Chris Bowen's Blog

Development Practices, Tools, Technology, and Community

  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Giving Two User Group Talks on XNA This Week!


    XNA Some coincidental scheduling has given me a chance to speak with both the Boston .NET and Beantown .NET user groups this week, both on XNA!

    You'll have two chances to get up to speed on how to create games easily for Windows, XBox 360, and the Zune using XNA and .NET.

    The Boston .NET meeting is on Wednesday (7/9) in Waltham and the Beantown .NET meeting is on Thursday (7/10) on State St. in Boston, both are from 6-8 PM. 

    If you're interested in the Beantown .NET meeting, send an RSVP email as indicated on the group's site.  (I expect we'll also head across the street for a beer after that meeting.)

    Here's the description for both sessions:

    "Introduction to Game Development with XNA"

    Summer is upon us, so what better excuse to break away from the norm and discuss games? This meeting is for people who enjoy games, and have always wanted to know more about how they’re made… and maybe how to make their own.

    XNA is a game development platform based on the .NET Framework that helps to make it easy to develop games for Windows, Xbox, and now the Zune as well.  Using the free XNA Game Studio, you can use those same C# skills that pay the bills by day for creating your own games by night (or really whenever you'd like.)

    We'll introduce XNA, show you around the XNA world, then create a simple 2D game from scratch to give you a feel for game mechanics and the architecture of XNA.

    This session requires no game development experience, only a passion for coding and for games!

    I encourage students to attend and also parents to bring sons and daughters who are interested in gaming and programming.

    Hope to see you one of these evenings!


    P.S.  If you're unable to make these meetings or are already up to speed on XNA, you can come to the next meeting of the Boston XNA Developers Group on July 23rd in Waltham.

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    New Group! The Upstate NY PowerShell Users Group


    PowerShell Good news for those of you who like to express yourselves in concise, yet powerful ways…

    The Upstate NY PowerShell Users Group has just been formed for the Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse areas and focuses on ways to learn and utilize Windows PowerShell for administration and development.

    Join organizers (and PowerShell MVPs) Joel Bennett and Jeffery Hicks for the group’s first meeting (from the event’s flyer):

    Upstate NY PowerShell Users Group
    September 9, 6:00 PM

    New Horizons
    50 Methodist Hill Drive, Suite 50
    Rochester, NY 14623

    Please join us as we kick off the Upstate NY PowerShell Users Group, serving IT Professionals from Central and Upstate New York interested in learning more about PowerShell . Meetings will likely be held in Rochester and Syracuse but please help us figure it all out by attending our first meeting.

    Please RSVP to

    For those of you in the area, it should be a great way to connect and learn about making life easier by using PowerShell!


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    January Boston XNA Meeting Postponed


    bostonxnaDue to the threat of significant snow this Wednesday, the January 28th Boston XNA Developer Group meeting has been moved out one week to February 4th at 6:00 (in MPR-B).

    The Boston XNA Developer Group normally meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month at he Microsoft office in Waltham, MA.  It is open to anyone interested in learning about creating games for the PC, XBox 360 and/or Zune with .NET and the XNA Framework.  All skill levels are welcome!


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    Expression Web and Blend Available to MSDN Subscribers


    A common question I receive when discussing the Expression products is whether there are plans for availability to MSDN subscribers.  I'm glad to pass along word of Soma's announcement that Expression Web is available (and Expression Blend will be available) to all MSDN Premium subscribers:

    "Based on this feedback, I am pleased to say that we will be making Expression Web available starting today to all MSDN Premium subscribers.  We will also make Expression Blend available to MSDN Premium subscribers shortly after the Expression Studio release later in Q2 2007.   Expression Blend and Expression Web are intended to help creative professionals collaborate with developers to create rich user experiences for the Web, Windows Vista applications and beyond, which means we need to make sure both tools are readily available to our developer community."

    Scott Guthrie has posted further details about this announcement as well.

    Keep that feedback coming.  As you can see, it can make a difference!


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    Congratulations to Jesse Liberty


    Not sure how I missed this news until now, but Joe Stagner mentions that Jesse Liberty, noted author, speaker, and technologist, has joined Microsoft!  Jesse is now a Senior Program Manager on the Silverlight development team.

    It turns out Jesse announced this a few weeks ago on his blog:

    "As part of my job, I will be creating new avenues of communication about Silverlight, both here, and of course through sites and portals and who-knows-what-else at Microsoft. Stay tuned… much to come very quickly, I suspect."

