# Thursday, 09 August 2007

Apple has released a bunch of new Macs with an updated design but what grabbed my attention the most was the new keyboards. OMG my finger is hovering over the Buy button as I type this :) Just look at that profile. It's probably horrible to type on but man is that yummy looking!

AppleWirelessKeyboard2007 AppleWirelessKeyboard2007-top

posted on Thursday, 09 August 2007 12:52:35 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback
# Wednesday, 08 August 2007

CommerceServer Placing orders on the out of the box StarterSite is a bit tricky due to the fact that credit card numbers are verified in the pipeline component called creditcard.pcf. Of course you can disable credit card verification in the pipelines but that's not really the best way around. Luckily for us Microsoft has a KB article with some card numbers for testing to avoid that.

Sample Credit Numbers for Testing Credit Card Functionality

posted on Wednesday, 08 August 2007 15:38:48 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

When I mentioned that I needed to do a post on Brian's new blog my other colleague Sune indignantly told me that I didn't do the same for him when he launched his blog. So here we go: Honorable mentions go to Sune Hansen's HansenOnThird.com. Sune writes about BizTalk and the software development business in general and he's already got a couple of insightful posts up on his blog.

There, I hope everybody is happy now. :)

On a side note I really love the idea of blogging spreading in Vertica as it helps give us give the company a human face, not only to other devs but also to our potential customers our there. I'm convinced that real words coming from real people are a much better selling point than any fancy PDF document can ever be. It seems like yesterday that I tried getting the folks here hooked on consuming RSS feeds and look at us now, we're actually joining the conversation.

posted on Wednesday, 08 August 2007 14:31:01 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

I've been reading the Chief Happiness Officer blog for a while now and love the insights Alexander Kjerulf provides. Today I stumbled across a podcast he did a while back on motivation and why many companies fail motivating their employees. A very interesting listen with some good tips on stuff you can do today to improve your own workplace.

Podcast about motivation

posted on Wednesday, 08 August 2007 14:20:17 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

My colleague Brian has started blogging in anticipation of attending TechEd Barcelona 2007 at which time he'll provide you with on site reports of the various sessions he'll be attending. He works with me on e-commerce solutions and general .NET development so you can probably expect to see posts on those topics. In his spare time he runs a small hosting operation called YourHost.dk where he does some interesting stuff with custom e-commerce web applications.

posted on Wednesday, 08 August 2007 14:14:28 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 27 July 2007

Yes, it's that time of week where productivity grinds to a halt, eyes glaze over, you know the drill; basically it's time for a little time waste. A friend of mine sent me this and it makes me thankful that I'm all alone at the office today because I can't help but laugh out loud at this :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4evqM8eookM&eurl

posted on Friday, 27 July 2007 14:06:53 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

My Solution Explorer that is. Duckie put his Solution Explorer online and I though it would be fun to show a couple of our projects. The first one is a warehouse management system which handles everything from incoming goods to picking and getting the goods out the door again.

eLog-Solution-Explorer 

Next up a service oriented solution for e-commerce or rather part of it. Easily the most complex of our solutions with loads of projects it's even got a REST based interface for integration purposes with older parts of the system. I'm particular proud of this solution because it incorporates heavy use of automated unit- and web testing. Notice the use of solution folders to keep projects for the individual services together.

 SOA-Solution-Explorer

posted on Friday, 27 July 2007 09:28:09 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 26 July 2007

Introduction

The following is a list of the plugins I use with Firefox every single day. My hope is to demonstrate the power of the plugin system in Firefox and how you can customize Firefox for a more productive browsing experience.

Tabmix Plus

The first plugin I ever installed and as such I found it proper to start out with this as it showed me the true potential of Firefox. Tabmix extends the existing tab options considerably by providing settings for almost every single scenario imaginable.

I use Tabmix to force links to open in new tabs instead of popping up new Firefox windows. The built in session manager (which the Firefox team implemented directly in Firefox) allows me to restore my previous browsing session automatically which is quite nice. Finally it allows me to change tab opening behavior so that new tabs pops up next to the active one and I've got it set up so that new tabs only get focus in specific scenarios which means that I'm able to go through a site and click interesting links without breaking my reading flow, when I'm done I can checkout the opened links at my leisure. There are tons of other possibilities with Tabmix Plus but those are the ones I use myself.

