
  • Mentor – Ok, maybe this is more in the line of the “no bearing to the community at large” I said I’d avoid, but it’s true.  Don is famous on the team for having the innate ability to sharpen our focus during philosophical discussions, and is well “known for getting to the point” says Jeff. Colin is lamenting the loss, and considers Don “a fantastic team member and even better friend.”  Scott has nothing to say and never liked Don anyway.  I kid, I kid. ;-)

As far as Don’s personal experience on DevCentral, I reached out to probe a little on his tenure with the team, DC5 impressions, and his future.

Question: What was the best part of your job working on the devcentral team?
Answer: I enjoyed writing articles that readers were able to benefit from - stuff that was actually educating people and moving the use of the technology forward. Every time I wrote one of those I learned something too. Thankfully, being a TMM will allow me to continue to do that on occasion. And I have to say there are some unsung heroes on the DC team, working with them was always a joy, and will continue to be, I just won't do it daily.

Question: How will you address the concerns over your manliness and a certain meat man (Ipanema Brazilian Grill) in Seattle?  According to Joe, the “man from Green Bay, WI caved in to the Meat Man before the rest of us Seattleites.” 
Answer: Dude! I said "No, no, the guy from the midwest has had enough." and all the Seattle boys kept eating! The next morning I walk in going "Okay, I've only got one day left in town, let's hit it!" and all the Seattle team members are bloated and bloviating about too much meat... A real man has to know his limits, when the guy from Wisconsin says "one more bite and I'll start mooing", people from Fish City should be taking the hint. Someone's manhood should be in question, but it isn't this guy's ;-).

Question: Any experiences with a community user that jump out at you?
Answer:
None that I can talk about. I had some great 1:1 experiences, but they were pretty much "classified" in that the users couldn't talk to the world about what they were doing. But that was a fun bit of the job, because again, I was helping people figure out how to solve their problems. A ton of articles came out of one of those efforts.

Question: You were here for the last two major refreshes to DevCentral.  What takeaways from the DC4 exercise aided in your planning and design efforts for DC5?
Answer:
With DC4 there was so much to do and so little time that I built the categorization system, but we really didn't push hard to get it implemented. For DC5, I took that bull by the horns and pushed through getting everything at least basically recategorized in documents, while Colin did the same for the wiki. The benefit is that so much of the site is automated, so categories help get articles to the places that they'll be most useful. The team, as always, did great at the last-minute "throw it together" exercise, and DC5 came out great. I'm really glad I stayed long enough to see the result, and the road-bumps caused by the update were not nearly as bad as they could have been.

Question: What's your favorite section or feature of the new DevCentral?
Answer:
I think the ease of finding things. It's been a constant refrain from our community that things like the Wiki were hard to get to. With the new design, you can click-n-go. Beyond that, I'm holding my breath for a wave of new and useful articles for the community to consume, though that's not necessarily part of DC5, the team's time should be more free to pursue the in-depth technical articles DC is known for.

Question: If time and resources were no object, what application would you deliver for the community?
Answer:
Probably an iControl proxy that was business objects and not little atomic operations. The API is very thorough, but it takes a lot of steps to do common stuff like gracefully down a node or virtual. I'd write an interface that was a large expansion of the IC2I series I wrote that simply handled these common operations and returned SOAP exceptions on error. I've wanted to write such a beast for a while, but it's not an overnight job, and responsibilities on DC were full time plus, so it never made the top of the todo list.

Question: What will you be doing in your new role?
Answer:
Writing. Lots of writing. WOM and ARX are two product areas that interest me, storage, virtualization, cloud (specifically databases), and IT management are technologies/roles that interest me, so all of those things will influence my writing.

Question: What exciting series can the community expect in your blogging duties?
Answer:
I really don't know yet. I've been bouncing about thus far, this week has seen blogs on virtualization and thin provisioning, replication's similarities to knighthood, and how storage is like the interstate highway system... Just touching on a bunch of topics that interest me, settling toward writing about WAN Optimization and remote storage, I think. You can see the blogs are circling in that direction, so I'll likely just pursue it.

It’s been a real honor to serve alongside Don, and really, I could go on for hours on the difference Don has made to our team, from bringing balance to the DevCentral force to his gift in crafting our engineering mind against good copy.  But after all, Don isn’t leaving the family, he’s just moving in with cousin Eddie, or Ken rather.