Archives / 2003
  • There are more tools than just VS.NET

    Kirk Allen Evans has an excellent post on Change Control.  He points out that many software developers view change control as synonymous with Visual Source Safe, and leave things at that.  He's correct in that there's much more to Change Control than source code control, and that Rational's solutions are only useful for those few cash-rich shops that can afford it.

  • Does your project have a Heartbeat?

    I often talk to people in small software shops who are violating some of the fundamental tenants of modern software development.  Today I'd like to visit a topic that everyone knows about, but few people practice properly.  And no, I'm not talking about flossing.

  • VS.NET doesn't wash the dishes...

    I was a bit surprised reading Robert McLaw's recent complaints about his problems building deployment solutions for his software products.  As a tool vendor himself, he should realize that Visual Studio is not meant to be the be-all end-all in tools.  Sure, it offers an extremely rudimentary means of creating installer projects, but it isn't suitable for anything but the most basic of installations.  If you want a robust installer, purchase a robust tool for creating them.  (I see now that he's taking a look at a few solutions).

  • MSBuild's dirty little secret...

    Something that Microsoft's been failing to note in all the hype over MSBuild, is that Whidbey will not have MSBuild support in the C++ IDE.  I attended the MSBuild session, and this most certainly was not mentioned (a glaring omission, I believe).  It only came up in a casual conversion with an MS Staffer when I mentioned how psyched I was about this tool and how it was going to make my life easier, when he got a chagrined look on his face and admitted that there was no C++ IDE support for MSBuild.

  • MSBuild

    I usually end up doing the build and release engineering on whatever project I am on, so I’m actually a bit excited by MSBuild.  True, it’s a nAnt copy, which is, in turn, a copy of Ant, but what is imitation if not the most sincere form of flattery? (I’m relatively certain that MS didn’t use this line in the anti-trust suit.)

  • Weblogger BoF

    Well, a few other people have posted about the Weblogger's BoF, with mostly good stuff to say.  Frankly, I was rather disappointed.  I realize that bloggers are by nature “Type A” personalities, but c'mon!  Clemens Vasters talked far too much about himself (really!).  He also spent far too much time gloating over how much Das Blog is better than .Text. Perhaps it was in jest, perhaps not, it was difficult to tell.  It was also difficult to hear anyone else speak, as Vasters did not often yield the floor.

  • Destination... PDC

    Like most other people have mentioned, getting into LA today has been an adventure - 1 hour flight delay for me in Atlanta waiting for weather to clear, and then another hassle coming into LA becuase of the problem with the forest fires - apparently, the fires weren't a threat to LAX, but to a 'flight control facility' located elsewere, and there weren't enough flight controllers to handle the traffic into the LA area.  Fortunately for me, my flight was carrying precious cargo (To be specific, we had human kidneys on board being transported for a transplant).  That gave us priority to land at LAX, and so here I am at the Wilshire Grand.  If anyone wants to ring me, just call the Wilshire (rm 1082).

  • Inside Information

    Chris Sells blogs on getting the inside scoop.  Particularly, he points out that he occasionally used to ask friends inside Microsoft for info, after exhausting other reasonable means.

  • Whidbey brings 64-bit .NET

    One of the often overlooked advantages of the .NET platform when compared to traditional compiled code is that JIT-ed code can be optimized at run time, vs. compile time.

  • Regex isn't new.

    A friend of mine was going on and on about how cool regular expressions were, and how wonderful Microsoft is to have brought them to us. I had to remind her that regular expressions have been around for a long, long time.

  • Web Services: Why aren't we seeing more?

    So, I was reading G. Andrew Duthie's grammer nazi spiel,  and I decided to surf on over to While I was “just visiting,” I was struck by the realization that a dictionary or thesaurus lookup is almost the textbook example for providing a web service, yet I didn't see any reference to such on the website. Is anyone really using web services outside internal projects or verticle integration efforts?

