Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

INETA Europe - European Silverlight Challenge Competition!!

December 4, 2007 01:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Hot on the heels of Scott's announcement on the future roadmap for Silverlight.   The UK Community are pleased to announce INETA Europe's First Silverlight Challenge Competition.  The details of which are as follows:


INETA Europe, is running an European Silverlight Competition.  The competition is open now and runs until January 2th 2008.

How to enter?  Easy.  Create a .Net Component or Application using Silverlight and release it through an Open Source license (MS-PL) so INETA User Groups, Communities, Developers and Designers can use it on their own sites.

Each participating country will select a winner and then an European Silverlight Challenge winner will be drawn among the winners of the participating countries.

Entries will be awarded marks in the following four areas: Originality, Software Technique, Design and Utilisation.

Take part and take on the challenge and you could win amazing prizes with a market value close  to €150,000

For more information on the UK Competition go to and for more information on the whole competition go to

For banners and other images go to:

Prize details -

SharePoint User Group and VBUG North East Meeting - December 10th 2007!

November 27, 2007 05:08 by Andrew Westgarth

After the very successful first meeting in Newcastle back in September, I've been working with Nick Swan from the SharePoint User Group to put on another meeting.  This time we have two great speakers and SharePoint MVP's, Penny Coventry and Steve Smith delivering two great sessions:

  • Penny will be covering SharePoint Designer for All - Penny Coventry During this session, you'll see how SharePoint Designer can be used to customise SharePoint Team Sites, advanced data manipulation using the DataView Web Part, consume RSS feeds and how to complete administrative tasks, such as moving documents, including their metadata and limiting what users can do with SharePoint Designer
  • Steve will be covering ForeFront Security for SharePoint - Steve Smith Find out how to use Microsoft’s security product lo lock down your SharePoint environment including Anti Virus , Keyword Checking and Content Filtering

The meeting is being held at the BT offices, Unit 7, Room 3, Innovation Place, Delta Bank, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE11 9DJ - for a map go to

To register for the event please go to the VBUG website - VBUG and SUGUK: Newcastle - SharePoint Designer for All and Forefront Security

If you are a SharePoint Administrator, Developer or just want to find out more about MOSS, please come along all are welcome.

SQL Bits 2 - A Change of Location Too!

November 27, 2007 05:01 by Andrew Westgarth

SQL Bits Logo After the very successful SQL Bits event held in October in Reading, the organisers have another event planned for Saturday 1st March 2008 in Birmingham!  The change of venue is great and will enable many more who find the location of Microsoft in Reading prohibitive.  This event will be a full on day of SQL topics so if that is of interest to you subscribe to the RSS Feed and keep an eye on for more information.

Developer Day Scotland!! - Saturday May 10th 2008

November 27, 2007 04:57 by Andrew Westgarth

Developer Day Scotland Logo Developer Day Scotland has been announced for Saturday May 10th 2008.  This is the first event to be arranged based on the DDD format, but in another part of the UK.  DDS will be held in Glasgow on Saturday May 10th 2008 and will again be a free event with two tracks with a capacity of 120 attendees.  Speaker session submission is now open and the organisers are also looking for sponsors too.  Anyone who is the North East and West of England if you haven't been to DDD in Reading I recommend you put the date in your diary and keep and eye on the DDS website as this is shaping up to being a great event and well worth attending - .  I personally am planning on proposing a couple of sessions for selection and will also be hoping to attend even if not speaking so see you there.  Support this great event!

Back From DDD6

November 27, 2007 04:50 by Andrew Westgarth

On Saturday I attended DDD6 down at Microsoft's UK Campus in Reading.  This was another great event and a great opportunity to catch up with people and make new contacts.  I attended a full complement of sessions and found the day relaxed and useful.  The great thing about events such as DDD is that the agenda is selected by the community, the sessions are proposed by the community and the days are organised by the community.  Also because of the breadth of topics being covered I was able to cover topics which I wouldn't always be able to. 

