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Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

An Code Monkey goes to Tech Ed 2006 - Day Two - Sessions 1 & 2

November 8, 2006 14:27 by Andrew Westgarth

This morning I have attended the following:

Both of these sessions were very intriguing, indeed I decided to attend the ADO.NET session rather than Bradley Millington's session on LINQ as I felt this would be of more relevance to my professional work.

Jackie spoke on a number of topics and produced a large number of demoes to illustrate his points. He spoke about using the DataSet Designer within Visual Studio and indeed highlighted this as an under utilised tool in Visual Studio. Jackie also covered using DataViews, handling mutliple table updates and controlling XML Data. What I found really intriguing was the power of performing asynchronous data access, therefore enabling your page ui or forms ui to build whilst the data access is occurring in the background, this is something I will look into further. Another topic of interest was Batch Updating, instructing the DataAdapter to update the data in use in batches as opposed to per row a database call. This has serious performance issues when working with large amounts of data.

Danny Thorpe, on the other hand, gave a presentation on the Windows Live Developer platform. Many of you may be aware of, Live Messenger, Hotmail and the Live identification service (formerly Passport). These are applications that we use already in our daily live and touch hundreds of millions of users everyday. This is a massive potential audience. Danny introduced us to the SDKs that are available for the Live Platform - you can download them from These include SDKs for Virtual Earth and Messenger to just name two. This is an area of expansion for Microsoft and is all about taking the burden from the server side and using the vast array of power available at Client Side to shoulder the burden of the request and build of various elements in the application. I have already used Microsoft Gadgets, which is a site whereby third parties post details of their gadgets - small applications which provide a function, such as weather forecasts, share monitoring, and clocks to name just a few. These are extremely powerful and very portable, they can be hosted in, Windows Vista Sidebar. Check them out they are really cool!

Virtual Earth is a web based implementation of a mapping facility which can be overlayed with data and functionality which is suitable for your organisation or purpose. We were shown a demo of how a Real Estate Agent in the states has utilised Virtual Earth to provide a very rich User Experience. Also recently released, Virtual Earth 3D, allows 3D renderings of buildings within the maps and full terrain imagery! I can certainly see some avenues which I want to explore in the use of Virtual Earth as an alternative to MapPoint. A question raised was how do these two relate and the answer is unclear, there is no definition as yet as how far this could go although they have distinct audience markets. I can see a use for Virtual Earth in some work I have done and am planning to do. I'll let you know how I get on with the SDK, and if any of you try it let me know how you get on!

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

November 8, 2006 00:30 by Andrew Westgarth

Today I attended, along with the keynote, the following sessions:

  • Developing Rich Web Applications with AJAX - Shanku Niyogi
  • Developer and Designer AJAX Bliss with Visual Studio and Expression - Brad Abrams
  • Triple XXX - XML, XPath and Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation (XSLT) - David McMahon and Richard Costall
  • A Lap Around the New Enhancements for Web Developers in Visual Studio 'Orcas' - Bradley Millington

All of todays sessions were great and very interesting. In Shanku's session he talked about the Beta 2 release of AJAX and the advancement of the control toolkit, plus he illustrated the intended roadmap. I've spent the last 11 months hearing about ATLAS/Ajax and have to say I had been tending to switch off, but this session has reignited my passion for AJAX and rejuvenated my fervour for investigating further.

Brad Abram's session focussed on splitting the work of the Designer and the Developer over two products Expression Web Designer and Visual Studio. But maintaining the fact that both could work on the same project, but work seamlessly to bring their own expertise to the fore.

Triple XXX - Dave and Richard presented a highly interesting, easy to understand an appreciate session. I have been using XSL/T on a website, which I inherited from a former colleague,, and have had to pick it up fairly quickly and this session helped me to learn more and reinforce the work I've been doing so far.