My-Firefox-Plugins-Tabmix-Plus-Links-Options 

ColorfulTabs

My-Firefox-Plugins-ColorfulTabs-Tabs

Adds a unique color to every tab open making it even easier to navigate your various tabs. An option allows you to have the colors generated based on the URL which means that you get the same color for the same web site each time. Additionally it just brightens up the interface considerably.

My-Firefox-Plugins-ColorfulTabs-Options

(Settings Window)

Greasemonkey

With Greasemonkey you're able to modify or add existing web pages by using Javascript. As such it would seem like a highly specialized plugin only interesting to people able to write Javascript. However this is not the case as Greasemonkey enjoys an entire library of user created scripts at Userscripts.org. Greasemonkey is essentially a plugin system within the plugin system.

A good example of what's possible with Geasemonkey is the Gmail Super Clean script which allows you to turn the standard Gmail interface like below:

My-Firefox-Plugins-Greasemonkey-Gmail My-Firefox-Plugins-Greasemonkey-Gmail-Super-Clean

As you can see from the following screenshot I use Greasemonkey entirely for customizing Gmail but of course many scripts exist for other sites so be sure to check out Userscripts.org.

My-Firefox-Plugins-Greasemonkey-UI

OpenDownload

Coming from IE one of the this I missed the most was the ability to click Run on downloads. Firefox forced me to select a temporary location for every single download which in theory is well and good but in practice I sometimes just download stuff for one times purposes, e.g. I want to test something out, in those cases having to select a location is annoying as hell. OpenDownload takes care of this by adding a Run button to the standard Firefox download dialog. By clicking the button Firefox downloads to a temporary folder and launches the download when done.

It's one of those plugins that saved you a couple of seconds each time you want to just run something. In the long run it adds up, not to speak of getting rid of the annoyance itself.

My-Firefox-Plugins-OpenDownload

Fasterfox

Want to use that big fat pipe to the internets more efficiently? Fasterfox is a bunch of tweaks to Firefox which will allow you to do just that. Fasterfox works in two ways: Firstly It optimized various aspects of the network utilization such as multiple concurrent connections, caching, DNS cache, etc.. Secondly it prefetches links ala what Google has been doing for a while with Google Web Accelerator but with some limitations as to avoid "dangerous" behavior like logging you out from a site, emptying your shopping cart. The primary limitation is that Fasterfox will not prefetch dynamic pages such as ASPX, JSP which to my mind makes a lot of sense as I've never used prefetching due to the problems described earlier.

My-Firefox-Plugins-Fasterfox My-Firefox-Plugins-Fasterfox-Prefetch

Gmail Notifier

As you saw when I introduced Greasemonkey I use Gmail and quite extensively too. In fact I'm at a tipping point where using Outlook for my private mail doesn't make too much sense any more. In essence I'm using Gmail for everything but my calendar so that's the one reason why Outlook is still sticking around. But that's a different story :)

The function of Gmail Notifier as you probably deduced by now is to notify about new mail in your Gmail account. It adds a little icon to the lower status bar of Firefox which indicates the number of unread mails in your account and a notification is displayed on the desktop when new mail is found. Clicking the icon will bring you to your Gmail page via a secure HTTP Connection. Simple, effective.

My-Firefox-Plugins-Gmail-Notifier-No-Mail My-Firefox-Plugins-Gmail-Notifier-New-Mail

My-Firefox-Plugins-Gmail-Notifier-New-Mail-Toast 

Google Toolbar

My-Firefox-Plugins-Google-Toolbar

The Google Toolbar, who can live without it? The toolbar is the first thing I install whenever I do a fresh Firefox install. Yes Google spies on my through this thing, yes my entire life is run by Google services but I don't give a damn it's so nice :) The latest version of Google Toolbar integrates even better with Firefox by adding an option to replace the standard Firefox search box next to the address bar. Makes for a more compact UI. My favorite feature of the toolbar is that search words are added as clickable buttons which finds the search term on the page. Supremely useful.

