Microsoft Ireland Team Blog

November, 2008

  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    System Center 2007 Management Pack for TFS 2008


    (For context: System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) allows provides monitoring, troubleshooting, audit collection, and reporting for any server workload or application, including the base operating system, system hardware, and other management agents)


    Enter the new TFS 2008 Management Pack for System Center Operations Management 2007 to help you, yes, manage and monitor exposed services of your TFS instance. It is designed to proactively monitor quality and availability of TFS services and even automate recovery in some scenarios.

    Feature Summary

    · Auto discovery of TFS components

    · Leverages ASP.NET MP and SQL MP

    · Implements containment hierarchy reflecting logical architecture of the Product

    · Implements a proper health model using Monitors

    · Contains tasks, diagnostic and recovery for certain failures

    · Events indicating service outages

    · Alerts indicating configuration issues and connected data source changes

    · Verification that all dependant services are running

    · Targeted running of BPA against TFS Servers from Operator Console


    As TFS is a critical component of development organisations this is a welcome arrival - your IT pros will thank you :-)

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    NIMTUG Event: rePDC


    The Northern Ireland Microsoft Technology Users Group is hosting an event on Monday evening, Blog Bling BrainDecember 1st (I can’t believe it’s almost December already!).  It’s called “rePDC: The Best of the PDC.”  If you weren’t able to make it to the PDC in Los Angeles this year, this is the event for you. 

    The event is free, but registration is required – please go here to register: 

    We’ll be going over all of the important announcements and updates from this year’s PDC including Windows Azure, Windows 7, Oslo, the Silverlight Toolkit, Windows Live Framework, and a lot more.

    It won’t be a deep dive; instead this gives you the chance to see previews of everything, learn about what things are being released, and ask questions about the technology you’re interested in.

    If you have questions or there are very specific things you would like covered, feel free to e-mail me at martharo [at]

    See you Monday.

    Cross posted from Martha's Blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Microsoft Web Platform Installer Release Candidate


      The Microsoft Web Platform Installer is a free tool that makes it simple to download and install the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 and 7.0, SQL Server 2008 Express, .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and Visual Web Developer 2008 Express SP1. The Web Platform Installer offers a single installer to help you obtain the software you need to build and run a complete Web solution on the Microsoft Web platform, whether you are using Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008.   In addition, the Web Platform Installer checks online to ensure the most current versions and new additions to the Microsoft Web Platform are downloaded.


    For detailed information visit or just check out the below slideshare for more information.


    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition GDR - RTM


    The VS Database edition team has just released the golden version of the Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition GDR. I've included the feature list inline below, and you can download the software from
    and the documentation from

    FYI, you must have VS 2008 SP1 installed first!


