# Wednesday, 08 November 2006

... aka Free Beer and Tapas night :) OK, so with the day's session overwith we proceed to the exhibition hall where Microsoft has kindly provided us with beer and tapas along with lots and lots of great technical content provided by various exhibitors. I got a nice demo of CodeRush and had them answer some critical questions about the product. Also I got a chance to see the Jetbrains guys showing off Resharper and DotTrace. Two of my favorite products.

Finally Carl and Richard was hosting Speaker Idol which is a contest amongst the attendees in which you can will a speaker slot for next year's TechEd. Afterwards they hosted the 64-bit Question Game Show where some great prizes were given away. Oh and did I mention the free beer? :)

I also got to see another Microsoft podcaster in the flesh: Ron Jacobs was there doing a live ArCast from the floor.

    

posted on Wednesday, 08 November 2006 00:22:49 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

There's not much I can add to the slides presented by Bradley Millington other than the fact that I was unable to get him to commit to a time frame for Orcas, I did try though :) Also there are some very cool stuff coming for Visual Studio to aid us in developing AJAX enabled web applications such as intellisense for JScript along with type inference which lets Visual Studio glean the type of a variable or the return value of a method by analyzing the code. Also new "hacks" are added to allow for XML comments in JScript and referencing .js files with other .js files. I call them hacks due to the fact that they really are comments formed in a special way which Visual Studio looks for; in essence they only work in VS. It's still nice to have though :)

Interestingly the CSS designer from Expression Web Designer will be available in Visual Studio which basically renders the entire Express Web Designer SKU moot in my opinion. In any case I'm glad that we'll have the designer in VS as I was actually thinking that Web Designer would be a product I'd need to install to get at it. The design surface is codenamed Sapphire by the way, you can always count on Microsoft to come up with some really cool codenames only to have them screwed up by marketing later on :I)

Finally we have Blinq which to me is the single biggest innovation in VS Orcas. If you are unfamiliar with Blinq it's basically a tool for generating a data entry web frontend based on the schema of your database. In the future Blinq will be able to generate a partial frontend based on your selection but for now it generates for the entire database schema. Also it will be able to target object to leverage our existing business objects. As you might have guess from the name Blinq utilizes LINQ to get at the data. Blinq allows for very  rapid prototyping of a web site kind of like what Ruby on Rails does. It's very nice to see Microsoft taking cues from other communities than the .NET one. Sadly this might mean the end for Subsonic before it even gets off the ground for real. Pity.

All in all a solid presentation. As it was the last presentation of the day a measure of quality would be my yawn rate which was way down in spite of the time of day :D

posted on Wednesday, 08 November 2006 00:07:06 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 07 November 2006

Eric Rudder gave a pretty standard peptalk about how we should start using Windows Vista and Office 2007 the moment they are released. Actually Office should have gone RTM at this time. The keynote did have it's effect though, I was very exited to get to the actual sessions afterwards. Mostly due to the fact that all the attendees were gathered for the keynote and I really got a feeling of just how large an event TechEd Europe really is.

I leave you with some pictures of the keynote to enjoy.

        

posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 23:30:10 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

I was very much looking forward to this session as it involves my main area of expertise. Ryan Donovan was presenting and he pretty much gave a presentation which reminded me very much of the one I do for our customers. With that being said he did provide some cool insights into the future for the product as well as some clarification on stuff I'd missed previously. Lets face it Commerce Server 2007 isn't the hottest development platform yet, it certainly doesn't compare well to stuff like SQL Server 2005, .NET Framework 3.0, so I was left attending a pretty intimate session which was actually very nice. Compared to the pre-conference the day before the conference center was packed full so attending a session with around 50 people was actually very nice and provided for an environment where people were engaged in the talk.

Now we can expect to see a service pack to Commerce Server 2007 in early 2007, you figure out how that correlates to the 2007 version number of the product :) It will focus on providing support for Windows Vista for the business tools, it will contain hot fixes, and quite interesting possibly some new features, although we couldn't get him to divulge any more information on that.

I learned a little something about the StarterSite. It would seem that Microsoft is backing it as a production ready site which should be used as a basis for further development. I guess I have to do some reviews of the code to decide for myself, needless to say that I'm wary based on my experiences with the retail and retail2002 sites of the previous versions. Also quite unexpectedly I learned that the final version of the StarterSite actually includes unit tests. Very cool.

Wishlists is a feature which is new to Commerce Server 2007, but I didn't know what the actual feature behind it was called. Well now I know: Named Baskets.