IETab

For all the usefulness of Firefox you simply can't get around the fact that Internet Explorer has had and still have a huge percentage of the install base covered which means that some sites simply aren't going to play nice with Firefox. IETab alleviates this problem by allowing you to switch rendering engine on a single tab enabling the IE engine to run within Firefox. IETab allows you to configure sites that should always be rendered using the IE engine, Windows Update comes to mind though only a problem in Windows XP as Vista does away with the Windows Update page in favor of a client app. Also available from the Firefox UI is a button for switching between the rendering engines on the fly.

 My-Firefox-Plugins-IETab

PlainOldFavorites

Keeping bookmarks in sync between browsers were a priority to me when I was initially trying out Firefox as I was still very much using IE. I didn't want to commit to the custom bookmark system Firefox introduces so instead of keeping the two in sync I went and found PlainOldFavorites which provides access to the standard Windows/IE favorites from within Firefox. It adds a new menu item to Firefox called Favorites just like we're used to in IE.

del.icio.us

With an increasing number of bookmarks I'm finding it harder to keep them relevant and up to date which is where del.icio.us comes into play. del.icio.us is a service for storing your bookmarks online much like what Google provides with their toolbar however del.icio.us was the original player in that particular space with more focus on the social aspects of bookmarking. For me personally it's just a matter of storing my bookmarks in a central place where I don't have to worry about backups. If you're interested in the social aspects of del.icio.us check out their about page.

Since I started using del.icio.us in Firefox I've noticed that I use bookmarks much more actively and I tend to tag (add) a lot more bookmarks to my collection. An unexpected side effect of del.icio.us is that I'm now able to see what similar pages other people tag within particular tags. Very useful that I can get additional bookmarks relevant to stuff I'm looking for which have already been prescreened by another person.

My-Firefox-Plugins-del.icio.us-Add-Bookmark My-Firefox-Plugins-del.icio.us-Browse-Bookmarks

FireFTP

As a web developer I find myself in need of a FTP client from time to time. The fact that I don't need a client very often doesn't warrant a dedicated software for the FTP'ing file back and forth. FireFTP is a simple FTP client built right into Firefox which. An added benefit of having the FTP client inside Firefox is that it opens up in a separate tab which means you can have multiple connections open at the same time.

My-Firefox-Plugins-FireFTP

Web Developer

My-Firefox-Plugins-Web-Developer

You cannot live without the Web Developer plugin if you're doing any kind of web development. As you can surmise from the name Web Developer helps you out when you're creating web pages. The focus of Web Developer is inspecting the HTML of your pages and understanding the structure of a page. It includes a number of validators for checking CSS, HTML, RSS, and a bunch of other stuff.

Firebug

in the same category as Web Developer we have Firebug which is priceless for developing AJAX enabled web applications and doing client side debugging. You can insert break points in JavaScript, step through code, and even modify code on the fly for an even more streamlined development experience.

Firebug introduces a browser for inspecting the HTML structure in a hierarchical fashion which in conjunction with Web Developer makes for a very powerful development environment; all in the browser.

A neat little feature is an small indicator icon added to the status bar which shows the "compile" status of the web pages; essentially telling you whether any bugs exist in your page.

My-Firefox-Plugins-Firebug-HTML-hierarchical-Browser My-Firefox-Plugins-Firebug-Script-Inspector

Summary 

You can customize Firefox exactly to your liking as you can see from this list of the plugins I use everyday. The plugin system is easily the most powerful feature of Firefox; if you take the time to explore the potential. For me personally the plugins mean that I'm sticking with Firefox now that I've learned the potential. In many ways the plugins goes hand in hand with the reason why I'm using software like Resharper in my day to day development tasks: I want to get the most out of the time I spend behind the screen.

