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Cool New Stuff on CodePlex

Cool New Stuff on CodePlex

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In the last few weeks there have been a number of interesting new projects added to CodePlex that you may want to check out.

Resource Application Block

Stephen Phillips has just checked in a complete application block to the EntLibContrib project. We haven't got around to packaging together an official "release" in a while, so you'll need to grab the code directly from the Source Code tab for now (but hopefully someone, maybe even me, will put their Release Manager hat on soon!).

So what's the Resource Application Block all about? Here's what the docs have to say:

The Resource Application Block is all about resource management, localization and globalization. The Resource Application Block gives developers a provider model to get to resources from a variety of different sources and source types using the features of the Enterprise Library 3.1. All configuration of those resources naturally uses the Enterprise Library Configuration Console.
The developer is not limited to the providers out-of-the-box but can extend the block by adding providers of their own in the normal Enterprise Library extensible fashion.

p&p Documentation Tools

The patterns & practices documentation team, consisting of Nelly Delgado, RoAnn Corbisier, Tim Osborn and additional contract writers too numerous to mention, have for a long time been investing in tools to streamline the development and publication of technical documentation. If any of you have ever tried to put together CHM or HxS help files, complete with links, indexes, TOCs and integrated API docs, you'll understand why these tools were developed.

While most people are probably unaware of the existence or the need for these tools, those that knew about them have been pestering the doc team for years asking if they could use the tools themselves. The answer was always along the lines of "sorry, we'd love to help, but the tools were designed for internal use". However the pestering must have finally paid off, as these tools have now been cleaned up, documented and published on CodePlex for the entire world to try. Here's what the team has to say about the Doc Tools:

We are pleased to announce the availability of the patterns & practices Documentation Tools. These are the tools that have been used to create the accompanying documentation for many p&p projects, including the Enterprise Library, Smart Client Software Factory, Web Client Software Factory, and Web Service Software Factory. The tools allow authors to create guidance using Word 2007 and produce documentation in HTML, Help 1.0 (CHM), or Help 2.0 (HxS) format.

The Documentation Tools include three binaries that you can install:

  • Content Template. This is a Microsoft Word 2007 add-in and template that provides the p&p Content ribbon bar and pre-defined styles to create and format content.
  • Master TOC Tool. This tool allows you to specify one or more Word documents to be converted by the conversion tools.
  • Conversion Tool. This tool consists of transforms and Powershell scripts that convert your content (written in the Word template and specified in the Master TOC) to HTML, Help 1.0 (CHM), or Help 2.0 (HxS) format.

Hawkeye

Corneliu Tusnea is a consultant from Readify and the development lead on my current project at the Microsoft Solutions Development Centre. Corneliu knows more about the inner workings of the .NET CLR than almost anyone outside Microsoft, and for some time he's been using these powers for good (and maybe just a little bit of evil) by developing a debugging tool called Hawkeye. This tool lets you attach to a running .NET application to view and modify its properties. The tool has been available for a while, but (probably because I keep him too busy at the SDC to continue to maintain the code himself :-) he's just released the source code to CodePlex. Here are a few more words about the tool from the site:

Debugging a managed Windows application is, most of the time, not an easy task. Thus, any tool that can help will make your life easier. Hawkeye is the only .NET tool that allows you to view, edit, analyze and invoke (almost) any object from a .NET application. Whenever you try to debug, test, change or understand an application, Hawkeye can help. With a unique option to Attach to any running .NET process, Hawkeye offers an impressive set of functionalities seen in no other product.

  • PingBack from http://www.alvinashcraft.com/2008/03/22/dew-drop-march-22-2008/

  • The RAB (Resource Application Block) seems promising.

    When deploying applications used in villages using uncommon dialects of low-density (uncommon) languages, such as the Hmong tribes in northern Laos, you need to allow power users of your apps modifying the resources used in the application to simplify training and raise understanding.

    That's the extreme, but coming back into common enterprise scenarios, why not allow users themselves to participate in the process of localizing your line of business apps? Especially if you can keep it dynamic and with a constant feedback loop. The RAB can help break the pattern of keeping this data stale..

  • For p&p Documentation Tools, where does Sandcastle fits in

  • Wow, that Resource Application Block is useful!

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