We all know that the predictor feature was removed from the product. Interestingly enough SQL Server 2005 BI contains a similar feature and what happened is that the feature was moved to the SQL Server team where it was evolved into what we have today in SQL Server. A great little tidbit.

Probably the most exciting piece of information for me personally is that Microsoft will be releasing a whitepaper on how to integrate Commerce Server with Office Sharepoint Server. What I've come to realize is that Commerce Server is only half the story. In order to provide customers with the complete experience a CMS is needed to edit and present the "soft" data should a layouts, images, and so forth. This is what we'll have a whitepaper on in early 2007.

I was very glad to hear the answer to Ute question, "what about pipelines?". To that he simply replied that this will be the last version which includes pipelines as they are working on a new architecture for this part of the product.

Microsoft does not have any plans to release a web based business for say Sharepoint.

Another very interesting piece of information is that they are doing work on enabling Commerce Server as a platform in much smaller scale scenarios which is great for Denmark where not too many large scale opportunities exist. It'll probably revolve around some licensing magic to get that done but that's just me speculating at this point. No further information on it was given.

Some interesting tidbits of information but I wish that Ryan would have gone a bit more into detail with his presentation. Also more real world examples would have been very nice. Unfortunately he was plagued with technical difficulties during the presentation which didn't help at all, although he was very good at handling it. It was hilarious when his demo PC actually rebooted automatically because Windows Update had downloaded updates and was installing them automatically :)

posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 23:19:43 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

This session seemed like a good idea at the time when I was looking over the slots but in actuality it turned out to be quite the disappointment. It would seem that the AJAX part was included only to lure people in. Brad Adams did the session which was on cooperation between designers and developers. A topic which is relevant to most of us doing web applications. Unfortunately the session turned out to mostly be a demo of Express Web Designer where Brad Adams did a draggy droppy demo of the product. People who know me know how I abhor drag and drop :)

Express Web Designer is what I would call a light version of Visual Web Developer Express targeted at the design crowd out there and my humble opinion is that it fails miserably as such. What it's got going for it is a very good design experience for CSS but that's it. The premise for the product is to cut out the step in the design process where designers create image mockups of a web site and hands it over to the developers who then create the actual CSS and HTML layouts. The problem is that you loose fidelity in the process and while Microsoft is right on that I don't believe that they are going about solving the problem in the right fashion. They want the designers to deliver CSS and HTML layouts complete with ASP.NET controls embedded but I just don't see that happen. As far as I can tell graphical designers need to target as wide an audience as possible and they just don't do that but learning to use a tool which creates a product which basically only caters to ASP.NET developers. That's one problem the second is that the designers didn't become designers to muck around with ASP.NET controls and code. In my eyes they want to be able to set up color palettes, images, and other graphical elements. They simply don't care for the the nitty gritty of a framework like ASP.NET ... and why should they?

Now back to the demo. I mentioned that we were given a demo of the Expression Web Designer. To that I just want to add that Brad Adams should know his audience; the conference is called TechEd Developers for Christ sake, not TechEd Designers. People don't want to see him futzing around with margins, padding, divs, and so forth. We're developers, give us some code! As a result people started to ooze away around the middle of the presentation, leaving a jampacked room to only two thirds.

He did actually get around to doing some code, showing what the developer does with the product the designer delivers. A very cool thing he showed was how to AJAX enable an ASP.NET site in a very simple manner by using the UpdatePanel control which is part of the ASP.NET AJAX framework. While that was very cool it just took up too little of the session. Also we got got see a little bit of the ASP.NET AJAX Toolkit which contains some very cool controls for extending existing controls and all new controls too.

So to Brad Adams I give two thumbs down for the session, and a friendly reminder: Know thy audience.

posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 22:56:35 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

I just had to see Anders Hejlsberg do a presentation; the fact that it was on LINQ wasn't too shabby either. I was excited about the technology in the first place but having actually seen Anders do LINQ queries against various data sources really has me firing on all synapses :)

LINQ or Language INtegrated Query is basically a strongly typed way of querying data directly from a .NET language like C# or VB. LINQ consists of three providers: LINQ to objects, LINQ to SQL, and finally LINQ to XML. If you have had to write a program which needs to extract data from a XML file you know how much of a pain it is to do thus paving the way for a need for LINQ to XML. LINQ to SQL simplifies access to relational data and also provides mechanisms to do OR mapping. One question on my mind with regard to this feature is support for stored procedures and LINQ to SQL does indeed support them which to me is very good news indeed. LINQ to objects is the general purpose tool of the bunch which allows you to do queries against in-memory objects on any collection which implements IEnumerable which basically means every single collection in the .NET Framework. Anders did a couple of demos on this, first querying diagnostic data on his machine listing every running process, later querying reflection info for the String class and doing a couple of group by's. Pretty neat to see how many overloads of the CompareTo() method that exists. Think of the possibilities.

