Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft Visual Studio’

Visual Studio Live! is coming to Orlando, December 10-14, 2012 and will bring developers, software architects, programmers and designers together to learn from industry experts.

With 50+ educational sessions that are all built to prepare you for what’s now, new and next in the .NET development platform, there is something for everyone. Tracks at Visual Studio Live! Orlando include:

  • Visual Studio/.NET
  • Windows 8/WinRT
  • WPF/Silverlight
  • Mobile
  • Web/HTML5

The extra-cool part about Visual Studio Live! Orlando: four events in one! This year, the event will be co-located with SharePoint Live!, SQL Server Live!, and Cloud and Virtualization Live!. You can customize your conference agenda and attend ANY sessions from all four events. Register now: http://bit.ly/VSOR12Reg



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I’ve recently been asked to develop a solution for sending bulk and transactional emails using either SendGrid or ConstantContact APIs. AND I have to get it implemented by August 1, 2012!!!

Since I have not actually developed any real-world solutions in VS2010 yet and I don’t really have anyone to talk to (I’m the only developer here), I thought I should try to find something online that will help me out. (At this time, I really wished I had finished those books I started earlier!)

My first thoughts…

Do I write a Desktop App? Do I write a Web App? How do I get started?

The business doesn’t really know what they want. Requirements state “front-end application that allows business users the ability to create new campaigns”. If I write a Desktop App, they will only be able to access if they have the app installed on their PC or can access a PC with the app installed. We have a lot of users who work offsite, and some even use personal PCs. So at this time, I’m thinking…Web App.

Now to find some help on creating Web App to send emails, I do a few searches and come across random blog posts about SendGrid and ConstantContact. At some point in the search I find a blog posting where someone references a tutorial on MVC3.

MVC…hmm…it’s very similar to something I used in the past called Castle Monorail (VS2005 and .net 2.0).

So I decide to get started on this tutorial I found on MVC3.


I’ve just finished the first chapter and I have to say this is a great tutorial so far. I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn MVC3 who has never used MVC in the past should try out this tutorial.

I hope I can get through the rest of the chapters quickly and be able to start on this application.

If anyone out there has any suggestions on using SendGrid or ConstantContact, please shoot me a message…I think I’ll be using SendGrid but may have to use ConstantContact for a lower cost solution.

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WPF, Azure, Threading, Silverlight, and the Future of User Experience

Unfortunately my afternoon on this day involved an emergency back at work and I had to leave the convention after the Chalk Talk to go back to the room to deal with the emergency. But all the sessions I attended on this day were really great.

Sessions Attended:

  • Keynote: The Future of User Experience: The Natural User Interface (Tim Huckaby)
  • Windows Presentation Foundation for Developers (Philip Japikse)
  • Building Your First Azure Application (Michael Stiefel)
  • Chalk Talk: Parallel Programming 101 (Tiberiu Covaci)
  • Top 7 Lessons Learned On My First Big Silverlight Project (Ben Day)

Keynote: The Future of User Experience: The Natural User Interface (Tim Huckaby)

The future technologies coming down the pipe include natural user interfaces with better multi-touch capabilities as well as voice and neural capabilities. Microsoft has recently released Kinect for the PC that will allow users to do various things using just their voice and/or body motions. Here is a link if you are interested in seeing some of the projects already in place with natural user interfaces (all built with Visual Studio 2010).

Related Sites:

Windows Presentation Foundation for Developers (Philip Japikse)

WPF is the next generation rich user application platform based on DirectX and is leaps ahead with databinding. WPF has true animation, and uses styles and templates (one place to change the entire application style).

If you write something once, you should probably make it a method. Twice, you should make it a method. Three or more times, you should stop being a programmer.

New in .NET 4: DataGrid, DatePicker, Calendar, Ribbon controls, Layout Rounding, Multi-Touch support, Custom Dictionaries, Behaviors, Animation Easing, and Binding String Format. New in .NET 4.5: Improved Performance with large data, Binding to Static Properties, Accessing Collections on non-UI Threads, Asynchronous Validation, and bug fixes. What’s missing? Visual inheritance, MDI support, ExtenderProvider support, MaskedTextBox, ErrorProvider/HelpProvider, and AutoComplete. We can use gradients and vector graphics. We can make images scale and not have to store files for all sizes of images. We can stack, wrap, and dock panels…horizontally and vertically.