    Feature list

    • Project System
      • Full support for SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 support.
        • All database objects are now modeled, therefore they are compared and part of deployment. The side-effect of this is that there are no more objects that need to be stored in pre- and post-deployment scripts.
      • Server vs. Database projects
        • This change allows you to model the different behavior of shared and server level objects inside SQL Server vs. user database level objects. 
      • Partial projects
        • Partial project allow you to share implementation between projects, with a single definition of the code
      • Composite projects
        • Composite projects extend database references, allowing you to add objects from other project to the name database schema namespace. So you can compose your database from other projects and/or DBSCHEMA file references
      • Database references using literals, in addition to SQLCMD token support
        • The addition of literal support facilitates that you do not have to change your code of 3-part names, when do do not require the flexibility of name independent deployment
      • Reference support for XML Schema Collections to include .XSD files
        • Enables single sourcing of XML Schema Collections from an .XSD file which itself can be used by other developers or tools.
      • Reference support of SQL-CLR projects and / or SQL-CLR assemblies
        • Enables the inclusion of a SQL-CLR project or a binary, to represent a SQL-CLR assembly. Like XSD references, the goal is single sourcing of artifacts inside the development environment
      • Import Schema and Import Script is now available through DTE
        • This allows the creation of macros or programmatic add-in to drive these common tasks.
      • No more "DesignDB"
        • The change to a fully model driven implementation makes the need for a local SQL Server database instance obsolete. Having a sandbox for your development environment is still am advised practice though, so you can test the changes independently and in an isolated environment.
    • Build
      • Build validates the consistency of the schema model and produces all the files that you need to deploy the database
    • Deploy
      • Deploy takes the output from the build stage and deploys this information based on the settings supplied
      • Deployment settings are now isolated in to the .SQLDEPLOYMENT file, which allows you to standardize and re-use the deployment settings
      • Most of the "Schema Compare" comparison options are now available as the deployment options, to increase the symmetry between the two
      • VSDBCMD.EXE, is a command line deployment tool, which enables the standalone deployment of Database Project
    • Schema Compare:
      • Compares any combination of live databases, Database Projects and .DBSCHEMA files
      • Session level option support, which can be persisted and re-used
      • Object type level filtering allow you to exclude object types from the comparison
      • You can now quickly navigate back and forward between difference via the toolbar and optionally configurable keyboard shortcuts
      • Substitution of SQLCMD variables, allows for the comparison of projects that rely on the use of SQLCMD variables
      • Schema Compare can now be executed through DTE
    • Data Compare
    • Refactoring:
      • New refactoring types: Expand Wildcards and Fully-qualify Names (in addition to Rename, Move Schema and 3/4 part name refactoring)
      • The patented "preservation of intend" functionality makes is possible that the Deployment Engine will deploy renames and move schema operations as actual renames and move schema operations, instead of a DROP / ADD operation.
      • Extensibility enables the creation of your own refactoring types (operations) and refactoring targets.
    • Database Unit Testing
      • Added support for SQL Server 2008
    • Data Generation
      • BulkCopy based inserts in addition to the existing INSERT data sync
      • Sequential Databound Generator is now included in the product
    • T-SQL Static Code Analysis
      • Execute analysis using MS Build and/or as part of the VS IDE build process
      • Including the ability to write you own T-SQL Static Code Analysis rules
    • Extensibility
      • Public full fidelity .NET based T-SQL parser for SQL Server 2000, 2005 and 2008.
      • Public .NET based SQL Script DOM, for programmatically generation of SQL code (equivalent to the Code DOM in .NET)
      • Access to the Schema Model from within Visual Studio, this enables for example ability to write code generators based on the schema model.
      • Feature extensibility:
        • T-SQL Static Code Analysis rules
        • Refactoring types, these are the refactoring operations
        • Refactoring targets, these are the sources that you want to update as part of a refactoring operation
        • Data Generators
        • Data Distributions
        • Test Conditions
    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Nip & Tuck for GUIs (2) : Windows Forms and a self-contained WPF user control


    I figure the most logical follow-on from my last post is to show how simple it is to start using WPF within an existing Windows Forms application. I set myself the goal for this post of doing this with zero code behind whatsover to avoid clouding the issue. I had no choice but to incorporate Flickr into it, no self-respecting sample being flickr-less these days.

    With that in mind, for my user control I tweaked a sample that ships with the really handy Kaxaml (below) tool, just adding a larger preview image on the right along with 2 sliders, one to rotate the previewed image and one to enlarge/shrink it. No code-behind needed in any of this, just data templates and data binding. Incredibly easy.




    Next up I just added a WPF user control project to my VS solution:




    Dropped an element host onto my existing Windows Form app's main form:




    and set its contents to an instance of my user control.




    And that's it!


    image image


    10 minutes! (I did some email as well).

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Nip & Tuck for GUIs (a.k.a. the scoop on Expression Design's past)


    So you may know that AutoCAD 2009 uses WPF for it's "chrome" (no not that Chrome, the other chrome i.e. ribbon, action recorder and QuickView).


    What's probably less well known (but which you can learn about at the MIX 08 University in this session) is that Expression Design, below, has quite a lot in common with AutoCAD 2009.



    For context, Expression Design is one of the Expression Suite of Products. Some of them, such as Expression Blend are shiny new applications written in WPF and C#. Expression Design, however has a past :-) And that past is that Expression Design is based on a 10 year-old MFC C++ code base.

    You can tell as much by using the excellent Snoop utility for WPF. 


    Actually the above was just the gratuitous 3D shot from Snoop, just because it's cool. The below screenshot though highlights an element whose type is a subclass of HwndHost....


    This is typically done so that MFC code can access the WPF Hwnd that parents the MFC "island", in this case the design surface.

    (credits: the screenshots below are taken from the PPT deck presented at the MIX session, presented by Henry Sowizral)

    Essentially what was done was to pry apart the old UI from the core functionality of the application i.e. the design surface in this case,




    then new chrome was bolted on via an interop layerto connect the WPF UI with the MFC Code.




    And the result is an app that has a WPF look and feel - can you tell the difference between the 100% managed code app (Blend) and the WPF / MFC combo (Design)?





    My guess is no, because they have a consistent look and feel which you associate with the Expression Suite of products, yet it was achieved without throwing out the previous investments in a design tool - not even Microsoft has unlimited resources!

    So what's my point? Well, you may not have MFC code, instead you may have VB6 code or perhaps Windows Forms and perhaps you're thinking that WPF isn't an option for you unless you're starting off a new project, from scratch.

    Well, think again...If you've got Windows Forms code you can add in some WPF as you go using either ElementHost (a Windows Forms control that can be used to host a WPF element) or WindowsFormsHost (host a Windows Forms control on a WPF page).

    If you've got VB6 code you can use the Forms Interop Toolkit to incorporate Windows Forms into your applications as an alternative to "big-bang" migration, perhaps as part of a phased migration, so that you can move your VB6 investments to .NET and use its "bigger lego" :-)

    (I've also successfully used the Forms Interop Toolkit to host an ElementHost which in turn hosted a WPF user control (hope to blog about this shortly))

    Ultimately, if you compare UIs these days to the traditional "battleship grey" applications it's clear things have moved on - Office 2007 being a case in point.The availability of 3rd party ribbon controls and Microsoft's own preview version makes it possible to incorporate this functionality into some of your existing applications via interop, allowing you to nip & tuck your UI without a huge investment or a rewrite.

    I'm hoping to go through some of scenarios in followup posts, specifically how to replace a menu in a Win Forms app with a WPF ribbon control. If you're in Ireland/Northern Ireland and would like to discuss your options here in more detail please feel free to contact me, and / or send your feedback on the above.

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Event : UX Options with Microsoft, 11th Dec 2008 (Dublin)

    Event Invite: User Experience Options with Microsoft - a full-day seminar

    If you've been reading a lot about Silverlight, WPF and all the various flavours of the Expression tools - you might be wondering about how they all fit together, and with more mature technologies like VB6 and WinForms. Well, this is your chance to find out! A free day-long seminar with Ronan, Martha and visiting expert Max Knor will be well worth it!  

  • Where?  Microsoft EPDC2 Auditorium, Microsoft European Product Development Centre, South County Business Part, Leopardstown (Bus transfer available from Sandyford Luas stop - leaving at 9:40am sharp!)

  • When? Thursday, December 11th. 10am -5pm (Doors open 9:30)

  • Register here!

    Event Overview:

    Over the years, Microsoft has provided developers with many tools and technologies for building UIs for their applications, from VB6, WinForms to WPF and Silverlight. Come along to this free day-long seminar to get a great overview of all your options. Learn which tools to use in which situation from Microsoft technology experts Max Knor (TechEd favourite and developer from Microsoft Austria), Ronan Geraghty and Martha Rotter (Microsoft Ireland Developer and Platform Group). If you are interested in delivering excellent user experiences, either in rich clients or on the web – this seminar is for you!


    10:00 – 11:15  The Microsoft Client Continuum

    The Microsoft Client Continuum : a continuous series of client platform technologies available from Microsoft ranging from the very "rich" functionality of WPF to the greater "reach" of ASP.NET and of course Silverlight. Learn how the technologies compare and which one is the right one to use based on your needs.

    11:30 – 13:00  Introducing the Windows Presentation Foundation

    The Windows Presentation Foundation is a new GUI framework for desktop applications. Shipping as part of .NET 3.0 it addresses a lot of issues, Windows Forms developers have been faced with for years. With WPF, the UI is defined in an own language called XAML, whereas the code beside (event handlers,..) are written in C#. This concept allows better separation of UI and code, so that you can change the visual representation without a need to touch the corresponding code. WPF provides you with the ability to restyle all controls (even the built-in ones) and apply themes to them to create a unique user experience throughout your entire application. Besides that, you can compose controls, e.g. easily include images, buttons and other controls within lists, with the help of the new content model. Apart from visual stuff, WPF introduces a powerful data binding engine, an included command model, routed events and much more. Join this session to learn how to create your own UIs with the help of the Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), how to apply styles, and leverage the new features of WPF!

    14:00 – 15:30  Building WPF composite smart clients

    Windows Presentation Foundation is a powerful framework for developing smart client applications. It provides functionalities as a rich data binding engine, styling of controls, a built-in command pattern and much more. That's great for flashy demos, but when it comes to real business applications, you are facing some problems: What if the application consists of different modules, which need to be independent? Such a modularity allows parallel development of modules and enables more flexible deployment, as additional modules can be added later, with no need to update the original parts. Other problems are the separation of data, visualization and logic or the reuse of views. Microsoft Patterns & Practices Group has collected some of these real-world problems and has built the "Composite Application Guidance for WPF" (the project formerly known as "Prism"), which provides a set of proven patterns and components. In this session you will see how to leverage the blocks of the guidance to ease the development of your own WPF composite smart clients.

    15:45 – 17:00  Building Rich Internet Applications with Silverlight 2

    Silverlight provides a powerful platform for building the next generation of rich interactive applications on the Internet. In this session, we take a deep look at the programming model and tools that developers and designers can leverage to build these true next-generation experiences for consumers and businesses, and demonstrate building a Rich Interactive Application (RIA) using Silverlight and Microsoft .NET. We cover how to use Microsoft Visual Studio to create applications, how to create UI using XAML markup and code, how to build a custom control and how to retrieve data from a Web service.

  • Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Partner Training on 1) WPF 2) Web Development with VS 2008 in Dec 2008


    Just a quick heads up re. two partner training events (for partners in Ireland / Northern Ireland) happening in the next month, on WPF and Web Development. Follow the link inline below for more details & to register (you'll need to log in using your partner credentials).


    EventID  Event Start Course Name CPLS Company Event City
    250827 08.12.2008 Windows Presentation Foundation New Horizons Dublin
    250647 15.12.2008 Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 New Horizons Dublin

    Full details on the course can be found at

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    WPF Data-centric Applications Using the DataGrid and Ribbon Controls


    clip_image001[8]Having just blogged about the availability of the above I should mention this session from PDC, where the presenters build up an entire application in a few  stages while teaching attendees how to use all of the basic features of DataGrid and Ribbon (and some more advanced features).  You'll also see some great new Cider features including a really easy-to-use Databinding statement builder and the new Data Sources window

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    WPF & Silverlight : Sharing skills and code


    I get asked about this quite a bit, so this is session from PDC is a ready-made answer :-)



    Over the course of the session Ian builds a Twitter client in both Silverlight and WPF highlighting the pros and cons of each approach, what code is the same and what is different and why. Ian covered many details of Silverlight and WPF compatibility as well as the philosophy behind the approach taken.


    The session will help improve your understanding of the compatibility between Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight, and you'll learn the relationship between WPF and Silverlight's various subsystems including: XAML parsing and serialization, control instantiation, styling and templating, layout, rendering, and more. Cross posted from Ronan's blog

  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    WPF DataGrid and Ribbon now available!


    Some great WPF resources/previews were made available after the PDC keynote:

    · WPF Toolkit including V1 of DataGrid, V1 of DatePicker/Calendar, & preview of VisualStateManager (VSM): (The WPF Toolkit is a collection of WPF features and components that are being made available outside of the normal .NET Framework ship cycle.)

    · Preview version of Ribbon: (install instructions here)

    To get a feel for how the controls work, check out this hands-on lab: Lab: What’s Coming in WPF: Datagrid, Ribbon, and VSM  You will see these new controls in action by modifying an existing application which uses traditional controls such as the ListView, Menu and ToolBar and modify it to utilize the new features in the WPF preview.

    You may also be interested in the following resources:

    Please note: The WPF Toolkit is dependent on .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. You must install .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 in order to use any features in the Toolkit. Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Azure Services Training Kit Available


    The first preview release of the Azure Services Training Kit is now available. The kit includes hands on labs, presentations, and samples to help you understand how to build applications that use the Azure Services Platform.

    This release includes 11 hands on labs that cover the broad set of services including

      • Windows Azure
      • .NET Services
      • SQL Services
      • Live Services.

    This is the PDC Preview of the kit i.e. the same hands on labs that have already been used by attendees at the recent PDC.
    Note that the Windows Azure hands on labs can be used locally with the environment that is included with the Windows Azure SDK. However, the .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services labs require a registered service account.

    You can find more information at

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Windows 7 Developer Guide Now Available


    The features and technologies of the Windows 7 operating system announced recently at PDC enable the building of next generation of software applications.

    To read descriptions of those features, along with screen shots from the pre-Beta version of Windows 7 released at PDC, download the Windows 7 Developer Guide Another interesting read is the Windows 7 Engineering blog 

    For ISVs who will end up targeting Windows 7, you should definitely check out the "Design Principles for Windows 7" session from PDC, this stuff needs to be on your radar!

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Microsoft BizSpark in Ireland / Northern Ireland


    Last night we launched Microsoft BizSpark in The Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

    This is a global program to help early-stage startups when they need it most, by giving

    • Software
      • No upfront cost for developer tools and production licenses of server products  - you have immediate access for use in developing and bringing your solution to market.
    • Support
      • There are multiple prongs to this, but you can get connected to Network Partners around the world - investors, advisors, government agencies, hosting providers & hardware vendors, in addition to availing of technical support from Microsoft.
    • Visibility
      • Raise your profile to the audience of potential investors, clients and partners


    To learn more, check out our dedicated site at (watch the videos to hear from some startups who are already availing of the offerings). Here are some other useful links so you can find out if your startup is eligible and enrol in the program - it's a simple enrolment process and the entry requirements are pretty minimal.

    You can enrol directly yourself by selecting a network partner, but if you need help or advice then just fill in the Contact a Microsoft representative specifying Country as Ireland and your request will find its way to your local Microsoft Ireland team. Once you meet the eligibility requirements  we an sign you up.



      Once you sign up, remember to create your company profile on the BizSparkDB to raise your profile. Every day, we will highlight a promising company from the BizSparkDB.

    Cross posted from Ronan's blog







  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Some XNA Questions


    XNA Game Studio 3.0

    With the arrival of XNA Game Studio 3.0 on the scene (now released and deployable to Xbox 360!), I’ve gotten a few questions that I thought might be useful to share with other people.

    1) I want to write a platform game using XNA, but it’s hard to find examples.  How can I get started?

    The bad news is that yes, there aren’t that many examples of XNA platform games at the moment.  A couple of resources are here:

    The good news is that with the barely-a-week-old XNA Game Studio 3.0 release, there is a platform starter kit available!


    2) Can I use an Open Source tool like Blender ( to make assets for games?

    Yes, Blender exports content that you can use directly with the built-in FBX exporter.  However you can also use the more XNA-friendly one here:

    Most of the feedback I’ve gotten on this is that Blender can be difficult to learn as with many 3D content creation tools like Maya and 3D Studio Max, but there are some tutorials on the Blender site here: and some video tutorials on YouTube.

    Another thing to note is that Blender’s UI, menus, etc. can change somewhat dramatically even been .01 releases.  As such, a tutorial for Blender 2.44 may very well be out of date for 2.48.  So don’t freak out if you cannot the menu option in any given tutorial.  It may have been moved or even removed entirely (folded into some other function).  Often the tutorials are within blog posting, so read all of the comments – the comments sometimes have the corrected instructions for the current release.

    Softimage XSI mod tool also has an XNA plug-in, and I think it’s free for non-commercial use.

    Thanks to the XNA developers who helped me out with these questions.  Let me know if you have any feedback or additional questions.

    Cross posted from Martha's Blog
  • Microsoft Ireland Blog

    Embedded Development Tour Coming to Dublin


    Pssst. Are you a student or academic?  Like robots?  Interested in learning how to build the embedded systems and robots of the future? Then why not attend the Microsoft Windows Embedded European Tour which is coming to Ireland on Friday, November 28th at the Dublin Institute of Technology (Aungier Street campus).


    The agenda looks pretty great – check this out:



    Welcome & Introduction

    Liam Cronin



    Opening Keynote: Windows-Based Connected Devices in the Real World

    Catherine Heller

    NUI Maynooth Embedded Development Imagine Cup team



    Microsoft’s Commitment to Academia

    Liam Cronin



    Coffee Break



    “Small is Beautiful” Building Solutions with the .NET Micro Framework

    Pierre Cauchois



    Short Break



    The Ongoing Democratization of Robotics Development

    Martin Calsyn

    Brian Mc Namee DIT




    Liam Cronin



    Lunch & Showcase Expo


    Abstracts of the talks are as follows:

    Session 1: Windows-Based Connected Devices in the Real World
    Windows-based operating system technology is being deployed in the broadest and most demanding of environments, and is at the forefront of providing a solid foundation for the next generation of connected embedded and robotic devices. Microsoft Windows Embedded and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio products are designed to help you build highly customized and flexible device designs with easy-to-use development tools. This introductory session will give you a high-level overview of Microsoft’s Connected Devices and Robotics strategies and the role each plays in the embedded market space with real-life examples.

    Session 2: Microsoft’s Commitment to Academia

    Microsoft works in partnership to advance the cause of education around the globe helping students achieve their dreams, empowering educators to inspire, and supporting academic institutions striving for academic and research excellence. In this session you’ll discover just some of the resources available for students and faculty interested in taking the next step with Embedded and Robotics development.

    Session 3: "Small is Beautiful" Building Solutions with the .NET Micro Framework  
    The .NET Micro Framework lets you develop for tiny, inexpensive, and tightly resource-constrained devices, requiring only a few hundred kilobytes of RAM and a low cost processor. In this demo packed session you’ll learn how easy it is to create and debug embedded applications, build custom emulators and deploy solutions to a variety of devices, using the Visual Studio development tools, the .NET object model, and C#. See working solutions and learn tips, tricks, and traps based on real-world, hands-on experience building embedded solutions with the .NET Micro Framework.

    Session 4: The Ongoing Democratisation of Robotics Development
    Have you seen Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 (MSRDS) in action? In this demonstration-rich session you’ll be presented with MSRDS concepts before diving into the runtime modules: DSS (Decentralized Software Services) and CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime). You’ll also see which tools can be used and how: Visual Programming Language, Visual Simulation Environment, and Visual Studio. To show you just how easily you can build a robotics application, you’ll see real robots in action and discover how you can run Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio on a range of Windows based devices.

    So whether you’re a seasoned embedded or robotics developer or a total newbie, sign up today for the Microsoft Windows Embedded European Tour to learn how to build the next generation embedded systems and robots.

    Registration is open here:

    Cross posted from Martha's Blog
  • Page 1 of 1 (16 items)