Monthly Archives: November 2007

Visual Studio Tips ‘n Tricks

Microsoft employee Sara Ford, Program Manager for CodePlex, keeps a list of interesting Visual Studio tips and tricks.

I’ve learned some handy new tricks, like this and this one.

Oh, and here’s a shocker: did you know that there’s no Ctrl+F in books?

Cool e-book: The Web Part Infrastructure Uncovered

The Web Part Infrastructure Uncovered coverA while ago I did some proofreading for Teun Duynstee‘s e-book The Web Part Infrastructure Uncovered. I found it a very good read. In fact I think it is one of the most thorough books available on the subject, even though it only has 135 pages. This e-book has been available for some months now, but since I just recently started blogging I thought I might spend a blog entry to it. With SharePoint 2007 now using the .NET Framework 2.0 Web Part technology as one of its core technologies, knowledge about this framework has become more and more important.

Teun sells his book online through Lulu.com. The price is €14.00 (ca. $17) for the printed book (+ shipping & handling) or €9.00 for the downloaded PDF (ca. $11) which is peanuts considering the book’s useful content.

I recommend this e-book to every .NET developer that’s working with or interested in Web Parts. You can check out some sample chapters here and here.

Cool Surface video

Today I stumbled on the blog of the Microsoft Surface team. Although there are only a few entries as of yet, they did put up a pretty cool video showing the ScatterView control from the Surface SDK. Amazing what you can do with only a few lines of XAML code and data binding!

http://images.video.msn.com/flash/soapbox1_1.swf
Video: The Microsoft Surface SDK In Action

Visual Studio 2008 is RTM for MSDN subscribers!

The moment we Microsoft developers have been waiting for has arrived! Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 has been released on MSDN for MSDN subscribers! Go get it while it’s hot!

Oh, and while you’re at it post a list of your favorite resources for getting up to speed with VS2008 on this blog and you can win some nice prizes, like Vista Ultimate, Office 2007 or Halo 3.

Update: I see both ScottGu and Soma have put up blog entries about the release.

Got you too, Steve!

At TechEd Developers in Barcelona I attended Steve Teixeira‘s session titled Debugging and Crash Dump Analysis in VC++ 2008. At the beginning of his session he took a photograph of the audience, which I noticed he put on his blog.

As a matter of fact I took a photo at the same time. You can recognize me in Steve’s photo by my camera, which shows up as a small silver dot. I’m sitting at 3/4 of the photo (to the right of the center).

Here’s my point of view πŸ˜‰ (Click on the photo to go to my Flickr photostream).

Steve Teixeira taking a photo of the audience

Thought this was kinda funny πŸ™‚

Upcoming MSDN Subscriptions website changes

Last week at the TechEd Developers in Barcelona I visited the MSDN booth and spoke with Azam Husain, a Program Manager for the MSDN Subscriptions website. He and his colleagues were conducting an informal usability test for some upcoming changes in the MSDN Subscriptions website. I was eager to participate, since I am one of the maintainers of our department’s MSDN subscription. I often have to explain colleagues how to use the current site and especially the part of getting the File Transfer Manager to work is a recurring problem.

He showed me some screenshots of the new site design and asked some questions about it. The most notable things that they showed me were:

  • Improved search functionality. They’ve included a prominent search box on the start page of the MSDN Subscriptions site. It looks like they want that search box to be the main method for searching MSDN Subscriber downloads. This should avoid searching the downloads using the relatively slow navigation tree.
  • The addition of category info boxes on the start page, that display the latest news for each download category.
  • Cleaned up navigation tree. Currently the tree not only contains nodes for the downloads themselves, but also child nodes for all variants (i.e. Vista Home, Vista Pro, Vista Ultimate and all the different languages). In the upcoming site you’ll only find the main categories in the navigation tree. Further filtering can now be done in a separate filter box which is displayed on the right side of the page.
  • Usage of (ASP.Net) AJAX throughout the site. This speeds up the process of finding downloads, because full-page reloads are no longer necessary.
  • Product keys are now also conveniently listed on the product download page. The separate product keys page is also still available.
  • The download content pages now list product information, product keys and other related info in collapsible panels, which clean up the interface.
  • The whole site is going to be accessible WITHOUT being logged in! Ofcourse you still need to be logged in to perform the actual download of products or view your product keys. But otherwise the whole site can be browsed anonymously. Obviously Microsoft’s reason behind this is that they want show non-subscribers all the goodies they will be able to get when they subscribe. But for me this is also very handy, because now I can let colleagues browse the site and let them select the downloads they want, without passing the MSDN account details.

