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Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Top Answer! People in our survey said..... NextGenUG Fest07

March 30, 2007 18:11 by Andrew Westgarth

Last month I posted details of the NxtGenUG Fest07 event being held on 23rd May 2007 at Microsoft's Offices in Reading, UK. This is NxtGenUG's first conference and the agenda is looking great, they have Rafal Lukawiecki (Voted top Tech Ed Speaker for last 7 years running!) speaking on Vista Security! Other speakers include Dave and Rich, Daniel Moth and Mike Taulty, Oliver Sturm, Lorna Brown and the day finishes off with what's bound to be a fun end to the day as, NextGen's very own Les Dennis and Vernon Kaye - Dave and Rich play Swaggily Fortunes! For full details of the agenda see the Fest 07 section on the NxtGenUG Site.

Special Note: The early bird price for non NxtGenUG members of ?54.99 expires on 31st March 2007 so if you're interested register soon to take advantage of the special price.

Upcoming VBUG North East Meetings

March 23, 2007 14:54 by Andrew Westgarth

We have a number of events planned for VBUG in the North East of England over the coming months, indeed we have a meeting a week on Tuesday. Here are the details of the forthcoming events. For the events in May, July and beyond further information will be available soon.

Tuesday April 3rd 2007 - Creating Rich User Experiences with Expression, WPF and "WPF/E" with Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston, Developer & Platform at Microsoft UK, will introduce ?WPF/E? and Expression. ?WPF/E? is the codename for a new rich internet technology that allows developers & designers to create very rich applications that are delivered cross-browser & cross-platform. He will introduce the technology, show some sample apps & create an app using Expression & Visual Studio tools. Expression is a range of tools aimed at designers wanting to create rich user experiences on the desktop & on the web.

Venue: - Northumbria University, Ellison Place, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 8ST - Virtual Earth Map

Time: 18:30 - 21:00 (19:00 Start)

To book email or call 01753 649680

Thursday May 31st 2007 - IIS 7 For ASP.Net Developers with me, Andy Westgarth!

With the launch of Windows Vista came Internet Information Server 7.0. IIS7 is the latest release of Microsofts Web Server which will form part of the forthcoming Windows Longhorn Server. With this release comes a new extensibility model which gives us more options than ever before. During the session we will investigate the new model, look at extending IIS7, configuring IIS 7, develop new modules for IIS and take a look at the new UI for managing IIS7.

Venue: - Newcastle Full details to be confirmed

Time: 18:30 - 21:00 (19:00 Start)

To book email or call 01753 649680

Wednesday July 11th 2007 - Ruby On Rails with Dave Verwer

This session gives a first look at Ruby on Rails as both a language (Ruby) & a web development framework (Rails). With all of the buzz & hype around this new technology, this session will give a view of it from the perspective of somone familiar with Microsoft .NET development tools and technologies. It will cover some of the basics of Ruby as a language & will then show some of what can be done with Ruby on Rails.

Venue: - Newcastle Full details to be confirmed

Time: 18:30 - 21:00 (19:00 Start)

To book email or call 01753 649680

For information all events running across the country at various venues go to the VBUG Events Page and take a look, or why not subscribe to the VBUG Events RSS feed?

Hope to see you at an event soon!

New User Group for the Bristol Area

March 23, 2007 14:39 by Andrew Westgarth

Guy Smith-Ferrier, one of the Four Chaps From Blighty, emailed this week to tell me of a new user group for the Bristol Area. Here's the information Guy sent through:

The UK has a new user group, The .NET Developer Network ( The .NET Developer Network is a free user group based in Bristol (England) that serves .NET developers in the South West of England. The aim is to develop and promote the .NET developers, architects and IT pros of Bristol and the South West. Through monthly meetings we expect to generate a lively community and act as a focal point for the professionals of this area.

The first meeting is on Monday 23rd April 2007 (St. George's Day) and features a whole evening with Mike Taulty (Microsoft Developer Evangelist) giving two sessions on LINQ:-

  • Introduction to Language Integrated Query ? Language Changes in C# 3.0 and VB9 that facilitate LINQ
  • LINQ and Advances for Data Access

More details available here. To attend you need to be a member (it's free, just register) and then sign up for the meeting (see the details on the site).