  • Review: My first Atlanta DNUG meeting

    The other day I mentioned that I was going to my first DotNet Users Group meeting here in Atlanta.  Someone had asked that I post my impressions, so I'll do so.
    First, I'd like to express my utmost respect for anyone that has the ability and inclination to stand up in front of a group of people and give a presentation, especially in front of a bunch of techies who could likely chew you up and spit you out. There's nothing like being heckled by some of the guys who may very well have helped “write the book” on the subject that you are talking about.  That takes guts, and I tip my hat to you.
    Now, on to the show.  I arrived during the pre-show festivities - the organizers were, for lack of a better term, organized.  Check in was quick, we were given a complimentary copy of ASP.NET Pro magazine, a nametag, and a raffle ticket for the schwag raffle at the end (in this case, several ASP.NET books and a few t-shirts, none of which I was the recipient of.)
    The facilities were very nice, as it was located at the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology.  The conference hall was wired, with ethernet run to each seat location.  Very few people brought laptops, but it was obviously convenient for those who had.
    The first half hour was dedicated to networking, and meeting people. As is true with many techies, this really isn't my forte, but I did find myself in a fairly interesting conversation or two. The crowd was predominantly contractors, with very few permanent employees present.  I wasn't so surprised by this, really, but I did note one thing that struck me as interesting.  Of the (few) that were admittedly unemployed, they tended to congregate amongst themselves, and generally commiserate. The self proclaimed 'successful' people also congregated, and had passionate conversations about their latest projects. Was the passion (or lack theirof) a causal factor of employment, or an effect? I'd vote the former - it's likely that people who are more passionate about their work are also more likely to be employed.
    The main presentation was “Deploying .Net Applications Using Visual Studio” by Doug Ware.  Doug did a pretty good job of presenting a relatively dry topic.  As I've blogged about before, I'm not a big fan of MSI, and that's pretty much what we were covering.  In the hour long presentation, Doug showed us how VS.NET can be used to create an extremely simple deployment solution, and the cases in which it might fall short.  Let me tell you, the cases in which it falls short far outnumber the ones in which it doesn't.  If you are looking to put a simple GUI onto what would basically be an XCopy deployment + shortcuts + Uninstall capability, then VS.NET deployment solutions might be for you.  In all other cases, look towards InstallShield or Wise for your deployment solutions.  You'll thank yourself in the long run.
    Still, big thanks to Doug for taking us on the nickel tour of VS.NET deployment solutions. I'd also like to thank the sponsor - but I'd also like to point this out to all sponsors of events like this.  If you've spent the money to sponsor a meeting, it's really OK to spend a minute or two hyping your company or tech. I'd forgotten who the sponsor was 2 seconds after it was announced, because they didn't have anything to say.  Really, say something, so I can remember you.  Tell me why I want to know you, or your product. You've paid for the time, use it. Remember, though - I don't want a boring marketing presentation.

  • Paying for Certs

    DataGrid Girl was complaining about the cost of MCSD certification testing, a common refrain amongst techies on the certification treadmill. Something that might be news to any US veterans out there is that Uncle Sam might help - the GI Bill will pay for certification testing.
    I know that it's saved me a pretty penny - I'm working on an MCSA / MCDBA / MCSD combo, something I don't think that I'd really consider if this was all coming out of my pocket.
    Also, try bugging your employer - There really are benefits to having at least a couple of MCPs on staff, including the Microsoft Certified Partner program.  For less than price of an MSDN license, they actually get over $10,000 worth of software licenses, including all the MSDN goodies.  Having MCSDs on staff is a good marketing gimmick, too.
    I don't usually plug MS stuff, but there are pretty good arguments for your employer footing the certification bill.

  • /. on Essential .NET

    So, /. has a web article on Don Box's Essential .NET.  The book review is pretty good, actually, but some of the responses are a bit off base. Watching the *nix heads spread a little FUD of their own always gives me a good chuckle.
    I'm pretty agnostic on the OS / language wars actually - I'm a best tool for the job kinda guy.

  • Obscure bug of the minute...

    I'm working on porting an old MS C++ to Managed C++, and then perhaps on to c#.  So, I open the old .dsw project in VS.NET 2003, and whammo!  Instant project conversion, right?
    Well, sorta.  As soon as I set the project to compile with managed extensions (It Just Works, right?), i get the following compiler error:

    Command line error D2016 : '/RTC1' and '/clr' command-line options are incompatible

    It should be simple enough to go into the project settings and turn off the RTC1 option, right?

  • It's all Hype.

    There's been a lot of talk lately of SourceGear's Vault as the savior of Source Control repositories.  Lotsa Hype (with a capital H) from  Robert Hurlbut , Matthew Reynolds, and Marc LaFleur , amongst others.  Heck, with all this buzz, my company's Super Secret Weapon (and illustrious Software Architect) Paul Wilson was sitting up and taking notice. I heard him muttering something about wanting to take a look (and possibly review) Vault.  (Are you listening, Eric? )  This is after several years of my preaching to our team about how much Source Safe sucks, and we need to lay out a few bucks to purchase a _real_ solution.
    Why is it that all of a sudden the microsoft developer community is sitting up and taking notice how bad VSS is, after us config manager types have been preaching it for years?

  • Do we need a new Windows Installer?

    Several years ago, one of the big complaints about windows was that there was no operating system 'approved' method of installing programs.  Linux enthusiasts of the Redhat persuasion had their RPMs, the BSDs had their 'ports' collection, and all of the unix variants supported the lowest common denominator, "make && make install".  What did windows have?  Well, we had third party solutions like InstallShield and Wise Installer (the two most popular, though there were plenty of products in the tertiary market).  Application developers learned a third party 'custom' language such as InstallScript and the many idiosyncrasies that went along with them.  (InstallScript was a quaint mix between a C style syntax, Pascal syntax, and in its later iterations, a faintly VB-esque pseudo-OO programming model. Oh, and my personal favorite: sometimes a non-zero return value meant true.  Other times it meant false.  Still other times it signified an error condition.)

  • Wecome to... who?

    Well - This is my first blog post here, so one would suppose that the obligitory introduction is in order.  I'm a software configuration manager / release engineer for yet another large corporation.  I'm fortunate enough to work with a great team, including Paul Wilson, who is, by the way, available for work. If you'd like a great .NET architect in the Atlanta area, drop him a line!