I have left Microsoft and this blog is no longer under my control. All of the content should remain for some time however and any new updates can be found at http://davedev.net.
-Dave, September 2013
As you may have heard, we released Visual Studio 2008 SP1 RTM earlier this week. Even though I wear a Microsoft badge - I always like to wait a bit before I install any RTM release on my "production" machine. This isn't to say I don't have all the latest beta bits on two of my other "demo" machines - but the laptop I usually use for my speaking engagements I keep pretty clean. Close to what an enterprise developer today would be allowed to have on their box.
Maybe it is the fact that I've been working professionally as a developer for close to 15 years and have still have the scars from being burned a bit. Anyone remember upgrading to VS2005 and finding out that there was an entirely new ASP.NET web project format? We eventually fixed that with templates you could download, which was rolled into SP1. How about when Vista came out and VS2005 wouldn't run on it? Or having just the Cider extensions preview to do WPF work in 2005 before Expression Studio came out? Hey - I feel your pain. I've been there in my cubical till 8pm at night because I'm uninstalling releases to get my machine back. I think Microsoft as a whole is making great strides in this space (faster release cycles, more open betas, better transparency, and a connection to you guys out there through blogs like this). Part of my job is making those changes and also giving feedback to the teams of your pain points.
So here is an honest account of when you should install this service pack on your machine and when you should not.
First - if you are planning on using any of the updated Business Intelligence features inside of Sql Server 2008 you will need this release. If you have used BIDS - Business Intelligence Development Studio, which you most likely have if you have done any integration services or work with cubes, you probably have seen it uses the Visual Studio shell. The version in 2008 takes advantage of some of the features in SP1 so it will require it to be installed on your machine to use the new tools. If this is the case for you, go grab the service pack right now here.
Second - if you are planning to use the Data Services Library in Silverlight 2 beta 2 then hold off on installing this service pack for now. The results can be a bit "flaky". My buddy Shawn Wildermuth has detailed information about the issue you can read here. Otherwise go grab the service pack right now here. After you install it, make sure you install the updated Silverlight 2 templates that understand the SP1 changes. You can grab those here.
Lastly - if you are working with WPF at all you WILL WANT this release. I detailed some of the exciting features in this space in my previous post here. If you are like me you probably have seen some of those cool BitMap effects you can add to your interfaces inside Expression Blend or Design. Heck, one of the first things I did was add drop shadows to everything. But what a lot of people didn't realize was that these effects prior to SP1 were not hardware accelerated! Take into account the increased speed you can get from using the GPU for these effects and the performance improvements in SP1 around databinding - you may find your application performing 2-3x better just by recompiling under SP1. It is like an early Christmas present. =) So grab it here.
Besides all that great WPF goodness - this release is packed full of numerous other stuff. ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Dynamic Data, ASP.NET AJAX History, ASP.NET Routing, ADO.NET Data Services, ADO.NET Entity Framework, WCF 3.5 SP1, and the .NET Framework Client Profile. Scott Hanselman is running a great post that goes into more details. And even though it is from the beta release, Scott Guthrie has tons of details on what is inside as well.
We also released a training kit centered around the changes. Demos, PPTS, walkthroughs - you can get it all in one place and have it on your machine to decide yourself if you need to upgrade. Download it here.
One gets the feeling this isn't just a service it is almost like an entirely new version, eh?.
I am been really impressed with the quality of video coming out of the NBC Olympics site. This is exactly what I had in mind when I talked about delivering Olympic content in new and exciting ways.
By now you probably heard about the world record breaking surprise US victory over France in the mens 4x100m swim relay. Missed it? Watch it again right now in full HD quality video thanks to Silverlight.
Missed the opening ceremonies?
Be sure to check out what other people are watching too…
Don’t forget to click on the “Enlarge Video” button in the bottom right to go full HD and get all the advanced features.
Lots of stuff to talk about in this release – better scalability, concurrent workload management, new data encryption, and new policy based management.
What has me excited?
The new Business Intelligence (BI) features:
“SQL Server 2008 BI—Is It for Your Organization? As I’ve mentioned earlier, I see scalability and performance as the most significant areas of improvement in SQL Server 2008. Reports run faster, various queries can execute faster, and writebacks in SSAS are faster. A handful of brand-new capabilities, such as the Data Profiler in SSIS, may also make you think seriously about migration. Overall, SQL Server 2008 is an evolutionary upgrade which provides a better performing BI platform.” - SqlMag, May 2008
“SQL Server 2008 BI—Is It for Your Organization? As I’ve mentioned earlier, I see scalability and performance as the most significant areas of improvement in SQL Server 2008. Reports run faster, various queries can execute faster, and writebacks in SSAS are faster. A handful of brand-new capabilities, such as the Data Profiler in SSIS, may also make you think seriously about migration. Overall, SQL Server 2008 is an evolutionary upgrade which provides a better performing BI platform.”
- SqlMag, May 2008
The all new Report Designer:
And the spatial data capabilities:
Check it out now for yourself.
The Silverlight enabled Olympics site unveiled at Mix last year has now gone live. In this age of online community how do you take a well defined brand, like the Olympics, and make it relevant to that audience? After all, most of us spend twice as much time online today than we do even turning on a TV. This is what a nextgen web experience is all about – 2,200 hours of ondemand hd video, social networking aspects, and a great user experience that doesn’t let the technology get in the way. It enables you to view the experience the Olympics in ways you never have before and on your own terms.
Let’s start by going to the NBCOlympics.com site itself:
To launch the Silverlight experience click on any of the event links on the page. For now I am going to click on one of the “Watch Now” links at the top.
You will see a new window open up that looks like your typical media player right? This is where it gets interesting. Click on the “Enhanced Player” link in the bottom right.
You will now be taken to a full screen application that will allow you to share the current video clips with friends, find out what other people are watching the most, see professional commentary and even watch videos with picture-in-picture.
Looks like track is pretty popular right now…
I can also explore some of the other events going on based on category. Looks like there is a football (soccer for us crazy Americans) going on that I want to remember. Let me share that clip to myself.
And here it comes in my inbox – a direct link to the video itself! No need to dig through an entire site looking for the clip inside the player. No need to go through a registration (LiveID *cough* *cough*) process. It takes me right to the clip and even gets me the ability to search for similar clips. This hits home with the way people ingest a lot of their content today – through sharing. Whether its an email, a tweet, or an IM – it is the “hey – you got to check this out” that usually sparks the first visit to a site.
How about finding what kind of sport you are interested in? Let’s check out Fencing…
In fact I will chose Picture-in-Picture with the current football game I am watching and swap the Fencing video to the center. Look at that full screen HD video?
Check it out for yourself today at NBCOlympics.com.