Come down to the first ever .NET Developer Network meeting and be able to tell people that you were there at the very beginning.

MSDN Roadshow 2007 Harrogate

March 14, 2007 00:05 by Andrew Westgarth

Today, I attended the MSDN Roadshow in Harrogate. The community was well represented with myself and Phil Winstanley in attendance on hand to answer questions and queries about how the community can assist developers. Phil is the Regional Coordinator for Manchester VBUG and is also involved with the organisation of DDD and he is one of the principal organisers of WebDD. On top of all that Phil is an MVP and ASP Insider.

The day was split into five sessions, each comprising of 60 minutes on the following topics plus 10 minutes on Office 2007.

The sessions were very interesting and I saw some new content on LINQ and through Daniel and Mike's sessions I have been able to see how it can be used in Real World Applications as previously the sessions I've seen on LINQ have left me wondering if it can actually be used in an enterprise environment, but now I have the initial threads of interest to go and look into it further to look at how it could be implemented. Mike Ormond's session on AJAX development showed how to extend ASP.Net 2.0 applications to take advantage of the AJAX for ASP.Net 2.0 Library and how to begin to optimise AJAX enabled pages. I have been using AJAX for quite a while now, approximately 12 months (Betas, Release Candidates etc) and after this session I realised there are still some things I can learn.

Mark Johnston covered WPF and WPF/E and took delegates through developing applications for both using Expression Blend, Design and Visual Studio 2005. Mark also showed some interesting examples of how WPF is being used. Martin Parry finished off the day by exploring the Windows Live platform. This includes Live Messenger, Live Search, Live Expo, Live Spaces, Live Contacts, for more information on what's available visit the Live Developer Centre. As mentioned previously I saw a session of Windows Live at Tech Ed and it is certainly a very interesting platform to work from. It is expected there will be further detail on the platform at the upcoming MIX 07 Conference. Martin demoed building apps to make use of the SDKs for developing apps against Virtual Earth, Live Search and Live Contacts.

All in all it was a very useful and interesting day and well worth attending. I recommend the MSDN Roadshow events to anyone who can attend, they are usually very well attended and full of lots of useful information and thought provoking sessions. Keep an eye on MSDN Events for future events and why not sign up for the MSDN Flash Newsletter, which is sent out by the MSDN team fortnightly with some interesting articles and details of both Microsoft and Community events around the country.

For all of the slides and additional resources from the MSDN Roadshow go to

Podcasts from MVP Summit 2007

March 13, 2007 00:59 by Andrew Westgarth

Dave McMahon and Richard Costall of NxtGenUG are currently attending the MVP Summit in Seattle and are delivering Podcasts daily this week from the summit. Richard Costall is an ASP.Net MVP and Dave McMahon is a Connected Systems Developer MVP. The MVP Summit is held every 18 months and MVPs from all around the globe meet together.

Why not add the Podcast RSS Feed to your aggregator -

For more information on the MVP Program visit the MVP Homepage.

Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 Update for Windows Vista

March 8, 2007 01:55 by Andrew Westgarth

Wow no posts for a while then three come along at once, sorry they've come at once been a little busy.

Just released is the Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 Update for Windows Vista. This release had previously been available as a beta but has now been fully released and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center at the following link:

NextGenUG EVO Launch Event

March 8, 2007 01:55 by Andrew Westgarth

A lot of the community groups are holding EVO Launch events at the moment and NxtGenUG recently held their event in Coventry and from the article on their site it looked to be a complete hoot! Of particular interest is Dave McMahon's show stealing ReadyBoost song, check out the article and watch the video, hosted on Soapbox, of Dave's ReadyBoost Song.

DevWeek 2007 - Days 2 And 3 (27th/28th Feb 2007)

March 8, 2007 01:54 by Andrew Westgarth

Apologies for the delay in writing this post things have been extremely manic since my return from DevWeek. As intimated in my previous post I had the pleasure of attending the first three days of DevWeek 2007. Day 1 is covered in my blog post entitled DevWeek 2007. I was attending and representing VBUG during my breaks and spare time, we had a stand at DevWeek, and we were on hand to sign up new members, offer support and answer any questions delegates had about VBUG and the UK Community.

