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    My favorite tools to optimize Visual Studio for webdev


    How do we make Visual Studio play nicer with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery, in other words more of the front-end webdev stuff?

    Visual Studio 2010, be it the Ultimate, (free) Web Developer Express or other version, is not fully optimized for front-end web development out of the box. But don’t let the default VS2010 install fool you. There is a combination of community effort and tooling enhancements by Microsoft that make VS2010 play nicer to webdevs.

    In this post you can find a collection of my favorite extensions and tools to make Visual Studio handy for web devs. I’m focusing on the tools I have used and installed myself, knowing that there are others out there. Do you have any additions for the list? Please let me know so I can add them here!

    Most of the extensions I discuss can be installed using the Extension Manager (Tools > Extension Manager). You can also download extensions through the Visual Studio Gallery.

    Web Standards Update for Visual Studio

    Web Standards Update for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1

    Download Web Standards Update for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1

    This is the first tool I would recommend for introducing HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript enhancements to the editor. Released by the Visual Web Developer team at Microsoft it includes HTML5 schema support, CSS3 and improved JavaScript IntelliSense.
    Although Visual Studio Service Pack 1 did bring some HTML5 schema support I advise installing this extension for improved support.

    More info at Mads Kristensen’s blog: Web Standards Update - behind the scenes

    JScript Editor Extensions

    Download JScript Editor Extensions

    You might have seen my previous quick tip on these extensions. JScript Editor Extensions are a welcome addition to the IDE.
    If you are used to having full fledged IDE optimized for C# development, things like word highlighting, outlining and brace matching are a given. Not so with JavaScript, until you install this extension.

    (outlining functions example in some jQuery code)

    After installing JScript Editor Extensions you’ll get the option to Enable/Disable four different extensions: Brace Matching, JScript Intellisense <Para>, Outlining and Word Highlighter. Knowing that sometimes installing a specific extension conflicts with one of these it’s a nice option.


    Make sure you check out the Channel9 video for a live demo of the extensions.

    Mindscape Web Workbench

    Download the Mindscape Web Workbench.

    Scott Hanselman has a great (as always) post on this new “Mindscape Web Workbench” extension for Visual Studio, adding support for CoffeeScript, SAAS and LESS.
    Too many new extensions for you? Don’t worry if you haven’t been doing front-end web dev lately it’s normal they sound crazy.

    • Coffeescript: CoffeeScript is a little language that compiles into JavaScript.
    • SAAS: Sass is an extension of CSS3, adding variables, mixins, selector inheritance, and more. It’s translated to well-formatted, standard CSS. With the Visual Studio extension conversion into standard CSS is automated.
    • LESS: LESS is similar to SASS in that it also adds support for variables, mixins and more but instead of having a server side or plugin translate the code into standard CSS it runs via a JavaScript library on the client.


    Download JSLint.VS2010

    This is an extension of JSLint for Visual Studio, as I’m sure you are aware of by reading the tool’s title. You probably can’t escape doing web front-end without using any JavaScript. But what about applying patterns and validating code? JSLint, a code quality tool is a solution for this.

    It will hurt your feelings, that’s the promise of JSLint. No, seriously that’s their tagline but it’s more of a warning on how JSLint will hurt your feelings at the beginning but in the end make you a much better JavaScript developer. Writing JavaScript without applying patterns and best practices leaves your code unmaintainable.
    JSLint will apply a set of rules to validate your code and report issues. It helps you enforce usage of patterns and overall code structure.


    (//note there is a lot wrong with this little script, although it does run it’s just for demo)

    You can also try the online version at

    jQuery IntelliSense

    Getting IntelliSense support for jQuery in your ASP.NET MVC 3 projects is already be happening. The default template contains the -.vsdoc.js files which have been commented for Visual Studio IntelliSense. If you want to add this support to another project just install the NuGet package “jQuery.vsdoc”, however the vsdoc files are now included in the default jQuery package so you should get them by default (jQuery version 1.6 and up).



