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April 2003 - Posts

Streaming!!

I just uploaded my deck and samples for a FileStreaming Tips and Tricks presentation that I am doing at DevTeach in a few weeks in Montreal. They are currently just on the DevTeach site, because those folks need them to make their cd. (I will upload them to my website after the conference.) I am also doing this same presentation at my user group on Monday night (5/5) -- a dry run.

I learned SO much while I was putting the presentation together. It was originally inspired by some things I figured out for a client's web application last fall that I wanted to share. But once I started working on the presentation, I wanted to really explain things well and give some great ideas and samples on using streams because they are SO confusing. I kept digging deeper and deeper in the MSDN library, into streaming classes, buffers, responses, images, serializing. I even just started looking for anything that had the word stream in it and checking it out. This has opened up .NET to me in a whole new way and my head is spinning. Creating the samples was also a great exercise because I learned a lot of things that I wouldn't have by just conceptualizing. So many things make sense to me now.

So this was a two-fold lesson for me. The first is  - man oh man, learn about streaming! The second is - offer to do a presentation somewhere. If you take the right tactic for creating your presentation (i.e. take it seriously), you will very likely find that you can learn a specific topic inside and out. I'm not saying I know streaming inside and out now, because that is big topic.

One of the tricks in my streaming presentation is the focus of a mini article (aka "Hot Tip") I wrote that is in the June (current) issue of Visual Studio Magazine. Well, it's referenced in the magazine, but they published it on their website. I also have a link to it from my blog home page. It is about using streams to get a DTD into an xml that you create from dataset.writexml. I needed a lot more room to explain it in a more detailed manner, but the tip is a bit abbreviated. You know how that goes!

When DevTeach is finished, I will put this deck and the sample code up on my website as well as the deck from my other presentation on "Building and Enterprise Solution around Web Services".

dnwl blogger, Robert Wlodarczyk, wins U.S. round of big Microsoft student developer competition

Robert Wlodarczyk very subtley mentioned in his blog about being at the Imagine Cup 2003 U.S. competition held at Microsoft... that he WON! This is a contest on XML Web Services for college undergrads and graduates. There were 8 projects in the U.S. finals.

I have not been able to find any links on the Microsoft site, not even on the Academic Alliance site for the competition.

Robert will go to the international finals at Tech Ed Barcelona.

Congratulations Robert!!! I'm sure everyone here is quite proud of you.

We have a number of young programmers among us. Some in college, some even younger! Back in the old days <g> when I was in college, we were working on personal computers that we had to build ourselves first (Heathkits). I did not participate in the building of computers - I was much too busy in the art studio. The science professors did that nasty job. I took a total of ONE computer class during my four years of college.

why I run a user group

This is an excerpt from an email I received this weekend from a VTdotNET user group member:

I really like the idea of building a local developer community. You are setting great examples.

This was the driving force behind my starting VTdotNET. It makes me very happy not only to see others with the same desire, but also that someone actually recognized this part of my motivation. It is also a good part of what INETA is all about.

Starting to feel like a real .NET App

After a lot of focus on ASP.NET at the beginning of my .NET life, I finally got back in touch with my deep dark past and put together my first desktop app in .NET last fall. It is a Windows Forms application that uses a web service as it's data layer. It has been in production for about six months.

I worked hard on the architecture so that I could re-use it as well as some of the components and web services. Luckily I have a client who trusts my judgement, so I was given leeway to spend extra time on that small application.

My next desktop app for them used that as a base and improved on it, adding in features like web service security that I cobbled together from some things I learned from TaskVision which also led to further research and experimentation.

I am now on my third iteration of this architecture with yet another application for the same client. I am trying to get things even more organized and was inspired by one of Brad Abrams [many inspiring] blogs, Assembly/DLL Naming Guidelines. Looking at that made me start thinking about namespaces and I dug into Namespace Naming Guidelines on MSDN.

After starting to (attempt to) really apply this properly, I am getting that warm feeling inside now when I see my applications starting to behave like the rest of .NET. I can now use IMPORTS at the top of classes, for example to reference my own namespaces. I know it's just  a little thing, but I feel like it is another step in the right direction so I'm feeling pretty good about it!

handy dandy dataset trick

Remembering that you can fill a DataTable from a DataAdapter is very handy. Especially when you have to do what seems nearly a circus act: taking a table from one dataset and shoving it into another.

In most scenarios, you can easily return multiple tables from one stored procedure. But there are cases where this won't work.

Creating a DataTable and filling it directly from a DataAdapter means that the table is not tied to a dataset and therefore you can quite simply add it to the TablesCollection of any (better be careful - almost any) dataset.

Next time I need this reminder, I will remember to check my blog!

more on ASP.NET/html/xml

Well, my recent post in response to a comment of Don Box's that ASP.NET needs to lose HTML, has since resulted in a furthering of my education.

I must admit, though I read Don's blog, a lot of what he talks about is so far out of the scope of what I am working on (ok and, I admit, sometimes over my head)  that I don't absorb a lot of it. Though it is definitely brewing in the back of my mind.

So, having read his comment on my post, I went back and started looking through his blog. Good thing I just did a lot of reading on XMLSerializer last night!

He has been expressing his feelings about browsers for a while. So, though he also talks about XHTML, this doesn't necessarily mean XHTML used in a browser. And if you read his comment in my post (linked above), he does attempt to clarify that for me. Luckily he was kind and didn't say "hello! Have you even read ONE of my posts???" <g> I also have his .Net Essentials in my to be read pile - just haven't gotten there yet.

There's a lot to learn (understatement of an understatement) and it's really hard to make a choice on focus because everything is so fascinating. I love the concept of being able to have a voice in the future of the tools that enable me to do what I love best (geek that I am). It's really hard to sit in the peanut gallery and watch these conversations and keep my mouth shut. Harder still to stop working and focus on what these guys are writing enough to sort out what they are talking about. But back to work is where I must go this morning.

the "new" MSDN - and Sam Gentile & Chris Sells' MSDN article

So - outside of a quick blog by Matt Powell, the blogs have been pretty quiet about the overhaul of the MSDN website. Duncan did mention the VB Developer Center and he said this, which I think we should all appreciate:

"After many, many weeks of work by many, many people... the new developer centers are up on MSDN!"

They have re-organized the content into "developer centers". They had already started doing something like this recently. For example, webservices and architecture have been around for a while with a great focus on compiling content and resources about those topics.

Plus I happened to come across this. I have been wondering where Sam Gentile has been lately (hardly blogging, that is) I was happy to see this (which Sam has since blogged about himself):

Programming Windows Forms with Managed Extensions for C++

Of course, I'm a VB programmer, so I am not going to offer any comment on this, though I'm sure it's brilliant!

Thanks MSDN!!! (and the many, many people who have been heads down for quite some time pulling this together...for US!)

future of html (in ASP.Net)

(addend: err mine! Paschal pointed out in a comment that I was probably taking Don's point a bit too literally and should have read XHTML. Now I feel so silly! But it does make a bit more sense to me now!! Thanks Paschal. I will leave my blunder public, just for fun.)

I happened to take a second look at Don Box's blog on Innovation vs. Imitation today. This time I noticed something that hadn't stood out so boldly before, as my focus was on other points he was making.

"ASP.NET still supports HTML, even though XML is the one true way"

I admit being a girl who likes here "crutches" sometimes. Especially when I am learning so many new things at once. Well, if he can get the ASP.NET team to pull this one off, just so long as they do it in a way that is invisible to us poor schleps who have the task of hammering out applications - both web and windows - for our clients, I guess I wouldn't complain too much.

I have a hard time picturing how we would continue to have the design time server controls (drag and drop on design surface) if it was all xml, xsl and css. (Is that the correct assumption?) I better not even try to start thinking about that or I won't get any work done this week. But it does pique my curiosity. On the other hand, four years ago, I would have had the same difficulty imagining the server controls as they are now anyway.

Ali has resurfaced from his books

I'm happy to see Ali Aghareza writing in his blog again. I know he has been reading everything he can get his hands on. I always look forward to when he starts postulating and then sharing his ideas.

Here are his two latest:

wsdl.exe/server

xmlinclude example

.NET Talk to IBMers

I was invited by my very cool friend who runs the ACM chapter in Poughkeepsie NY (note this link may go away eventually) to come show them what this .NET thing is they've been hearing about. This was not a Java/.NET debate or anything stupid like that. Just a .NET expose. I specifically made the talk be what my own perspective as a developer is of .NET. This way they could understand that I was not trying to give them the end all be all definition of .NET.

The audience was mostly a collection of current IBM employees who use Java and IBM retirees.

I prefaced the talk by explaining that this was just on my own terms. That I was not there to proscelitize etc. Because I LOVE to talk (as  some of you may have gathered) it was a lot of fun. Though I stayed away mostly from the msdn slides, I did use the "building blocks" slide that shows the os, clr, tools and then languages and also the one we have all seen showing the namespaces. I really surprised myself when I was going through the namespaces slide, unrehearsed, and couldn't help but try to explain each of the namespaces on the slide. About 2/3 of the way through I had to catch myself because I suddenly thought "wow! I really DO know a lot of this stuff!". That was a nice surprise.

Something funny happened, which  Marcie told me later is not uncommon when you talk. When I mentioned some acronyms like XML, ASP, COM. There was one guy who kept asking what the acronyms stood for. I know what they stand for but I completely spaced! That was wierd. Luckily  nearly everyone else in the room was able to answer those questions. And then I just explained what they really meant, past the acronyms. Oh, I missed out on saying that SOAP is no longer an acronym, though. That would have been fun. (Yasser said so!!!)

So here was my best joke of the whole night! I made sure that most of them had, indeed, seen the Matrix, and at the end of my talk, offered them their choice of these:

(I have sworn not to divulge the results of their selections)

It was a really nice group of folks. I had a lot of fun doing the presentation and talking with them before and after the meeting.

Even though I was not there as an evangelist, I was tickled when one of the current IBMers said to me at the end "you are a great ambassador for Microsoft". Just send checks...

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