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Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

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 - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2713709966&ref=mf  and they can also be found on my skydrive account for those who don't have a Facebook login - http://cid-f697bcd4bd5a1c5a.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Tech%20Ed%202007/

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 http://aks.hisoftware.com

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!

Book Review: IIS7 Implementation and Administration

November 1, 2007 04:15 by Andrew Westgarth

IIS7ImplementationAndAdministration This year I made my first steps on to the speaker circuit with a presentation on IIS7 for ASP.Net Developers.  IIS (Internet Information Server) is used the world over by many web developers on which to host their applications.  I have been dealing with IIS for a number of years, in both a Developer role but also as Administrator of a number of web servers and web farms.  This is where my interest in IIS has come from over the years.  IIS is a very stable platform and with IIS7 we know have, what Microsoft term as the most significant release of IIS since version 1.0, and I have to agree.

I recently got hold of a copy of this book: IIS7 Implementation and Administration written by John Paul Mueller.  This title appears to be very popular, and after speaking to Martin from Computer Manuals it would appear that is flying off the shelves. 

As stated earlier I am able to attack a review of this title from both an Administrators point of view and that of a developer.  The book is well structured and  at just over 360 pages in length it slotted nicely into my laptop backpack for carrying around with me on my recent engagements.  Split into three sections - Using IIS7; Configuring Older Applications; and Configuring Application Security  - the book is a great starting guide to using IIS7.  The first section gets the reader to grips with the basics of working with files and the new UI within IIS7 and gives enough information and detail with which to get up and running with IIS7.  In the Configuring Older Applications section, John Paul, guides the reader through working with ASP, IIS6 Manager and other application types such as PHP and ColdFusion.  This a key section for those looking to upgrade to IIS7 and take advantage of the new features and integrated pipeline but still running ASP/PHP/ColdFusion etc applications in addition/instead of ASP.Net Applications.

The final section of the book primarily covers Application Security, but also covers connecting to databases, globalization, application performance and application configuration.  This final section is goes into quite a high level of detail and although I have covered .Net Roles and Profiles quite extensively I still found this section very very useful.  In my presentations I cover the ApplicationHost.Config and Administration.Config files and this section covers the structure of the configuration files well and covers the question of administration delegation well and highlights the associated risks and benefits.

This book was a joy to read and I think that is suitable for beginners and experienced developers and administrators alike.  The book covers a lot of the new features which many developers are aware of, but now they are integrated into the pipeline, administrators can now read about and understand to help communicate with developers on an more level plain.  This book is a great guide to IIS7 and I would recommend it to anyone who has either previous experience with IIS or who are just getting into it and want to know more about IIS7 as a development and hosting platform.

Book Details:

Title: IIS7 Implementation and Administration

Author: John Paul Mueller

Publisher: Sybex

Link to purchase on Computer Manuals : http://www.compman.co.uk/scripts/browse.asp?ref=859158

Updated Blog - New Engine and New Hoster

October 22, 2007 06:13 by Andrew Westgarth

 

I've finally moved to a new Blogging Engine, I've been taking a look at the various options available for a while now, and have finally taken the plunge and I'm trying BlogEngine.Net.  I had looked at Subtext and DasBlog but I've been trying BlogEngine.Net for a couple of months while I tested functionality and decided that I would give this one a try and so far I have been impressed.  BlogEngine.Net is a CodePlex Project and is regularly updated and the team behind it have a very impressive roadmap and vision for the engine.  No sooner had they released the recent v1.2 build than they are already looking at v1.3.  My only gripe so far has been with the Blog Import tool, but I managed to find a way round it by importing my blog into the v1.1 release then upgrading to v1.2 and then published the blog.  I'll give a full run down of features in a future post.

My reason for moving to an engine was that I didn't have time to constantly tweak and develop my self created blog and even at some points the time it was taking to prepare a post and actually publish the post was prohibitive.  By using an engine which is being worked on by the community the work is shared and a lot of the functionality which I wanted to develop is already here.  Also I can now use, and am currently with this post, Windows Live Writer to prepare posts and post directly from any PC, I'm also going to be taking a look at blogging direct from Microsoft Office Word 2007.  Hopefully with a better engine behind my blog I'll be able to blog a lot more frequently, so expect to see lots of new content.

I have also moved to a new hosting package with Discount ASP.Net.  Discount ASP.Net are a well known Award Winning Web Hosting provider and are always ahead of the game in providing functionality for ASP.Net developers to take advantage of.  For example Discount ASP.Net are currently offering a free Beta Account with ASP.Net 3.5 and IIS7 Hosting together, showing there commitment to innovation and industry leading services.  I've not been happy with the lack of speed with which 1and1 move as regards to providing there customers with new features, especially with the high end shared hosting package like I was on, such as AJAX and SQL Server 2005 Support (both still not provided), plus with the costs and pricing plan that Discount ASP.Net employ I will also be making a significant cost saving.  My experience so far with set up and facilities provided my Discount ASP.Net has been excellent and I would fully recommend their services.

Discount ASP.Net Hosting Packages

Apress Book Review - Microsoft SharePoint: Building Office 2007 Solutions in C# 2005

September 19, 2007 00:03 by Andrew Westgarth

My colleague Aidan Garnish has written a great review of the Scott Hillier's book, Microsoft SharePoint: Building Office 2007 Solutions in C# 2005.  It appears that this is a great book to get a good overview and grounding in the main concepts relating to Application Development using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.  Check out Aidan's review at http://aidangarnish.typepad.com/aidangarnish/2007/08/book-review---m.html and you can get the book at Computer Manuals - http://www.compman.co.uk/scripts/browse.asp?ref=814091

Aidan's blog is a great resource too for anyone getting into developing on MOSS2007.  Aidan has a lot of experience with SharePoint 2003 and is now along with the rest of the team working with MOSS 2007 to develop Internet Content Managed Sites.