    Image Optimizer (by Mads Kristensen)

    Download Image Optimizer

    A nice little extension integrated into Vial Studio, which uses SmushIt and PunyPNG for optimizing the images. Run it on a folder of images in Visual Studio to have all the images optimized. Gains of 15% to 40% are not unusual with some files I tried out.


    Other tools, not tested

    • JSEnhancements: Similar to JSscript Editor Extensions, it provides outlining and matching braces highlighting for JavaScript and CSS editor.
    • CSS 3 intellisense schema
    • Chirpy: VS Add In For Handling Js, Css, and DotLess Files
    • ReSharper 6, already used by lots of developers also has support for JavaScript and CSS (note this one is not free)

    ASP.NET MVC & HTML5 templates

    As I was working on this post a tweet by @maartenballiauw got my attention:


    So I did just that in the Visual Studio (NuGet) Package Manager console for an ASP.NET MVC3 project. This package adds support to MVC EditorTemplates for new HTML5 input types such as E-mail, Tel and URL. Technically not a tool for my list but interesting to mention here anyway.

    So that’s it for my current list. Don’t forget, add your favorite tools to the list by leaving a comment.

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    TechDays 2011 – Developer track sessions update


    TechDays 2011 on April 25 to 28th will bring more than 25 different developer track speakers to Belgium. While most of the sessions can be viewed through filtering in the Sessions tools on the website, I’d thought it might be useful to have them in a list form as well. I’ve mentioned (Deep Dive Post Conference) to the ones that occur on April 28th which is our Deep Dives day.
    Don’t forget: early bird discount ends February 28th 2011!

    Note: also take a look at the IT-Professional sessions update that my colleague Arlindo blogged about.

    Sessions and speakers

    Trends in Programming Languages - Bart De Smet
    Lately, we’ve seen many industry trends shaping the evolution of programming languages in various directions. The many-core revolution has forced us to think hard about ways to leverage the massively parallel architectures available to the masses. Cloud, web, and mobile programming have put additional emphasis on the need for asynchrony in our applications. Dynamic languages are going through a rebirth, driven by a desire to shy away from schematized data, and accelerated by the renaissance of JavaScript. Oh, and we can’t count out native languages either, with C++0x’s final draft lurking around the corner.
    In this session, we’ll discuss modern trends in programming languages, correlating those to everyday developer tasks. Come and learn why functional programming matters, how F# fits in the language landscape, why dynamic and native languages deserve a second chance, how frameworks like TPL and Rx help with asynchronous programming, and – last but not least – what the future of C# and Visual Basic has to bring.
    Don’t miss out on sharpening your knowledge about your single most important developer tool: the language you use to express your coding dreams.

    Introducing Agile Into The Enterprise - Phil Japikse
    Scrum and XP have found a strong following in the development community. But most non-development groups (such as Web Administrators, Production Support, Security, Testing, and Users/Stake Holders) inside the enterprise are far from agile, nor are they trying to move to be more agile. This session starts with a refresher on Scrum, and then uses real experiences from large enterprise development projects to show how to effectively work with those teams. Instead of trying to "convert" them, we discuss strategies to adapt to their needs while remaining agile in the development realm.

    Silverlight, Windows Phone 7, Windows Azure, jQuery, OData and RIA Services. Shaken, not stirred - Maarten Balliauw and Kevin Dockx
    Have you ever been jealous of James Bond and his gadgets? Don’t be: as a .NET developer you have plenty of cool gadgets at hand. If you are interested in how our .NET gadgets can be mixed together, let Kevin and Maarten guide you along the path of building a live event feedback application that leverages Silverlight, Windows Phone 7, Windows Azure, jQuery, OData and RIA Services.
    This is the perfect session to give you an update on the newest technologies to build web, Silverlight, client and phone applications.

    Switch on the LightSwitch - Gill Cleeren
    Microsoft LightSwitch is a new part of the Visual Studio family and makes it possible to more easily create create professional-quality business applications for the desktop, the web, and the cloud. The big question of course: Is LightSwitch something for you? In this session, you’ll get the answer!
    We'll show how you can build professional LOB applications quickly using LightSwitch. We will cover why you should look at LightSwitch, binding to data, and building out the user interface. LightSwitch is however more than just some predefined screens: developers will love it for its extensibility, which we’ll cover deeply.
    Note: LightSwitch is currently still in Beta.