Since I’ve not used WPF before, I jotted down the various features and functions that Phillip demo’d. Some of this may be beginner level for most, but here are my notes for those interested:

  • Attached properties – button on the panel gets the property of the panel (DockPanel.Dock(“Top”)).
  • Tabbing order thru menus goes in order the items are listed in XAML.
  • SharedSizeGroup – everything contained is capable of sharing size
  • Scroll bar control separate from other controls
  • Expander control
  • Height – number (specific), auto (fill what u need), * (like %)
  • MinHeight {Binding ElementName=MyText, Path=ActualHeight}
  • GridRow – column starts count with 0
  • Don’t use canvas because you lose the benefits of WPF
  • Save button can be disabled if no changes made
  • CommandViewModel (MVVM style)
  • Dictionary Support in MVVM – can make custom dictionary
  • Behaviors – watermark text box
  • Blend 4 get command behavior on grids
  • Blend SDK (reference System.Windows.Interactivity)
  • SWI
  • Hierarchical Data Template
  • DataBinding – 2-way and 1-way
  • Update source trigger happens on lose focus
  • Expressive UI – type in one field and other fields change if you have them tied together
  • Value converters or MulitValue
  • DataContext – looks to for binding. First one it finds. If it doesn’t find, has silent failure.
  • Style Trigger – use to trigger elements to display based on the trigger
  • IDataErrorInfo – string indexer & error property
  • Magic Strings – array populated in XAML order

As you can tell, lots of cool stuff in WPF…can’t wait to get started with it.

Recommended Books:

  • Pro WPF Development
  • WPF Unleashed

Related Sites:

Building Your First Azure Application (Michael Stiefel)

Azure is Platform as a Service (PAAS). Windows Azure works when we don’t want to manage infrastructure or a data center, we don’t want to buy for peak capacity, we don’t want virtual machines, and we have customers all over the world.

We sign up at the management portal in order to get started, and can also access the DB thru the portal (must set firewall rules – usually with IP range). We can connect to the Azure DB thru SSMS but there are limitations to this connection.

In the Hosted Services section of the portal, we have access to local emulators (compute and storage). An icon in the task bar gives us options to see how the application is working. The DB uses local SQL Express for development storage DB. If using the emulator, don’t forget to close down deployment when done.

A role is configuration plus code and is analogous to an application. Several ways to deploy application: the portal, Visual Studio, or PowerShell. Startup tasks can be set up to run every time the application is deployed.

During his demo, I jotted down a few notes:

  • DiagnosticConfiguration.GetDefaultInitial – can set to move data on specified time. (scheduled transfer period, buffer quota)
  • In Diagnostics section on Config tab, add cloud key.
  • Azure Storage Explorer – free addin to view IIS log and other diagnostics
  • Any degree of I/O should use medium VM size
  • Must set instance count – tools out there to help automate this
  • Load balancer in front of Azure handles traffic (Round Robin – no memory)
  • Does not redirect to same instance in same session
  • Set up cache
  • Minimum of 2 instances – small % that both will go down
  • Failure zones – fabric controller makes sure no shared hardware between your instances
  • Upgrade Zones – instances don’t get updated at same time
  • Create package file and upload to Management Portal
  • Affinity group – all services go in same center
  • Can deploy to stage or production
  • Windows Azure Cost Calculator – compute is major driver of cost
  • Can bulk copy DB
  • Put binary data in a blob

Related Sites:

Chalk Talk: Parallel Programming 101 (Tiberiu Covaci)

Good discussion on threading. I jotted down some notes in between getting pinged from work with an emergency. I ended up leaving this session to deal with the emergency. If anyone has anything to add from this, please leave your comments.

  • Asynchronous – waiting for answer (active waiting)
  • Concurrency – multithreading
  • Thread pool
  • Parallel – multiple computations concurrently
  • I/O is a big problem
  • We can’t get faster processors anymore so instead we get more cores
  • The thread is responsible for execution not the process…heavy weight.
  • Quick sort array and Queens Problem
  • Don’t use lock on disk
  • Interlock is performed in sharing data
  • Mutexes not recommended but can be seen everywhere (system wide object)
  • Semaphores – can run 3 print jobs in parallel
  • Reader/writer locks are bad on performance
  • ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem(_ => {action})
  • Task Parallelism (Task <T>)

Top 7 Lessons Learned On My First Big Silverlight Project (Ben Day)

Originally I had planned to attend the Fast, Faster Async ASP.NET session, but since I missed the 2:30pm session with Silverlight I decided to attend this one so that I could at least get a taste of Silverlight while I was here.

Ben briefly discussed RIA Services and recommends using RIA Services only for short-term, fast to market applications. This will save time coding but has no code reuse and is difficult to maintain long-term.

Here are Ben’s top 7 lessons:

  1. It’s 2 applications: client-side and server-side
  2. Unit Test
  3. Async WCF rules your architecture
  4. Repository and adapter patterns
  5. No shortcuts! Keep ViewModels and Models separate.
  6. Primitive obsession in your ViewModel
  7. x:Name is a code smell

Related Sites:

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HTML5, IE9/10, MVC, Mobile Apps, Tips & Tricks, and Entity Framework

So it’s always a bit crazy when a new version of a development tool gets released…even in beta form. It seemed like every session I attended on Day 2 involved VS 11 Beta. I was extremely disappointed and discouraged that I wouldn’t be able to learn what I came to learn if the rest of the week turned out the same.

