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    Interview with Hans Verbeeck on TechEd EMEA 2008


    Last week I sat down with Hans Verbeeck, the overall business owner for TechEd EMEA 2008 (IT Professionals and Developers), and content owner for the Developers conference. The interview is now published to the Chopsticks site.

    Hans speaks about the top speakers that we should be looking forward to and discusses some new things that will be done this year to give the community a much more special role at the event. And more…

    Looking forward to TechEd EMEA 2008? Check out the interview and listen to what he has to say at the end or you could be too late.


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Three new Chopsticks screencasts by the community


    We published three new videos produced by the community today.

    Two videos by Hans Le Roy

    Hans Le Roy has created two screencasts on the new IE8 Beta 2: one intended to give you a quick overview of the new functionalities and one specifically for developers in which Hans explains the new developer tools.

    In case you don’t know Hans, he is an MVP on Internet Explorer and has a site and blog with lots of Internet Explorer information.

    Note: all the above content is available only in Dutch

    New screencast on ASP.NET MVC Framework: Forms

    This is Maarten Balliauw’s third screencast on the ASP.NET MVC Framework. After the first two, “Introduction to ASP.NET MVC Framework” and “Test Driven Development with the ASP.NET MVC framework”, this screencast shows you how you can implement form interactions in ASP.NET MVC.


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Project Rosetta – from Flash to Silverlight


    Last week the DPE team at Microsoft launch a new site was launched with articles especially written for flash developers and designers that want to learn about Silverlight: Project Rosetta.

    To start there is a collection of 9 lessons that focus on one specific feature and explain the concept including the source code and assets. You will see that the way these lessons explain the concept to take advantage of existing skills and apply these to a new technology, Silverlight in this case.

    This is the starting list of sessions (all by Rick Barazza):

    Also check out the video introducing the project: Project Rosetta: Essential Edition.

    If you have an idea for new articles, do a proposal for new articles in the discussion thread. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for the articles as well.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    IE8 Accelerator for MSDN Social Bookmarks


    I’ve been using IE8 Beta 2 for a few weeks now and I’m getting quite used to do actions on text or links by using Accelerators. If you haven’t seen these, accelerators allow you to easily call a service on a link or a piece of selected text. For example, a standard Accelerator is “Map with Live Maps” which shows a map when selecting an address on a page.

    One service I use quite regularly is social bookmarking, lately I’ve been using the new MSDN Social Bookmarks one for work related bookmarks. Having IE8 I wanted to replace the bookmarklet from the Favorites toolbar by an accelerator.

    BTW, the folks at MSDN just did a nice redesign with all the social info gathered including your community contributions, forums threads etc. Nice job:

    Now back to the accelerator. For the description that goes with the bookmark I simply select an interesting sentence on a page and use the accelerator (if text is selected).

    Creating an Accelerator is very straightforward and easy, you just need to follow the OpenService specification, which is really just an XML file following a predefined schema. For the MSDN Bookmarks I enabled this on text selection, and on a right-click on a page:


    Click to install the “Bookmark on MSDN Accelerator if you are using the IE8 Beta 2.
    And if you want to take a look at the few lines of XML needed to build it just download it directly from here.

    And if you’re looking for more Accelerators to share your bookmarks check out the gallery.

    Resources for creating your own Accelerator:

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Looking for the Belgian attendees at PDC 2008!


    After receiving this question a few times: “will there be any Belgian event at PDC2008?”, and with the suggestion of my colleague Tom we are planning to have an informal get together with all the Belgians and Luxembourgers attending PDC.

    So, if you want to join us there’s one easy way to keep up to date of where we’ll meet and any changes: just add this Facebook event to your events! You will automatically be notified of any last minute updates.

    As it stands now, this is the deal:

    Date: Monday, October 27, 2008
    Time: 8:30pm
    Location: Show Off area - at PDC2008 - L.A. Convention Center

    It’s in informal get together so we’ll see how it goes. I guess a lot depends on the number of people joining us. Suggestions are welcome on the Facebook event page.

