November, 2011

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    SQL Server Roadmap to Denali Webcast Series


    imageSQL Server Denali, so many great features for reporting, high availability, business intelligence, and more. If you haven’t had time to sit down and start learning about what’s new in the latest release of SQL Server, join Microsoft Canada for a weekly webcast series to help discover and understand the benefits of the latest release of SQL Server. Starting on November 9th and continuing every week until December 7th at 1:00 pm EST, you can join in on a series of webcasts all about SQL Server Denali.

    Enterprise Information Management November 9, 2011, 1 – 2pm EST

    Presented by Darren King, Technical Specialist – Data Platform, Microsoft Canada Inc.
    An overview and demonstration of the technology and a chance to see for yourself how SQL Server can empower your EIM strategy today

    BI Semantic Model November 16, 2011, 1 – 2pm EST
    Presented by Howard Morgenstern, Technical Specialist – Business Intelligence, Microsoft Canada Inc.
    Learn how organizations can scale from small personal BI solutions to the largest organizational BI needs with the BI Sematic Model.

    SQL Azure- Reporting Services November 23, 2011, 1 – 2pm EST
    Presented by Richard Iwasa, Senior Consultant, Solution Architect, Ideaca
    Learn how SQL Azure Database can help you reduce costs by integrating with existing toolsets and providing symmetry with on-premises and cloud databases. Discover what SQL Azure can do for you.

    Appliances November 30th, 2011, 1 – 2pm EST
    Presented by Doug Harrison, Solution Specialist – Platform, Microsoft Canada Inc.
    An overview of Microsoft's vision for appliances details on the workloads supported today and in the future.

    Mission Critical Confidence – Enable mission critical environments December 7th, 2011, 1 – 2pm EST
    Presented by Marc Theoret, Technical Specialist – Data Platform, Microsoft Canada Inc.
    Find out how to enable Mission Critical Environments (focusing on availability and performance) with manageable costs.

    As an added bonus, attendees that register and attend all five (5) modules of the webcast will receive a SQL Server Code Name "Denali" USB key and a copy of Windows Azure Step by Step (May 2011) to be mailed 4-6 weeks after the final webcast. Limit one per person.

    Attend the webcasts, download the Denali evaluation and get yourself up and running with SQL Server Denali. Register today!

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    Want Your Presentation to Rock? Hook Your Audience Early!


    Scores of fabulous speakers are working their way from Toronto to Vancouver to Montreal as part of TechDays delivering great content to technical professionals. Whether it’s TechDays, a client meeting, or a lunch and learn with co-workers, all of us are called upon to present from time to time. When we put together a presentation it can be tricky to deliver the information the audience needs in a way that will hold their attention. You want a presentation that will grab and hold their attention. Luckily there is a very easy 5 slide structure you can use in your slide decks to quickly get the audience invested in your presentation.

    I really believe you have to get your audience hooked right from the beginning. Whether you are presenting at a conference, to a client, to your boss, or to co-workers. You want to make sure the audience understands what you will be talking about and why they should care right away! We all have limited time, so when I sit down to listen to someone else present I want to know right away what am I going to get out of this presentation.

    The structure I use at the start of my decks is based on the principles in Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson.

    Let’s say I wanted to talk to a group of programmers about developing an application for a Windows Phone. A typical presentation might start out with a slide that shows a picture of a windows phone, then it might display a slide that lists the tools you need to download to start developing, then a slide listing the hardware and software requirements to use the tools, you have a few slides talking about the different types of phone applications you can build, then maybe you do a Hello World example, and you do various code examples and demos and finish up with talking about how to publish an app to the marketplace. Sound about right? That’s fine, but it could be so much better! All you need to do is put careful thought into the first 5 slides!