Don’t get me wrong…very cool to see the new stuff coming out, but I came to VS Live to learn about VS 2010. I know 2010 has been out a while, but I only just recently obtained a copy and have started working in it. I never had a chance to use 2008. So I was very excited to get the chance to come to a conference about VS 2010 and learn some of the cool things I could now do.

I missed the Keynote at 8am which was on VS11…which was partly the reason for the frenzy on VS11 this day.

Sessions Attended:

  • HTML5 and Internet Explorer: A Developer Overview (Ben Hoelting)
  • Advanced ASP.NET MVC, HTML5, and the .NET Stack (Ben Hoelting)
  • Chalk Talk: Visual Studio for Mobile Apps on iOS, Android and WP7 (Miguel de Icaza)
  • Visual Studio 2010 and 11 Tips & Tricks (Amy Hartwig)
  • Entity Framework Code First – Beyond the Basics (Sergey Barskiy)

HTML5 and Internet Explorer: A Developer Overview

In this session, Ben did a great job explaining the power of IE9/10 and HTML5, the features of today, and what the future will bring. He showed us some of the benchmarks for IE and took us on a test drive. Best session of the day!

We can use meta elements to pin sites to the task bar and provide users with notifications. With Windows 7 integration, we can add jump lists that will allow us to go directly to areas of our website. HTML5 gives us new tags, rich media & graphics support, CSS3, and better performance. Use modernizers to make HTML5 work on non-HTML5 compliant browsers.

The website http://caniuse.com/ has compatibility tables for support of HTML5, CSS3, SVG and more in desktop and mobile browsers.

A few of the cool features we now have available to us:

  • Semantic elements like section, nav, article, aside, and hgroup
  • Canvas – block element to draw 2d graphics in JS
  • SVG (Scalar Vector Graphics) – 2d vector graphics in XML
  • Video tag – this is not streaming video…user has to download entire video to play
  • Audio tag – able to turn off play buttons
  • Rounded corners – can achieve rounded corners by using the border-radius property
  • 2d & 3d transforms (3d in IE10) -ms-transform: scale(2,2) rotate(30deg) [Chrome ignores –ms]

Windows 8 brings us the touch language. Today’s web was not designed with the finger in mind…but it’s coming soon. With touch, we will no longer have hover. We will need to ensure ample room around elements for fingers (average 11mm).

Related Sites:

Advanced ASP.NET MVC, HTML5, and the .NET Stack

I stayed with Ben for his next session because I really wanted to see more on HTML5 and the description of the class sounded interesting. However, the session didn’t really match the description but was still a good session. I was hoping to see some coding, but his discussion was more high level and the use of add-ons, templates, and the Kendo UI framework.

He talked about the HTML5 Boiler Plate with MVC4…a template for HTML/JS/CSS and showed us some of the code which is in minified jQuery where all the whitespace is removed for good performance.

Not much discussion on MVC except to say that there are a lot of tutorials on the web – just look for them.

He touched briefly on Razor, Web Optimization Bundler, and Authorization Service. The Web Optimization Bundler will bundle all the content, CSS, and JS calls at once but only optimizes jQuery JS files.

Kendo UI and Knockout.js is what he came to talk about. Knockout.js is a JS library for using the MVVM pattern and can be a replacement for ASP.NET MVC. Some key features are databinding (including automatic UI updating), templating, and dependency tracking. The Kendo UI is a new set of HTML/JS based UI controls that provides templating and databinding, and has advantages over jQuery UI.

Expression Blend Super Preview allows us to view our sites in two browsers at once, and supports IE6-9 and Firefox. VS11 has an option to run in multiple browsers.

Related Sites:

Chalk Talk: Visual Studio for Mobile Apps on iOS, Android and WP7

Sales pitch for Xamarin products…but I expected a sales pitch from a chalk talk session even though the description sounded otherwise.

Mono is an open source implementation of the .NET platform, and was created to bring Windows applications to Linux.

iOS – Apple disallows JIT compile. Mono has batch compile that Apple requires. To develop on iOS…must have MAC.

Android – Mono available for Windows and Mac (MonoDevelop) and uses JIT. Can open code and code in VS, but cannot run the app in VS…have to go back to MonoDevelop to run the app and test.

Related Sites:

Visual Studio 2010 and 11 Tips & Tricks

Unfortunately, I didn’t stick around long in this session. This was pretty much all about VS11 and the changes in shortcuts between 2010 and 11. If anyone reading this did sit through this session, please leave a comment on any tips & tricks for VS2010 that she did speak about. She did hand out a flyer with VS11 shortcut keys…I plan on trying them in 2010 just see what happens!