    Jesse has always been well respected for his excellent books, but he has also been a great contributor to the New England development community - frequently speaking at user group meetings and other events.  That passion for community will be a great asset in his new role.

    Welcome aboard, Jesse!  Looking forward to what you'll be helping to drive with Silverlight.


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  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    The Northeast MSDN Roadshow – “Mashed APIs” Tour


    n_east_roadshow_120x120_Blog ButtonGet ready to learn and code, because the Northeast MSDN Roadshow team is loading up content, code, and demos that might even work, to return to the roads for a special limited engagement in June!

    These are free workshops, great for students, hobbyists, and professional developers who want to learn the basics of Windows 8 app development and publish their first app to the Windows Store.  Fans of previous daytime Roadshows will notice that we have sneakily adapted these as evening, hands-on events, hosted by local user groups.

    Enter the API…

    There’s a world of amazing things out there, just an API call away. These workshops will show you how to tap into a sampling of the tens of thousands of them, mercilessly mashing APIs to create your own Windows Store app. Your app could inform, entertain, or even change the world!

    imageWe’ll be conquering the miles, fueled by coffee and visions of your awesome apps, to help you learn to create Windows 8 apps using well-known web service APIs such as Twitter, Meetup, Yelp, ESPN, EchoNest, World Health Organization, and others. 

    First, we’ll take a bit of time to teach you the essentials for creating your Windows Store app, including APIs, data, and UIs.  The rest of the time will be hands-on – so bring those laptops (see below) - using a set of API Starter Kits our team developed to get you mashing quickly.  The Starter Kits are Visual Studio 2012 projects, each already wired to one or more APIs.  They take care of the API plumbing so you can focus on providing the creativity!

    The Schedule (updated!)

    Thanks to these amazing user groups hosting our visits, we’ll be stopping in these cities:

    • June 11, 6:30 PM – Albany, NY with the Tech Valley .NET User Group
      • New Horizons, 10 Airline Drive, Suite 101, Albany, NY
    • June 12, 6:00 PM – Syracuse, NY with the Central NY .NET User Group
      • New Horizons, 6711 Towpath Rd., East Syracuse, NY
    • *NEW* June 13, 6:00 PM – Rochester, NY at RIT with AppRochester & VDUNY
      • RIT, Building 70 (Golisano), Room 1435, Rochester, NY
    • June 17, 6:00 PM – Burlington, VT with the VT .NET User Group
      • MyWebGrocer, 20 Winooski Falls Way, 5th Floor, Winooski, VT
    • June 20, 5:30 PM – Portland, ME with MaineBytes
      • UNUM, Building 3, 2211 Congress St., Portland, ME

    Registration - These are user group events, so see the hosting user groups’ website for details and RSVPs (if any).  Thanks to the groups and the organizations who host their meetings for making this possible!

    Note that these are in addition to the Saturday workshops on API and game development we’re running in the Hartford and Boston areas:

    Just click the links to register via MSDN Events.

    Getting Ready

    As these workshops are hands-on, to get the most out of the event, bring a laptop configured with the following:

    imageApps you develop could qualify you for $100 via the “Keep the Cash” program (running through June 30th).  Also, for continued learning and access to other developer programs, we highly recommend signing up for the free App Builder program.

    See you on the road!


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Roadshow Update - Portland and Manchester


    Two more stops made and one more to go on the first tour of Bob & Chris' MSDN Roadshow! 

    Portland, ME

    We visited the Portland, ME area and had a great audience brave the should-never-get-this-cold cold to come to the MESDA facility in Westbrook.

    [Again, thanks to Bob for being Mr. Photographer!]

    We're returning with the Roadshow in May, but I'll be back in the area on April 5th at 1:30 to speak with the Maine Developer Network user group in Augusta on WCF and again on April 12th to speak with the Maine Bytes User Group on WPF in Portland.

    Manchester, NH

    Two days later we were in Manchester, NH.  First of all, we had an amazing turnout.  The turnout was so amazing that we couldn't fit in the room!  If you weren't there, you missed out on Bob and I performing what we're now calling the ol' "Manchester Swap".  We had an overflow room where we each took turns repeating our sessions from the main room.

    [Our Manchester Zune winner, Jason Hull!]

    Rest assured that we won't be in the same facility for our next visit to New Hampshire.  Knowing how many of you are interested in attending, we'll find another place with plenty of room.