I hope that this list has inspired you to go look at the various plugins yourself and do leave a comment if you find useful plugins for yourself. You can find additional plugins at the Firefox Add-ons page; keep in mind that the Firefox team hasn't actually decided on what to call plugins so you'll see the terms plugin, add-on, and extension used interchangeably on both their web pages and in the actual browser. Honorable mention goes to Greasemonkey: the plugin system within the plugin system (it does get very meta at this point, right :)).

posted on Thursday, 26 July 2007 21:45:32 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

CommerceServer My initial reaction was surprise when I learned that the order tracking numbers jump in intervals of 5000 whenever the AppPool of our Commerce Server applications is recycled. The behavior is usually not one that business users like to see because they just don't find it logical; additionally there's a nice soft benefit to being able to see how many orders you've processed up to a certain point just by looked at the tracking number.

Colin Bowern had the same experience and went digging. Basically he learned that the jump is a design change which was made to improve counter performance. To increase perf the tracking numbers are preallocated in lots of 5000 when the application fires up. Luckily Colin went and found a different way of assigning tracking numbers which don't exhibit this behavior.

Changing Order Number Behaviour in Commerce Server 2007

posted on Thursday, 26 July 2007 10:37:25 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 24 July 2007

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"I don't know it's still calculating".

Come on that's funny stuff right there :) I heard that on on a Hanselminutes episode.

posted on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 11:45:01 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

VistaLogo1 The restart now popup which Windows XP insists on popping up annoys me to no end. I've spent entire days clicking that sucker to avoid rebooting; every time I click it I die a little inside. I even resorted to hiding it by pulling it to the bottom of my desktop with only the topmost 2 pixels visible.

The dialog from hell in all its glory:

windows-xp-automatic-updates-restart-now

And here's how to extend the interval at which the dialog appears or disable it altogether.

Luckily Windows Vista does away with this annoying little critter and introduces the notion of postponing the restart for up to 4 hours. And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaay! (bonus points to the person who comes up with the movie from which the quote is taken). Seriously how's that for innovation?

Windows-Vista-Postpone-Restart-After-Update

As Apple so thoroughly has shown us it's the little things that count. This Windows Update dialog, however small a feature, is actually a pretty good metaphor for what Windows Vista is: Nice and polished with attention to details. Yes, I'm enjoying my Vista experience quite a bit although I'm still not quite sure when the WOW! actually starts. Microsoft does specify that the Wow starts "Now" but I'm still waiting for it :)

posted on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 11:43:20 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback

Volbeat-Rock-the-Rebel-Metal-the-Devil From time to time I come across an album so good that I just have to listen to it on repeat for days on end. Even when I'm not listening to it the top tracks are playing in my mind on their own accord :) I had that experience with Metallica's The Black Album, I had it with Audioslave's debut album, and now another one has come along from a Danish band called Volbeat. The album is called Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil.

My experience in reviewing music is very limited so I'm lacking the basic tools to describe just what we're dealing with here. Suffice it to say that it is reminiscent Metallica's middle period with the Black Album and the follow-up before they went back to their roots with the latest stuff which I don't care too much for. It's no coincidence that Volbeat warmed up for the Metallica concerts in Denmark :) They put it like this themselves on their MySpace page, "Metallic pop ROCKNROLL with a touch of the 60's melodic tunes.".

Volbeat has a knack for putting together tracks which stay with you, Great music, great clear lyrics. Strong lead guitar. Great energy. Give a listen to Garden's Tale and Radio Girl on the Volbeat MySpace page both of the tracks have been playing on Danish national radio for a while. I predict that the next single released from the album will be Soulweeper #2; the closest thing to a ballad on the album.

posted on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 09:45:35 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Sunday, 01 July 2007

I'm leaving the country for vacation tomorrow morning (at 5 in the morning no less, yikes!). Expect low volume of posts in the coming weeks. I'll leave you with my ReSharper 3.0 Review until I'm back.

posted on Sunday, 01 July 2007 21:35:34 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

... Actually it's been out a couple of days but I wanted to take it out for a spin before posting about it.