I started off my day with a session from Dave Sussman on the forthcoming Dynamic Data Controls for ASP.Net.  Dave is a great speaker and is also very honest in his opinions, perfectly accompanied with Phil's opinions too and this gave the session a real life feel and led the audience to make their own minds up on the real use of the tools.  Essentially the people in the room were the first to see this build of the controls, they provide a good way of creating a quick admin site for a database but beyond that as Dave and Phil said, it is unclear where they would be used.

I saw Gary Short present on his Favourite Patterns next, this is a session which I have been looking forward to seeing and I'm hoping to sort out a date for Gary to come and present at VBUG in Newcastle in the New Year.  I enjoyed this session because patterns and practices is an area which I think a lot of developers, myself included, are looking to gain more knowledge and focus in, due to the pressures of time at work this is often where events like DDD can help with delivering content on this type of topic.  I enjoyed the session and look forward to learning more as I get further into the path which Gary has started.

Ben Lamb's session - Being Lazy with PowerShell was interesting and gave a quick roundup of PowerShell and why Developers should care about it.  The power of CmdLets and the control over the shell which PowerShell gives is great and I will be looking to cover a little more of PowerShell as I look at how it can be used with IIS7.

The penultimate session I attended was organised by Colin Mackay and was a Question Time type panel on the subject of Recruitment.  The panel consisted of Sarah Blow, founder of Girl Geek Dinners and Software Engineer, Barry Dorrans, Senior Consultant and Microsoft MVP, Frank Kerrigan, Development Team Lead and Karl Lightfoot, a recruitment consultant.  Colin had a series of questions submitted but also questions were taken from the floor in this hour long session.  This was a session which I had been looking forward to as this is a topic discussed within the Community at length.  Questions covered issues such as balancing evangelism and work; how to get started in the industry; what sort of positions to look for?; Why whiteboards are used in interviews?; Technical Testing methods.  This was great session and interesting to hear the issues from the four perspectives on the panel.  I'm sure this session could have occupied a lot more time.

Finally I attended Barry's session on Web Services? We don't need no web server.  This was a great session, despite Barry's live coding and time issues, and the way in which Barry handled the problems are a lesson to all presenters.  The content quality was as usual high and gave a good grounding on WCF and benefits over Remoting.  It is very difficult to find a good session on WCF as it can be a very dry topic, however this cleared up a lot of confusion and initial quandaries over WCF and I'm looking forward to having more of a look at WCF - especially with PAS on IIS7 - soon.

Overall another great day and well worth the drive down from the North East.

Tech Ed Developers 2007 - Women In Technology

November 11, 2007 15:49 by Andrew Westgarth

Women In Technology I attended a lunchtime session on the subject of Women in Technology whilst attending Tech Ed Developers.  This was held on the Wednesday Lunchtime and was very interesting and thought and hopefully action provoking session.  I have written a blog post for the Girly Geekdom Blog - Women In Technology - Tech Ed EMEA 2007.  If you are a girl in the Technology industry I invite you to subscribe to the Girly Geekdom Blog and why not attend or get involved with the Girl Geek Dinners?

Tech Ed Developers - Community Activities and Podcasts

November 11, 2007 15:42 by Andrew Westgarth

Throughout the course of the week at Tech Ed Developers there were a number of community events held in the community lounge.  Primarily these were delivered by UK Community members and leaders and brought a great buzz to the hall and the event.  Dave, Rich and John from NxtGenUG hosted the Speaker Idol competition and regularly hosted gameshows for attendees such as Swagilly Fortunes, Who Wants to Be a Swaggionaire and although the participation was hesitant once the swag started flowing attendees were flocking to take part.  The Speaker Idol competition was great and there were some excellent quality speakers and topics.  Each speaker had five minutes to deliver a presentation to an audience with the ultimate prize of presenting a session at next year's Tech Ed Developers.  One of the Judging Panel, Guy Smith-Ferrier has a blog post with a more details - TechEd Europe 2007 Speaker Idol Final

Also the NxtGenUG boys were podcasting daily from Tech Ed and as before I've mentioned their podcasts are excellent and I recommend you listen to them - Also Tim and I managed to get some more content for VBUG's podcasts and we're hoping to start publishing a number of podcasts this coming week.

