Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

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

Vista and Office Launch Online!

January 18, 2007 11:41 by Andrew Westgarth

The official in person Windows Vista and Office 2007 Launch Event in Reading has been full for a long time now, but the great news is that you can take part in the launch event online. The Keynote is being streamed over the internet and can be viewed by all you don't need to register just remember this URL - and go there tomorrow to see all of the sessions and the keynote on the web!

There are also copies of Windows Vista and Office 2007 for you to win if you take part in the day 2 coding sessions online. These are two practical scenarios wherehy you will have a chance to develop a solution for Windows Vista and Office 2007! Cool! Mike Ormond and Ian Moulster have posted more information about this.

Go to the URL NOW - and bookmark it then set up a reminder in Outlook and remember to go back tomorrow and take part in this unique Online Launch event!

I will be at the event on and around the VBUG come and say hello and tell me what you think about the event, ask about VBUG and if you have any feedback about my blog then please let me know.

MSDN/TechNet Roadshow 2007 - Register Now to Avoid Disappointment

January 11, 2007 13:28 by Andrew Westgarth

Hi, back in December I posted the dates for the 2007 MSDN/TechNet Roadshow. As usual registration is filling up quickly and some events are already full and have a waiting list.

If you want to attend any of these events please register soon to avoid disappointment! I'll be attending the MSDN Roadshow in Harrogate, say hi if you see me there!

PDC 07 - Los Angeles October 2nd - 5th 2007

December 13, 2006 01:55 by Andrew Westgarth

Whilst waiting for Visual Studio 2005 to publish my updates to my Blog, I noticed a thread on Channel 9 about PDC and lo and behold on the PDC website the dates for next years conference. From what I've been told by people who have been to a PDC, it is well worth going to if you get the opportunity, and you will be amazed by the sheer scale of the event. For further information and to keep up to date with the announcements visit the site and subscribe to the PDC RSS Feed.

Windows Vista and Office 2007 UK Developer Launch - 19th & 20th January 2007

December 8, 2006 15:15 by Andrew Westgarth

There is to be a two day Vista and Office 2007 Developer Launch event at the Microsoft UK Campus in Thames Valley Park, Reading on Friday 19th January 2007 and Saturday 20th January 2007. The two days enable developers to see the new features in the Vista and Office and on the Saturday, there will be an opportunity to gain some hands on experience developing applications for both.

Day One (Friday) will include sessions detailing various new features of each platform and how to take advantage of the new products, and the keynote will be delivered by Sanjay Parthasarathy, Vice President of the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft. Day Two (Saturday) is a day in which delegates will have an opportunity to write some practical code against the products, Vista in the morning, and Office 2007 in the afternoon.

For more information and to register see the following link -

For those who cannot make it to Reading for the in person launch there is also going to be a very extensive online launch. You do not need to register for the online event just go to the above URL and you will be able to view the sessions online.

MSDN and TechNet Roadshow Events

December 4, 2006 21:07 by Andrew Westgarth

Microsoft have released details of a number of events they are running for the Developer and IT Pro community. The dates and registration links are listed below. I am planning on attending the Harrogate MSDN Roadshow so if you're attending come and say hello! Registration is likely to fill up quickly so I advise registering as soon as you can. Also if you find after you've registered that you can't make the event please let MS know and that way someone else can use your place.

The MSDN Roadshow events will cover lates developments in new technologies including C# 3, VB 9, XLINQ, DLINQ, WPF/E, WPF, AJAX, and the LIVE Platform.
MSDN Roadshow Locations and Dates:

The TechNet Roadshow events will cover Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007.

An Code Monkey Goes to Tech Ed 2006 - Final Day (Day 4) - Sessions

November 11, 2006 00:50 by Andrew Westgarth

Today I have participated in the following:

  • Optimizing Performance and Scalability of Distributed .NET Applications - Ingo Rammer
  • Web Accessibility in the AJAX Age - Cynthia Shelly
  • DEMO: IIS 7.0: The Net .NET Extensibility Interfaces - Thomas Deml
  • Visual Studio 2005 - Advanced Data Access Techniques - Jay Schmelzer

Today I enjoyed Thomas' session on IIS7 Extensibility and will definitely look into this further as I look at examples and visit the IIS Community Site and will post further details about this topic. Thomas walked us through a way of creating a photo album application using a HTTP Handler, image files and IIS. This was really powerful but also simple. Watch this space for more information.

Ingo's performance session was very interesting. He showed ways of using utilities such as Fiddler to inspect traffic and determine where problems are occurring in .NET Applications. He also demonstrated using SQL Profiler and how to inspect memory using CLRProfiler. In one example he showed which version of a web grid, from commercial supplier with loads of enhancements, uses the most memory per instantiation! This was very enlightening and showed further methods with which third party controls should be compared when selecting the right control for the job.

Jay, took us through building a data driven application and demoed the use of the dataset designer in Visual Studio 2005 to build a Data Access Layer. He also showed us how to use entity relationships to enforce data integrity and validation. This was a very clear tutorial/demo and one I'll be looking to port to a web equivalent as the demo was a windows forms app. I haven't used the dataset designer and I tend to write my own DALs so I will be looking at this and determining it's suitability for my work.