Licensing

Users of the previous version need to be aware that this release is not a free upgrade from 2.x like we've been used to. Existing customers can upgrade their license for $199 while a brand spanking new version will set you back $349. It worth nothing that when you upgrade your existing license you actually get a completely new license for 3.0 something Microsoft should sit up and take notice of considering their annoying scheme of installing Windows Vista and then installing the "upgraded version" on top of that. It reminds me takes me back to upgrading Windows 2000 to Windows XP but that's a different story for another time :)

Additionally JetBrains has created a richer licensing model with separate versions for C#, VB, and a full version with support for both of them. Yes, you read that right, JetBrains now has VB support in ReSharper. More on that later.

JetBrains has really gotten their act together this time around and have released ReSharper 3.0 with Orcas support ahead of the final version of Orcas. I still member when Visual Studio 2005 was released and we had to wait for months and months until they got a ReSharper version out the door with support for that version.

Keyboard Scheme

ReSharper-Keyboard-Scheme-Selector When you first fire up Visual Studio with ReSharper 3.0 installed you will be greeted by my favorite new feature: The ReSharper Keyboard Scheme selector. Basically it allows you to select the keyboard scheme with which you are most comfortable like we've been doing in Visual Studio forever. It addresses one of the pain points I've had with ReSharper since version 1.0: The default shortcuts overrides the ones I'm used to in Visual Studio forcing me to remap keys or keep and exported file with my settings handy. When dealing with shortcuts I usually conform to the default layout of the keyboard just to avoid having to remap keys on every installation of Visual Studio I use. As of today I have 4 - 5 separate installations: One for the laptop, one for the desktop, one for a number of virtual machines... basically a lot of environments to keep in sync which is a pain when you're so dependant on the keyboard as I am.

Polish

The product has gotten a lot polish compared to the previous version. Just take look at the settings dialog which will also give you an idea of the scope of the product. Another testament to this fact is that when you install ReSharper you have the option to hide UI elements in Visual Studio which are redundant because ReSharper offers better functionality. Case in point the Refactor menu item on the Visual Studio toolbar which is removed in favor of the ReSharper menu item because that item encompasses so much more than Refactor. Of course this is configurable as you can see on the settings screenshot.

ReSharper-30-Settings

VB Support

JetBrains has spent a lot of time adding support for VB which is great for people doing work in VB. For myself it's a nice to have feature because we do have a couple of projects created in VB still and more importantly projects which mixes and matches VB and C#. I would have liked to I would have been more grateful for the feature two years ago but still it's nice to have the feature I'm used to available to me in both C# and VB. Additionally support for XML and XAML has been added to this version.

TODO Explorer

The TODO explorer (CTRL + ALT + D) is another new addition which actually makes our //TODO comments useful again. I've tried to use TODO comments in my code but I always forget to look them up. I'm sure that Visual Studio provides some sort of UI for viewing a list of TODOs but I can't for the life of me remember how to access it. The TODO Explorer in ReSharper makes it easy to get an overview of the TODOs in your code and ReSharper itself reformats TODO comments in a fashion that makes them stand out more, a nice visual cue that something needs to be done.

ReSharper-30-TODO-Explorer

File Structure Window

I found the File Structure explorer (CTRL + ALT + F) by accident when I was trying out version 3.0 so I'm not sure whether it's a new feature to ReSharper 3.0 or if it's been there all along. It's new to me at least :) Basically it gives you an overview of the structure of the file you currently have open in Visual Studio. Very handy to make jumping to specific stuff in a file easier. Both the File Structure and TODO Explorer are naturally dockable like you would expect.

ReSharper-30-FileStructure

Background Compiling for C#

VB offers a feature called background compiling which is very useful because it provides feedback without compiling. When Vertica initially started out we were using VB because everybody came from an ASP 3.0/VBScript/VB6 background which made the choice to go with VB a nobrainer. When we switched to C# a couple of years later the feature I missed the most from VB was background compiling. In fact I was so used to the feature that C# and Visual Studio felt "wrong" somehow; I weren't able to put my finger on it until later when I dug a little and found the background compiling feature of VB. ReSharper offers much the same feature and improves upon the capabilities offered by Visual Studio itself by adding a nice overview of errors in the current file. Notice the right side of the screenshot where a yellow square and a couple of red and orange bars are shown. The square indicates the overall status of the file, the red color means that the file doesn't currently compile. The bars indicate where the errors and warnings are located in the file.