    To OData or Not to OData - Chris Eargle
    The Open Data Protocol is an open, RESTful protocol that utilizes existing standards such as HTTP, AtomPub, XML, and JSON. A service using OData is resource-oriented by its nature, contrasting it with the operation-based, RPC-styled services typified by SOAP. There is a movement toward RESTful services, but care must be taken to identify whether a service should be designed resource or operation oriented. Participants will also learn the advantages of the OData protocol and other RESTful technologies.

    WCF Web APIs, HTTP your way - Glenn Block
    Are you building Web APIs for reaching any device, enabling mash-ups, or providing highly connected Web experiences? Then come to this session and learn how to build Web APIs your way with Windows Communication Foundation. We put you in control of patterns (REST, pub/sub, RPC, Hypertext) and formats (XML, JSON, URIs, Atom, OData) and enable you to leverage new technologies to build Web APIs exactly the way you want them.

    ASP.NET MVC 3 - Deep Dive - Hadi Hariri
    In this talk we’ll discuss the internals of ASP.NET MVC 3. We’ll see what extensibility points it offers us, how we can change things and where the pain points continue to be despite its third incarnation. This is a deep-dive coding session.

    Rock Hard: C++ Evolving - Boris Jabes
    From Kinect to capacitive touch devices, users increasingly demand immersive experiences with amazing responsiveness and performance. With a new standard (C++0x) almost finalized, the largest in over a decade, C++ is poised for renewed importance. C++0x brings with it improvements in expressiveness and performance that are too numerous to cover. In this talk, we'll highlight mind-bending examples on the bleeding edge that give you an insight into the unique capabilities of C++ in the 21st century. Language geeks, join us for a lively conversation about a truly multi-paradigm language. Weary managed developers, come discover how C++ could be the language for your next evening project. Exalted C++ programmers, please honor us with your presence!

    Data in the cloud and on-premise: A Look at the Forthcoming SQL Azure Services – SQL Azure Data Sync and SQL Azure Reporting - Mark Scurrell
    In addition to SQL Azure Database, new SQL Azure services will be available in the near future.  In this session you’ll learn about the capabilities of these new services, in what scenarios they can be used and see them in action.  Data movement capabilities are critical for cloud-based applications; with SQL Azure Data Sync you will be able to share data between on-premises SQL Server and SQL Azure databases as well as between multiple SQL Azure databases, allowing you to link on-premises and cloud-based applications and make data available to users around the world.  Reporting and visualization of data stored in SQL Azure will be enabled with SQL Azure Reporting.  See how reports can be authored, deployed and made available to users on the web or embedded in applications.

    Windows Phone and XNA for Fun, Games, Profit and Physics - Rob Miles
    Windows Phone 7 is a great gaming platform. In this session you will find out how to create your own games using C#, Visual Studio 2010 and XNA and run them on the phone. You will discover how to use the touch screen and accelerometer in the phone to get player input to create fun packed games with real physics. Rob will also reveal how to get your games on sale in the Windows Phone Marketplace and maybe make a fortune. With plenty of demos and game ideas to explore this session will give a flying start to your mobile gaming career.

    SharePoint 2010 Patterns and Best Practices - Serge Luca & Karine Bosch
    In this session, you will have an overview of the work recently delivered by the Patterns and Practices group related to SharePoint 2010.
    The session will also cover the role of Team Foundation Server 2010 as a major tool in any SharePoint 2010 project.
    Some Unit testing frameworks like Microsoft PEX and Moles in the specific context of SharePoint 2010 will also be illustrated.
    This session is also interesting for developers working on SharePoint 2007.

    HTML 5 - that's what you need to know today! - Ingo Rammer
    With Version 9 of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has set out to deliver one of the most standards-compliant  browsers to date. In this code-heavy session, Ingo will show you what HTML 5 (the driving force behind most of today's browser development) offers today and how you can take advantage of client-side storage of data, offline caching of web applications, canvas-based drawing, embedded microdata, semantic information, and corresponding extension to input elements. You will learn how to detect the various browsers' support for different features in your application and will also hear about advanced features like web workers and web sockets which will allow tomorrow's browsers to create user-friendly environments which can rival today's desktop applications in a cross-platform way.

    Demystifying the .NET Asynchronous Programming Landscape - Bart De Smet
    Asynchronous programming is no longer an option, it’s become a must on various platforms, including Silverlight, Windows Phone 7, and various data-centric frameworks. Unfortunately, dealing with asynchrony is way too hard in today's world of development tools and frameworks. The huge amount of manual and error-prone plumbing leads to incomprehensible and hard to maintain code. As we reach out to services in the cloud, the desire for asynchronous computation is ever increasing, requiring a fresh look on the problems imposed by reactive programming.
    In this session, we explore various methodologies to address asynchronous programming, and explain how they relate and differ. First, we’ll explore existing patterns and libraries – such as the TPL – to sketch some of the pain-points. Armed with this knowledge, we’ll approach the problem from different angles, including a language-centric view with F#’s asynchronous workflows and the upcoming async and await features in C# and Visual Basic. Next, we’ll move beyond sequential composition of asynchronous computations, and introduce the Reactive Extensions (Rx) that enable you to express rich queries – even using LINQ syntax – over asynchronous push-based “reactive” event streams.

    Designing and Building a Windows Phone 7 Application End-to-End - Isabel Gomez Miragaya & Katrien De Graeve
    This session addresses an end-to-end scenario for building a Windows Phone 7 application that takes advantage of the top features of the phone OS as well as using the Cloud. Our session is comprised of the following main topics:
    - design and build a Silverlight application with Expression Blend and Visual Studio 2010, taking advantage of controls, animations, transformations, transitions (projections), splash screen animation, data binding, …
    - usage of Windows Phone specific features such as Push Notifications, Tasks, location services and mapping, and address tombstoning
    - usage of Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) architecture
    - OData WCF service to talk with the cloud in Windows Azure, Windows Azure Storage and SQL Azure
    Dare to take all of this in, in just 75 minutes? Join us!

    Building Robust, Maintainable Coded UI Tests with Visual Studio 2010 - Brian Keller
    Coded UI tests allow developers to create fully-automated, functional UI tests which can be used to quickly alert a team about regressions. These are easy to create, but can become tricky to build in a robust manner which can sustain changes to your application over time. In this demo-rich session we will examine patterns and practices you can employ for building great coded UI tests.

    Identity & Access Control in the Cloud with Windows Azure - Vittorio Bertocci
    If you don’t yet know what claims-based identity is, it’s time to get busy. Signing users in and granting them access is a core function of almost every cloud-based application, and claims-based identity is the best way to take care of that. In this session we will show you how to simplify your user experience by enabling users to sign in with an existing account such as a Windows Live ID, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, or on-premises Active Directory account, implement access control, and make secure connections between applications. You will learn how the AppFabric Access Control Service, Windows Identity Foundation, and Active Directory Federation Services use a claims-based identity architecture to help you to take advantage of the shift toward the cloud while still fully leveraging your on-premises investments.

    LINQ, take two – Realizing the LINQ to Everything dream - Bart De Smet
    At PDC a few years back, we introduced the LINQ project to solve the impedance mismatch between various data models by means of integrated query syntax in mainstream programming languages. Today, we’re seeing a rich ecosystem around LINQ providers that allow developers to reach out to many more data models. However, there’s a lot of opportunity left to democratize even more data models.
    Based on the theory of monads, we’ll explore the incredibly powerful nature of query comprehensions to do things like constraint solving using Z3 and Solver Foundation, build reactive queries with the Reactive Extensions, carry out various forms of query optimization, split execution of queries across tiers, etc. In addition, we revisit the art of writing query providers, introducing some novel approaches to ensure better compile-time checking. After this talk, you’ll truly understand the (underestimated) power that LINQ has brought us.

    Windows Azure AppFabric: Building, Managing, and Connecting High-Density, Multi-Tenant Cloud Applications - Clemens Vasters
    Windows Azure AppFabric is Microsoft’s next-generation middleware application platform in the cloud, providing access control with federated identity, high-density, multi-tenant component-hosting, caching services, on-premise connectivity, rich publish/subscribe messaging, and integration services. In this session, Clemens Vasters, an Architect on the AppFabric product team at Microsoft will provide an overview of the AppFabric services that are already commercially available and the new services that Microsoft will bring to market until the end of this year.

    MEF in the real world - Glenn Block
    No this is not yet another MEF 101 talk J Since MEF V1 shipped, we’ve seen a ton of folks building extensible solutions and frameworks including a host of OSS solutions. In this talk we will explore these real world solutions and how MEF plays in. The list will include frameworks like MefContrib, RavenDB, Caliburn and the Silverlight Media Framework. As a bonus, will also take a sneak peak at what is to come in MEF v2.

    Parallel Programming in .NET 4.0 - Tasks and Threading
    Scaling applications to the current and future multiple-core machines can really be a daunting task --- but it doesn't have to be! In this session, Ingo Rammer shows you the new task-based API and how it simplifies the creation of multi-core supporting applications. You will learn how you can take advantage of the fine-grained parallelism and control which is offered by this new .NET feature. Ingo will also show you how to extend your in-memory LINQ query to run in parallel, and how the new Visual Studio 10 debugging tools will make troubleshooting this kind of applications a lot easier.

    Dive into Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2010 - Brian Keller (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    This session starts our Deep Dive post-conference into Application Lifecycle Management.
    In this demo-rich session we will take a tour of many of the new capabilities of Visual Studio 2010 for application lifecycle management. This includes a look at the new build automation, project management, branching and merging, and related capabilities of Team Foundation Server 2010. We will also look at the new design and modeling tools and software testing capabilities of Visual Studio 2010.

    Architecting for a cost effective Windows Azure solution - Maarten Balliauw (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    Cloud computing and platforms like Windows Azure promise to be “the next big thing” in IT. This is certainly true as there are a lot of advantages with cloud computing: computing and storage become an on-demand story that you can use at any time, paying only for its effective usage. But this also poses a problem: if a cloud application is designed like one would design a regular application chances are that the cost perspective of that application will not be as expected. This session covers common pitfalls and hints on improving the cost effectiveness of a Windows Azure solution.

    Implementing Lean Software Delivery with Kanban and Team Foundation Server 2010 - Adam Gilmore (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    Kanban is becoming an important tool for teams wishing to become agile and continuously improve their processes. In this session we'll discuss why and how to implement a Kanban system for your team. In adddition, we'll demonstrate how to use Team Foundation Server 2010 to model and visualise your existing processes as a Kanban board and how you use this to drive improvement in your project.

    Ubiquitous Communication with the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus - Christian Weyer (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    Today's applications are faced with several communication and connectivity obstacles in their daily life. Often secured connections are not allowed through firewalls and NAT devices at all. What to do if you need ubiquitous connectivity? Windows Azure AppFabric's Service Bus can be seen as the Swiss Army Knife of communication. Christian Weyer shows you how to build mighty cross-platform communication patterns like publish/subscribe – all in a secure manner, programmed with WCF or pure REST.

    Advanced Debugging with Visual Studio 2010 - Ingo Rammer (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    In the newest version of Ingo's classic talk you will learn how to make the most out of your debugging time with Visual Studio 2010. Ingo will show you the most important advanced debugging techniques, including the use of Intellitrace and how to prepare your applications to take advantage of crashdump debugging with Visual Studio 2010 (which is quite likely the number #1 feature to dramatically reduce your bug-hunting time for hard-to-reproduce issues.)