Tech Ed Developers - Days 3-5

November 11, 2007 15:30 by Andrew Westgarth

Carlos Aguilar Mares Now to cover days 3-5 (Wednesday to Friday) of Tech Ed Developers.  On Wednesday morning I saw the final part of Carlos Aguilar Mares' session on Extending the IIS 7.0 Pipeline.  This was a great session and covered numerous ways in which Developers can extend the IIS7 pipeline using managed code covering elements such as Modules, Handlers, Configuration and Debugging - Carlos has posted the slides and examples on his blog - , also Carlos very kindly agreed to be interviewed for a forthcoming VBUG Podcast, look forward to publishing that soon.

Other sessions which I attended included a Virtual Earth Deep Dive, a session which I was looking forward to and hoping to get a lot from, but I left severely disappointed.  We didn't see a demo of Virtual Earth until forty minutes into the session and even then it was a very consumer related session.  This was a level 300 session and the high content of 'marketing' was very, very disappointing.  I was hoping as I assume were the many other developers in the room to see a lot more examples and information on the API and how developers can make best use of it.  In fact I saw a session on the whole of the Live platform last year at Tech Ed and felt I got more from that multi-facetted session than this supposedly specialised session.

Steve Maine I attended sessions on WCF and the Web, from Steve Maine, which was of a good high quality and showed how the platform is maturing with AJAX, REST and Syndication Services.  I also attended a very interesting session Vittorio Bertoccifrom Vittorio Bertocci on Securing ASP.Net and WCF Applications using Cardspace.  This session was very interesting and showed how easy it WILL be to implement Cardspace into applications, however there is one big flaw, the server controls and tools are currently not available and all that was said is they are coming 'soon'.  The session did however complement some of the knowledge I have of Cardspace and I will be looking into this further.  

Matt Gibbs Matt Gibbs, delivered a session showing ASP.Net Developers what is coming in the next version of ASP.Net, and by next I don't mean ASP.Net 3.5, Matt covered features coming in ASP.Net vNext which we should see sometime next year.  These new features included improved standardisation and adherence to standards, the session also covered in more detail Silverlight vNext, Astoria, new Data Controls and the MVC Framework.


The last session which I saw at Tech Ed Developers was on the topic of Avoiding Pitfalls with Windows Workflow Foundation in ASP.Net Applications presented by Gyorgy Balassy.  This was an excellent session but it was held on Friday morning and it was a level 400 session.  I was glad I was at the session as it was full of great content although as the presenter appreciated first thing in the morning this was a little heavy.  I'm looking forward to reviewing it again and writing up detailed notes on it.

Tech Ed Developers 2007 - Day 1 and 2 - Catch Up

November 7, 2007 02:30 by Andrew Westgarth

I've finally managed to take a few minutes and sit in the community lounge and write up some notes from the first two days of Tech Ed Developers 2007.  We've had a couple of very busy days so far and the pace is most definitely not slowing.  On Monday morning a large group of like minded community individuals from all over EMEA went along at a MS Influencers event where various topics and issues that the community face were discussed, such as how to increase numbers, get funding and sponsorship, increase engagement and how to take the benefits of online technologies, such as Live Meeting as we at VBUG use for online meetings.

Soma Somasegar Monday afternoon was the Keynote from Soma Somasegar, Microsoft VP of Developer Division, this was by far a better keynote presentation than we received last year, it was vibrant and upbeat.  Plus although it had an element of marketing to it the key message was that Soma and Microsoft are very, very focussed on involving the Community and enabling everyone to benefit from the power which the community has behind it.  This is a great message to be hearing as a UK Community Leader and reinforces all that I believe in and it's a great boost to hear a senior VP have such passion that myself and the many other great leaders in the UK do.  There were a number of announcements in Soma's keynote, but what I really liked about the way he handled the announcements, was that yes they are important (some very), they were not the reason he was delivering Tech Ed - his other announcements and content was more important to him, it was an excellent way to handle the announcements.

Announcements in Soma's Keynote:

  • Visual Studio 2008 will be available for download by MSDN Subscribers by the end of November 2007 with full retail launch February 27th 2008;
  • Consequently .Net Framework 3.5 will be available for download by the end of November 2007
  • Microsoft Sync Framework CTP -
  • Software and Services Blueprints (The first in a series of blueprints for developing S&S)
  • Changes to Partner Program
    • New open license terms for extending the VS IDE to support any platform
    • VS Premier Partners get access to VS IDE Source Code
  • Popfly - 100K downloads since public beta was opened on October 17th!
  • Popfly explorer plug in for VS released!