As a nice addition you can scroll through errors (SHIFT + ALT + PgDn / PgUp) and highlights (ALT + PgDn / PgUp) via keyboard shortcuts making it easy and efficient to fix errors.

ReSharper-30-Background-Compiling

Context Actions

ReSharper offers another interesting feature which is the context based action (CTRL + Enter). Basically it tells you what the allowed operations at any given point are. Very handy when you're learned the product and don't know all the shortcuts. ReSharper is very keyboard driven which makes it the perfect fit for most C# developers but this is one area where they bring some of the stuff I think VB developers are going to like.

ReSharper-30-Context-Action

Refactoring

In previous versions of ReSharper you would have to learn shortcuts for every refactoring which meant, for me anyway, that I took the time to learn the most useful ones and left all the other ones alone. Not anymore. As an extension to context based actions we have Refactor This (CTRL + SHIFT + R) which brings up a list of available refactorings based on the place your cursor is at in your code. What this allows for is a single entry point into refactorings allowing you to get familiar with the various possible refactorings and ultimately to use them more than you would otherwise.

RESharper-30-Refactor-This

Type Completion

Type Completion adds a new level of intellisense to Visual Studio. Basically I can type a partial type name bring up Smart Code Completion (SHIFT+ ALT + Space) which will search through all reference assemblies and suggest type names even without a using statement of the namespace the type is in. Pressing enter will add the using clause to the top of file as well as complete the type. I can't say too many good things about this feature; it simply boots my productivity because I don't have to hunt around for the right namespace.

RESharper-30-Type-Complete

Unit Testing

If you're into unit testing (and you should be :)) ReSharper has something to offer as well. You'll be able to execute your tests from within Visual Studio ala what TestDriven.NET provides and additionally you get an Unit Test Explorer which makes it easy to overview your test suite. Basically ReSharper allows for much of the same convenience as Team System does by integration xUnit frameworks into Visual Studio.

Bracket Completion

Everything provided by ReSharper is about better productivity. In this section I'll cover all the little things you'll love and get addicted to before you know it :)

Bracket completion basically puts in the closing bracket of a block. Type { and ReSharper adds the matching }. Same thing goes for parentheses. You only save a keystroke but think about all the times a day you actually need this feature. I can't live without this one for sure.

Smart Complete Code

Smart Complete Code (CTRL + ALT + Space) basically an evolved version of Intellisense which gives you more relevant completion than what Visual Studio provides. You can think of the feature as scoped intellisense, whatever is relevant for the scope you're currently in ReSharper suggest. Very handy.

Reformat Code

Reformat Code (CTRL + E + F) is an extension to what was introduced in Visual Studio 2005 where you can specify how your coding style is, i.e. how spacing works, line breaks, all that good stuff. ReSharper actually had this in versions before Visual Studio 2005 came out and 3.0 has even richer support for configuring your coding style. Additionally you can reformat the code of the currently open file and as two new options globally for the entire solution or silently so you don't have to choose which settings to reformat by every time.

ReSharper-30-Coding-Style-Settings

Surround With

Imagine that you've written a block of code and you are reminded that you need to do a try-catch around that block of code. You laboriously move the cursor to the start of the block and type try followed by the brace. After you you move the cursor to the end of the block and do the catch maybe followed by a finally block. With ReSharper that operation would go something like highlight the code block press CTRL + E + U select surround with try-catch-block. Surround With is a feature that allows you to surround blocks of code with other code like the try-catch block, a region, an if-statement, and so forth. I use this feature extensively to surround block with regions for example.

ReSharper-30-Surround-With

Goto Usage

How many times have you wanted to know which pieces of code call the particular method you're currently looking at? I know that I daily want to see this and luckily ReSharper does provide exactly this feature (SHIFT + ALT + F12). If only a single usage is found the you're taken there otherwise a list of the usages is displayed.