    I’ll also be micro-blogging any updates on my twitter account: katriendg.

    Thanks Nico and Rogge for getting this rolling, and check out Nico’s very helpful post on getting prepared for PDC.

    See you in L.A.!

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    We’re coming to Luxembourg: TechDays08 registration is open


    I’m really glad with this announcement, the TechDays'08 event will take place the 30th of September 2008, in Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg. It’s a free event by the MS Belux team so be quick to register as places are limited. Note: the event is in French only.

    What will you get during the day: we have 6 developer sessions planned for you, at the same time there is also an IT-Pro track with again 6 different sessions. Check out the agenda here:

    Our Regional Director Gregory Renard is presenting two of the sessions, on Visual Studio 2008 Tips and Tricks and on LINQ. Next to that we have sessions on WCF & WF, Silverlight and WPF.

    Hope to see you there, it’s just a few weeks away.


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    User Group events this Fall: VISUG and SQL User Group


    After a deserved break during summer months, the Belgian user groups are getting back at their community events: VISUG and SQL-UG have already planned their sessions for the coming months. Lots of good sessions coming up, take a look at the list below and head out to their site to secure your seat.

    VISUG (Visual Studio User Group Belgium)

    ALT.NET Overview
    Presented by: Yves Goeleven
    On: 11/9/2008
    Location: Zaventem

    Abstract: For the past year the movement has been stirring up the Microsoft community around the globe. Now it's getting hold of the Belgian community as well.
    In this session I would like to present to you what the core values of the movement are, what principles, concepts and tools we hope to promote and to booth I would like to introduce the brand new 'Dutch user group'.

    ASP.NET 3.5 SP1 special Part 1: MVC Framework
    Presented by: Maarten Balliauw
    On: 14/10/2008

    Abstract: Visug is dedicating 2 sessions on the release of .NET 3.5 Service Pack 1. This update includes a lot of new stuff that you can learn about in these sessions. The first one is all about the ASP.NET MVC Framework.

    Note that the 2 ASP.NET 3.5 SP1 sessions are standalone sessions, you do not need to attend them both!

    ASP.NET 3.5 SP1 special Part 2: ASP.NET Dynamic Data, ADO.NET Data Services and AJAX
    Presented by: Gill Cleeren
    On: 21/10/2008
    Location: Brussels

    What's new in Visual Studio Team System Code Name "Rosario"
    Presented by: Pieter Gheysens
    On: 27/11/2008
    Location: Heverlee

    Abstract: Microsoft Visual Studio Team System code name "Rosario" is the version of Team System that follows Visual Studio Team System 2008.


    SQLUG (SQL Server User Group Belgium)

    Their next event will host two sessions on September 25th.

    Session 1: what's new in SSIS 2008 by Nico Verheire

    Abstract: Integrating data with ADO.NET
    Scripting with VSTA
    Introducing the new lookup transformation (including caching)
    Managing change in a data warehouse: how to use Change Data Capture (CDC) and use of the MERGE statement
    Dealing with data quality: the Data Profiling Task
    Level: 200

    Session 2: Deep-dive session about improving SSIS performance given by Geert Vanhove

    Abstract: This session will address some problems that might occur when a SSIS solution needs to scale because DB and data volumes to load are getting larger. This session is not only a statement of how you can improve your SSIS performance; the impact of each optimization step is shown in action throughout the demo package that will be the red wire of this presentation...
    Level: 300

    Date: Thursday September 25, 2008
    Location: Kontich

    Registration is needed and is open at the SQLUG website.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2: resources for developers and HTML integrators


    With the release of IE8 Beta 2 you are likely to start getting more questions and more (power) end users trying this release out. In this post I’ll point out some of the new features of IE8 and then give you the most important pointers for compatibility and development.

    IE8 Beta 2 Download link.
    IE Blog with the upgrade information on beta 2.


