February 2004 - Posts
The DevTeach 2004 spouse program announced was announced this week. It's a great way to go to a developers conference and bring your spouse along with you. Montreal is such a beautiful city in the summertime.
Jean-René Roy is working hard to add value to DevTeach. If you haven't checked the content of this conference do it now !
The GUVSM is hosted at Brinkster and we were sending the monthly emails to our members using their SMTP server but since they moved us onto a different server, we simply can't send emails to our mailing list anymore. Looks like they limit the number of emails that are being sent.
I was looking for a solution and found the Email Publisher service from Topica. I sent our first email using that service and I was pleasently surprised at how easy and fast everything was setup. Anyone has good or bad stories to share with me ?
Microsoft .NET Compact Framework Kick Start
Authors: Erik Rubin, Ronnie Yates
Publisher: Sams Publishing
Retail Price: $34.99 US, $52.99 CDN
Publication Date: October 2003
Paperback: 578 pages
Online information: Table of content, source code, authors biographies
When I received Microsoft .NET Compact Framework Kick Start, I was exited because of a few things. First, SAMS Kick Start series is targeted at experienced developers who want to get up to speed really fast on a new technology. Secondly, the authors worked on the .NET Compact Framework. Who better to write about this than the people who helped created it? Well, I was wrong. I disliked this book for numerous reasons, the first one because it simply does not fill its goal as a kick start. The chapters are in a strange order. Can someone explain me why the logic of putting the multithreading chapter at the beginning of the book? It’s like trying to dance before learning to walk! I also found that the authors keep the explanations on a surface level. Lastly, the book never states how to obtain the source code.
Can then Microsoft .NET Compact Framework Kick Start serves as a reference book? Maybe but with all its flaws, I simply can’t recommend it.
Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework: Architecture and Best Practices for Mobile Development
Authors: Dan Fox, Jon Box
Retail Price: $49.99 US, $75.99 CDN
Publication Date: October 2003
Paperback: 367 pages
Online information: Authors biographies, Index, Chapter 5
Author online information: Source code
Mobile devices like Pocket PCs are more and more popular and enterprises are starting to see them not just as fancy toys for geeks but as useful business tools. If you are asked to develop a mobile application running on Pocket PCs or if you want to learn this new platform, where do you start from? Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework: Architecture and Best Practices for Mobile Development (what a title!) is a book targeted at architects, developers and IT managers to help them understand this platform. This is a very large audience and usually, it result in a disastrous book but the authors amazingly pulled it off; architects, developers and IT managers will find this book useful.
Fox and Box are covering everything you need to know to get a good understanding of the NET Compact Framework and mobile devices. Subjects covered are: how to access local and remote data, how to use SQL Server CE (yes SQL Server is running on Pocket PCs!) and very importantly, how to synchronize data from and the devices. Localization, security and deployment are also covered.
Although you’ll find plenty of code examples, the focus here is to learn the platform and how to architect applications. Before you open Visual Studio.NET, before you create you first .NET Compact Framework application and even before you write a single line of code, you should read this book. It will help you understand the platform and save you from costly architectural mistakes.
High praises for Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework: Architecture and Best Practices for Mobile Development.
I attended the MSDN Security Briefing in Toronto Wednesday. Paul Murphy, a developers evangelist, presented four sessions on security for developers. The Toronto Congress Center was packed with 1200 developers and the event was organized by MSDN Canada. I really appreciated the content and the message that Paul presented. For those interested, check his Website where you'll find the PowerPoints and the demo code.
At the end of the day, Steve Ballmer gave a quick 1/2 hour talk. This was the first time I saw him and boy, where does he find the energy to talk like that !
Craig Flannagan from MSDN Canada interviewed me for MSDN TV. Hope that I didn't made a fool of myself :-()
Last Monday, I presented the new developer's features of Yukon at the Montreal SQL Server User Group. I was focusing on the CLR integration.
To my surprise, I got many questions regarding my setup. Whidbey and Yukon were running on a virtual machine with Virtual PC 2004. Loooks like the subject of another talk :-)
I forgot to mention that the book reviews are from my column on an online magazine called the UniversalThread Magazine.
I can post the all my 2003 reviews if you want. Just ask :-)
In case you just woke up, here’s a quick reminder: it is already 2004! What’s so special about 2004 ? It’s the year we should see the release of the new version of the .NET Framework (code name Whidbey) along with new versions of Visual Studio .NET, ASP.NET and even a new version of SQL Server (code name Yukon). All of the products were unveiled at the last Microsoft Professional Developers (PDC) Conference that took place in October 2003 and already we’re beginning to see books on the bookstores shelves that are focusing on these new technologies. This month, I’ll review two books that talk about ASP.NET 2.0. Keep in mind that those books are based on Alpha versions of ASP.NET and Visual Studio .NET and things may change from the time the products will reach Beta. For those interested on the PDC, check my coverage of the conference at http://www.universalthread.com/Conferences/PDC/2003/
The Wow factor is pretty high here. The new stuff is so cool, the only drawback of such early books is that we still have to wait a year before Whidbey ships. For those who don’t have access to the developers preview (the alpha) of Whidbey, don’t despair, both books have a multitude of screenshots so that you can easily see the new features. Finally, you may wonder is it worth it to read books on such early technology. In this case, the answer is yes because the changes that will ship in Whidbey will definitively affect the way you develop Web applications in the near future.
ASP.NET 2.0 Revealed
Author: Patrick Lorenz
Retail Price: $39.99 US
Publication Date: November 2003
Paperback: 381 pages
Online information: Table of content, Source Code, Chapter 2
This first book this month is called ASP.NET 2.0 Revealed. Lorenz starts with an overview of the new features, perfect to get you hooked. Although not specific to ASP.NET 2.0, the author takes time in this overview to introduce the reader to the new languages features of C# and VB.NET. Next, you will discover the new features of Visual Studio .NET for Web development, what’s new with the data controls, how to create master pages, themes and Web parts. There’s a chapter on Web development for mobile devices and one on configuration and administration of the Web applications.
This book was written on a tight schedule (6 weeks) for it to be released at the PDC. It lacks a little polish like diagrams but it’s understandable due to the circumstances. None the less, it’s a fun read because of all the cool stuff mentioned in it. I like the fact that the author moves from feature to feature with a quick explanation, some screenshots and some shorts code snippets. It’s perfect for someone who wants to learn about Whidbey but doesn’t have access to it.
A First Look at ASP.NET v.2.0
Authors: Alex Homer, Dave Sussman, Rob Howard
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Retail Price: $39.99 US, $60.99 CDN
Publication Date: October 2003
Paperback: 498 pages
Online information: Table of content, index, chapter 1 and 5, source code on the authors' Website
A First Look at ASP.NET v.2.0 is also a book about the news features found in Whidbey. The format is different from the usual soft cover computer books, more like an oversize paperback novel. I like that format a lot because I think it’s easier to read and carry around. So much about the format, what about the authors? You may recognize some familiar names here: Alex Homer and David Sussman who used to write for Wrox and Rob Howard who is Program Manager on the ASP.NET team.
Basically, the content is about the same as Lorenz’s book but with deeper information, more explanations and more code. Perhaps the fact that one of the authors is on the ASP.NET team helped but we get great explanations on the purposes of the changes and the new features and I think it’s important because it helps understand the reasons behind those changes. The content, presentation and layout of the book are top notch. You’ll find plenty of diagrams and screenshots to illustrate the new tools. Homer, Sussman and Howard are experienced authors and it shows. It’s even hard to find author’s style differences from chapters to chapters. Like I said earlier, the level of the book is higher because the authors go deeper with their explanations and examples. If you have access to Whidbey, I’d recommend this book because you will be able to go further in your experimentations. If you don’t have Whidbey, no problem, the Wow factor is here also. High praises for A First Look at ASP.NET v.2.0.
The C# Programming Language
Authors: Anders Hejlsberg, Scott Wiltamuth, Peter Golde
Retail Price: $29.99 US, $45.99 CDN
Publication Date: October 2003
Paperback: 644 pages
Online information: Authors biographies, Index, Chapter 1
Before talking about The C# Programming Language let’s talk about its authors: Anders Hejlsberg, Scot Wiltamuth and Peter Golde. Hejlsberg is a programming legend being the architect of Turbo Pascal, Delphi and C#. The bio of Wiltamuth on Addison-Wesley Website is simple and reads like this: Scott Wiltamuth is the author of the C# specification. Golde was the lead developer of the C# compiler. Who could be better placed then the minds behind C# to write about C#?
The C# Programming Language is the text that defines C#. Being that, it’s the ultimate C# technical reference, however, it’s not a book for someone who wants to learn the language. If I can make a comparison, I would compare it to a dictionary. Learning English or another language is not possible with a dictionary. It is not a teaching tool but a reference while you learn and after you mastered the language. The C# Programming Language is such a book. You can’t use it as a learning tool but it’s invaluable as a reference tool.
The second part of the book provides an introduction to and technical specification of the four major new features of C# 2.0: Generics, Anonymous Methods, Iterators, and Partial Types. C# 2.0 is part of Whidbey and it will be released at the end of 2004.
Is The C# Programming Language a book for everyone? I’d say no because of its academic nature but for developers who to push their knowledge of C# and wants the ultimate C# reference book, this is it.
ASP.NET Developer's Cookbook
Authors: Steven A. Smith, Rob Howard, The ASP Alliance
Publisher: Sams Publishing
Retail Price: $39.99 US, $62.99 CDN
Publication Date: May 2003
Paperback: 427 pages
Online information: Table of content, chapter 3
Author online information: Table of content, Errata, Chapters 3 & 13, Source code
Again, before talking about ASP.NET Developer's Cookbook, let’s talk about its authors: Steven A. Smith and Rob Howard. Steven A. Smith, Microsoft ASP.NET MVP, is the owner of ASPAlliance.com, a large ASP.NET developer community. Rob Howard is a Program Manager for Microsoft’s .NET Framework. Specifically, he owns several feature areas for ASP.NET: Caching, Web services, HTTP Runtime, and Session State. Joining Smith and Howard is a bunch of contributors from ASPAlliance.com.
Let’s now talk about the concept behind the Developer’s Cookbook series from Sams. Every book in the series is filled with techniques, tricks and best practices and the analogy to a traditional cookbook is quite correct and it should be use like that. Let’s say you have some chicken and you want to make dinner, you flip to the chicken section and scan through the recipes until you find one that you like. Same thing here, you need to work with a DataGrid? Open the DataGrid chapter and scan through all the DataGrid recipes. Some are more basic than others but I find that the mix is quite good and it will appeal to every developer who already know how to program with .NET. The code examples are written using VB .NET but C# developers should not despair because the book doesn’t focus on language techniques. Also, you can download the code in VB .NET and C#.
ASP.NET Developer's Cookbook is the kind of book that will pay itself if you use just one or two of its 250 numerous and delicious recipes. Highly recommended.
While preparing for a talk on Yukon for the Montreal SQL Server UG, I found something interesting. I used Peter W. DeBetta code from his MSDN Magazine February article on UDTs.
The Point class has two properties (x and y) in lowercase. And this DML code has not:
DECLARE @endPoint Point
SET @endPoint::X = 5
SET @endPoint::Y = 3
The code didn't run until I used the correct syntax (lowercase) was used.
SET @endPoint::x = 5
SET @endPoint::y = 3
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