December 2006 - Posts
A good introduction to WPF is to read this article Sacha Barber posted on Code Project.
eXtensible Application Markup Language (XAML, pronounced ZAMMEL) is coming you better believe it. For those that havent heard of XAML, it is the way to code for Microsofts new presentation layer, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF, codenamed Avalon).
XAML is an XML style markup language, the XAML markup is responsible for the presentation of the graphical elements, much the same as HTML markup.
XAML code can be developed using a multitude of tools, such as Zam3D, XAMLPad which is provided with the .NET Framework 3.0 SDK, Visual Studio 2005, and the new Expression Blend (previously Expression Interactive Designer).
One of the main ideas behind XAML (so I think anyway) is that the graphical front end can be developed by someone with an arty nature, and then handed back to a developer who can import the arty code (the XAML) and then code the backend .NET code to drive the interface. Both the graphical designer and the software developer should be able to freely transfer work using the same lanugauge, XAML.
Thats the basic idea anyway, but this is not what I am trying to put across in this article. In this article I want to showcase some of the concepts of what can be done in XAML, and what tools one can use for creating XAML, and also how these tools may be used. I will also be explaining how I achieved all the different elements of the demo application.
I will not be talking about how to hand code XAML, I will be purely focussing on some of, the most popular (I think anyway) XAML authoring tools.
If you really dont know your XAML from a CAMEL I suggest you check out Marc Cliftons article at XAML Resources which should bring you up to speed.
Configuring an ASP.NET 2 application to work with SQL Server is not an easy undertaking. You need to be aware of a number of security related concepts in the area of SQL Server, IIS and ASP.NET 2.0. The number of different options you have make the problem even more complex. In this article, I describe some of the common scenarios that you are likely to run into when working with SQL Server and ASP.NET pages. I'll be using SQL Server 2005 in all my examples, but most of the concepts also apply to SQL Server 2000. Note that most of the principles described in this article can also be used in ASP.NET 1.x applications.
Many books about ASP.NET 2.0 (including my own), use Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition. The reason behind this choice is that the Express Edition is very easy to use and configure. In many cases, using a SQL Server Express database is as easy as adding a database to your project (or one of the new Login controls), and then hitting F5 to run the application. This makes the Express Edition great for local development and quick and dirty applications. However, in a production environment, the Express Edition won't cut it. Instead, you'll need one of its bigger brothers like SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition. But as soon as you try to make the move to one of these SQL Server versions, you may run into a number of security related configuration issues. This article takes a look at a number of common issues that you need to be aware of when you try to use SQL Server 2005 in your applications.
The article starts off with familiarizing you with the terminology that you'll run into when configuring the system. The second part then looks at a number of different scenarios for configuring an ASP.NET 2.0 application with SQL Server 2005. You'll see how to use a custom SQL Server database in your own application and how to configure both SQL Server and your application.
This article doesn't touch on configuring your database for the new ASP.NET 2.0 provider features, like Membership and the Role Manager. However, there's a great article by Scott Guthrie called "Configuring ASP.NET 2.0 Application Services to use SQL Server 2000 or SQL Server 2005" that shows you how to use tools like aspnet_regsql.exe to configure an existing SQL Server 2000 or 2005 to work nicely with the new provider features. That article, together with this one, should provide you with enough details to set up your system so it can work with a SQL Server 2000 or 2005 database.
Read more... (By Imar Spaanjaars)
To show visitors of your site how other visitors feel about the content you're presenting on your site, it's good idea to let your visitors rate your content.
Many web sites take this approach. For example, Amazon uses a 5 star rating approach to rate the articles they're selling. Microsoft's MSDN site uses a nine-bar graph to display the quality of their (technical) articles. My own site uses a five-bar graph to let users rate an article (in the left hand column). Since there are many uses for a rating feature, it makes sense to encapsulate the rating mechanism in a custom ASP.NET Server Control. This article shows you how to build such a control.
I am all excited about WPF/E Community Preview release. I tried the different demos Michael Schwarz has listed, and it's looking really promising. I am more a Web developer than a Windows one, and it's amazing the number of things I can now iagine to do with WPF/E. Of course, like Flash, an advice would be probably to not transform everything in WPF/E but to keep it for some specific tasks.
However few questions I have in mind:
- Can Microsoft choose a better catchy name than WPF/E? Sounds like more the reference of a manufactured product than an attractive name for a technology. Think that Flash is already taken ;-). I still think like others that Avalon was a cool name.
- Of course I know it's a CTP release, but if I try to open more than 3 demos in IE 6, it finish quickly by a browser crash.
I showed the cool demos to some of my colleagues, and they are please to know that I can finally embed some nice animations in our web projects. I like Flash, but I got so many issues with it that I almost decline any development including it. A good point is also that I can continue to develop using the same Visual Studio.
I believe I will use Expression Designer some time in 2007 and start to develop some cool games and animations for the primary schools here in Ireland.
Amazing that Vista don't come with a basic antivirus software. Well at least with third-parties you have a solution for the 32 bit version, but for the 64 bit one, it's quite a rare thing.
Through Start64, I found and installed Avast! antivirus and it's free for home use. Pity I will miss AVG!
This could save a lot of time for people like me who installed Vista 64 bits version and have difficulties to find some native applications for their machines.
I found Start64 after googling for an antivirus working on my 64 bit Athlon machine. Cool site and plenty of resources!
I really like the new sidebar in Vista. Now just released two useful gadgets for Outlook:
· Outlook Upcoming Appointments – shows you your upcoming appointments.
· Outlook Tasks – shows you your tasks and flagged mail all in one place, plus gives you an easy way to enter tasks, just like the To-Do Bar.
Great article by Scott Mitchell.
If you ever read an article on Microsoft's MSDN Web site, such as my article An Extensive Examination of User Controls, you'll notice that at the bottom of the article there's an interface for the reader to rate the content. (See the screenshot to the right.) Specifically, the user can rate the quality of the article on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being Poor, and 9 being Outstanding. In addition to affixing a numerical rating of the article, the reader can also provide optional comments in a textbox. Also included is a graph showing how other readers have rated the article. (CoDe Magazine's Web site uses a similar content rating system.)
Read more on 4GuysFromRolla
Today was the official launch in Dublin for Office 2007, Vista, Exchange 2007 and Sharepoint 2007.
Great day, thanks to Microsoft Ireland for this great show in Croke Park. Two individuals I say were amazing today were Robert Burke and Neil Armstrong.
I know for sure Rob has not yet fly to the moon (sometime I wonder!) but he delivered this morning a fantastic speech and demo of Vista and business applications. Rob is such a professional speaker and a nice person too.
Please Redmond don't take our only Canadian star, we need him here ;-)
Great stuff! Rob if you read this post, can you please let me know if I can find your demos and scripts somewhere.
Neil Armstrong has landed on the moon (hopefully), and he was surely the first one. I had the chance to shake hands (VIP pass are great for that) and get a photograph with my favourite childhood hero and exchange few words with him (in all modesty because 100 other attendees did the same).
Believe it was my first and closest alien encounter.
I even got Neil's biography at the end of the afternoon session. One regret was that the presentation by a speaker from Redmond about the future of Windows was shortened by lack of time. Pity because some of the prototypes and concepts were very interesting like dynamic filters applied to a group of mailbox.
Microsoft is launching Vista officially tomorrow in Ireland and it happens that I finally upgraded my personal PC this Sunday. Well it was a big upgrade, hardware and software. I replaced my 3 years old main board by a brand new Gigabyte one with an Athlon 5000 64 bit.
So obviously Vista was the right choice for this new shiny box. I also installed the OS on a new 500Gb SATA drive, because I prefer usually of possible a clean install rather than an upgrade.
My overall experience is positive and I really like Vista, but read below my comments on the bad, good and ugly things Microsoft has released.
I start by a positive note on the installation process. This is a really improvement on everything done by Microsoft before. Except one minor fright I got with the hard drive (it was npt recognized at the first try), everything is straightforward, almost just one click is enough.
Strangely that from one DVD the system choose by itself what version of Vista I could install. Maybe this is something specific to the MSDN version, I don't know but I had at the end (and quite quickly) a functional Vista Ultimate version. Even the network was working perfectly well.
All the promised things like a faster desktop, some cool effects were there. So my advice will be to get a fast processor and an excellent graphics card (mine is GeForce 7950 GT) to get the maximum Vista experience. Add also a big display like a 22" screen.
The system respond fast and smoothly. And I didn't have any drivers issues.
However like a new install of any Windows system, time will tell is the performances degrade or not, XP is well known for this problem!
A new system to rate your PC by a ratio is a good thing and hopefully for games, we will fnd in the near future these numbers as a recommended level. With my brand new system I got 5.1, which is ranked as the top class system. Thanks, at least I didn't spend this money for nothing!
I like the new sidebar and the gadgets. I am also a Mac user, and I found their widgets quite useless because they are not really working side by side with your desktop, it's more like an on off situation. On Vista, no problem they are sitting where you like it, on left or right, and you can write a note in Word, and use the calculator if you need too. I noticed also no heavy memory resources are used to keep them working, like their counterparts in Windows XP.
Internet Explorer 7 is obviously installed by default, but because I am a web developer, I also installed Firefox 2, and I was quite surprise to not that Firefox was much more responsive than IE, something I never noticed in XP.
Aero is certainly a cool thing and it's beautiful surely, but a nasty thing happens that Microsoft don't explain clearly in their marketing campaign. If you run Vista on a 64 bit version (I don't know for the 32 bit version), and if you are running a 32 bit application (about 99% of them!), Vista will disable automatically the glass effects, buit not only for the incriminated software but for all the other windows until you close it! They call it back to Aero Basic, I call it cheat. I put it as bad because selling Aero as a top notch graphic UI experience is not really what you get at the end.
Now regarding the system organization, it's really a mess. The Folder view options are not where they supposed to be (they are in the Control Panel), and by default each folder come with ugly huge icons. You have to spend quite some time to find anything familiar. Even the network icon in the system tray doesn’t give you a properties window with a right click. A lot of important links are now contextual, drowned in pages that look like help. See the network properties and believe me it take a while to find the settings.
I added to my system IIS and all the Web stuff to check what they have done, and no surprise it's IIS 6 but Microsoft has totally changed the interface, probably to be ready for the next version 7, so at the end it's no that easy to find the settings I used to have on other OS..
One thing I had to disable very quickly is the new UI for the Start menu. What an awful mess, with all the programs in one big collapse. expanse kind of thing, a column for the Microsoft tools, and not a simple way to change the radical new look.
So after a day of painful experience, I switch back to the classic view. What a shame!
The guys behind the development of the new start bar should be sacked, seriously. This system is worst than in XP, and I wonder what will happen with 50 or 60 applications sitting there.
I said earlier that I had no problems with the drivers, well except for a web cam! So maybe for some, this will be an ugly thing if you install Vista with some peripherals (I heard about printer issues).
IDE! Who don't have IDE disks in their PCs. Well I have two of them, and the new power system let you put to 'light' sleep your drives, so that a simple keystroke will bring back to life all you applications. Sadly this bring you back a beautiful BSOD if you have like me an old slow hard drive.
Well sorry Microsoft but as a beta tester I reported a bug on this few months ago and it's still there exactly as I tested. For my personal fun, I can get the blue screen every time I want, but because I have a life, I disabled this new feature.
So at the moment it's too early to see how Vista will compare with XP, and I believe at least I need to review this post in a year to see how things have evolved. But don't be afraid to try if you can because it's after all not that bad.
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