I am quite aware of the work of the W3C and it's WCAG for accessibility and indeed having worked in the Public Sector and having studied the topic at University I am very focussed on building accessible websites. Unfortunately Cynthia's session left me feeling that I had wasted an opportunity to see something else. Whilst the session was very good at outlining approaches developers should use when developing websites, I wanted to see how to make AJAX accessible and unfortunately this was covered in less than fifteen minutes towards the end of the session and was covered too quickly. I will post the method for this after I have reviewed the slides and have gathered my thoughts as my initial gut reaction was that a good solution has not been provided.

An Code Monkey Goes to Tech Ed 2006 - Day 3 - INETA Dinner

November 11, 2006 00:36 by Andrew Westgarth

Last night I had the pleasure of attending an INETA dinner held in the maritime museum in Barcelona. The setting was excellent as was the food. The best bit of the evening was the company I was in. I was amongst a large amount of the community leaders from the EMEA region. This included (to name just a few), UK, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Romania. This was an excellent night for me to meet other leaders in the community and to build up contacts and to put names to faces. The evening also helped me to find out what other User Groups are doing throughout EMEA for their members and to see how active the community movement is in EMEA. I had a great night and a big thanks to all those who I met and spoke with for making the experience so enjoyable.

An Code Monkey Goes to Tech Ed 2006 - Day 3 - Sessions

November 11, 2006 00:36 by Andrew Westgarth

Day 3 and the sessions I attended were:

  • Delving into Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers - Brian Randell
  • End-to-End - Building a Complete Web Application using 2.0, Visual Studio 2005 and Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0 - Two Parts - Matt Gibbs
  • Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0: End-to-End Overview of Microsoft's New Web Application Server - Thomas Deml
  • Building Web Parts The Smart Way - Jan Tielens & Patrick Tisseghem

Yesterday was very much IIS 7.0 day for me. This is an area I have lots of interest in as although I am effectively a Developer I have spent a number of years administering IIS servers in different companies I have worked for so I have an interest and experience. I am very much intrigued by the modularised development of IIS 7.0 and the benefits of being able to extend it in VB.Net/C# and that you only install what you want on your server when you want it. Plus developers have more control than ever over simple settings such as directory browsing and default documents, this is all now handled via web.config! This has some great benefits to developers who have shared hosting!

Expect to see a lot more posts regarding IIS 7.0 as I find out more!

In the other two sessions I attended today I was shown how to implement unit testing, code coverage and other testing methods using VSTS for Software Developers and develop Web Parts for SharePoint. VSTS for Software Developers is the client I use at work and have had limited exposure to the other features which are available as opposed to VS Professional Edition. This talk gave me some more avenues to explore however it also went back over a lot of old ground, re VSTS. I was disappointed with the web parts session as I thought, reading the session title and description, that this would cover a lot of uses of web parts in 2.0 web applications but the speakers spent the majority of the session showing differences between web parts in the different versions of SharePoint and how to leverage the 2.0 web part model in SharePoint. This was of limited use for myself as I do very little custom work for SharePoint. However I hope it does come in useful at some point, I'm sure it will.

An Code Monkey Goes To Tech Ed 2006 - Day 2 - Afternoon 3,4 & 5

November 9, 2006 10:00 by Andrew Westgarth

The afternoon of day 2 left me seeing:

  • 10 Undiscovered Features of 2.0 - Fritz Onion
  • Using Visual Studio Team System to Design, Develop and Test Enterprise Web Applications - Keith Smith
  • Windows SharePoint Services v3 Development: Web Parts, Master Pages, Field Types and More - Ted Pattison

Fritz covered a number of features buried within 2.0 which I would imagine many have not seen such as CSS Control Adapters - these are an extension for which enables the server controls such as menu, datalist, datagrid to render in full css as opposed to tables. This is great from an accessibility point of view and is used in this blog and in other projects I am working on. Another neat feature is the Application offline, this is a html file which sits in the application directory and if IIS detects it, displays this file and it is customisable so you can easily take a site offline for updates and render a custom page to inform users what is happening. The full listing of features Fritz covered are: Offline applications, Validation groups, CSS control adapters, Nested declarative data binding, Control focus / default buttons, Multi-source cross page post back, Site-wide control references, Custom evaluation expressions, DefaultHttpHandler endpoint mapping, Custom build providers why not do a search on these terms and find out more?

Keith Smith presented a topic on Visual Studio Team System for Web Developers. I remember seeing a lot of VSTS last year in preparation for the Visual Studio launch. This session has reminded me of the features of VSTS and it's something I am looking at for the value of a small team I am in. Keith demonstrated load testing and work items and the power of using VSTS in Office products such as Excel and Project for Project Managers.

My final session of the day covered a large amount of MOSS2007 development and the use of the platform and was presented by Ted Pattison. My impression of the speaker was that he know's a lot about the subject material and I found the session very interesting. I can't immediately put this in place as I do very little custom SharePoint work however I do think this will come in useful for future work. In discussing SharePoint with other delegates I've come to find a lot of people be very complimentary about Ted's technical knowledge so I would recommend checking out his blog for further information


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