Day 2 - 27th February 2007

My second day at Devweek, the first day of the conference proper, started with a keynote from Jeff Prosise who took a lighthearted, informative and very enjoyable (albeit in a very hot auditorium) look at the development of Web Applications over the last decade, ranging from pre ASP apps, using ISAPI filters and VB applications through to the current ASP.Net and AJAX enabled applications. Jeff also highlighted the emergence of WPF/E. I then attended a session by Keith Brown on Securing ASP.Net 2.0 Applications. This covered standard exploits such as filtering input, sql injection, cross site scripting and methods for abaiting the issues with these problems. Keith also highlighted the resources from Microsoft Patterns and Practices, these can be found under the following guide from MSDN - Improving Web Application Security: Threats and Countermeasures.

In the afternoon I attended two sessions from Jeff Prosise - one on development of Custom Providers for ASP.Net 2.0 and the other on Asynchronous ASP.Net Programming. These were both extremely interesting sessions and in the first session Jeff spoke about how the Provider model which exists within ASP.Net 2.0 can be extended and that you can write your own providers quite easily, for example if you already have a membership database and do not want to port this to say the SQLMemberShipProvider Default store, for example, then you could quite easily write your own provider to communicate with your Membership data store. For further guidance and example code download the Provider Toolkit from the ASP.Net Section on MSDN.

In the early evening there was a drinks reception for all delegates to chat to other delegates and to chat to all the exhibitors and to take part in the prize trail. The prize trail required delegates to answer questions about each of the exhibitors and in return their answers were entered into a prize draw to win a number of prizes. This was a great element of the conference and I met and spoke to some very interesting people from various locations within EMEA who were attending DevWeek.

Day 3 - 28th February 2007

Day 3, my final day at the conference, as exhibitors were only exhibiting on the 27th and 28th. I attended sessions by Dino Esposito, Dominick Baier, Keith Brown and ritz Onion.

Session One was Dino Esposito's Architecture session on building Real World Business and Data Layers using Design Patterns. In this session Dino covered the terminology involved, defined a BL and DAL and gave clear indicators on how each should be architected and how pattens can be used to produce desire goals, he also relayed that information on to how it is used in practice to give delegates clear ideas on how to move forward with their solutions.

Session two was the turn of Dominick Baier to cover IIS7 for ASP.Net Developers. This was a session I had been eagerly awaiting and it was clear by the numbers crammed into a very small room that this was a topic which provoked lots of interest. As previously mentioned on this blog, IIS7 is something which has captured a lot of my interest of the past few months and will command a lot of my time and research over the coming months as I prepare my sessions for VBUG North East and VBUG Leeds which are being delivered at the end of May and early June. Dominick highlighted new areas which I hadn't seen covered at Tech Ed and increased my knowledge and gave me new areas to investigate. The new architecture of IIS7 was covered in detail and especially the integration of ASP.Net within IIS7, Dominick also covered a number of security aspects and also Windows Activation Services, which enables the hosting of WCF within IIS7. This was a great session and you can expect to see more blog posts about IIS7 in the coming weeks and months.

Session three saw Keith Brown cover Migrating ASMX and COM+ to WCF. This session covered the migration process to move existing Web Services and COM+ services to WCF services. Keith demonstrated the interoperability and integration arguments and possibilities. Essentially standard ASMX can be integrated and migrated fairly easily, the recommend ed guide for handling ASMX with WSE 2.0 is to upgrade to WSE 3.0 and then migrate or integrate.

At session four I saw Fritz Onion cover CSS Control Adapters for ASP.Net 2.0. These are a set of Control Adapters which have been developed to enable the built in controls within ASP.Net 2.0 such as Menu, TreeView, GridView and Datalist to output CSS Compliant code replacing, for example with the Menu Control, table structures with Unorder Lists (UL) and ListItems (LI) enabling more compliant and accessible code, and these enable the separation of styling from the code. Fritz also covered the development of browser files and developing controls to take advantage of the adapters.