Summary

With the job market being what it is today my opinion is that it's downright irresponsible to not use tools that boost the overall productivity of developers. Almost every single company is clamoring for developers instead of making the most of the developers already employed in the company. Visual Studio brings a lot of productivity to the table, nice designers, code snippets, background compiling, refactoring. Even innovations in the core framework are about productivity like LINQ, automatic properties, etc..

ReSharper takes many of these familiar tools to new levels and adds new functionality to the best development environment out there. I've been using ReSharper for years and have liked almost every version of the product with exception of 2.0 which was dog slow. I'm happy to report that all the code analysis going on behind the scenes don't slow down Visual Studio noticeably. ReSharper truly delivers on JetBrains' promise of "develop with pleasure".

posted on Sunday, 01 July 2007 21:32:19 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [6] Trackback
# Monday, 25 June 2007

As you probably know we had our first meeting in the Aarhus .NET Usergroup last wednesday. I wanted to get the summary out earlier but unfortunately customer meetings got in the way. A couple of accounts of the meeting has already been posted, one by Jeppe Rørbæk from Microsoft (with pics), another one by Morten Vadstrup of Host Nordic who was kind enough to arrange a place for the meeting at the offices of Dynamic Web, and finally a short one from Klaus Hebsgaard.

I wanted to help Morten out with setting the place up for the meeting so I arrived early at Dynamic Web, luckily for me Morten and Morten had already done all the work which left me looking good without actually having to do anything :) Actually that's not entirely true as Marten asked me to handle the agenda since I was the one who proposed it.

We had quite a turnout with a total of 15 people attending. The number was perfect as our game plan for the evening was to establish the ground for the usergroup: What content to offer, what format to offer it in, membership, and so forth.

After a brief presentation of myself and the agenda we went around the table and got everybody introduced. I'm very pleased with the breadth of people who turned up, both professionally and technically.

We had people working with system administration, provisioning, C#, VB, Web, WinForms, CMS, SAP, and even one person looking into game development using XNA. XNA in particular was something people were instantly interested in hearing more about, much to the surprise of the person in question :) No doubt about the fact that we should have a presentation on XNA at a future meeting. A couple of students had also found their way to the first meeting which is great. No doubt that a usergroup is a great asset to them in particular as it gives them access to not only great knowledge but also to industry contacts which they can leverage come graduation. For those of us already in the business of software it's a great opportunity to meet the next generation of software developers and single out potential hires :)

In short we had people working with almost every aspect of .NET with all levels of experience which brought us to the next question: Technical level of the content. The consensus was that we would try and find something for everybody and that we would encourage everybody to take part in doing presentations. As one person pointed out nobody is an expert in all areas of .NET so even if you only have limited experience on a given topic you would still be able to provide value for people not familiar with that particular topic. In short we'll try to avoid a RTFM culture and try to create an environment which provides something for everybody.

Content-Brainstorm-Founding-Meeting Next up: Brainstorming about concrete topic people would like to see presentations on. My goal here was to walk away with something for the next meetings and boy did we ever cover a lot of topics! We had a whiteboard available for the seance and by the end of the session we had the entire whiteboard covered in topics. At the end I had difficulty even finding space for new stuff. Basically we're going to dig into all areas of .NET and in the future we might even take a look at some stuff not related to .NET. For now though we have more than enough: Check out the picture I took of the whiteboard in case of doubt :) Of course topics such as Orcas, LINQ, Silverlight, and other upcoming stuff were mentioned again and again so we need to do something in those areas. Jeppe mentioned that he would be able to come up with people on various topics such as unit testing (Mark Seemann), ORM (Morten Mertner), and Team Foundation (Martin Pamdeth). I mentioned that I'd like to see that bulk of the content created by the group itself to get it going but we'll see how we end up doing it.

Three people elected to come up with presentations for the next meeting: Jeppe Rørbæk, Klaus Hebsgaard, and myself.