Now what is even more exciting is that the technology is domain agnostic basically enabling you to do a single query across multiple disparate data sources, e.g. you need to cross-reference some data from Active Directory with employee data from a database. Today it takes a pretty significant amount of code to do so, tomorrow with LINQ you will actually be able to do the correlation with a single query producing a strongly typed resultset which you can then perform further queries against if you so desire.

People might ask the question, "Why do we need to reinvent SQL?". To that the answer is that LINQ is so much more than SQL as I've described above. You cannot do querying across disparate data sources with SQL, you cannot query object, you cannot do OR mapping. It's pretty obvious that LINQ is here to stay and that we need to invest in the technology simply because it makes development more intuitive and more effective. Combine LINQ with Blinq and we're in serious business but that's a story for another post :)

posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 22:33:07 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

I don't know about you but this is just uncanny to me:

posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 22:31:52 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

When eating out in Barcelona, be sure NOT to go to a place called EL GLOP.

or you just might end up like this.

posted on Tuesday, 07 November 2006 08:00:53 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, 06 November 2006

So ... first day at my first TechEd. It's been quite the ride already. As you've probably already seen I've gushed about seeing Mr. Franklin and Mr. Hanselman of DotNetRocks fame and of Hanselminutes fame.

More importantly I actually decided on a session, albeit 30 seconds before it started :) I decided to watch Roy Osherove's Agile Development with or without Team System as methodology is near and dear to my heart these days.

As I said this is my first TechEd and as such I had no idea what to expect. I've been to my fair share of MSDN Events and while they were decent Roy blows them all out of the water. He knows his stuff and it shows. He gave lots of pointers of generic stuff surrounding agile development and more importantly backed it up with actual personal experience. Instant authority. Mixing in some actual tools to get people started is great; especially for a person like myself who sees a tool for every problem :D

I could tell that he's very passionate about the subject. Sadly his real enthusiasm only shone though a couple of times. Don't get me wrong, the session was great but I can't help but feel that he was holding back a little for some reason. Maybe it's just his style.

Anyway great presentation, I'm certainly hungry for more. The hours went by without me noticing it. A good sign :) Tomorrow will for my part bring sessions on Commerce Server 2007, AJAX, a DotNetRocks panels discussion, and finally C# Language Innovations(with Anders Hejlsberg no less). I may not be able to sleep tonight :)

Finally here are some pictures of Sune (yes, Microsoft actually stole his name and made an MP3 player out of it, I guess Sune will be hearing from Microsoft Legal in the near future) and I lounging outside the conference center. Notice the ridiculously large badge around Sune's neck. Also check out included are a couple of pictures from the session.

posted on Monday, 06 November 2006 23:02:53 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

OK, it's official. I'm in nerd nirvana here at TechEd. I've just attended a session on continuous Integration by Roy Osherove and right now I'm sitting across from Carl Franklin and Scott Hanselman doing a Hanselminutes. I tell you it doesn't get better than this :)

posted on Monday, 06 November 2006 19:06:00 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback

I arrived in in Barcelona yesterday and have been without net access for almost 24 hours. Yikes! :) Now, however, I've arrived at the conference center with my colleague where Microsoft kindly provides net access for the pre-conference attendees. We're currently waiting for the pre-conference sessions to start and I'm still undecided whether to see the AJAX session or the Agile Development with Team System session.

Stay tuned for "Tough  Choices in Barcelona". Coming up next :)

posted on Monday, 06 November 2006 11:35:31 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 03 November 2006

So I've wanted to try out Windows Live Writer for a while now but of course DasBlog 1.8 doesn't work with Windows Live Writer. The other night I got around to finally updating my blog to version 1.9 which should have support for Windows Live Writer. If you are reading this it works :)

Hey it actually does work and it includes a thumbnail feature as well. It even configures itself with DasBlog so I'm able to upload images. I've used BlogJet up to this point but I actually think Live Writer is turning out to be a better more polished product. And it's free too :)

posted on Friday, 03 November 2006 13:41:47 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

A colleague (thanks Troels) sent me this link this morning. What a great way of starting out the day  It gets even more interesting when I consider the fact that we share building with a telemarketing company. Should I go downstairs and hand them the link?