All in all my attendance at DevWeek was a worthwhile experience as it allowed me to meet with a new section of the community and to cover topics which I haven't had chance to cover on a detailed basis. However I am unsure as to it's value compared to my attendance at Tech Ed last November. In DevWeek's favour it is the only week long Microsoft based conference in the UK and for developers who do not have the opportunity to travel and get to events such as Tech Ed then it represents a good investment in their time. Speaking to other delegates however, it seems there has been some overlap of sessions from last year, which is disappointing. I would also recommend that the sessions are cut to one hour long as I believe ninety minute sessions are too long and along with comments from other delegates felt myself switching off after 60 minutes. I think this length of sessions has been prved to work at DDD, WebDD and the VBUG Conference. I would also recommend more cutting edge sessions which focus on new and emerging technologies, whilst it is good to have a balance, it is also useful to be exposed to new technology and developments, especially if delegates don't have much chance to see these in their day to day lives. I would also suggest that the layout of the exhibition hall with all the tables and chairs isn't great for encouraging delegates to mingle and communicate with each other.

DevWeek 2007

February 26, 2007 19:00 by Andrew Westgarth

This week I am attending DevWeek 2007 at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London. This is the first time that I've attended DevWeek and I have the pleasure of attending the first day's preconference seminars and the first two days of the main conference. DevWeek is in it's 10th year and is organised by Nick Payne of Bearpark Publishing.

VBUG are exhibiting at the conference and during the session breaks and during the lunch hour I will be on the VBUG stand available to answer queries about what VBUG and the UK developer community can offer delegates, if you are attending DevWeek and would like to talk about VBUG or anything else to do with the UK developer community come and find me on the stand. If you're not attending but have questions please contact me using the contact form.

Today (Monday) I have spent the day in a preconference seminar delivered by Dino Esposito. The topic of this seminar was "Windows Workflow Foundation - a developer's walkthrough". Although I have known of and have attended sessions on Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) over the course of the past year but I have not had the opportunity to actually use the framework in any of my projects. WF has many uses in many applications although it must be stressed that it is only a framework for developers to use to add Workflow features to applications, it is not a fully product. WF is now used in many of Microsoft's latest products, indeed I am currently involved in a project which requires the use of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS2007) to publish content managed websites and the evidence of WF being used in this product is extensive and whilst there are a number of workflows available out of the box it is also possible to create your own workflows to be used with MOSS2007.

The preconference session was a great way to see how the developers can use the provided activities, develop custom activities and use the facets of WF to provide Workflow for applications. Although this was a very intensive session, four concurrent one and a half hour sessions, this was a very useful session and I have a better idea of how WF can be used in a number of applications both personally and professionally.

Currently to develop Windows Workflow Foundation Applications with Visual Studio 2005 you will need to install .Net Framework 3.0 (If you are running Windows Vista it is already installed as part of Vista), Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for .Net 3.0 and Visual Studio Extendions for WF. Expect to see even more integration of WF in the new IDE we are expecting in Visual Studio 'Orcas', scheduled for release later this year.

The rest of the DevWeek Conference is made up of seven tracks, three .Net, one ASP.Net/AJAX, one Architecture and two SQL DevCon. There is a wide range of topics on the schedule, ranging from Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Commmunication Foundation, to SQL Server Reporting Services and Practical Patterns in .Net development. I am looking forward to seeing a sessions on ASP.Net Security, Asynchronous ASP.Net and more on IIS7 for developers. I'll try to blog about my experiences in each session throughout the week where possible.

Virtual PC 2007 and SQL Server 2005 SP2 Released

February 20, 2007 15:33 by Andrew Westgarth

Virtual PC 2007 and SQL Server 2005 SP2 have been released by Microsoft. I've been waiting for the release of Virtual PC 2007 for quite a while as I develop at home on Windows Vista and need to use VPC to work from Home as we use VPC at work. Some features of the new release are:

  • Improved Performance over VPC2004
  • Support for Windows Vista as a Host and as a Guest OS
  • Support for Windows Vista 64-Bit
  • Support for hardware virtualisation
  • Support for PXE Network Booting of Virtual Machines
  • Support for use of Full screen Virtual Machines on Multi Monitor Systems (VM remains on one screen)
For more information about Virtual PC visit the Microsoft Virtual PC Website and for more information why not check out Ben Armstrong's Blog, Ben is a Program Manager on the Virtual Machine Team at Microsoft.

Also released is SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2. To find out more use the following links:

Wow it's only Tuesday and already two significant releases!


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