    Practical Guidance on Visual Studio Database Projects - Jens K. Suessmeyer (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    Most of the applications today are based on a database backend. While common application development makes it easy to deploy database changes and maintain source code in source control it was always hard getting your database code supported throughout the versions of the application. With Visual Studio Database Projects, you can ease your development, deployment and change management using the integration in Visual Studio and team Foundation server. While giving you the fundamentals of what database development under Visual Studio Database Projects means, we will also jump into the culprits you might face in reality. We will show you how the published Database Guidance on Codeplex can help you preventing common problems and getting around limitations you might face in your daily work.

    Real World Azure: Elasticity from on-premise to Cloud (and back) - Christian Weyer (Deep Dive Post Conference)
    All the talk about the Cloud and the Windows Azure platform. But where does it make sense? In this session, Christian shows you one example of how you can leverage the pros of Windows Azure and SQL Azure in order to expand your web-based data-driven applications from a local installation into the cloud. Whether you want to handle predictable or likely unpredictable bursts or you want to prepare for moving your existing applications into the Cloud: experience a hands-on demonstration powered by IIS, SQL Server, Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Sync Services and PowerShell.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Quick tip: (free) JScript Editor Extensions for Visual Studio


    As more and more sites and web applications take advantage of JavaScript, it’s always nice to have better editor support for the language in our Visual Studio tools.

    There is a free extension for Visual Studio available for a few months already, which I only now found out through a newly released video on Channel9: Visual Studio Toolbox: JScript Editor Extensions.

    Damian Edwards, a member of the ASP.NET team at Microsoft joins this episode to demo the JScript Editor Extensions and talk about what can be expected in Visual Studio vNext.
    Enabling things like brace matching, outlining regions, highlighting instances of a word and more, it’s going to be a welcome addition to anyone doing JavaScript code in VS.

    >> Download the extension
    Watch the Channel9 video


    Note: if you’re looking for more or extending these extensions you can start by viewing or downloading the source code from these extensions from Codeplex.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Internet Explorer 9 – Platfom Preview 3 available


    After the first preview shown and made available at MIX 2010 in March, Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview 3 is now available for download and testing. This is, as with the previous two versions, a preview build without any navigation functionality. It’s really made to let you test the rendering and performance.
    Read the full post by the IE team: HTML5, Native- Third IE9 Platform Preview Available for Developers.

    We encourage you to try out this build and participate by giving your feedback.

    Lots new stuff, a few highlights:

    Download, test your sites, give feedback and give the special Test Drive demos a spin!

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools Beta available


    The Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools Beta version have just been released and are available for download now.
    After the CTP first shown during MIX10 in March and a refresh in April it’s now time for getting your hands on the beta. If you have the previous CTP version installed, make sure you read the installation notes and uninstall the previous version. There are also breaking changes, which I recommend reviewing as well.

    This is one single download that installs the following tools, as always completely free:

    • Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone (it will install as an add-in if you have VS2010 RTM installed)
    • Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone – this is version of Blend that only works for Windows Phone projects, and yes totally free. It’s actually the only Expression Blend release that is free.
    • Windows Phone Emulator
    • XNA Game Studio 4.0

    For full coverage and background info, developer device availability, and a virtual training please see the Windows Phone team blog post.

    Upgrading your CTP project: to upgrade your project, nothing better than this extensive post by Jaime Rodriguez: Migrating apps from Windows Phone April CTP Refresh to the beta build.

    So, what are you waiting for?

    Have fun! Smile

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Quick tip: Changing document and browser mode with developer toolbar (Internet Explorer 9)


    The Developer Toolbar in Internet Explorer 9 Beta, which you can call by pressing F12, allows you to set the current page’s Document and Browser modes.
    Useful when having issues with some older sites, but also when checking rendering for your own site with different settings.




    Quick tip’ posts are short, useful posts pointing to content and tricks that might otherwise go lost in a typical 140 chars on Twitterverse.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Windows Azure – installing SDK, tools and creating a first cloud project


    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 When you receive the token via e-mail you will need to claim it at

    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:

    Windows Azure SDK and pre-requisites

    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:

    Installing the SDK and tools

    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.