Dick Lantim Read Soma's blog post about his Keynote - TechEd Developer in Europe.  Following Soma's keynote I attended a session on Developers and Designers working together delivered by Dick Lantim and Aude Moussett. Aude Moussett I was looking forward to seeing the interoperability between the process flow from Designer and Developer however I was very disappointed with this session.  There seemed to have been very little preparation put in and the speakers seemed extremely nervous and uncomfortable with the language.  I didn't get as much as I'd hoped from this session.  I will review the session on video when the Tech Ed DVDs arrive but I was very disappointed.

Roy Osherove From a disappointing session came a great one.  Next I saw Roy Osherove deliver - Agile Development with Team System.  Roy is a great speaker and I remember hearing about his infamous songs last year on the NxtGenUG podcasts.  Indeed Roy finished his session with a version of The Police's Every Breath You Take - this was amazing and as a Police fan I really enjoyed it.  Roy covered Agile Development, Scrum and TDD and I found this whole session development and whilst Roy showed how we can use Team System for elements of the Agile Process he actually covered the methodology more and explained what it is all about which was great and brought a lot of clarity to Agile Development for me.

Monday finished with the Exhibition Hall Welcome which was a great way of meeting people and socialising with exhibitors and the community.  Also it was the start of the community activities including Speaker Idol and Swaggily Fortunes, we have some pictures on the Tech Ed Facebook group -  and they can also be found on my skydrive account for those who don't have a Facebook login -

Francois Ajenstat Tuesday was another great action packed day and I saw a great session on SQL Server 2008 and the Entity Framework, from Francois Ajenstat.  This was a great introductory session covering elements such as Resource  Francois Ajenstat - Co PresenterGovernance, Intellisense, no longer having a requirement for IIS for Reporting Services and Multi Server Management.  The release date was also cleared up in that there are expected to be at least two more CTPs before a full release in Q2 2008.

Ben Robb Following this session I went to Ben Robb's session on Building Accessible Web Sites using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the Accessibility Toolkit for MOSS.  I am currently involved in a large project with MOSS for content managed sites and as I am very interested in Accessibility, and have been for a number of years, this was a must see session.  I'm going to cover this topic better when I get back home and can install the Accessibility Toolkit and have a full look at it and write up my thoughts and experiences.  In the meantime you can find out more about the Accessibility Toolkit at

Shanku Niyogi The Final session I am going to cover from Tuesday (as the last one I saw was part one of a two parter due to finish on Wednesday morning) was Shanku Niyogi covering Developing Data Driven Applications using the New Dynamic Data Controls in ASP.Net.  I was quite intrigued by this session but I was disappointed by the delivery and therefore will follow up on this session also on my return to the UK.  Overall the first two days have been great and full of information, I think I could do with a pensieve though so I can save my thoughts, free some room up and add them back in at the end of the week!

Tech Ed Developers 2007 Day 0 - Back in Barcelona

November 4, 2007 14:45 by Andrew Westgarth

Klm Plane from Newcastle to SchipholToday I traveled to Barcelona for Microsoft Tech Ed Developers!  This is my second trip to Tech Ed and I am equally excited about this opportunity and looking forward to playing a part in the UK Community element of Tech Ed.  Tim and I are representing VBUG and it's members at Tech Ed and we are both looking forward to meeting and chatting with many UK developers and making new friends and contacts over the course of the next week.  I flew from Newcastle to  Barcelona with KLM via Schiphol and the flights weren't as bad as I'd feared as I have in the past suffered greatly with pain in my ears on landing but so far it's not been to bad.  Also we managed to see a cracking sunset as we flew over Holland on our way to Barcelona.  I hope to provide a series of Blog Posts from Tech Ed during the course of the week.  If you're out at Tech Ed, Tim and I will be spending a lot of our spare time in the Community Lounge within the Exhibition Hall so come and say Hi.

Sunset over Holland From PlaneSunset over Holland From Plane


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