Robert McLaws: FunWithCoding.NET

Public Shared Function BrainDump(ByVal dotNet As String) As [Value]

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You should feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I'm completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever. That said, I will most likely only delete abusive, profane, rude, or annonymous comments, so keep it polite, please.

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June 2006 - Posts

Why is Atlas Taking So Long? It’s the UpdatePanel!

Just stumbled across this article on Yahoo! News. It’s entitled “Microsoft AJAX framework forges ahead in spite of difficulties”. A quote:

San Francisco (InfoWorld) - BOSTON - Microsoft's planned Atlas framework for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) faces difficulty with its development, but promises to be a top-notch offering for the trendy Web scripting technique, a moderator of a TechEd 2006 session said on Wednesday.

One particular feature, Update Panel, is beset with reliability issues, according to moderator Jeff Prosise, co-founder of Microsoft partner Wintellect, a .Net consulting firm. UpdatePanel is an Atlas control that makes it easy to do incremental page refreshes.

Some tough decisions will need to be made pertaining to changes to UpdatePanel, said Prosise, who has been made privy to Atlas development at Microsoft. He declined to be more specific about these decisions, except to say that UpdatePanel will definitely be included in Atlas and that programmers are working on the issue.

"There's some very smart people trying to get that thing to work right now," Prosise said.

"[UpdatePanel is] an incredible piece of code but it doesn't always work. It'll work most of the time," said Prosise. UpdatePanel is not as efficient as hand-coding, but hand-coding takes much longer to do, he said.

I know that from my own personal experience, UpdatePanel can be a royal pain in the butt. I think primarily because it is badly named. People use Panel controls all the time to act as placeholders and what not. I know the Atlas team keeps getting upset because people don’t use the UpdatePanel properly, and I think that is the main reason. UpdateRegion might have been slightly more appropriate.

Then again, I suggested a while back that UpdatePanel should be changed to derive from System.Web.UI.WebControls.Panel, or it should be moved into an Atlas control extender. While I don’t know the technical ramifications of refactoring the control into an Atlas extender, it might be a more versatile approach.

I still think that too many people get hung up on the control aspects of “Atlas”, when it’s really the xml-script that makes it so powerful. It’s only a matter of time before they add a serious design-time experience to client-side web service consumption and complex databinding.

At the end of the day though, it’s still just a browser. I think that WPF (once they nail down the design time experience, which they definitely have not yet) will be the presentation platform with the most promise. At any rate, hopefully the Atlas team will drop another build on the world here pretty soon.

Adding OpenSearch for your CommunityServer Site

So last night, I had this really random idea to create an OpenSearch Provider for LonghornBlogs.com. That way I could search my site from IE7's search box. In the process, I discovered that my search is broken there, so I decided to create them for several of the main Microsoft community sites instead:

Maybe Telligent will create an OpenSearch directory for all the CS communities out there. We'll have to wait and see. Anyways, if you want to write your own, I'll show you how!

Writing Your Own Provider:

Here's what a CS 2.0 OpenSearch provider looks like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<OpenSearchDescription xmlns="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/">
 <ShortName>Your Name Here</ShortName>
 <Description>Your Description Here</Description>
 <Url type="text/html" template="http://www.yoursitehere.com/search/SearchResults.aspx?q={searchTerms}&amp;o=Relevance" />
</OpenSearchDescription>

When you form your URLs, make sure they are UrlEncoded first, or they'll throw an error.

Installing Your OpenSearch Provider:

You'll have to add a hyperlink to the provider on your website. Just use the following syntax for your link: <a href="#" onClick="window.external.AddSearchProvider(&quot;http://www.yoursitehere.com/yoursearchprovider.xml&quot;);">

That's it! It's really very simple. Of course, you can add a lot more information to your OpenSearch provider. Amazon's A9 has all the details.

E-mail Address Change
My HomentumRealty.com e-mail address no longer works. If anyone's trying to contact me, please use my InterscapeUSA.com e-mail address instead. Thanks guys!
Where is the VSTS for Database Professionals CTP?

Microsoft’s homepage for the new Visual Studio Team Suite edition says that the CTP will be available on June 11th, 2006. But it’s June 12th, 2006, and nary a word from Microsoft. So where is the CTP?

Posting to weblogs.asp.net From Word 2007

Ever since Telligent updated weblogs.asp.net to CommunityServer 2.1, I’ve been anxious to try blogging from Word 2007. But the directions in the “Help” link in Word 2007 are incorrect. Fortunately, Chris Garrett already found the solution: the correct MetaBlog API URL is http://weblogs.asp.net/blogs/metablog.ashx. Woo hoo!

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