Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Windows Server 2008 has RTM'd!!

February 4, 2008 06:59 by Andrew Westgarth

Great news and well done to all the teams involved with Windows Server 2008 - Earlier today it was announced that Windows Server 2008 has RTM'd

- http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/archive/2008/02/04/windows-server-2008-rtm.aspx  Now all I need is for discountasp.net to upgrade their servers and I can get my blog moved to IIS7!!

Also check out a video of Alex Hinrichs talking about shipping Windows Server 2008 on Channel 9 - http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=379688 and there is also an interview with Carlos Aguilar Mares, Development Lead on the IIS team, which I recorded for VBUG whilst out at Tech Ed - http://www.vbug.com/MP3-Interviews/Podcast-5-Carlos-Aguilar-Mares.aspx

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 - http://www.nxtgenug.net/Podcasts.aspx 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 - 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!

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

Win a ticket to TechEd Developers with NxtGenUG and Microsoft.

August 6, 2007 10:16 by Andrew Westgarth

NxtGenUG is offering one lucky winner a ticket to Microsoft?s premier European developer conference : TechEd Developers in Barcelona : November 5th - 9th 2007. To be in with a chance to win the ticket register on the NxtGenUG site and enter the TechEd ticket treasure hunt. [Terms and conditions apply]. Visit the NxtGenUG TechEd home page for more details... http://www.nxtgenug.net/TechEd07/default.aspx

TechEd Europe 2007 Dates Announced, PDC Postponed

June 1, 2007 00:00 by Andrew Westgarth

The registration for TechEd Europe 2007 opened last week. The dates for Tech Ed Developers are 5th - 9th November and Tech Ed IT Forum 12th - 16th November 2007. Currently there is a Super Early Bird offer open for registrants until 31st July 2007.

Once again the event is to be held in Barcelona and this year is a full five day conference. This an excellent event to go to and learn from, I managed to learn an awful lot last year, if you get the opportunity to attend, grab it with both hands.

On a separate note PDC has been postponed, which is a shame, but it appears that the decision has been made for the right reasons. For further information visit http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/events/bb288534.aspx.

An ASP.net 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 ASP.net 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
  • ASP.net: End-to-End - Building a Complete Web Application using ASP.net 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 ASP.net 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 ASP.net 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.



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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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