Final session of the day, for me, was a lap around 'Orcas' by Bradley Millington. This session gave an insight into what is coming next in the next version of Visual Studio. A lot of powerful additions have come from user feedback such as improved performance, better designer support - indeed Orcas has a new implementation of the designer which includes such things as split view (code and UX). Also added is full support for AJAX integration, better CSS support, LINQ and JScript Intellisense and debugging to name just a few. Certainly, Orcas seems feature packed and is something I expect to see/hear/blog more about in the coming months!

An Code Monkey Goes to Tech Ed 2006 - Day One - Keynote

November 7, 2006 13:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Wow! What a day! My head is completely crammed with new information and my apetite for more has been severly whetted.

This morning, I attended the keynote from Eric Rudder, Senior Vice President Technical Strategy, and he talked about and demoed, with the help of a few colleagues, the power of Office 2007, Windows Vista, AJAX and Exchange Server 2007. Eric announced that Office 2007 was Released To Manufacturing yesterday, Monday 6th November 2006, and that Windows Vista was very close to being completed. Indeed Office 2007 and Windows Vista should be available to MSDN Subscribers by the end of the month.

Eric also announced the full release of .Net Framework 3.0!

I am currently running Windows Vista RC1 (I have RC2 but haven't got round to loading it yet) and Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh at home on my main machine. I have to say I have been impressed by both. I find the ribbon bar and the user experience now presented with Office 2007 excellent and enjoy using the product. I haven't dived in as far as I'd like yet, however what I have seen/used so far has impressed me.

As for Windows Vista, I find myself using lots of the features and I love the Aero Glass effect. It's almost a shame to switch to Windows XP! However, I have been disappointed with the time we waited for a beta of Windows Mobile Device Center, which is used for synchronising with Windows Mobile based devices. This left me unable to synch with Outlook for a while (Yes, the perils of using beta software).

At the recent VBUG Conference, I spent some time discusing with fellow delegates, what was a compelling reason for upgrading to Windows Vista? After a lot of discussion, I am still unsure as to a major business reason for upgrading, what are your thoughts? I personally cannot wait to get my hands on a full release of Windows Vista, but that's the geek perspective who can't wait to play with the SideShow, Aero Glass and improved Search, to name but a few of Windows Vista's new features. However it would seem a lot of the technology in .Net Framework 3.0 is going to be applicable to Windows XP, such as Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation.

As regards Exchange Server 2007, I wasn't aware of an impending release will just recently, when I received an email regarding it. I still know very little so won't comment on it too much. However I was intrigued to hear that it exposes a number of web services for developers to use and I'll be looking to investigate this further in the coming months.

Finally, I'd like to briefly mention AJAX. I have been implementing this in anger since March and the CTPs of the ATLAS codename builds. For Web developers, like myself, this is a very powerful set of extensions and helps with minimising the amount of JavaScript we have to write. I was first introduced to the technology back in October last year by James Crowley at Developer Developer Developer Day, and then was shown how to use it by Gary Rowntree in March at a VBUG session we held in Newcastle. I love the power of asynchronous processing and have identified many uses for it and the ease with which it can be implemented is phenonmenal.

The keynote was very inspirational, my first at a large Microsoft conference, and certainly gave me plenty of food for thought.

An ASP.Net Code Monkey Goes To Tech Ed 2006

November 6, 2006 22:05 by Andrew Westgarth

What a way to start my Blog! Live from Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 in Barcelona, Spain!

I'm just settling down now after flying via Amsterdam from Newcastle to Barcelona. It's been a long day but I'm really looking forward to attending Tech Ed 2006.

This is my first Tech Ed and I'm really buzzing about having the opportunity to be here. It's going to be a long week but hopefully it will be very rewarding.

I'm intending to post live from Tech Ed and give some indication as to what I'm up to and what the event is like. I have earmarked a number of sessions I'd like to attend and along with my colleagues, who are also attending, think we'll return with some really useful knowledge.

Keep watching this Blog for more updates coming soon.......


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