    First things first, before checking out the new features of the browser it’s important that your visitors have a good experience browsing your site. Check out my previous post on IE8 compatibility for starters, and in addition to that there is extra information hereunder.

    With Beta 2 there is an update to the compatibility settings, here is an overview of the available choices. You can set your compatibility using the header “X-UA-Compatible”, either in the web server as a HTTP header or on the page as a meta tag.

    Compatibility Mode Value Render Behavior
    IE=5 “Quirks” mode
    IE=7 ”Standards” mode
    IE=EmulateIE7 “Quirks” mode if the page does not contain a DOCType, IE7 Strict mode otherwise
    IE=8 Internet Explorer 8 Standards mode
    IE=edge Use latest standards that Internet Explorer 8 and any future versions of the browser support. (Not recommended for production sites)

    Also important to note is that your META tag in the page will override the compatibility HTTP header if this one is also used.

    Using DOCTYPE for compatibility
    Another way of setting the desired layout of your site is using the DOCTYPE. However, setting the above mentioned X-UA-Compatible META tag will override any DOCTYPE setting.


    Developer Tools

    Developer tools are shipped with the browser, these allow you to debug Javascript, HTML and CSS (view styles, trace, edit styles), change the rendering engine so that you can easily test your layout mode, use a Javascript profiler and even save your edits in CSS and HTML.

    To call up the Developer Tools window, press F12 or click the image  icon.

    For example, I can trace CSS styles:


    Using the Layout tool I can visually see the distance between the selected object and the parent, the padding, border and margins.


    New features

    IE8 introduces a lot of new features in different domains, be it in standards support, CSS 2.1 (and some CSS3), privacy, security, performance improvements in JScript, W3C HTML5 local store, etc. I’m pointing out a few of them:

    Web Slices

    Web Slices allow a user to subscribe to a specific section of a page. For example there is one I like to use which shows me the updated statuses of my Facebook friends.

    Developing Web Slices: web slices are implemented using some specific CSS classes that do nothing in other browsers. You can now even have controls inside the WebSlice like Silverlight or Flash. To see some samples, check out a lab on MSDN code gallery:


    Just that you know, these were called Activities in IE8 beta 1 and have now been renamed to Accelerators.
    Accelerators are great for enabling users to execute an a certain action right from out on the page. For example, translating a sentence, mapping an address, blogging a quote, all from a contextual menu that is displayed when you select some text or a link. They’re implemented using the OpenService Format.

    Non-administrator ActiveX installation
    This might be of most interest at enterprise level, IE8 lets you install ActiveX controls without Administator privileges, on a per-user basis. IE8 also lets the user allow specific ActiveX controls to be enabled only on individual sites, preventing that a control would run on any other than the chosen site.

    Mutable DOM prototypes
    This is a great feature that allows you to rewrite any DOM method so that for example a certain built-in method returns the same result as in another browser. This is something I was looking for since some time!

    So now, go out and install IE8 Beta 2 (I know you’ve been waiting for it), test your site, add compat if needed and then start using all the new goodies.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    10 minutes with your DE - Data Access in .NET Framework 3.5 SP1: short video


    After the famous “10 minutes with your RD” by Regional Director Gregory Renard, I decided to get started with my own short screencast series on Chopsticks as well. I’m naming these “10 minutes with your DE”.

    My first screencast is now online, I ended up with more than 10 minutes, 13:40 to be exact… bear with me for my first cast, I’ll try keeping to the timing better as I evolve with my screen recording abilities :)

    10 minutes with your DE - # 1: Data Access Technologies with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1


    With the Service Pack 1 release for Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5, new data access technologies are available to us. In this screencast I talk about ADO.NET, ADO.NET Entity Framework, ADO.NET Data Services and more.

    Update: You can download the PowerPoint presentation here:


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Expression Blend 2: tips & tricks using the interface


    Being a developer using Expression Blend 2 (or 2.5 Preview) for implementing basic design of Silverlight or WPF applications, I’ve collected a list of my favorite shortcuts and tips to using the interface. At first it’s a whole new interface you need to get used. These are my personal most used shortcuts.