    Creating a Cloud Web Role Service and debugging using Visual Studio

    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:

    • Development Fabric
    • Developmnet Storage (which I’m not using at the moment)


    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.

    Deploying the project on the cloud

    Creating the project on Azure Services Developer Portal

    Two types of projects can be configured at the portal for Windows Azure at

    • Storage Account
    • Hosted services

    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.


    Deploying to the cloud

    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.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Composite Application Guidance for WPF and Silverlight, v2


    The patterns & practices team at Microsoft has released version 2 of the Composite Application Guidance (previously called Prism), now with support for WPF and Silverlight.

    If you are looking for guidance in building modular WPF and Silverlight line-of-business applications, this should be your first stop. Included in this release:

    • Composite Application Library
    • Reference Implementation (Stock Traders application in WPF and Silverlight)
    • Quick starts
    • How-Tos
    • Lots of documentation for everything you want to know about UI patterns  and client architectures

    Looking at how to share source code between a Silverlight and WPF application? There is a tool that helps you do this. ProjectLinker links source files from project one and will make sure they stay synchronized in the second project.

    pnp.gifPatterns & Practices Composite Applications Guidance on MSDN (links to downloads from here)
    Community on CodePlex

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Virtual Earth Silverlight Map Control (CTP), using Deep Zoom technology


    Talking to some colleagues the other day, I showed them a cool sample application that is available to show off the Silverlight VE Map control, which has been released in CTP mode at MIX09. The application uses Silverlight Deep Zoom technology to zoom into the location from a Twitter user and show it on the map. Check it out:, it’s created by Earthware and hosted on Windows Azure.

    This gave us the idea of offering our office visitors a cool way to locate the Microsoft Belgium office. That said, I put up a sample in a few minutes. I’m planning to add some functionality like adding route calculation, for which I’ll be using the Virtual Earth Web Services. In this post though, I’m using only the map control. It literally takes less than 30 minutes from downloading the CTP to getting the map on the Silverlight app.


    You will need either Silverlight 2 or Silverlight 3 beta runtime, SDK and tools for Visual Studio. The Silverlight pre-requisities can be downloaded from

    Virtual Earth Silverlight Map Control CTP
    In order to get access to the VE Silverlight CTP you need to go to the Microsoft Connect site, login or sign-up, fill in the survey and then you will get access to the downloads section.

    Adding the map control to the Silverlight application

    First we need to create a new Silverlight project in Visual Studio. In that project, make sure to add a reference to the Microsoft.VirtualEarth.MapControl.dll (found in the install directory you chose for the VE Silverlight map control).


    To add the map control first add a namespace reference and then call the Map control in XAML.

    <ve:Map x:Name="veMap" Mode="Aerial" ZoomLevel="1" /> </UserControl>

    Adding this will show the Virtual Earth map zoomed out to the maximum.


    Zooming in to a location

    To zoom in to a location I got the longitude and latitude and pass that on to the map. At the same time I’m switching from Aerial to Road mode. The user can still use the default map controls to go back to Aerial mode. In this case I’m zooming in to the location of the MS Belgium office.

    private void NavigateHome(int zoom)
         Location homeLongLat = new Location(50.890995015145464, 4.45862411989244);
         veMap.Mode = new RoadMode();
         veMap.View = new MapViewSpecification(homeLongLat, zoom);

    This will zoom in into the Belgium office location.



    Further reading

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    PDC 2008 – Regional Directors share their thoughts (Dutch)


    Peter Himschoot and Gill Cleeren, Regional Directors, both share their thoughts on what PDC 2008 is for them: from the main announcement around the new cloud platform to Windows 7 to new features in C# and .NET 4.0.

    Watch the video we shot on location during the PDC conference and learn what you should be doing today to be up to date with the latest developments on the Microsoft platform.

    Be sure to check out their blogs: Peter Himschoot, and Gill Cleeren who has basically all the information you need to get synced on all the PDC stuff.

    Note: this video is in Dutch.


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Unity for Silverlight by P&P group has been released


    The Patterns & Practices group at Microsoft has just released Unity for Silverlight, which is the “Unity Application Block 1.2” ported to Silverlight 2.