    Slide 1 The Setting

    The very first slide in your deck should give your audience the setting, telling them where we are right now. Think of it like a sort of one sentence status update, a state of the union. Ideally this setting should be expressed as a single sentence with a single image on the slide to reinforce it. For example

    “The Windows Phone MarketPlace offers great opportunities to get noticed” and an image of someone who stands out in a crowd.

    Other examples of setting statements

    “SQL Server 2012 CTP3 has just been released”

    “MVC is becoming a popular model for web development”

    “All companies need accurate information to make decisions”

    Slide 2 The Protagonist

    The second slide should help the audience understand how they fit into this setting, so they can understand how your first statement is relevant to them. Again keep the slide simple, one sentence, one image!

    “You know .NET, so you can code a windows phone application” with a picture of a happy programmer, or the .NET logo, get creative have fun with it.

    Other examples

    “We are currently running SQL Server 2005”

    “Our team maintains 15 corporate websites”

    “We have 45 databases at our company storing 61 TB worth of data”

    Slide 3 The imbalance

    This slide should give a sense of the conflict, the problem, it should start to make people feel like we need to do something. Stick with the one sentence, one image format.

    “The Windows Phone Marketplace is an untapped opportunity” with a picture of Monty Burns from the Simpsons rubbing his hands together with glee (like I said you can have fun with the images)

    Other examples

    “We need the business intelligence features in SQL Server 2012”

    “None of our websites share code”

    “There is wealth of information in our data that can help our company succeed”

    Slide 4 The balance

    This slide should tell the audience the desired outcome, where we want to be in a week, a month, a year, or even in an hour when this presentation is completed. Oh and guess what format the slide should be…yup one sentence, one image. By the way lets be clear, I do mean an actual sentence, with punctuation and everything, a bullet point is not a sentence.

    “We want to develop windows phone applications” with an image of a windows phone showing the company logo on a tile

    Other examples

    “We need to upgrade to SQL Server 2012”

    “We want our code to be re-usable across websites”

    “We can get information about trends and patterns from our company data to plan company strategy”

    Slide 5 The solution

    Now it’s time to reveal what you will really be talking about in your slide deck, the solution, how will we get from where we are now to where we want to be, from the imbalance to the balance!

    “You can develop a phone application” with an image of a finger pointing at the audience.

    Other examples

    “There is an upgrade path from SQL 2005 to 2012”

    “MVC will allow us to re-use more of our code”

    “SQL Server Analysis Services cubes will help us report on trends in our data”

    Put it all together and it comes out like this

    The Windows Phone Marketplace offers great opportunities to get noticed. You know .NET, so you can code a windows phone application. The Windows Phone Marketplace is an untapped opportunity. We want to develop windows phone applications. You can develop a phone application


    All companies need accurate information to make decisions. We have 45 databases at our company storing 61 TB worth of data. There is wealth of information in our data that can help our company succeed. We can get information about trends and patterns from our company data to plan company strategy. SQL Server Analysis Services cubes will help us report on trends in our data

    If you were in the audience after these slides, would you know what was coming next? that’s the whole point, now I understand what you’ll be covering, how I am affected, and why we are having this discussion.

    Just 5 slides and you are well on your way to a great presentation. An interesting aspect of these first 5 slides: they don’t take long to cover in your audience. I probably average about 30 seconds a slide on these. So they add very little to your overall presentation time yet they go such a long way towards setting the stage for the rest of your presentation. So next time you are firing up PowerPoint, before you jump straight into the content, take a minute to think about those first 5 slides. By the way, if you go back and read the first 5 sentences of this blog post…you’ll see this format can work for introductions to blogs as well Smile

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    Are you fighting or helping your QA team?



    QA is an essential part of the development lifecycle. The QA team tests your code and then the bugs they report return to you to get fixed. Sometimes that relationship can be a challenge as we argue over what is really a bug, try to reproduce the defects identified during QA, and determine the severity of each defect. Improving the relationship between QA and development will help your application development. Join Yaron Tsubery, president of the ISTQB, in Toronto Thursday evening  November 23rd, to learn more about how you can work better with your QA team.