    Ctrl + mouse wheel - Zooming in and out and the interface zoom level
    The quickest way to zoom in and out in the design view is by pressing the CTRL key and using the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.
    You can also use the zoom pane at the bottom left of the central pane. 

    F6 - Switch between Design and Animation workspace
    In other words, switch between the normal workspace in which the interaction and timeline editing is shown on the left, and the timeline view at the bottom. All you need to do is press F6 to switch between the views.
    image  image 

    F4 - View artboard only (remove left and right panels)
    If you need more space to work on the artboard area (central area), you can use F4 to make the work panels disappear.
    Notice that the Properties window’s elements are still available as fly-out menus in the right:

    Ctrl + 0 – Fit to screen
    Zooms the control to fit to screen (work area, depending on what space is available).

    Ctrl + 1 - Actual size
    Zooms the control to its actual size.

    Set design-time width and height
    In case you want your Silverlight control to automatically adjust to the screen size you need to set Width and Height to Auto. However, for working in Blend it is easier if you can set a “working” width and height. You can do this by dragging the design-time height icons:
    Design-time width and height only have effect in Blend. Note the XAML that is used for this:

    <UserControl ... xmlns:d="" 
    mc:Ignorable="d" d:DesignWidth="292.261" d:DesignHeight="362.262">...

    Do you have more shortcuts or tips for the Blend interface? Leave me a comment and maybe I can do a follow-up post with all the tips from the community.


    Note: design “SpaceCute” copyright, by Dan Cook.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Two big conferences coming this fall: should I choose PDC or TechEd EMEA?


    I’m just soooo lucky: getting to be there at PDC AND also TechEd EMEA seems too good to be true. I just thank my manager :)
    We’re going to PDC with some people from the community and some customers, I’m the one from DPE Belgium who gets to go with them! And then TechEd is also quite important for me as it is the biggest European Microsoft conference. We have quite a lot of Belgians going. It’s a great opportunity to meet with your peers from all over the continent.

    So, for the majority that needs to choose either TechEd or PDC, what do you do?

    Professional Developers Conference (PDC), 27-30 October in Los Angeles, USA

    Blog Bling BrainPDC is Microsoft’s big conference for major announcements and releases. It’s the only conference where Microsoft gives you a long term view of the future of the development platform.

    Last one dates back to 2005, last year the conference was cancelled. The fact that it is taking place later this year in October does mean something: you can expect lots of new around Microsoft’s technology platform for the future.

    Just a selection of topics and sessions that have been announced:

    • Windows 7
    • Live Mesh Platform
    • Velocity Framework
    • Oslo: Managing Software + Services Applications
    • Silverlight
    • WPF
    • ASP.NET Futures
    • Entity Framework
    • Parallel Programming
    • A Day in the Life of a Cloud Service Developer
    • And much more…

    Also worth mentioning is the opening keynote with Ray Ozzie. I had the chance to see Ray Ozzie doing a keynote earlier in July and it was very inspirational. I’m looking forward to this public one.

    Win your ticket: check out the t-shirt design contest for a chance to win your free entry to PDC. hurry because the contest entries must be submitted by August 26 2008.

    TechEd EMEA, 10-14 November in Barcelona, Spain

    TechEd EMEA is the developer conference organized every year by Microsoft. Note that there is also a conference focused on IT Professionals the week before: TechEd EMEA IT Pros 2008.

    This year’s conference has more than 300 sessions divided over 15 tracks, from Architecture, Developer Tools and Languages, Office Development, , Web and User Experience, Windows Embedded, to Windows Mobile. Compared to PDC, TechEd is a conference that is geared more towards already released products and technologies, giving you guidance and training on how to use these technologies.