Without further ado here’s How to Prank a Telemarketer. As an added bonus here’s Bush singing Bloody Sunday.

And here are some more prank calls for you http://www.eugenemirman.com/showandtell.html

 

posted on Friday, 03 November 2006 08:39:19 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 01 November 2006

CommerceServerThe Commerce Server team has released the final build of the Starter Site. I’ve already gone ahead and deployed it to one of my test environments and it looks solid. Not much different than the CTP version really.

More interesting is the fact that they have started a Commerce Server Team blog which I’m sure will bring lots of valuable information.

Download the Starter Site.

Check out the Commerce Server team blog.

posted on Wednesday, 01 November 2006 11:55:58 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 29 October 2006

37slogo-transI was given a copy of the book “Getting Real” by 37signals a while back and have had it lying around until recently when I decided to give it a read. I’m pretty impressed with what they have to say about software development. Lots of fresh ideas, lots of food for thought. Although I don’t agree with everything they state they do have some good points. Definitely worth a read.

If you do decide to read it be advised that a lot of what they say is related to their situation only. As an example they state that requirements gathering is a waste of time. Which is it, for them. They are developing their own service and as such is their own customer. For people in the consultancy business stuff like requirements gathering is very important, for people like 37signals not so much.

37signals is now giving away the book so there’s really no excuse not to read it. It’s a quick read too.

posted on Sunday, 29 October 2006 16:31:05 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 26 October 2006

Visualstudio_logoA while back I had some trouble with Visual Studio Team System and tests which suddenly couldn’t be run. VS simply marked them with a red icon and told med that the test in question is unrunnable. I was able to work around the issue by renaming the classes in my tests but that really wasn’t a very good way to go about it so I posted to the Microsoft forums at http://forums.microsoft.com.

A couple of guys from Microsoft were kind enough to respond but I never did find a solution to my particular issue. Now, however, Luis Fdez responded with a suggestion which I haven’t had a chance to try out yet, but I thought it important enough to post it here immediately if anyone else is experiencing the same issue.

Basically you should try to open the Test View or Test Manager and click Refresh which should fix it.

Take a look at the thread if you have any input or interest in the issue.

posted on Thursday, 26 October 2006 11:48:37 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

ARNETI had a pretty interesting issue with Data Dynamics Active Reports this week. Active Reports has proven itself to be a very reliable product with only a couple of minor issues which have been methodically ironed out by Data Dynamics so I was pretty perplexed to see this behavior.

Basically what happened was that I would instantiate a new Active Report, call its Run() method, and then nothing. Run() never completed and I was left with terminating the host process manually. Neat.

Luckily Data Dynamics forums came to my rescue and suggested that I add a reference to ActiveReports.Interop.dll to my project which I did and everything has been fine from that point on. I guess that at some point I’ve gotten the interop assembly from a previous version of AR deployed and my build was compiled with a newer version. So when I deployed I’d ended up in a situation where newer versions of all the other AR assemblies would reside in my bin folder along with the older version.

posted on Thursday, 26 October 2006 08:57:14 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 24 October 2006

CommerceServerThe sales material for Commerce Server 2007 states that standard edition supports Data warehousing and Analytics. Be advised that this is not the case. Microsoft is aware of the documentation issue and is working on fixing it.

posted on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 08:24:35 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 23 October 2006

CommerceServerSo I’ve been fighting with the Commerce Server 2000 BizDesk the last couple of days. On October 19th Microsoft issued a couple of security updates among which KB924191. This patch specifically disables MSXML 2.6 as detailed in knowledge base article MS06-061: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft XML Core Services could allow remote code execution, a good thing too considering the severity of the issue.

However this meant that people suddenly was unable to search for products in the BizDesk catalog system. Clicking the “Find” button simply didn’t do anything. I tracked down the code responsible for searching in the /Microsoft Commerce Server/Widgets/ListHTC/ListSheet.htc where, of course, I found hard coded version progids for MSXML2. Once found the fix was quite easy: Simply remove the version specific parts of the progid and the BizDesk is flying once again. Additionally several other pieces of code in the BizDesk are affected so you need to track down the 2.6 version progids adn remove them to get everything working. Specifically I found references to MSXML2.XMLHTTP.2.6.

Talk about detective work

posted on Monday, 23 October 2006 10:33:00 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback