May 2004 - Posts
have been asking me for clarification on my earlier comment that we would be
charging for VisualBlogger
2004. Truth be told, I had written a post about this a few days ago, but my
computer froze, and I lost the post. At any rate, I've clarified
it over on my corporate blog. Please let me know what you
One of the coolest new features iI saw in the March 2004 CTP bits was the new
"DefaultInstance" property in WinForms design. Well, I just installed the May
2004 CTP bits, and when I went to recompile my app, it threw an error. I go ti
investigate, and the DefaultInstance property, and it's associated attribute,
have been removed. What gives?!?!?? That was a great idea, and should have
stayed in. Where did it go?
Wanted to give you guys a heads-up and let you know that I've posted a new
build of VisualBlogger
2004. I'll post the official fix list tomorrow for the Support
Feed, but for now here is a brief overview:
- All icons now have tooltips. No more guessing on what an icon does.
- Feedback submission is now globalized. Users in the UK can now submit bug
- Dialogs have been modified to resize gracefully.
- Menu button bars can now be moved and readjusted without hiding UI
elements. That means you can now move the sideways buttons that everyone hates
onto the top row. Unfortunately, it doesn't remember your settings between
executions, but that will be tackled later.
- DotTextSimple provider has been adjusted to allow users to specify custom
endpoints. This allows home-grown bloggers to implement the service in their
system, and use VisualBlogger 2004 to access it.
- Startup time has been adjusted. We're now waiting to databind the blog
list on the "Post Options" tab until you actually switch to it. Shaved 2-3
seconds off the load time.
Here's a screenshot with the menu items moved (it still defaults to
The main UI is working a bit more how I wanted it to. I know it has lots of
other problems, but those were some of the ones that were most complained about.
I know the UI still sucks, but it doesn't suck as bad now that you can move
things around without screwing up the whole system. If you've already registered
for the beta, then you can download it
directly here. If not, you'll be automatically redirected to the
registration page first.
Just found out through Scott Mitchell that
ASU tied for 3rd Place with the University of Illinois - Champaign at the Imagine Cup 2004 finals. They worked really
hard, and came up with an awesome solution that used RFID tags to help blind
people learn more about their environment.
Congratulations Guys! You did an outstanding job. Wish that I could have
helped you guys out a bit more. Hey, can I get a demo of the app when you get
back into town?
Visual Studio 2005 has some really awesome new features. My favorite so far
is the new XML/XSD designer. Working with XML is a lot more intuitive now, and
they've made it dirt simple to create a schema from a given XML file.
If you want to create a schema from scratch, you're in good company. The new
schema designer looks and feels much more like creating a table in Access 2003,
which is exactly how it should be. Complex schemas are easy to read and
understand, and the new visualizers make it easy to constrain the heck out of
your data. The learning curve is very straightforward, you don't even need to
know a whole lot about schema design to create one. The interface is very
discoverable, which is a huge plus IMHO.
VS2005 also goes the extra mile and creates a Typed DataSet for you
automatically. The DataSets are designed in such a way that you can extend them
on your own with Partial Classes. You don't mess with the generated code, you
create your own class file that just extends the existing class. It's quite
slick. It looks like Microsoft wants to do the same thing with WinForms
designing (move the designer generated code to separate files that fon't get
messed with) and I think it's a really great way to go.
That's it for now. More on VS2005 tomorrow.
So I've read the news over the past few days about the delay of ObjectSpaces until the Longhorn wave, and a lot of people seem to be upset by it for various reasons. I've been watching this play out with interest, and made a few interesting observations about the situation.
First off, after the MVP Summit, I had a chance to sit down with Alan Griver, the Group Manager for the VS Data team at Microsoft. (He sometimes posts under “yag“) His team influences data teams across Microsoft, from the VSTO team to the SQL team to the FoxPro team, in terms of how these different data systems work in Visual Studio. When I specifically brought up the ObjectSpaces delay and the ridiculous amount of speculation surrounding it, he told me that when he joined the team several years ago, he committed to having a single data access strategy, and keeping it for as long as possible. In every prior release of VS, there was a different way to access data. He said that he wanted change that, and he did, starting with ADO.NET. When Whidbey comes out, it will be the 3rd VS.NET release without major data access changes, and for that we should thank him.
Alan also told me that one of his goals was to come up with a unified model for accessing data across most Microsoft programs. It would be nice, for example, to be able to load up Microsoft Money data the same way you can in SQL Server using ADO.NET. If you put aside the emotion and really think about it for a second, that's one of the key reasons they're putting WinFS into Longhorn, to remove the "program-specific silos" that happen in application development today, and allow WinFS to be not only a file storage system, but an information storage system as well. Think MSDE installed on every desktop by default, tied into the OS. Microsoft wants to make ObjectSpaces the way IT'S OWN teams get data out of WinFS in the Longhorn time frame. Now, if you actually, oh, I dunno, READ the news past the headline, you'll see that this is exactly what they said. And for most, normal, sane people, this makes a decent amount of sense.
So, ObjectSpaces is an important technology. Microsoft wants to get it right in V1. With every product being relied upon it when Longhorn comes out, they almost don't have a choice in teh matter. They don't want to have to wait for it to be usable until V3, like most Microsoft programs, they want it done right the first time. And that's admirable. It's not like you're not going to see bits shipped in beta form between now and 2006. You'll still get to use it, so what's the big deal?
The other interesting side of the furor comes from the O/R mapping vendors. As soon as MS announced ObjectSpaces, most of them went into an uproar. From what Thomas Thomacziek (of EntityBroker fame) stated in his comments to Jesse's post, he hired an attorney to file a lawsuit against Microsoft for it. He basically stated that he thought it was possible that Microsoft was so scared at that suit, that they held off delivery. Microsoft has $60B in the bank, and he thinks that a rinky-dink lawsuit scared 'em. Come on man, I mean seriously. You don't feel like you have to compete, so you have to sue? I didn't know Thomas changed his name to Scott McNealy.
Personally, I see it as a blessing that Microsoft even releases this kind of information, and so chould they. Anything less than that is incredibly myopic. Instead of looking at the situation and going "I have two-three years to fill a void now, AND plan for how I'm going to position my product when Microsoft releases theirs. Because I know that, no matter how good Microsoft's product is, it will staill have gaping holes that need to be filled. And the more I know about it today, the better position I can be in to fill those foles later." It's like telling Saddam Hussein you're gonig to invade his country 8 months before you do. Gives you time to plan for it.
But no. Most of these companies have bet their entire business model on one product. And they guard their market share like hawks. They don't see new players as a driving force for innovation, they see them as a threat that will likely destroy their very way of life, and they must protect the way things are at all costs. So they whip out their attorneys and their harsh language, and waste time they could have been spending gaining customers in the interim. Because they have yet to discover a very simple fact: If you take care of your customers, they will stay your customers. Who is going to rip out an entire O/R framework and replace it with Microsoft's if the existing code works, and works well? No one I know. At least, no one with any common sense.
Case in point. Microsoft may make the Whidbey "DataGridView" control that can keep the header, footer, and pager stationary, while scrolling the body area. Some component vendors would get scared and head for the hills, saying "I'm ruined. This component makes up 85% of my business." But I'm not like that. Why? Because I'm thankful to Microsoft for giving me ample leadtime before they enter the market, and I don't hedge all my bets on one product. If I can't make my product compete effectively with theirs in that lead time, I have more than enough time to see what ofther parts of the Framework need spackling, and whip something togther. That's called an effectiv positioning strategy, and it's way cheaper than using the Justice System as a means for beating a competitor.
It used to be, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. It was an effective mentality that worked. Today its: If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em.
The bottom line is, your real beef is that you want this technology now, and if Microsoft builds it into the .NET Framework, you won't have to pay for it. You can shell out money right now and use any one of the fine products available right now that do the trick, but you don't want to. It's the mentality of a three year old... "I want it NOW! GIMME GIMME!", and it's ridiculous. Grow up. Seriously.
Let the flaming begin.
