Cindy has been active in online communities since 1996 when, due to an accident that immobilized her for a time, she discovered CompuServe and the Microsoft Office forums hosted there. At the time, Cindy was a trainer for various end-user applications, including Word 2.0, so she started reading messages and soon, answering. “While you can learn a lot by reading, I was learning even more by researching ways users could work around problems they were encountering. During those halcyon years, there was active participation by Microsoft Customer Service and Support in the CompuServe forums and they were constantly on the look-out for people to bring into the then-young MVP program. I received my invitation within a few weeks after discovering the forums. At first, I thought it must be a hoax, but it was not – an initiation most MVP candidates experience,” Cindy recalls.
So Cindy’s first incentive for being active in online, peer-to-peer support was the thrill of learning, coupled with what the knowledge brought to her everyday job. What’s kept her at it through the tough times has been the network of fellow MVPs—mostly, but not only, Office-centric—whom she met while attending Summits, especially the early ones.
As the years passed, Cindy’s focus changed gradually from end-user to developer. She was at the fore-front of the move from the old macro languages to VBA and, again, learned a lot by helping others make the transition.
Ten years ago Cindy became acquainted with the .NET Framework through introduction of the original edition of Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). When the second edition was released (often mentioned in documentation as being the first), she started investigating it more closely. This moved her gradually into the MSDN forums a couple of years before the newsgroups were closed down.
“Again, I was learning a lot (including C#, with the help of the MVP Academy) even as I began to assist .NET developers with understanding the arcane, COM Office object models. Dejà vu: within weeks, I was asked to join the moderator team.”
Although Cindy started being active in the community many years ago, transitioning from CompuServe to the Microsoft newsgroups, her community participation to this day is immensely high—and it now takes place in the MSDN forums. Cindy was—and still is—the number one forum poster in the Word for Developers, VSTO and the Open XML Format and SDK forums, sharing her knowhow and experience, never ceasing to find solutions to questions posed in the forums.
Cindy is a recognized author, currently working with her co-authors (whom she met through the MVP Program) on the 4th edition of the successful Word Programming book (original German Title: “Microsoft Word-Programmierung – Das Handbuch”) published by MS Press Germany.
This past year Office Open XML file formats and the Open XML SDK piqued Cindy’s interests: “I’m going to start on a book introducing this new technology to Office developers. Increasingly, generation and manipulation of Office files needs to take place in a server environment, and this is the technology for that. I’m discovering, same as with VSTO, that a deep knowledge of the history and internal workings of an Office application is key to understanding how to work with the files, even outside the Word application environment.”