I was pretty impressed at what Azam showed me. I did have some comments, which Azam took note of. But in general I think the MSDN Subscriptions team is going in the right direction. They are planning on releasing the new site in the first quarter of 2008.

Hello from TechEd Developers 2007 in Barcelona!

Well, a little later than expected, but here it is… my first posting from TechEd Developer 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. In the little time I have between all the interesting sessions I mainly try to keep our company blogs up to date, so until now I haven’t had the time to post to this blog…

Me and my colleagues arrived in Barcelona on Sunday. We had a short sight-seeing tour in a bus an saw all the city’s highlights, like the Sagrada Familia, the Olympic Village on Montjuic, the Gaudi houses (Casa Battlo and Casa Mila), the Christophor Columbus statue etc. I can really recommend Barcelona, it’s a great city!

Monday was the first TechEd day. The keynote started at 14:00, so me and some colleagues decided to do some more sight-seeing in the morning. We went to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous church, which we had visited the day before. This time we bought a ticket and could go inside. I was really impressed by the architecture. Also the method used to design/construct the various towers and arches was very interesting. Go see it if you’re in Barcelona.

For now I’ll leave you with the photos I’ve made. I’ll blog about the sessions I’ve attended at a later time.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7197016@N04/sets/72157603196031332/

Generating GUIDs in the Visual Studio IDE

If you’re programming on Windows you’ll often come across a situation where you have to generate a new GUID. In fact I find myself generating new GUIDs more than ever! I used to use them only for COM/ActiveX and Windows shell integration stuff. Nowadays however I spit out several GUIDs a day, especially for projects involving WiX and SharePoint. In fact, I tend to use them everytime I need a unique identifier. Here’s one I’ve generated especially for this blog post:

{1B87C5E2-0818-4c21-ADFC-741E8D8C1B3D} πŸ˜‰

The classic tool of choice for generating GUIDs is ofcourse GuidGen.exe, which ships with all the major Microsoft SDK’s and can also be started from the Tools menu of Visual Studio. GuidGen is a small tool which gets the job done, but somehow I have never gotten used to it. I don’t like the fact that I have to leave the Visual Studio IDE to use it and that I cannot control the output format of the GUIDs GuidGen generates. For instance when using WiX you need to use GUIDs without the accolades, which means that a GUID generated by GuidGen needs some editing before it can be used. Yawn…

In the past I was a pretty avid Borland Delphi programmer. One of the nice things of the Delphi IDE, and one that I used very often, was that you could press the keyboard shortcut <ctrl> + <alt> + G and it would place a fresh new GUID at the cursor’s position in the source code editor. I really missed this functionality in Visual Studio.

Fortunately Visual Studio can be easily customized using macro’s and it was easy hacking together a little macro that does the job. I’ve used it for several years now and shared it with many colleagues and friends. Here it is:

Sub Create_GUID()
    Dim sel As TextSelection
    sel = DTE.ActiveDocument.Selection
    sel.Text = System.Guid.NewGuid.ToString("D").ToUpper()
End Sub

Just add this macro to Visual Studio and assign it to the keyboard shortcut of your choice. I use <alt> + G, since the original Delphi shortcut I mentioned above is already in use by Visual Studio by default (it point to the Debug.Registers function).

Ofcourse you can easily modify this macro to suit your personal needs. If you like the way GuidGen bakes ’em, here it is:

Sub Create_GUID
    Dim sel As TextSelection
    sel = DTE.ActiveDocument.Selection
    sel.Text = "{" + System.Guid.NewGuid.ToString("D").ToUpper() + "}"
End Sub

Or maybe you prefer underscores instead of hyphens:

Sub Create_GUID
    Dim sel As TextSelection
    sel = DTE.ActiveDocument.Selection
    sel.Text = Replace(System.Guid.NewGuid.ToString("D").ToUpper(), "-", "_")
End Sub

Or you might be a lower-case fanatic:

Sub Create_GUID
    Dim sel As TextSelection
    sel = DTE.ActiveDocument.Selection
    sel.Text = System.Guid.NewGuid.ToString("D").ToLower()
End Sub

Anyway, I think you get the point…