    Yaron Tsubery is the CEO and Founder of Smartest Technologies Ltd. He will use his experience on complex projects with strict exit criteria and demanding deadlines to help you speed up your application lifecycle through better collaboration between the QA and development teams.

    SELA Canada & Microsoft Canada present:

    Shorten Release Cycles by Increasing QA and Developer Collaboration

    Many (if not all of us) are searching for the best ways to do their job in order to improve the performance and achieve more. Yes, this is the era which we all are living – many results (which always must be the best results) shall be presented in a very short time – what business persons call TTM (Time To Market). One of our tasks as test engineers or as test managers is to find the path(s) that will lead to effective results based on efficient processes; in the 1st case we are searching for results in terms of better and improved test coverage and in the 2nd case we are searching for large scale, efficient and effective defect detection, both better to be achieved in a short time.

    Many ways are suggested and visible for implementation of both the above paths; few methods are developed for them, but my objective is to present a parallel aspect, related to 'soft skills' and maturity elements, that can accelerate the time to market. I'll present collaboration challenges and actions required to be taken by both the QA and the Development departments. Questions like: How to do it? What is expected from us? Who is leading the collaboration? What's in it for me as a developer and/or as a test engineer? Where (if at all) are the borders between the departments? Tools to measure the progress and the success, and more will be tackled. The practice is focused on projects of complex systems, delivered to telecommunication companies under restricted rules and stiff exit criteria elements – which made this more complex and challenging to handle along with tense delivery timelines. You'll be able to understand what the impact that we achieved through this practice was.

    Register today because you and I both know just telling the QA team “If I can’t reproduce it, I can’t fix it” isn’t really the best answer Smile

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    A “Cloud-y” Recap of TechDays Toronto’s Cloud Computing and Online Services Track


    TechDays 2011 Canada Logo

    With 8 sessions specifically dedicated to Windows Azure and Office 365 at TechDays Toronto, there was plenty of content to go around. There was everything from deciding whether to move to the Cloud, to how to actually do the move to the Cloud, to how to secure your application in the Cloud once you got it up there. Hopefully you left each session understanding all the concepts and knowing exactly what you needed to do in order to implement them in your applications.

    Below you’ll find all of the resources mentioned in each of the sessions so that you can continue your exploration of Windows Azure today (rather than having to wait until the sessions are available on TechDays Online in early December):

    Highlighted in all sessions

    • In order to implement what you learned at TechDays, sign up for a 90-day Windows Azure trial account, write some sample code, and deploy your code into Windows Azure.
    • Further, to extend your learning past what you learned at TechDays, download the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit, review the content of the presentations, but most importantly, take some time to complete the included labs.
    • A craftsman/craftwoman can’t create his or her masterpieces without having the tools to do it. Download the Windows Azure SDK which includes all of the development and testing tools you’ll need to build applications for the Cloud.

    Highlighted in CLD301 – Migrating Applications to Windows Azure

    Highlighted in CLD302 – Windows Azure Storage: Getting Started and Best Practices

    • CLD302 Feedback – Share your feedback on the session or ask Tyler any questions you may have around the content covered in the session.
    • Windows Azure Jump Start – Watch these 45-50 minute videos that focus on the different areas of Windows Azure: the Windows Azure environment, application lifecycle, storage, diagnostics, security, and scalability.
    • Tyler’s Dev Blog – Blog posts on .NET software development for Windows Azure and Windows Phone by Tyler Doerksen (@tyler_gd).

    Highlighted in CLD303 – Deploying and Managing Applications on the Windows Azure Platform

    Highlighted in CLD304 – To the Cloud and Back: Hybrid Applications with Windows Azure and SharePoint Online

    • CLD304 Feedback – Share your feedback on the session or ask Bruce any questions you may have around the content covered in the session
    • SharePoint and Windows Azure Developer Kit – Get started with SharePoint, SharePoint Online, and Windows Azure with this developer kit that includes several presentations and hands-on labs for you to try.