Great Article on Developing Modules and Handlers for IIS7 using .Net

August 16, 2007 14:44 by Andrew Westgarth

Mike Volodarsky, a Program Manager on Microsoft's IIS Team, has published a great Blog Post on developing modules and handlers for IIS7 using .Net.  The post goes through how to decide which to develop, which tools you need and how to develop modules and handlers and deploy them to an IIS7 server.  This posting is well worth looking at if you are interested in IIS7 Development, http://mvolo.com/blogs/serverside/archive/2007/08/15/Developing-IIS7-web-server-features-with-the-.NET-framework.aspx.

This is the start of an IIS7 .Net Developer series, so keep an eye on Mike's blog for more content coming soon.

Categories: ASP.Net | How To | IIS
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Blog Engine

August 13, 2007 01:47 by Andrew Westgarth

The reason why I've not been very active in my blogging recently is the time it takes currently to post an entry.  Currently it is very time consuming for me to post a new entry due to the model behind my Blog.  I built the blog based on an article by Bipin Joshi in ASP.Net Pro Magazine last year.  My plan was to develop the blog and add multiple items to it and make it easier for me to post on.

I have been looking at multiple engines to use and came across BlogEngine.net a project on CodePlex which appears to be very good.  I am likely to implement this after some testing and customisation.  Does anyone else out there use this?  What are your opinions of it?  Are there any other engine's you recommend?

Guy Smith-Ferrier Is an MVP!

July 17, 2007 01:10 by Andrew Westgarth

Great news, Guy has been recognised as an MVP - http://www.guysmithferrier.com/trackback.aspx?Entry=133

This is great news and recognises the excellent work that Guy does in the Community. I am currently working with Guy and other Community Leaders to try and arrange for Guy to speak in the North of England, watch this space for more news. We are all very pleased to have the opportunity to have Guy visit our user groups and I recommend you to keep an eye out for registration details for events later this year!

DDD5 - A Great Day, A Surge and an Outage

July 17, 2007 00:30 by Andrew Westgarth

You may look at the title of this post and wonder what on earth I'm on about! Well this is my first post since DDD5 and there's a story behind why.

DDD5 was a great day and had been eagerly awaited by many including me, as this was biggest speaking engagement so far! I woke up early on the Saturday morning, raring to go only to find that the lady who was due to cook breakfast at the B&B Dave McMahon, Fellow Speaker, and I were staying at, had not turned in (we later found she was not well). So we headed off to DDD to get prepared and briefed. I was on first in Chicago 2! When I first saw the agenda about eight weeks ago, I was surprised to see my session was so popular. This was both very pleasing but daunting too.

I had a good attendance in my session on IIS7 for ASP.Net Developers. The topic seemed well received, some swag, namely the famous Microsoft socks, was distributed to quite an interactive crowd, for 9:30 on a Saturday morning. Lee Dale has a post on his experience in the session and during DDD5 - http://leedale.wordpress.com/2007/07/01/ddd5-at-microsoft-tvp-reading/ and Guy Smith Ferrier also passed on his compliments about my session - http://www.guysmithferrier.com/trackback.aspx?Entry=131. I got a major buzz from speaking at DDD and there in lies the surge behind the title. I didn't realise the adrenalin buzz I got from delivering my session, I was totally wired. I realised this when my body went in to shutdown during Richard Fennell's session on Visual Studio Team System. This was a great session and reminded me of the great features available for project and code management in TFS, this is the first time I'd seen a session on VSTS since the VS2005 launch events. My sincere apologies to Richard if it looked as though I was dropping off on the front row in his session, I was just consumed by a complete drain of energy after my session. Richard your session was great and I really enjoyed it.

The rest of the day was very enjoyable as ever and these events are definitely a must attend ever more evident by the speed in which registration is filled. This year less than 5 days!! I went to a very light and thought provoking session by Dave Sussman on CSS and it was good to see I had been having the same issues as many others but that my knowledge was also better than I thought! I also managed to see an interesting and light session on the SDK that BT have released - a session entitled How to make a Phone Ring with one line of code! - For more details on the SDK visit the BT site - http://web21c.bt.com.

I also managed to see Barry Dorrans' session on Information Card - http://idunno.org/archive/2007/06/30/an-introduction-to-information-card.aspx. This was the first time I've managed to catch this session, and it was very interesting and great to learn more about an area I knew very little about. Barry's sessions are always very informative and he manages to strike a good balance between content and humour and keeps audiences enthralled throughout.

On the Friday before DDD5 myself and numerous other Community Leaders met with Microsoft DPE to discuss the community needs, how we could all work together and learn from each other. These are very useful days and it is worth noting the massive support we are given by the team at Microsoft and indeed throughout the UK Community. By working together we hope to be able to service the needs of developers nationwide.

The slides and demos for my session - IIS 7 for ASP.Net Developers can be downloaded using the following links:

MIX UK! - September 11th & 12th 2007

June 24, 2007 23:43 by Andrew Westgarth

MIX:07 UK Logo

Last week Microsoft announced the forthcoming MIX:07 2 day conference in the UK. This is lined up to be a UK based event based on the MIX event held in Las Vegas in April, however the content will be updated to reflect developments since then.

Registration is not open yet, however to register your interest in the event and to get all the info as soon as it's available visit the MIX:07 UK website - http://www.microsoft.com/uk/mix07/



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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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