    Thank you all for being good sports about the unusual logistics!

    Session Follow-up

    Some additional details from the week's questions and discussions:

    Roadshow Content

    We're still working on a permanent home for the Roadshow materials and information, but we've gathered our content from the current tour and you can now download the presentations as a ZIP from the site.

    Next Stop

    We'll be visiting the Microsoft Offices in Farmington, CT on Tuesday (3/20) for our last stop until May.  Registration is actually "sold out" for the event and have been taking waitlist registrations!


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Vermont’s First Code Camp a Success!


    Having helped to run the New England Code Camps for a while now, I know that organizing one is no easy task.  It’s especially challenging to run the first one – finding a venue, raising awareness, encouraging people to speak, reaching out to companies for support, etc. 

    Rob Helping with RegistrationRob and Julie Kicking Things OffCode Campers

    So I’m confident when I say job well done to everyone who organized and volunteered for Vermont’s first Code Camp this weekend!

    In particular, thanks to Rob Hale, who did an outstanding job stepping up to take point for organizing the event, and to Julie Lerman, who for many years has worked to drive and improve the Vermont developer community. 

    Of course, a Code Camp simply couldn’t happen without the support of the speakers (local and out of state), volunteers, and contributors/sponsors – all of whom deserve many thanks!  And finally, thanks to the over 80 attendees who invested their Saturday to gather to share, learn, and network.

    Time for Giveaways

    It would have been a success for any Code Camp, but to see the diverse tech community presence, support by local and national companies, a perfect venue (thanks to UVM), and excellent presentations all at a first attempt is a great accomplishment.

    As a bonus, my wife and I were able to a weekend of the visit to Vermont and enjoyed revisiting our favorite Burlington places (we used to live there, so I’m always happy to make the trip.)

    The VTC Student-Created VTank XNA Game!Dave Burke Presents!

    Code Camp season is upon us (MA, NH, and NY each have Camps in the works), and it’s off to a great start!


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    C# Day Returns on September 13th


    Michael de la Maza is returning to Waltham, MA to run a 3rd "C# Day" event.  Previous C# Days have been great opportunities for attendees to become familiar with the C# language using an approach quite different from standard lecture-focused events.

    Here's a description from the C# Day home page:

    "Join us for a relaxed, no cost introduction to C# programming. By engaging in participatory activities, you will learn some of the most common and powerful features of the C# language. This day is not lecture-based. There will be fewer than 60 minutes of lecture material -- almost all of the time will be spent on participant-guided activities. Everyone who attends will learn what interests them at their own pace in a relaxed, tension-free environment with an experienced C# developer and trainer available to answer questions."
    Here's a summary post from the first C# Day event in June.

    RSVPs are required, so please head to for more details and to register.


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    C# Day Goes Virtual on December 8th in Second Life


    Why should we keep all the fun for ourselves here in New England?  Michael de la Maza is taking his successful C# Day series to the virtual world of Second Life!

    I've blogged about Microsoft and Second Life before, but now we'll have one of our own northeast volunteers running an event in association with the Second Life .NET Users Group on Visual Studio Island.

    Full details are at, and the event runs from 9:00 - 4:00 (SLT = Second Life Time = Pacific Standard Time = PST) on the lower level of Visual Studio Island.  Here's the agenda:

    9:00am - 9:30am - Ice breakers
    9:30am - 10:00am - C# Language Discovery
    10:00am - 11:00am - C# Language Cocktail Party
    11:00am - 11:30am - Knowledge organization and self-reflection
    11:30am - 12:00pm - Starting a new project in Visual Studio/C# Express
    12:00pm - 1:00pm - Lunch
    1:00pm - 1:45pm - C# Program Discovery
    1:45pm - 2:45pm - C# Program Cocktail Party
    2:45pm - 3:15pm - Knowledge organization and self-reflection
    3:15pm - 4:00pm - InnerWorkings

    The great part is you don't have to travel to participate in this C# Day.  Just install the software (check the event site for details) and log in.  Nobody has to know you're in your PJs.

    You can get to Visual Studio Island by searching for "Visual Studio Island" in-world.

    If the virtual world isn't to your liking, Michael will be running the next "real world" C# Day in January of February.  Keep your eye on this blog or the C# Day site for details.

    See you in Second Life!


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  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    The Roadshow Comes to New Hampshire on 12/18!