    Highlighted in CLD305 – SQL Azure: Key Features, Migration, and Synchronization Strategies

    • CLD305 Feedback – Share your feedback on the session or ask Stephen any questions you may have around the content covered in the session
    • SQL Azure Guidelines and Limitations – Read through the guidelines and understand limitations that are important to consider when using SQL Azure.
    • How to Shard with SQL Azure – Use database sharding techniques to increase the scalability of the data in your applications.

    Highlighted in CLD306 – To Cloud or Not to Cloud

    Highlighted in CLD307 – Windows Azure Security, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cloud

    • CLD307 Feedback – Share your feedback on the session or ask Steve any questions you may have around the content covered in the session

    Highlighted in CLD309 – Developing SharePoint Solutions for Office 365

    • CLD309 Feedback – Share your feedback on the session or ask Nik any questions you may have around the content covered in the session
    • Nik Charlebois’ Blog – Learn more about what you can do with SharePoint and SharePoint Online on Nik’s blog.
    • Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Power Tools – Development for SharePoint and SharePoint Online becomes much easier and much more productive with these power tools.
    • Office 365 Application Log – a SharePoint sandboxed solution that allows users to log information from custom SharePoint Online components into a SharePoint list.
    • Community Kit for SharePoint: Development Tools Edition – Extend Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint projects with advanced templates and tools.

    Highlighted in CLD210 – Office 365 vs. Google Apps – The Elephant in the Room

    Looking ahead to TechDays Vancouver

    Stay tuned to next Wednesday’s post where I’ll go over what the Cloud Computing and Online Services track has in store for you at TechDays Vancouver! If you haven’t yet registered for TechDays Vancouver (or Montreal, for that matter), there’s still time to register.

    Register today >>

    Make sure to check out the TechDays LinkedIn group. TechDays Facebook page, and/or the TechDays Twitter feed to join the conversations and get the latest updates.

  • Canadian Solution Developers' Blog

    Building on your Architecture from TechDays


    imageYou’ve attended, or plan to attend TechDays. You attend sessions and learn more about Agile, ASP.NET security sessions, IntelliTrace, the Entity Framework, Test Manager and more! Your head is buzzing with thoughts about how can I apply what I’ve seen at TechDays when I get back to the office. How do I share this with my team? Well instead of a Top 5, today it’s a Top 10!

    Top 10 resources you can use after TechDays to help you take what you’ve learned and apply it at work!

    In no particular order since sessions covered both methodologies and code, what’s the best resource will depend on which session’s content you want to apply!

    1. All sessions: try it out for yourself download the virtual machine and labs, or just launch it from the new TechDays site that goes live in December. Labs are one of the best ways to reinforce what you’ve learned!
    2. Code contracts: Download the Code Contracts for Visual Studio, there is a a great video introducing code contracts on this site as well
    3. Debugging and Intellitrace: This is well documented in the MSDN article Debugging with Intellitrace
    4. Test Manager: Brian Keller did a great session on how to use Test Manager at TechEd
    5. ASP.NET Security Skeletons: The Open Web Application Security Project is an organization focused on improving security of application software. All their materials are available free and you need to know the ASP.NET specific security architecture and features
    6. Improving your Code: Check out the book Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler
    7. Entity Framework: Check out the blog post which gives you links to all sorts of fantastic tips and tricks on Entity Framework
    8. Agile: Check out the Visual Studio ALM Webcast series
    9. Agile: Read up on Peopleware by Tom Demarco & Timothy Lister and the role of people in development
    10. Kanban: Check out the book Kanban by David J. Anderson

    If you missed out on TechDays Toronto, the Toronto sessions will be recorded and available when the new TechDays site launches shortly! If you are in Vancouver or Montreal there is still time to register! The learning never stops!

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