26-Sep Updated table formatting
"If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants" Isaac Newton 1676*
"If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"
Isaac Newton 1676*
As a Developer Evangelist, I'm often talking about the value of "the Platform" and sometimes it takes a little while for people to see that value. I like to tell a story about the evolution of a platform
One of the questions I often get asked is whether abstracting away the details of the working of the platform makes us less connected from the source and therefore somehow less capable. There's no requirement to not understand how the platform works (just like, as a Civil Engineer, I understand water supply systems pretty well), but equally, there's no requirement to rebuild the platform every time you want to build something on top of it. Whether I'm installing an espresso machine or a hydroponics farm, I can use the water supply platform without having to drill a well, install a reverse-osmosis plant, install solar panels for power and so on.
This also makes a distinction between platform and services. Pat Helland pioneered the concept of a metropolis where he described the various utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity, roads, railway lines, ports, telecommunications infrastructure etc) as services (I haven't done Pat's work any justice at all here - go and read his paper). I'd argue that these are actually the platform on which services (schools, high-speed internet access, parcel delivery, banking, petrol stations etc) can be built. In a similar way, in the Software plus Services story both the software and the services are built on a platform (or platforms). The more common functionality the platform provides, the more time service providers can spend on the provision of the actual service. For example, pretty much every provider of any significant services in the cloud needs to have a way to authenticate and bill (or otherwise gain benefit from) users of the service. There aren't that many schemes for doing either of these things and so it makes sense to have the platform (on which the service is built) provide this functionality. By factoring out commodity platform capabilities (i.e. billing, provisioning, SLA monitoring and management, auth[n|r], messaging, CRM, monetization services etc.), the service provider is free to invest fully in an offering in their domain of expertise, without being encumbered by having to build out these concerns. Customers are also free to pick and choose those services that make the most sense, again without having to build out (and care and feed for) commodity capability.
This has the related effect that the costs of these cross-cutting platform capabilities – which cost a lot to develop and maintain – can be amortised against a much larger population of users. In turn, this tends to bring the cost of the services down, which makes them more accessible to smaller organisations (i.e. further along the tail). This is a democratising effect - i.e. now a small software firm can afford an enterprise-grade provisioning, billing and SLA management engine, and can scale this according to their needs, and therefore potentially compete with larger players, or offer lower-cost services to customers who are also further along the tail.
Time to value is shorter. If a service provider can focus on their offering sans the surrounding infrastructure, they can deliver services much more quickly, and can respond to opportunities in the market more rapidly. Related to this is the expectation that markets and offerings will evolve much more quickly than ever before. If you aren’t tied down by infrastructural drag, you can innovate much more quickly.
Many thanks to Nigel Watson for his insight and additional thoughts.
* Yes, I'm aware that Isaac probably wasn't the first person to use this phrase, but he's probably the most famous** OK, OK, the picture's obviously not from 150 years ago (of course, the first one is from 10,000 years ago), but I really wanted a picture of this pump - it's because of my background in GIS
Nic was hanging out with Nick (a combination that's just asking for trouble if you ask me) a couple of weeks ago near my desk, and Nic was bemoaning the lack of a resizing utility. This triggered something in the back of my mind and lo! I found a post by Rick Strahl on (almost) this very thing. I tweaked the code a little to turn it into a console app from a web app and built it.
I added a shortcut to the exe both on my desktop and in my SendTo folder so now I can right-click on an image or images and send it to the resizer and it will do its magic.
(508k) turns into this (23k):
Here's the code - most of it pinched directly from Rick remember. Note that in its current form, it makes the maximum dimension of the thumbnail 120px. You can change that at the top. I've also attached a zipped version of the solution to this post. Of course, this is provided as-is with no guarantees of stability, suitability or any other -ability. Use at your own risk, contents may be hot, don't run with scissors etc.
You could add some nice bits like:
Anyway, enough already. Go play!
Default = 120,
Small = 120,
Medium = 240,
Large = 480,
static void Main(string args)
foreach (string Image in args)
// string Image = args;
if (Image == null)
int Size = (int)ImageSize.Default;
//if (args.Length > 1)
// string sSize = args;
// if (sSize != null)
// Size = Int32.Parse(sSize);
string Path = Image;
Bitmap bmp = CreateThumbnail(Path, Size, Size);
if (bmp == null)
string OutputFilename = null;
FileInfo OutputFile = new FileInfo(Path);
OutputFilename = OutputFile.DirectoryName + "\\" + OutputFile.Name.Remove(OutputFile.Name.Length - (OutputFile.Extension.Length)) + "[" + Size.ToString().Trim() + "]" + OutputFile.Extension;
if (OutputFilename != null)
catch (Exception ex)
private static void ErrorResult()
//throw new Exception("The method or operation is not implemented.");
/// Creates a resized bitmap from an existing image on disk.
