Archives / 2004 / June
  • TechEd on wednesday: some meetings and Visual C++ 2005

    Wednesday is also shaping up to be an interesting day at TechEd. After meeting up with Wolfgang Manousek, a Microsoft developer that actually lives in Germany (I didn't know that was possible!) early in the morning to talk about XML and its relation to the new SQLServer, I attended Herb Sutter's session on the future of C++ and .NET entitled "Visual C++ 2005: New Language Design and Enhancements"


  • Appending XML files and confusing disposables

    There are several ways to create XML files using the .NET FCL, but none of the standard methods allows simple extension of an existing file, such as a logfile, without needing to put the entire file into memory first (because that's what would happend if I use the DOM to add nodes somewhere near the end of a tree).


  • New version of LLBLGen Pro

    Frans has announced that his company has released a new version of LLBGen Pro. Most important changes are the inclusion of support for Oracle 10g and Firebird 1.x/Interbase 6.0. Furthermore the demo application is no longer feature-limited, so there's no reason not to check out this excellent O/R mapper for .NET (and if you're heading to TechEd Europe 2004 next week, don't forget to stop by the O/R Mapper BOF session on Wednesday June 30th at 14:45 in Room R!)


  • A nice day for light GUI work

    Today I created a small GUI application to wrap a library I had written that was apparantly confusing to use for some of my users. The GUI application was not only meant to simplify the input of data to the library, but also to explain how and why the library works the way it does. After putting tooltips behind all the labels, inputfields and buttons I decided they're only useful if you can explain everything about every control in a single sentence. Also, I wanted to use diagrams in my explanations, which probably look kinda silly in tooltips anyway.


  • Interesting annotations

    The last couple of days I've been reading the .NET Framework Standard Library Annotated Reference (often called SLAR) by Brad Abrams (who's actually requesting feedback I just noticed) et al. I saw a lot of recommendations for this book on Amazon and .NET-related weblogs, which caused me to give it a try as I'm normally not really interested in plain API books, since especially for Microsoft technologies, there's the excellent MSDN library. I believe the last API book I bought was about Java 1.1 around 7 years ago.

    As a reference to the Standard Library I'll say that whenever I want to find out about how a class or member works, I'll still use MSDN and not open up this book. I wondered about using the PDF provided on the included CD-ROM since it includes descriptions of all members (making it a 4000-page book if you'd print it!) but using a PDF even when indexed is still clumsy compared to MSDN (not to mention that the size of the PDF makes it sluggish even on my dual Xeon workstation). The reason I did consider it is because after doing some comparisons between MSDN and SLAR entries, I noticed that sometimes the SLAR provides a little more info, but the MSDN wins out in the end because it has lots of links to related articles. The SLAR is not lacking these since they're often outside of the context of this book, but from a developer's point-of-view this does make MSDN more worthwhile as a reference. Anyway, nowhere does anyone claim that this book was intended to replace the MSDN Standard Library documentation, but I was wondering about this myself when I bought it.

    That's not to say the book is not a good read, because it is, just for different reasons. For me, this book was interesting because of two things. First, it was good to browse some documentation by hand again, since you learn a lot by just reading all this stuff. Quite a lot of things (like some of the attribute-related information) I would probably have never looked up myself and in retrospect I can say that I have some cleaning up to do in some of my existing code. The same is true for all the listed interfaces - I feel I have a better grasp of how and when to use which interface on one of my own classes.

    But second and most importantly (that doesn't sound right but you know what I mean) the annotations give a great insight in what goes on when you're developing a class library that's supposed to be used by other developers. I'm doing this myself and reading this book has given me loads of advice in this area. From small things like how to think about exception hierarchies to which interfaces to select when implementing base classes of a large system. Especially since the writers include a lot of material on how they would do things differently in retrospect and the discussions they had about some of the types. Even the naming scheme is discussed quite often, which is great since it puts all the different arguments in perspective.

    My conclusion then is that it's not a great reference book, but an interesting read for .NET developers in general and a must-read for class library developers.