    In addition to the breakout and interactive sessions there is also an opportunity to meet the Microsoft Community: MVPs, Regional Directors, User Groups, meet them at the Microsoft Community Lounge. And not to forget the chance to ask all your hard questions in the Ask The Experts booths.

    If you choose to go to TechEd and are hoping for some PDC content you will be happy to see there is a special track “PDC Highlights”.


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 SP1 released today


    As has just been announced on several MSDN and product teams blogs, Service Pack 1 for .NET Framework 3.5 and for Visual Studio 2008 have been released.

    SP1 is available for Visual Studio 2008, this download includes the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 as well. Here are the downloads:

    Make sure you uninstall the Beta version for SP1 in case you have installed it previsouly.

    What is new with this Service Pack?

    There are several enhancements, for a full list please see the following blog posts:

    Note on Silverlight 2 Beta 2 Tools

    You will need to update your installation of the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 Tools for Visual Studio after installing SP1.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    patterns & practices: Improving Web Services Security – Scenarios and Implementation Guidance for WCF


    Last week the p&p group released v1 of the guidance documentation “Improving Web Services Security: Scenarios and Implementation Guidance for WCF”.

    WCF is quite a complex subject and more guidance on how to securely implement serices is very important for developers. This guidance now tackles this subject; the documentation contains 15 chapters divided into four sections:

    Part I, "Security Fundamentals for Web Services"
    Part II, "Fundamentals of WCF Security"
    Part III, "Intranet Application Scenarios"
    Part IV, "Internet Application Scenarios"


    In addition to the information packed guide there are also 24 How-To’s ranging from “How To - Create and Install Temporary Certificates in WCF for Transport Security During Development” to “How To - Use Username Authentication with Transport Security in WCF from Windows Forms”.

    It’s a 600+ page document but don’t let that hold you from reviewing the parts relating to your next WCF service implementations.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    IE8 Beta – Pointers for making your website compatible with IE8 standards rendering mode



    IE8 Beta 1 has been out for several months now and we are closing in on the release of IE8 Beta 2, which has been announced for August 2008 by the IE team. Now is a good time to get started on ensuring site compatibility with this new release.

    Because IE8 will default to standards mode for displaying HTML pages, it is possible your site will not display as it is currently doing in IE7. How can you prevent problems and what do you need to do? Let’s review the different solutions going from an absolute minimum effort to major changes in the HTML.

    This post is intended to give you a quick overview of the solutions and pointers to more detailed white papers (find these at the bottom of the post).

    Major differences between IE7 and IE8 on rendering of HTML pages

    Why is compatibility so important? IE8 will offer 3 different ways of rendering content:

    1. “Quirks mode” (IE5) remains the same, and compatible with current content.
    2. “Quirk mode” (IE7) remains the same as IE7, and compatible with current content.
    3. “Standards mode” (IE8), this is the default mode in which pages are displayed

    As IE8 is planned to have full support for the CSS 2.1 standard and implement some CSS3 functionalities, the “Standards” mode is now the default rendering mode. But as many HTML developers have worked around some differences in HTML rendering in IE7 and before, this means your site may no longer display as desired in IE8.

    Solutions for site compatibility in IE8

    First of all you should test your site against the latest IE8 beta, to make sure there are any problems present. If you already have a site that follows standards closely and used conditional statement for example, you may not have to do any changes at all.

    However, in case your site is optimized for IE7, the solutions below explain what you may do to make sure the site still displays nicely in IE8.

    Solution 1: Add HTTP header in web server (effort: low)

    This is a low effort solution if you have administrative rights to the web server(s) on which your site is running. Add an HTTP header on the server:

    X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7

    Solution 2: Add a meta tag per page (effort: medium)

    Add a HTTP-EQUIV meta tag after the <head> tag on the page:

    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />

    Solution 3: Adapting the HTML code to be standards compliant (effort: low to high depending on implementation)

    If you are making your website HTML code compliant with CSS 2.1 you might need to have changes done in the HTML. This effort however depends mostly on which workarounds or non-standards features have been implemented.