/// Call Dispose on the returned Bitmap object
/// Taken from Rick Strahl's code at
/// Bitmap or null
public static Bitmap CreateThumbnail(string lcFilename, int lnWidth, int lnHeight)
Bitmap bmpOut = null;
Bitmap loBMP = new Bitmap(lcFilename);
ImageFormat loFormat = loBMP.RawFormat;
int lnNewWidth = 0;
int lnNewHeight = 0;
//*** If the image is smaller than a thumbnail just return it
if (loBMP.Width < lnWidth && loBMP.Height < lnHeight)
if (loBMP.Width > loBMP.Height)
lnRatio = (decimal)lnWidth / loBMP.Width;
lnNewWidth = lnWidth;
decimal lnTemp = loBMP.Height * lnRatio;
lnNewHeight = (int)lnTemp;
lnRatio = (decimal)lnHeight / loBMP.Height;
lnNewHeight = lnHeight;
decimal lnTemp = loBMP.Width * lnRatio;
lnNewWidth = (int)lnTemp;
// System.Drawing.Image imgOut =
// *** This code creates cleaner (though bigger) thumbnails and properly
// *** and handles GIF files better by generating a white background for
// *** transparent images (as opposed to black)
bmpOut = new Bitmap(lnNewWidth, lnNewHeight);
Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(bmpOut);
g.InterpolationMode = System.Drawing.Drawing2D.InterpolationMode.HighQualityBicubic;
g.FillRectangle(Brushes.White, 0, 0, lnNewWidth, lnNewHeight);
g.DrawImage(loBMP, 0, 0, lnNewWidth, lnNewHeight);
As David Hayden notes in this post, the Patterns and Practices team has a series of webcasts about the recently released Enterprise Library. Some have already happened, some are still to come, but all are or will be available as recordings.
Note: All Webcast times are Pacific Standard Time (GMT-8:00)To get to Australian Eastern Daylight Time (GMT+11), subtract 5 hours and add a day. After that, you're on your own. I have translated the dates into DD/MM/YYYY from the wierd format the yanks use.
Enterprise Library Overview
Enterprise Library is the next generation of the patterns & practices Application Blocks. This guidance is designed to assist developers with common enterprise development challenges and will deliver the most widely used blocks into a single integrated package. Our vision is to build a broad community of customers and partners using, sharing and extending their own Application Blocks that are consistent with and integrate into the patterns & practices Enterprise Library.
Enterprise Library Configuration Application Block
Configuration data is a constant challenge for application development. The way in which your application handles configuration data dramatically impacts its manageability. In this webcast we will discuss the requirements for building a great configuration system and how you can leverage the configuration application block to meet these requirements.
Enterprise Library Data Access Application BlockDiscover how you can implement the recommended data access architecture using Enterprise Library to quickly build a robust and secure data access layer which supports connectivity to SQL Server, Oracle and DB2.
Enterprise Library Caching Application Block
Properly designed caching can make your system more robust and increase performance dramatically, poorly designed caching adds unnecessary overhead and provides little benefit. Learn how you can make use of the new caching application block to help lessen the demand on your back-end systems while increasing throughput.
Enterprise Library Logging & Instrumentation Application Block
Properly instrumented applications are a dream to manage, they tell what is happening and when things are going wrong point you to the source of the problem quickly increasing your mean time to recovery resulting in increased system availability. In this webcast you will learn how to use the Enterprise Library logging and instrumentation block to consistently and easily build an application that tells you where it hurts.
Enterprise Library Exception Handling Application Block
Exceptions happen...the question is what you will do to handle them. Poorly written applications behave unpredictably when exceptions occur and often this bad behavior results in crashes or security holes. Learn how you can create exception policies that can be consistently and quickly applied in your application to insure predictability even when things go wrong.
Enterprise Library Cryptography Application Block
So you have a secret...what are you going to do with that credit card number, connection string or password? Stuff in a secret place and hope that no one ever finds it? Of course not, you want to encrypt it. But how? With the Enterprise Library cryptography block you can quickly encrypt and decrypt these secrets allowing you to secure them and sleep better at night.
Enterprise Library Security Application Block
Every enterprise needs security and within most large enterprises there are many different security systems. Discover how Enterprise Library’s security block can help you to put a consistent API in front of many different back end implementations allowing you to use these security systems without having to become an expert in them.
Enterprise Library - Building your own application block
So you love application blocks? You want to create your own and share it with your colleagues, your enterprise...the world? Great! We want to help you. In this session we will walk through a simple application block to consider how you can build a block that integrates with the rest of Enterprise Library.
Enterprise Library Applied
You stand at your manager’s door working up the courage to walk in and tell them that you want to use Enterprise Library in your next project. There are so many questions about support, licensing, maintenance and futures...good thing you listened to this webcast to understand what it means for an enterprise to adopt this library. As you listen to real examples from enterprises like yours to understand how they are managing the risks and opportunities associated with Enterprise Library
I've been meaning to blog about this for ages, but better late than never I guess.