With a very nice discussion on topics and level of presentations done we moved on to the physical aspect of the usergroup: Where should the meetings be held? The same place every time, in alternating locations, or something else entirely? Everybody were pretty much in agreement that doing a round robin between the offices of our respective companies would be preferrable because we'd get to see how other people have chosen to set up their shop. I personally like the idea of doing a round robin approach in spite of the fact of the additional planning required. The fact of the matter is that we all get an opportunity to be inspired and maybe start doing things in a better way by seeing what others have done. So we decided on giving the round robin model a go while keeping a couple of places as backup should all else fail. Jeppe ensured us that he would be willing to help us out by finding speakers on particular topics.

On a very cool note I had proposed that we should try and work something out for a informational web site but that had already been taken care of by Morten on beforehand. He launched our web site at http://aarhus.activedeveloper.dk a couple of days before the actual first meeting. It's a great example of the energy and entusiasm surrounding the meeting. When I asked if anyone would be interested in doing a presentation most put up their hand. I expected about 5 but got double that which bodes well for the future I'd say.

We needed some way of easily planning meetings which is why I came up with the idea of meeting the last Wednesday of the month at 19:00. We did not schedule the next meeting because of summer vacations which are sure to conflict with the group. In hindsight we could probably have chosen a better time to start this thing :) Keep your eyes peeled at the usergroup web site for information about the next meeting. We had a brief discussion about the particular day of the week and which time. Some wanted the meeting to start later, some earlier. For me personally 19:00 suits me just fine as I have to hang out until the meetings start and you never know how long they will go on for. We didn't decide on a particular length of each meeting but I feel that 2 - 3 hours is as good a place as any to start out which leads us on to the format of the meetings.

Basically we would like to have a presentation which can act as a base for further discussion, maybe a couple each time depending on how long we can keep a single topic interesting. We definitely need to play around with length and number until we find something that works. Someone came up with the concept of the "Nut Cracker" ("Nøddeknækkeren"); the idea here is to have people present problems they're facing and others will try to help them out. Also Jeppe suggest that we should try and build some actual useful code which sounds great in theory and it's certainly something we should try and do but in reality I'm concerned that it might be a tad too unmanageble. I would encourage people to try and come up with ideas for implementations based on the topic of their particular presentations. Additionaly we could put a Subversion server online for the group to play around with.

As the last order of business we decided to elect a number of core responsible people who will make sure that the meeting are arranged and that we have speakers for the topics people want to hear about. I was a bit afraid that no one would volunteer but in the end 5 people including myself volunteered for the job. Again a nice sign that we have something special going on here. The core responsible are: Morten Vadstrup, Peter Loft Jensen, Lars Buch-Jepsen, Brian Holmgård Kristensen, and Søren Spelling Lund. We had a short meeting at Vertica before we went to the meeting to discuss what we could do ourselves to get this thing rolling; one of the things was to actively participate in the group and that's just what we did as Lars and Brian are colleagues of mine. Also Vertica is ready to support the group should it be needed.

Finally I would like to thank everybody who showed up for the meeting and for the very active participation in the discussion. Also thanks to Morten Vadstrup for arranging a place for us to hold the meeting and organizing a web site for the group. Of course thanks to Dynamic Web for allowing us to use their offices for the meeting.

Sorry about the longest post since TechEd :)

posted on Monday, 25 June 2007 21:18:46 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback
# Monday, 18 June 2007

A quick reminder that the first meeting of the Aarhus .NET Usergroup is this wednesday 19:00 at Hostnordic A/S, Åhavevej 5, 8260 Viby J. Check out my original post about it and also take a look at the attendee list. I'm taking the liberty of proposing an agenda for our initial meeting to try and encourage a more productive meeting.

Goals for initial meeting
Vision/Mission for the group
Elect core responsible for group
Website

Who are we
Introduction of attendees
Wishes for the usergroup - advanced topics vs. entry-level topics
Brainstorm for content - concrete presentations

Physical space
Schedule meetings, e.g. the last Wednesday of every month
Venue for meetings, e.g. round robin of work spaces
Informational web site

Content
Attendees wishing to do presentations
Contacts in companies (possible speakers)
Content topics: SQL Server Express, SSIS, ERP, Vista, Commerce, Ruby, BizTalk, data access, LINQ, architecture, concrete projects
INETA
Use of Prosa/Samdata

posted on Monday, 18 June 2007 15:48:12 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback