As you may have seen, Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 has been released. A good time to list some resources.
Download here, available in 25 languages.
Note to Windows 7 Beta users: the IE8 build installed with Windows 7 beta is on a different release path. Don’t use this RC1 release on Windows 7 Beta, there will be a refresh coming on a later schedule. I do not have any information on timing for this later schedule. Will update here as soon as I find any new information.
Important resources: - IE8 on MSDN - IE8 Readiness Toolkit for developers
Make sure your site displays correctly with the new IE version. Check out my previous blog post on solutions.
Visual Search providers allow users to see images of results directly in the top right search bar. By implementing a visual search provider for your own site you can offer users the ability to see and access search results coming only from your own site directly in the browser. MSDN documentation explains how you can implement search extensions including the visual search providers.
In the sample below I’m searching for Silverlight using the Amazon visual search provider. Book covers are directly available in the results as you can see:
Web Slices are a new way of having “slices” of web pages available right in the IE favorites bar. They are updated so the user does not have to go to the site to see the latest status. Developing a Web Slice is pretty straightforward. You need to implement a few HTML CSS class IDs and have some options in how to display and do updates. The page “Subscribing to Content with Web Slices” on MSDN shows you how you can easily implement a Web Slice.
I just learned last week there’s even an implementation for Firefox through the extension called WebChuncks.
Ever since installing IE8 Beta I’ve become used to Accelerators and really use them a lot. Check out a post I did some time ago for a sample.
Be sure to submit your Web Slices, Accelerators and search providers to the IE8 Gallery.
As you may have seen on the TechDays agenda page, the full details on the SharePoint pre-conference have been posted. In the meantime we are finalizing the full agenda for the 11th and 12th March conference days. You may expect this to be online in the coming days.
And if you cannot wait to see a more elaborate list of sessions, be sure to check out the speakers which have almost all been updated on the Brainmasters page. Check out my previous post with a set of confirmed sessions as well.
Here’s another preview of sessions coming to Belgium in March:
Live coding Silverlight and WPF, by Laurent Bugnion Does Windows Presentation Foundation’s learning curve intimidate you? Did you hear about Silverlight but didn’t have the occasion to try it yourself? Are you afraid that, though it is using well known .NET languages and libraries, it has specificities that are difficult to understand? Discovering these two platforms on your own can seem like a frightening step. In this very interactive session, Laurent will code Silverlight and WPF in front of you, and will let the audience’s questions guide him in this journey through rich user experience. Simple tools like KaXaml and SilverlightPad will be used, as well as the powerful development environments Visual Studio and Expression Blend. Depending on the audience’s desires, this session can take you into Expression Design, Designer-Developer workflows, the Model-View-ViewModel pattern, web services communication, Animations and Transforms, Multimedia integration, and many other topics. Samples will be made in both WPF and Silverlight in a fun way that should allow everyone to overcome their inhibitions and to get started without pain!
Interesting to know: Laurent has recently released the book Silverlight 2 Unleashed and will be available for a book signing. Keep an eye on the bookstore during the event.
The Daily Scrum, with Stephen Forte & Joel Semeniuk One of the most popular Agile project management and development methods, Scrum is starting to be adopted at major corporations and on very large projects. After an introduction to the basics of Scrum like: project planning and estimation, the Scrum Master, team, product owner and burn down, and of course the daily Scrum, Stephen (a certified Scrum Master) shows many real world applications of the methodology drawn from his own experience as a Scrum Master. Negotiating with the business, estimation and team dynamics are all discussed as well as how to use Scrum in small organizations, large enterprise environments and consulting environments. Stephen will also discuss using Scrum with virtual teams and even an off-shoring environment. The session will finish with a large Q&A on best practices.
Did you know Stephen and Joel are also book authors? Book signing sessions will have people lining up :) - Programming Microsoft SQL Server 2008, (Leonard Lobel, Andrew J. Brust, Stephen Forte) - Managing Projects with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System (Joel Semeniuk)
ASP.NET 4.0 what is coming? How do I prepare my app? – by Scott Galloway Did you know .NET 3.5 Service Pack 1 from last Summer added quite some interesting features to ASP.NET? Join this session to get an update and take a walk through the 4.0 landscape from ASP.NET and learn how you can get involved in shaping ASP.NET future. This talk focuses on the next release of ASP.NET including web forms and MVC. Do you love web forms? See how you can taking control of your control IDs, learn about better ViewState managment in GridView and ListView, and get more control over the CSS markup of ASP.NET server controls. See how Dynamic Data makes building you data-driven apps easy. If you're considering MVC, we look at the feature set and understand how to create applications with this technology.
Live Mesh and Live Framework: Make your application’s data available anywhere and anytime, by Peter Himschoot How to make your data available everywhere, online or offline? Microsoft Live Mesh with the Live Framework solves this problem by providing a framework that syncs your data across all your applications, devices, your friends and on the web. In this session you will learn about the benefits of this approach and see how to program against the Live Services from any device, platform, runtime, or programming language.
SQL 2008 For Developers, by Lynn Langit Lynn's demo-filled presentation will give .NET developers an overview of the numerous new capabilities in SQL Server 2008: from support for Spatial Data types to a mechanism to store SQL BLOB data using the NTFS file system, and several things in between. There are also improvements in the area of SQL CLR and XML, Reporting Services, etc. This presentation will take a technical dive into the new things you will find in SQL Server 2008. Lynn's sessions are always highly interactive, educational and a lot of fun.
Lynn is now finalizing her newest book which should be ready just around TechDays: Smart Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008.
Under the hood in Silverlight's controls skinning framework, by Gill Cleeren While Silverlight offers us a lot of controls to build business applications, you might feel the urge to change them even more to suffice the needs of your application. A round button perhaps? Or a non-rectangular textbox? It’s all possible with the Silverlight skinning framework. In this session, you’ll see how to overhaul the look of your controls as well as create your own from scratch.
Building Workflow Services in .NET 3.5, by Kurt Claeys About creating business processes in Workflow Foundation and integration with other applications using WCF. The Workflow first approach vs. the Contract first approach. The use of the wsHttpContextBinding. Big demo of a real life scenario based where a public webapplication start a process, internal applications are communicating with the process and at the end thirdparty services are called.
See you at TechDays, don’t miss it!
Version 1.0 of the Microsoft Web Platform Installer is out since yesterday. The Web PI offers an easy way to download and install all the latest version 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.
By downloading and installing the Microsoft Web PI you will always have the latest version of the components, as this tool will check whether updates to the different tools are available.
It’s compatible with Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.
Also worth noting is the Microsoft Web Applicaton Installer (Web AI) currently in in Beta which allows you to quickly install a set of open source ASP.NET and PHP applications. The tool will check for required pre-requisites as well.
According to my colleague Philippe Destoop, our Architect Evangelist for Belgium and Luxembourg, 2009 will be the year of the architect. And he’s working on new stuff this year to make that happen :)
First issue of the Microsoft Belux Architect Newsletter is just out. Read it online, inform your colleagues and subscribe!
To read further on how Philippe plans to make this the year of the architect, check out his blog post “2008 was the year of the Rat, 2009 the year of the Architect?”.
This year TechDays gives you the possibility to follow a deep technical full-day pre-conference on SharePoint development, on March 10th 2009. We specifically chose SharePoint development focused on all the new features of .NET Framework 3.5. Maybe you already work with SharePoint but are not yet using Visual Studio 2008, with features like LINQ, new WCF support and more.
You might not know but I did my share of SharePoint development in the past, so I guess it makes the pre-conference even more important for me because of the topic. I’m really looking forward to this day. Anyway, that’s just a side note.
The pre-conference is tailored so that even if you are only using Windows SharePoint services it still is applicable to you. Only some of the stuff is specific to MOSS. Thanks to Jan for making sure this happened!
We got Jan Tielens, MVP and famous for his SmartPart for SharePoint; and Lieven Iliano, trainer at U2U same as Jan.
SharePoint 2007 Architecture and Development Overview Jan Tielens/Lieven Iliano In order to develop on the SharePoint platform, a good understanding of its developer architecture is essential. This session will start with general overview of SharePoint’s main components that are of interest for the developer: Farms, Web Applications, Site Collections, Lists and Fields, Features and Solutions, etc. Having seen the architecture we will then review the WSS Visual Studio 2008 Extensions as well as a set of community tools that will help you with your development process for SharePoint.
Using LINQ with SharePoint Jan Tielens/Lieven Iliano LINQ was first released with .NET Framework 3.5, which was after the release of SharePoint 2007. But that does not mean you cannot take advantage of this new technology in your SharePoint development. We will start with an overview of existing LINQ providers today and how the CAML queries work. Then we will show you how you can take advantage of LINQ to query SharePoint data with the LINQ to SharePoint provider, querying both list and document data from an external application as well as using LINQ for custom development inside SharePoint.
Consuming and exposing SharePoint services using WCF Jan Tielens/Lieven Iliano Did you know you can also take advantage of Windows Communication Foundation in conjunction with SharePoint? We start off by reviewing the SharePoint APIs (the SharePoint Object Model and the SharePoint Web Services) before introducing WCF. You will learn how to host you WCF services and also how to use SharePoint as a WCF host. At the end of this session you will know when to use the out of the box SharePoint APIs and when to use WCF to accomplish the right task.
Using Workflow Foundation 3.5 with SharePoint 2007 Jan Tielens/Lieven Iliano This session starts off with a crash course into Workflow Foundation 3.5 and SharePoint workflow and how to use Visual Studio 2008 for this. We then move on to authoring custom workflows using ASP.NET forms and InfoPath, as well as building Custom Activities. At the end of this session you will have a depth look into SharePoint workflow and how to develop custom workflows and activities and taking full advantage of WF 3.5.
Integrating Silverlight 2 into SharePoint Jan Tielens/Lieven Iliano Silverlight is Microsoft’s new Rich Internet Application technology, which can be used in conjunction with SharePoint to give your end users a much nicer and more dynamic user experience. This session teaches you how to integrate Silverlight 2 within SharePoint. We start off by addressing the setup and configuration needed in SharePoint in order to make Silverlight integration possible. Then we will see how you can access SharePoint data directly within a Silverlight application and how you can build Custom Field Types with a Silverlight UI. Extending you WebParts to use Silverlight as an interface is also addressed. By the end of this session you will know how to take advantage of Silverlight inside SharePoint.
Reasons enough to register right? Early bird is ending today so still a few hours left!
Windows Azure SDK and the Visual Studio Tools, available for download to everyone, were first released during PDC 2008 in October. Now the Windows Azure team has just announced an update to the SDK and tools.
From the team blog, main improvements are:
Download and install the latest version from here:
The Visual Studio Gallery (http://www.visualstudiogallery.com/) is website aggregating all extensions and add-ins that have been developed to work with Visual Studio 2008 and earlier versions.
This is a great resource to look for extensions going from testing tools, control libraries and toolkits, build tools (like Dotfuscator), documentation (like GhostDoc), source control, web tools (like Aggiorno), performance tools (like Dev\efor), Visual Studio templates (like SharePoint SmartTemplates for Visual Studio 2008) and much more.
And more good news? Lot of these add-ins are free!
Develop your own add-in If you are looking into developing your own add-in you might want to check out these Chopsticks videos recorded during the VISUG event on Visual Studio Extensibility, with Jean-Marc Prieur and James K. Lau:
It’s that time of the year again, this time I did not escape and got tagged by Maarten Balliauw… thanks so much Maarten *grump* ;-)
Although the tagging frenzy seems to be going on mainly in the PHP communty (Michelangelo is tracking it all), here’s to sending it to the Microsoft developer community. So in my turn I’m tagging some colleagues and some community folks:
Here are the rules if you are tagged:
TechDays 2009 registration is open: this year’s event will take place on March 10th, 11th and 12th in Metropolis in Antwerp. The concept is somewhat different from last year as we will have a full day pre-conference on the 10th and then two normal conference days on 11th and 12th March. Registration is open at www.techdays.be.
While the full agenda is to be finalized in the coming weeks I wanted to take the opportunity of giving you some information on the content that we are planning for the conference.
The pre-conference on March 10th will give you five in-depth sessions on developing for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and using the latest .NET Framework 3.5 technologies. I’ll have more details on this soon, I can also tell you we will have none the less than Jan Tielens and Lieven Iliano from U2U doing the talks.
We have quite a few top speakers lining up this year. From Belgian to international speakers, there are enough reasons not to miss this event. Check out the Brainmasters page to get a first look at the speakers. Here are some highlights: we have Regional Directors, MVPs, speakers from the Microsoft product teams and community folks. Some of the names:
Like last year’s event, again we will be bringing you 60+ sessions of Developer and IT-Professional content. Working together with my new manager Hans Verbeeck we have defined three topics for the three developer tracks: “Client/Web and UX”, “Tools and Languages” and “SQL Server & Data/SharePoint & Office/SOA”.
Here are some of the confirmed sessions:
Best Practices for Managing Project with Team System - by Joel Semeniuk Based on his book " Managing Projects with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System" Joel Semeniuk will provide a deeper look into the challenges and existing opportunities of managing projects using Team System. This session will explore some best practices and tools that you must have when managing virtually any size team.
Data Access Hacks and Shortcuts - by Stephen Forte Struggling with Data Access? Who isn’t? Come and see some Data Access hacks and shortcuts that will make your life easier! In a high energy demo-only session, Stephen shows: how a mere mortal can pass a custom .Net collection to a stored procedure, improves your LINQ queries with Lambdas and expression trees, making complex data models easier to manage in the Entity Framework, creative Sliverlight databinding, LINQ to REST, and transforming your database back end to get enormous performance and productivity enhancements. This is data access for the 21st century! Speaker will also provide guidance along the way about ORMs, LINQ, and EF and encourage Q&A.
Visual Basic 2008 Tips and Tricks - by Lisa Feigenbaum In this session, learn how to turn yourself into a Visual Basic 2008 guru with the new language and IDE features. Tips and tricks include how to maximize your IntelliSense experience, leverage Refactoring features, and improve the performance of your query and XML code. Come learn how to get the most out of your IDE! We'll also explore the integrated XML support in Visual Basic 9.0, and see how you can use the features to work with XML more naturally from your Visual Basic program. With respect to LINQ, we'll go deep into best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and answers to most frequently asked questions.
WCF Tips & Tricks - by Christian Weyer The Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is now 2.5 years old. It is known as a generic communication framework. But the more generic a framework is, the more complex it becomes. And the more features it offers, the more likely it is that developers oversee the important and mighty ones. Christian Weyer shows you his favorite list of WCF tips and tricks to ease the pain - all gathered from practical customer projects experience from the past years. Come and try to find your very own personal favorite.
Fastest To Market: RAD Web Applications with ASP.NET Dynamic Data and Entity Framework - by Ingo Rammer For some applications, time to market is simply critical. If your application is heavily-data driven and backed by a well-designed database schema, you could help yourself a lot be looking at the dynamic duo of ASP.NET Dynamic Data and the ADO.NET Entity Framework. Together, these two technologies allow you to build data driven websites ... quicker than anytime before. In this session, Ingo Rammer will show you how to combine the flexibility of ASP.NET with these new features for quickly building data-driven web sites. (And yes, it even allows you to simply embed a few RAD pages in your big, existing ASP.NET application).
Pex – Automated White Box Testing for .NET - by Peli de Halleux Pex is an automated white box testing tool for .NET. Pex systematically tries to cover every reachable branch in a program by monitoring execution traces, and using a constraint solver to produce new test cases with different behavior. Pex can be applied to any existing .NET assembly without any pre-existing test suite. Pex will try to find counterexamples for all assertion statements in the code. Pex can be guided by hand-written parameterized unit tests, which are API usage scenarios with assertions. The result of the analysis is a test suite which can be persisted as unit tests in source code. The generated unit tests integrate with Visual Studio Team Test as well as other test frameworks. By construction, Pex produces small unit test suites with high code and assertion coverage, and reported failures always come with a test case that reproduces the issue. At Microsoft, this technique has proven highly effective in testing even an extremely well-tested component.
Add the TechDays 2009 event to your Facebook events and register with the early bird discount before January 16th 2009.
I’ll be giving updates on my blog as more sessions and speakers get confirmed.
Hope to see you there!
Don’t miss Juval Löwy’s second user group event with the VISUG takiing place this month. Juval is speaking on the .NET Service Bus (part of .NET Services in the Azure Services Platform).
When: 15 January 2008, 18h Where: Utopolis, Mechelen
Session abstract from the site:
The .NET services bus is part of the new Microsoft Cloud Computing Windows Azure initiative, and arguably, it is the most accessible, ready to use, powerful, and needed piece. The service bus allows clients to connects to services across any machine, network, firewall, NAT, routers, load balancers, virtualization, IP and DNS as if they were part of the same local network, and doing all that without compromising on the programming model or security. The service bus also supports callbacks, event publishing, authentication and authorization and doing all that in a WCF-friendly manner. This session will present the service bus programming model, how to configure and administer service bus solutions, working with the dedicated relay bindings including the available communication modes, relying on authentication in the cloud for local services and the various authentication options, and how to provide for end-to-end security through the relay service. You will also see some advanced WCF programming techniques, original helper classes, productivity-enhancing utilities and tools, as well as discussion of design best practices and pitfalls.
The .NET services bus is part of the new Microsoft Cloud Computing Windows Azure initiative, and arguably, it is the most accessible, ready to use, powerful, and needed piece.