One of the questions to which I get the most positive response when showing the great new features in VS2005 (or even VS2003 for that matter) is "Who here would laike to be able to write .NET applications that live inside Word or Excel?". Especially in financial institutions, law firms and beauracracies (but in plenty of other places as well), there are light bulbs going off over the developers' heads as they realise that their users don't have to ever leave thier beloved Office app to get the functionality they need -- no mater what that functionality is!
Over on the VSTO 2.0 blog, Kathleen McGrath has been posting links to video tutorials showing how to do a bunch of great things in VSTO 2.0. Here's what she's posted so far:
Dunno if that's the lot or not, but either way, these are well worth a look.
Internally, especially when I'm wearing my cool VFP 9.0 shirt, this has to be one of the most common questions I hear. Of course, the answer is YES! David Anderson has written an opinion piece on DevX entitled Visual FoxPro 9.0: Still Here, Still Relevant. The article has an interesting history of Visual FoxPro and a discussion about why it will never be a .NET CLR language.
If you want to get more information about the history of VFP, check out www.FoxProHistory.org.
There are a number of VFP links in the links section of this blog.
It's 8am and I'm sitting in the inaugural meeting of the Canberra VSTS User Group. The turn-out is amazing. Over 40 professionals are crammed into the room in the Canberra MS office. This is a sensational turn out. Kudos to Grant, Sean and Mitch.
Grant kicked off with news, tips and tool of the month (he chose Brian Harry's TFSServerManager Power Toy).
Andrew Lyons talked about his experience migrating a 100 developer government department (DEWR) from a VSS environment to TFS (for source control mainly). His final word(s):
Planning is Key
Particularly with initial deployment
Disaster recovery plan
Practice Makes Perfect
Non-trivial migrations need trial runs
A development TFS server is invaluable
Planning is Key
Practice Makes Perfect
Next, Sean Ferguson talked about branching and merging in the ATO development environment. A couple of things that stood out for me were a reference to Buck Hodges' great post from 2004 on branching models and the usefulness of the TFS Power Tools (see also Brian's post).
Finally, Stu and Rick from AFP talked about their experience with branching there. One of their main points was that there needs to be a lot of work done to introduce the TFS culture to the dev team (especially as many of the current devs have strongly entrenched opinions about the current process and are resistant to any sort of change).
All-in-all a great first meeting and I'm looking forward to the next one on Feb 28!
A bunch of us (keen, or is that masochistic, local developers) have signed up for the beta version of the 70-528 exam — TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 - Web-based Client Development (called 71-528 while it's in Beta).
All of the new exams will be Beta tested prior to general release.
The problem with doing a Beta exam is that there’s not a lot of material to study from. To help with the study process, Tatham Oddie has set up an irc server and we’ll be chatting twice a week for a couple of hours in a study session for the next couple of weeks. I’ve done beta exams in the past (back in the days of VFP 6.0) and the chat format worked very well. It’s also great to have the chat transcript to review and for others to use as an aide.
Update: Andrew Higginbottom points out that:
there are some online MS courses for VS2005 (4 for webforms dev) that are free if you sign up before 8 nov and once downloaded the content is valid until feb 2006.I'm yet to do any but they seem OK from a quick look...https://www.microsoftelearning.com/visualstudio2005/default.aspx
Monday 31 October 1930 – 2130
Wednesday 2 November 1930 – 2130
Monday 7 November 1930 – 2130
Wednesday 9 November 1930 – 2130
Monday 14 November 1930 – 2130
Wednesday 16 November 1930 – 2130
So, if you're signed up for the beta exam, or if you just want to get a head start on the new certs, please join us next Monday
Peter Griffith, President of the Adelaide .NET User Group sends me the following excellent news:
Once again ADNUG is offering 3 ACS badged 5 day courses in VB, C# and ASP in conjunction with Kaz with considerable discounts for members. (over 40% off rrp). For details http://www.acs.org.au/sa/newsletr/meetings/5day_courses.pdf Programming with Microsoft® Visual Basic .NET Course 2373B Monday - Friday 6 - 10 December 2004 Programming with C# Course 2124C Monday - Friday 17 - 21 January 2005 Developing Microsoft® ASP.NET Web Applications Using Visual Studio .NET Course 2310B Monday - Friday 7 -11 February 2005
Rick Strahl, formerly a VFP MVP and now a .NET MVP (in C# I think, but with Rick it would just have been a matter of choosing a category) has a great post on why he's not re-writing one of his flagship applications (currently written in VFP) in .NET. Well worth a read. While you're there, have a look at some of the very neat things Rick is doing with both VFP and .NET.
BTW, Rick will be out here in Australia at the end of November to speak at OzFox, along with Ken Levy and a bevy of great speakers.