January 2008 Recap
I've had a policy against posting on big news that's likely to be common knowledge in the Microsoft development community, since nobody needs another post saying "Big News, Visual Studio 2008 is out today!" But I think I'm going to break that policy once a month with a digest of the big news of the month, along with things I found interesting that might not warrant a full blog post. I may write up full posts on some of these things occasionally, who knows? Right, then - on with the inaugural issue!
C# 4 to get dynamic lookup (as in, "late binding")
Charlie Calvert tells us that the .NET 4.0 CLI will allow for dynamic lookup in all languages, including C# 4: "The next version of Visual Studio will provide a common infrastructure that will enable all .NET languages, including C#, to optionally resolve names in a program at runtime instead of compile time. We call this technology dynamic lookup." Here's what the code might look like:
static void Main(string args)
object myDynamicObject = GetDynamicObject();
myDynamicObject.SomeMethod(); // call a method
myDynamicObject.someString = "value"; // Set a field
myDynamicObject = 25; // Access an indexer
Network Solutions squatting domains you search on
Word got out that Network Solutions was automatically reserving all domains searched for on their WhoIs domain lookup page, taking advantage of VeriSign's 5 day grace period (during which they'd refund registration fees) to lock the domain for 5 days for free.
Here's the problem - if you looked the domain up on Network Solutions and saw it was available, it was already reserved by Network Solutions so you couldn't register it elsewhere (for instance, at GoDaddy, which charges about $30 less for yearly domain registration than Network Solutions does). If you decided to wait until Network Solutions dropped the domain 5 days later, you were likely to see the domain snatched up by domain squatters why also took advantage of the 5 day grace period, automatically registering every free domain milliseconds after Networks Solutions dropped it.
After this was discovered and verified, the ICANN decided to drop the 5 day grace period. That's good news, since it will make domain squatting less economically viable.
The .NET Framework Library source is available for debugging purposes.
Scott Guthrie has a quick overview, and Shawn Burke has a detailed post on how to set it up. This is cool, but having used Reflector and the File Disassembler plugin for a while, this isn't completely revolutionary for my day to day work. The nice additions over Reflector are the comments and the ability to step through the code when debugging. This seems like the kind of thing you wouldn't need to use often, but when you need it you really need it.
Google Desktop Search no longer searches your files by default
Not sure if this is big news or not; I've never been much of a fan of Google Desktop Search. Apparently their latest release no longer indexes the contents of you files by default, although you can still enable file indexing if you want. It's interesting the Google is backing off the file search feature, as it was the focus of their lawsuit against Microsoft which resulted in the Vista SP1 being hurried along.
IE8 ditching DOCTYPE for X-UA-Compatible
The IE team announced that they're dropping DOCTYPE for a new browser targetting system using a new meta tag, X-UA-Compatible. There's a good overview at A List Apart which explains what's changing and why. The main idea was that the existing DOCTYPE system basically gives you two options - opt in to standards compliant mode, or opt in to quirks mode. The challenge is that standards compliant mode changes with each release of IE, so what renders well in IE6 breaks in IE7 or IE8 - there's no real way to know that your HTML will render correctly in future versions of IE.
The new X-UA-Compatible tag lets you target your HTML at the rendering style of a specific browser version. Assuming other browsers support it, you'd be able to lock your rendering in with this kind of tag:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8;FF=3;OtherUA=4" />
There's been some frustration in the web standards community over this, who dislike using non-standard tags to target browsers and would prefer that browser versions solve the browser compatibility issue by fully supporting web standards like XHTML. Ian Hickson points out that this makes the testing matrix for browser vendors pretty complex, since it would require Firefox to be able to reproduce the rendering quirks of each version of IE.
New Microsoft virtualization annoucements
Microsoft bought some more virtualization technology, announced partnerships, and announced they're loosening the virtualization restrictions on low end Vista versions. I wrote about this on my Vertigo blog.
Jon Udell's Talk from CUSEC
I heard about the CUSEC conference in Montreal because my friend and co-worker Jeff Atwood was one of the speakers. Jon Udell posted his slides from his morning keynote, “Hacking the Noosphere”. His themes were "shared tools and data, social engineering, language, the semantic web, human augmentation, and Doug Engelbart’s vision of the true purpose of information technology."
Microsoft announced a proposal to acquire Yahoo for $44 billion
Yeah, this news came out on February 1, but I'm including it now rather than wait a month. Long Zheng put together a nice feature matrix which shows the overlap between Microsoft and Yahoo web properties. The Microsoft PressPass page has a link to the conference call audio and the accompanying PowerPoint. I listened to some of the audio, but I'd recommend just looking at the slides.
Larkware News (The Daily Grind) went off the air
As promised, Mike Gunderloy posted the last daily issue of The Daily Grind on December 31, 2007. He's moved on to a new blog called A Fresh Cup, which covers his experiences developing on Ruby On Rails. The Daily Grind was essential in learning my way around the .NET world, and it'll be missed. Leon's got a list of contenders for his MikeG.Next award, and between DotNetKicks and Twitter I'm feeling a less reliance on link blogs to keep up. Best of luck with your new career, Mike, and thanks again for 1305 great issues of The Daily Grind!
Scott Guthrie interviews about what Microsoft will be announcing at MIX08
Channel 9 posted an interview with Scott Guthrie about what Microsoft will be talking about at MIX 08. Part 1, Part 2
Notepad++ 4.7 - New release includes a lot of cool stuff, including FTP support (opens file from FTP server, uploads changes on save) and enhanced clipboard support so copy / paste of code into other applications will preserve the format and colors.
SubSonic 2.1 Beta is out, including lots of cool new features (and no breaking changes). Includes a new query tool with a much simpler syntax that feels more like a strongly-typed SQL an IDE called SubStage that lets you do things like build your configuration and generate control markup, all by setting properties in a property grid. I got a demo from Eric Kemp, and it's really slick.
For more about what happened in January 2008, take a look at the DotNetKicks Zeitgeist page.