    Roadshow Breaking news!  We've been able to arrange a visit to New Hampshire for the Winter Northeast Roadshow!  We'll be spending the day at Daniel Webster College on December 18th, talking about jQuery & ASP.NET, Workflow, WPF, Silverlight, WCF, and a bunch more:

    Register here!

    Northeast Roadshow, December 18th

    Daniel Webster College
    Collings Auditorium
    20 University Place
    Nashua, NH 03063

    Jim and I ask that if you're switching to NH from another location, please cancel your other registration (via the My Events page).  Thanks!

    Many thanks to Genevieve Baudin and Daniel Webster College for arranging to host us!  We're looking forward to adding New Hampshire into the Roadshow tour!


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Speaking on ASP.NET MVC 1.0 – August 19, Waltham, MA


    MVC I’ll be diving into ASP.NET MVC 1.0 with the New England ASP.NET Professionals User Group this Wednesday in Waltham, MA:

    When: August 19th, 2009 at 6:15PM

    Where: Microsoft Offices - Waltham

    Speaker: Chris Bowen of Microsoft


    ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC)

    Released earlier this year, ASP.NET MVC 1.0 presents a new option for developing web applications. Bringing to ASP.NET the benefits of the Model View Controller pattern, ASP.NET MVC builds on core ASP.NET services to support control over HTML and URLs, clean separation of concerns, testability, flexibility, and more. In this session, we'll take a brief look at the main concepts behind MVC, but focus primarily on diving into code and looking at ways to implement various concepts using ASP.NET MVC 1.0 and Visual Studio.

    All are welcome.


    BTW, If you attended one of my Roadshow sessions on MVC, we’ll have more time at this meeting, so I plan to delve more deeply into the coding side.



  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    September Roadshow - Summary and Content



    Thanks to everyone who came out for the various stops on our September Roadshow!  We had a blast as always touring through New England and upstate New York.

    Roadshow Content

    As promised, we've assembled the "visually stunning" slides, "world-class" code, and other resources from the sessions and have made them available for download. 

    This time, we're putting the beta of Windows Live SkyDrive through its paces.  SkyDrive is a new Live service where you can post your own content (currently up to 500 MB) to private, shared, or public folders accessible over the web.

    You can access the September Roadshow content at:|0%20Chris%20Roadshow%20-%20Sep%202007

    Roadshow Facebook Group

    As we mentioned during the events, we're experimenting with Facebook to see how well it could be leveraged for professional community support.  So, we've create a "Bob & Chris MSDN Roadshow" group and welcome all northeast Roadshow attendees to join!

    The group is growing well, with the idea that attendees can interact with other attendees across the northeast, have access to shared content and discussions, and post ideas for future Roadshows and other events in the region.

    Have a look and feel free to throw a friend invitation to us as well!

    Chris Bowen's Facebook profile

    The Next Roadshow...

    We're looking toward the first two weeks of December to return to our road warrior ways.  Keep an eye on our blogs for details as we determine dates and locations.



  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Free SEO Toolkit for Search Engine Optimization on IIS



    There’s now a free SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Toolkit that easy to install (via the Web Platform Installer or directly) and use with IIS to analyze your website.  It offers reports to help you make your site more search engine friendly, helping to increasing traffic (and helping to get the right kind of traffic).  The reports can also identify problems (e.g. missing content, incorrect links, etc.) that can sometimes be difficult to find.

    There’s also a 14 minute video walkthrough of how to work with the SEO Toolkit and what it can do for you.

    image By the way, the SEO Toolkit is just one of many IIS Extensions available (logging, routing, dynamic IP restrictions, smooth streaming, and more.)


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    WPF-Based Yahoo Messenger for Vista Available


    vistapreview As a pretty cool example of the effects that are possible with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Yahoo has just announced the availability of the preview release of Yahoo Messenger for Vista.

    Download it from:

    vista As of today, they've announced support for 64-bit Vista as well.


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  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Windows Phone Garages in Cambridge, MA and Beyond (FL, GA, MD, NC, NY, PA)


    imageA new series of the popular Windows Phone Garages is coming to the eastern US in May.  These are free “learn and build” events with a mix of presentations and hands-on labs all focused on helping you create great apps for Windows Phone.