I've been trying to convert a Windows application from VS.NET 2003 to VS.NET
2005 - March CTP, and I haven't had the best of luck. First, the
installation I did was running RIDICULOUSLY slow. Every time I made a code
change, it took in upwards of 4 minutes to recompile a 4 project solution
(on a dual proc, hyperthreaded 2.4GHz Xeon box). Then, I kept getting COM errors
in the designer. I saw some cool new properties in the "Project Properties"
dialog, like "Make Single Instance Application" and "Show Splashscreen At
Startup", but none of them were enabled in the upgraded project, which made ma
kinda mad. So I finally said "screw it", reformatted the box, reinstalled
Windows XP and VS.NET 2005, and tried to start designing a Windows application
Nothing but problems from here. First off, my toolbox was empty. Fortunately,
the toolbox has a "Restore Toolbox" option, which, after several seconds of
inactivity, gave me all my controls. Then, I go to start designing the main
form. I slap some controls on there, set some properties, and hit "Debug". I see
my splashscreen (for a 10th of a second) and then the form comes up, minus any
controls. It turns out, the designer did not progapate the code to the .VB file
AT ALL. Oh yeah, and when I go to "Project | Project Properties", the dialog
that appears is modal, and cannot be closed.
Has anyone else seen this behavior, or does my computer just hate
MaryJo has an interesting
article about BillG's comments at the 8th Annual CEO Summit. His message:
Gates called blogging and the RSS Web content syndication service a "very
interesting phenomenon." He suggested that by using RSS as notification
system, customers can "get the information you want when you want
Makes you wonder when Bill's gonna jump on the
This morning, we officially launched VisualBlogger 2004
Beta 2. I talked about it a bit earlier over on
my corporate blog. We've made some nifty changes, so if you want to find out
more, head on over. I did want to mention here that we now support dasBlog,
Radio, TypePad, and BlogWare, with more to come.
Along with this new release, I'm launching a new contest. VisualBlogger 2004
needs a logo. Since I don't have time or the skills to make one myself, and I
don't want to hire anyone to do it, I figured it would be a cool contest. The
prize is your choice of any Interscape product, or a copy of the PDC 2003
Highlights DVD. Oh yeah, and the winner will get a free copy of VisualBlogger
2004 when we do a final release in late July, early August. Here are the
- Must fit in with Interscape's look and feel. See the logos at http://www.interscapeusa.com/Products
for more information.
- Submission must include a text logo with some kind of graphic. Graphic
must be easily distinguishable in large scale for the website and
splashscreen, as well as in small scale for the program, document, and system
- Submission must convey the purpose of VisualBlogger, so that you can
tell what it does by looking at the logo.
- Winning submission must be accompanied by the original source file in
either Photoshop or Illustrator. No other drawing program formats will be
To partipate, create your entry, upload it to the site of your choice, and
link to it with your name and contact information in the comments of this entry.
The contest will run through June 15th, and later if I have to. I'm looking
forward to seeing what you guys come up with. Should be fun!
At any rate, sign up for the VisualBlogger 2004
Beta 2 today and let me know what you think.
I am very excited today to announce that my very good friends over at
Cyberakt, the makers of ASPnetMenu and RichContentRotator,
have changed their name to ComponentArt, and launched a brand new
website and new products. Man, this new site is sexy as hell. The quality of the
site design is far better than any other component vendor out there, myself
included. It's not too cluttered, it's easy on the eyes, and it makes excellent
use of blacks, whites, and reds. As any decent graphic design book or
magazine will tell you, these are the three best colors for designing
things for readability, especially in print.
Oh man, they have one of the coolest treeview
controls I have ever seen. You can nest other controls in the different
nodes, you can have menu data come back from the server to the client (very much
like the out of band callbacks in Whidbey) and all sorts of other things. You
could do some really cool stuff with these controls on a blog, especially the
new Snap control.
Snap lets you do the Web Part stuff that will be available in Whidbey today. You
can drag parts of a web page around, and it will automatically remember your
layout if you come back to the site. Man, I'd love to have some free time to
tough out LonghornBlogs.com with all
these nifty controls.
Miljan and his team are the best in the component business, and I salute
them. Great job guys, and congratulations on the new launch!
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