The service bus allows clients to connects to services across any machine, network, firewall, NAT, routers, load balancers, virtualization, IP and DNS as if they were part of the same local network, and doing all that without compromising on the programming model or security. The service bus also supports callbacks, event publishing, authentication and authorization and doing all that in a WCF-friendly manner.
This session will present the service bus programming model, how to configure and administer service bus solutions, working with the dedicated relay bindings including the available communication modes, relying on authentication in the cloud for local services and the various authentication options, and how to provide for end-to-end security through the relay service.
You will also see some advanced WCF programming techniques, original helper classes, productivity-enhancing utilities and tools, as well as discussion of design best practices and pitfalls.
There are still some seats available so be quick to register at www.visug.be.
The Azure Services Platform was announced October of last year at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC). Part of the Azure Services Platform is hosting on the cloud with Windows Azure.
If you want to test Windows Azure yourself you can already do a lot locally on your development machine. Deploying to the cloud however will require a token for which you can enroll for at https://www.microsoft.com/azure/register.mspx. When you receive the token via e-mail you will need to claim it at https://lx.azure.microsoft.com/Cloud/Billing/ResourceTokens.aspx.
In this post you can follow the needed steps to locally install, create and test a Windows Azure hosted service. To finish I also deploy my test app to the cloud.
Before going into the installation and sample application, let’s quickly recap what Windows Azure represents in the overall Azure Services Platform.
Windows Azure is the hosting and storage part of the platform. Windows Azure can be used to host services and manage this hosting on the cloud. This post does not address other elements of the Azure Services Platform like the .NET Services, Live Services or other.
Here are more resources to learn more about Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform:
For developing locally you need the pre-requisites: Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, .NET 3.5 SP1, IIS7, Microsoft SQL Server Express 2005 or 2008. Note, you can use the Microsoft Web Platform Installer to get all the prerequisites.
The downloads used in this post:
1. Install Windows Azure SDK.
The SDK installs documentation, the Development Fabric and Development Storage, so that you can locally develop and test your apps. There are also some sample applications which are really worth checking out to get some insights into this new technology.
2. Install Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio
The version 1.0 refers to the CTP of Windows Azure not Visual Studio version :-) This strikes me as funny actually it applies to Visual Studio 2008 of course.
New project templates are available in Visual Studio after installation of the Tools. For a Hosted Windows Azure project you have the possibility to create a Web Cloud Service or a Worker Cloud Service. A single project may contain one of each but no more.
For now I’m going to create a Web Cloud Service which is an ASP.NET Forms application. You can also choose to use ASP.NET MVC application.
My web application will be hosted on the cloud but I can still develop pretty much as I’m used to in ASP.NET. The solution contains two projects: the ASP.NET application as you would expect along with the Cloud Service project. This project contains service configuration and service definition files.
I’m creating a simple default.aspx page and running and then deploying to the cloud. First running locally, when I press F5 to debug the local environment starts up:
Test locally with the Development Fabric: I can see here that my Web Role is started:
Now that my website is running locally I can go and publish this to the cloud.
Two types of projects can be configured at the portal for Windows Azure at https://lx.azure.microsoft.com/Cloud/Provisioning/Templates.aspx.
Note: This portal also allows for the configuration and management of your Live Framework projects.
Because I want to host a Cloud Service I choose to create a new Hosted Services project. With the developer token you get just one of these projects. I choose to create a new project:
This creates my empty Hosted Services project. From here I need to grab the Application ID (not visible on the screenshot, it’s lower on the page). The Application ID will be needed in order to package and publish the application from Visual Studio.
Back in Visual Studio open the properties window for the Web Cloud service project. There is a tab called Portal in which you need to paste the previously copied Application ID. This will make sure the correct web page on the Azure portal is opened.
Publish the application to the portal (and the cloud!)
This will package the application, choosing the Publish action opens up the folder in which the application has been packaged and opens up the browser with the application properties page.
You can locate your package file (.cspkg) and your configuration settings file (.cscfg)
The application is now uploaded and initialized.
Once the app is initialized you can test it on a staging environment by clicking the Web Site URL. Use the Configure button to change settings and for example increase the number of instances of your application to be running. At the moment the interface is well, non-existent, and you need to edit the XML file directly. You may expect this interface to become more user-friendly in the future.
When the application is ready to be published to production just press the switch icon to move from staging to production.
Hope this was an interesting walkthrough. If you want to read more and see some nice examples of using the Storage capabilities I recommend reading Maarten Balliauw’s 5 posts on Windows Azure.