    Unity Application Block 1.2 for Silverlight - December 2008


  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Seven things you didn’t know about me


    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* ;-)

    1. My first (non-professional) interest in computers and Internet came when I started using Compuserve back in 95 (just before there was a normal Internet provider here in Belgium). I had no idea I would be doing something with it professionally but if it weren’t for Compuserve and later my boyfriend (now husband) wanting a website I would have never evolved in that direction.
    2. I have been working at Microsoft Belgium for a little over a year now as a Developer Evangelist, previously I worked for 7 years for a web agency named LBi. One of the things I like most about the job at Microsoft is the fact that I can (and must) try out all the latest technologies. There’s something new every week and my only regret is I do not have time to learn about all of them. There’s a lot coming out at Microsoft :-)
    3. While in my last year at LBi I was doing SharePoint development and I actually liked it! Everyone (that is non SharePoint developers) laughs when I say this...
    4. Gaming is not really my thing, I love some of the social games and even bought one Xbox game once but after finishing two races I never touched it again.
    5. I’m Belgian but spent a large part of my childhood and teenager years in Portugal. I speak fluent Portuguese and sometimes even consider Portuguese to be my mother tongue instead of Dutch.
    6. In 2008 I did something crazy not too typical of me: a parachute jump! You can see a glimpse of it in this video. During the rest of the year I try to keep it to normal sports: fitness, jogging, dancing, when time allows that is.
    7. I like photography and would like to learn more about it in 2009. Maybe even video as well. It must be so cool to know how to do some nice video and photo editing.

    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:

    1. Koen Van Tolhuyzen
    2. Lynn Langit
    3. Arturo Toledo
    4. Pieter Gheysens
    5. Gill Cleeren
    6. Gregory Renard
    7. Mitsu Furuta

    Here are the rules if you are tagged:

    • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
    • Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
    • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
    • Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter
  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Multi-mania 09 and a Meet & Greet with Laurent Bugnion


    Multi-mania is a great multimedia event taking place on 18th and 19th May in XPO Kortrijk. It’s organized by the PIH school and welcomes some great speakers and a lot of visitors every year. Lots of sessions around motion graphics, RIA technologies, media, gaming, etc.
    This year there’s also a special event around gaming and entrepreneurship: the Microsoft Enterpreneurship Forum.

    Silverlight 3 and Expression Blend 3 sessions

    For Multi-mania we have asked Laurent Bugnion, MVP Silverlight, book author and all-round WPF and Silverlight master, to come back to Belgium and do one session. Luckily for us Laurent didn’t hesitate and agreed to come by. After a visit in March for TechDays, he’s back to do a session on Expression Blend 3 and SketchFlow. I tell you, if you to do any prototyping SketchFlow is a must see session!

    And let’s not forget, there is also a session by our own Belgian Gill Cleeren on Silverlight 3. Silverlight 3 Beta came out in March during MIX09. You’ll see what is new with this version including pixel shaders, perspective 3D, out of browser support, media improvements and more.

    Meet & Greet, together with the Belgian Silverlight User Group

    { THE DOCTOR IS HERE, TELL ME WHERE IT HURTS... } - under this motto the BESUG is organizing a get together with Laurent Bugnion. Got any questions, issues with Silverlight 2 and 3 or Expression Blend? This is the perfect time to join the group and get your answers.

    You can Laurent and the BESUG in Kortrijk on the 18th of May at 18h30. Get-together takes place at the PIH school, registration and location info on the MS Community site.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    3’ on Blend 3 - #5: SketchFlow – Getting feedback into Blend


    In this video we continue on where we left off in the previous video: after letting the customer or reviewer give feedback on our application, we now see how to import feedback files into Blend. We also see how this feedback can be shown in the different screens and how Blend informs you about out of date feedback.

    #5 – SketchFlow – Feedback into Blend


    3 minutes on Expression Blend 3: SketchFlow Player

    The 3 minutes on Blend 3 series:

  • 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.

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