    You can also add conditional statements to keep serving non-standards CSS or content to previous browser versions.

    If you want to explicitly set that the site is IE8 standards compliant you can use the following tag:

    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8" />

    Or you can choose to add a standards mode DOCTYPE.

    Why worry now?

    Beta 2, coming out in August 2008 will most probably be downloaded by a lot more end (power) users than the previous beta 1. You certainly don’t want your visitors to experience any hick-ups while visiting your site through IE8, so that’s why now is a very good time to start working on a solution.

    Extra resources and information

    Hans Le Roy’s blog in Dutch: if you are looking for information on IE8 in Dutch this is a very good resource. Hans is a Belgian MVP on IE and has posted over 30 posts on IE8 alone.

    IE Team Blog on MSDN
    This is the major resource for all news around IE8. The team posts very frequently on supported features.

    IE8 whitepapers
    This page on MSDN code gallery contains really good white papers on the different elements that are new in IE8. Going from solutions like the one discussed above to managing Add-Ons, performance improvements, CSS 2.1 compliance and much more. A fantastic reference.

    CSS Compatbility and Internet Explorer
    This document provides tables with CSS compliance indication starting from browser version IE 5.0 to IE8. A good reference to keep close by. This allows you to easily check if a certain feature of CSS 2.1 or CSS3 is supported, and in which version.


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  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    My first TechReady experience


    I’m writing this as I’m flying home from Seattle to Brussels via Amsterdam. Feeling a bit cramped here as the person in front of me just put het seat back. But well, that’s with flights right. I have just enough space to open up my laptop and see the whole of my screen. Open up Live Writer and preparing my post-TechReady post (that does sound funny :-). I can hit Publish button as soon as we land.

    I’m returning home after attending Microsoft’s biggest internal technical conference in Seattle. Having joined last year I now got the chance to attend this 5 day, 800+ sessions event with topics for every techie’s need. It’s called TechReady, this is the 7th edition so we tend to call it TechReady7 or abbreviate to TR7.

    Although I’ve been to TechEd events before but this event does feel different, we are all part of the company and because it is held close to campus in Redmond we have the chance to see a lot more of the guys (and some girls) of the product teams. Since this is also an internal event the type of information that we get is looking ahead to the coming months, and did we get to see some very nice stuff! I wish I could write about some of it. PDC will be the time when much of it is announced publicly.

    Topics and sessions
    Without mentioning any details of future releases, I can however divulge the type of sessions I went to. We got to see and learn about the trend the company is taking is regards to software development. To give you an idea, some of the topics are these:

    • Roadmap information on the new version of Visual Studio and .NET
    • Live platform (Virtual Earth, Live APIs), new protocols
    • Live Mesh
    • Software + Services
    • and much more, not so future looking like .NET 3.5 SP1, WPF, ASP.NET, MVC, SharePoint…

    And not to forget a totally crazy session named Mobility Smackdown; If you want to get an idea of the excitement around this session check out a video made last time…

    Special sessions
    As part of DPE, Developer & Platform Evangelism, we had the chance to see Scott Guthrie and Anders Hejlsberg for two Q&A sessions. It was fascinating to have a chance to meet people that I have been looking up to since a long time.

    And not to forget the top speakers we got at the keynotes: Ray Ozzie, Norm Judah, Kevin Turner and producer John Landau speaking about the new Avatar movie.

    TechReady was also an opportunity to meet some of my peers from over the world: Marc (he has an original domain name :), Quixing, Mitsu, Paolo, Mike, Jorge, and so many others!

    Seattle is an international hub during this week, or that’ what the sales guy at the sports store told me.

    Oh, is it true that it always rains in Seattle? The event was held last week, this is the middle of Summer, but we did manage to get rain a few times. So I guess it is true after all…

    TechReady7 logo at the Convention Center in Seattle.

    100_0533 View from the Space Needle onto Seattle downtown.


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