    City Date  
    New York, NY 5/3 Registration
    Cambridge, MA 5/9 Registration
    Alpharetta, GA 5/19 Registration
    Charlotte, NC 5/24 Registration
    Malvern, PA 5/24 Registration
    Chevy Chase, MD 5/26 Registration
    Tampa, FL 5/26 Registration

    imageThe morning features 3 developer sessions, and after lunch, you’ll have a chance to put your new knowledge to work, with experts on hand to help you.

    9 – 10 am

    Introduction to Windows Phone Development

    No experience with Windows Phone 7 development? No problem. During this optional session at the start of the day we will cover the fundamentals of Windows Phone Silverlight and XNA Development. We'll explore the various core components and tools available, and leave you with some resources to take you to the next level.

    10 – 10:30 am

    What’s new for Windows Phone Developers

    This session will highlight some of the new developer features coming for Windows Phone Developers. We’ll also take a look at AppMaker, a new dynamic new tool that enables you to generate a simple Windows Phone application from one or more online data feeds.

    10:45 – 12:30 pm

    Windows Phone Application Jumpstart

    To give you a jumpstart on app development, we’ll walk through in detail building an app, styling it, and adding advanced capabilities. We’ll also cover submitting it to the marketplace and monetizing your app.

    12:30 – 1:00 pm


    1:00 – 5:00 pm

    Windows Phone Garage Open Lab

    Bring your laptop fully loaded with Visual Studio 2010 and the latest version of the Windows Phone Tools. Get some help with an app you are working on, or use the information from the Jumpstart to build an app around your favorite data feed. No ideas? No worries – we’ll have a few starter templates that you can build on.

    Tip: These are set up with tables for the machines that attendees will bring in for labs.  While that’s great for your computer (and your coffee cup), it uses more space, so these will fill up quickly.


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Boston XNA Developer Group Wednesday



    Just a  reminder that the Boston XNA Developer Group will be having a meeting at its usual day/time (fourth Wednesday of the month), tomorrow, May 28th at 6:00 at the Microsoft office in Waltham, MA.

    Michael Cummings will be presenting.  The content level is still introductory, so if you're new to XNA, please do stop by!

    Head to the group's site for resources and information.


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    XAMLFest Boston 5/27 – 5/28… and Online


    xamlfest_thumb XAMLFest events are a great (and free) way to learn about Silverlight and WPF through a combination of presentations and instructor-led hands-on lab work. 

    XAMLFest Boston is coming to the NERD facility (One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA) on May 27th & 28th, and will be the last XAMLFest in the northeast this fiscal year.

    John Pelak has the full details via the ISV Developer Community Blog:

    This event, like past ones, is already filling up and will reach capacity, so act quickly if you know you can attend!

    XAMLFest Online

    Because this event series has been so popular, filling up each time, the team is taking XAMLFests to the web to help reach more designers and developers.

    XAMLFest Online will be held June 1-5, featuring a syllabus with two live sessions each day supplemented with recorded content.

    Bruce Kyle has the details at:

    Enjoy becoming XAMLized!


  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    Free Resources and Training on


    msdev-homeThough specifically geared toward developers at ISVs*, the newly updated site has great content useful for any developer and is worth checking out.

    From the ISV Developer Community blog announcement:

    You will find web seminars, virtual events, live events on .NET Framework, business development, cloud computing, Exchange, Expression, high performance computing, Hyper-V, Internet Explorer, IIS, Dynamics, Office System, VSTO, SharePoint, Next Web, Web UI, Silverlight, SQL Server, Azure, Windows, Visual Studio, and much more.

    msdevlogoYou'll find unfettered, friction free access to rich media learning content for Microsoft-based solution developers and non-Microsoft based developers.  In additon, the site provides developer training focused on value added partners (VAPs).

    The phrase “friction free” is key, there’s no need to log in to view resources (though you can if you wish) – just easy access to the content you need.

    Start with a search and take a look.


    * Independent Software Vendors

  • Chris Bowen's Blog

    ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 Released


    Great news from the team that's working on bringing Model View Controller to ASP.NET - the Preview 3 release is now available, along with the source code on CodePlex.  Scott Guthrie has the details on his blog.

    Some interesting new features and refinements in this release:

    • Controller Action method changes
    • Improved HTML Helper methods
    • URL Routing improvements

    Related posts:

    Be sure to look through the Preview 3 readme file as well - it describes what's new in the API and how to convert code from prior versions to Preview 3.

    Finally, If you're in the northeastern U.S., you can learn more about ASP.NET MVC by coming to one of our Northeast Roadshow events, where I'm running a session on that very topic!


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