Best tip I have…Resharper.

Entity Framework Code First – Beyond the Basics

All I can say for this session is that I was in over my head…no clue what he was talking about. I think I needed a basics class first since I have never used the Entity Framework. But here are my notes for those it may help.

Sorry I don’t have much context around my notes. I just jotted stuff down that sounded interesting so that when I do get into using Entity Framework I have some points to look up.

  • Data cached in app domain after first use. Host in IIS – setting custom recycle schedule. Also, we can write a service to pose as first user.
  • ctx.Entry(person).State = EntityStatus.Modified
    • Don’t use the update function using Person.find(id) because it’s slower.
  • Disable tracking People.AsNoTracking()
  • Properties – no work to be done
  • Methods – work will be done
  • DBEntityEntry
  • Complex type – wrapper for group of properties and not mapped to a table
  • Explicit mapping – has column name
  • One to one relationships must be explicitly configured
  • WithRequired – property is required
  • HasOptional – allows NULL
  • Cascade delete bypasses SQL structures for logging the deletes
  • DB Parameter / SQL Parameter
  • Type Inference
  • Generic Repository
  • If write 0 records, get concurrency exception IsConcurrencyToken
  • Migrations – enable using powershell

Related Sites:

Looking back…this day taught me to look at provided documentation for sessions prior to deciding which sessions to attend.

Day 3 was a great day – will post notes soon…

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Welcome to Las Vegas SignThe 5 days of sessions and workshops at Visual Studio Live were full of valuable information and great tips to improve efficiency and productivity. I will be sharing some of this in future posts, but here is a little of what I learned and the sessions that I attended…

The future technologies coming down the pipe include natural user interfaces with better multi-touch capabilities as well as voice and neural capabilities. Microsoft has recently released Kinect for the PC that will allow users to do various things using just their voice and/or body motions. Here is a link if you are interested in seeing some of the projects already in place with natural user interfaces (all built with Visual Studio 2010).

Creating User Experiences Workshop

The Creating User Experiences workshop that I attended provided much more useful information than what I can summarize here. If you are interested in hearing more on this, I will be writing up a more in-depth post soon.

Creating a successful user experience is not just about making something possible that wasn’t possible before. To make the user experience a success, it is about making it easy…which is what we keep saying that we need to do with our applications.

One key point made during the workshop was that we should not strive to use every bit of screen real estate. The eye naturally will focus on the area of the screen from the top left corner down to the bottom right corner. Users look at crowded screens as being poor quality and bad design which can lead to lost revenue and a decrease in productivity.

Users resist change and it can be difficult for users to accept changes to existing systems that have poor design because they feel the changes will make their job harder. In order to get users to accept change, it is recommended to create new applications that are completely different from existing applications than to merely make enhancements to the existing applications.

Good software design will increase productivity, reduce the amount of training needed, lower the number of errors, and ultimately increase sales.


List of Workshops/Sessions Attended

Workshops (Full Day):

  • Creating Today’s User Experiences – An Entry Point for Developers (Billy Hollis)
    • Explanation of design concepts and the user psychology and brain wiring that make the concepts work.
  • Programming with WCF in One Day (Miguel Castro)
    • All WCF fundamentals, advanced features, and lots of tips and tricks for design, hosting, and WCF consuming.


  • HTML5 and Internet Explorer: A Developer Overview (Ben Hoelting)
    • The power of HTML5 in IE9 and IE10, and the features available now and in the future.
  • Advanced ASP.NET MVC, HTML5 and the .NET Stack (Ben Hoelting)
    • The awesomeness of MVC, and discussion on key concepts and features.
  • Visual Studio for Mobile Apps on iOS, Android and WP7 (Miguel de Icaza)
    • This felt more like a sales pitch for Xamarin applications (MonoDevelop), but did learn some information on using VS for developing mobile apps.
  • Visual Studio 2010 and 11 Tips & Tricks (Amy Hartwig)
    • Various tips and tricks on using the shortcut keys and other built in functions.
  • Entity Framework Code First – Beyond the Basics (Sergey Barskiy)
    • Performance analysis tips, database scheme techniques, and models
  • The Future of User Experience: The Natural User Interface (Tim Huckaby)
    • Look at past technologies and how technology has developed over the years, a look at the impressive software being built today with .NET technologies, and the future of NUI.
  • Windows Presentation Foundation for Developers (Philip Japikse)
    • Strengths of WPF, various layouts, and maximizing databinding.
  • Building Your First Azure Application (Michael Stiefel)
    • Key technologies and techniques, and basics of building Azure applications
  • Parallel Programming 101 (Tiberiu Covaci)
    • Using threads and thread pools
  • Silverlight, WCF RIA Services and Your Business Objects (Deborah Kurata)
    • Discussion on using RIA to develop Silverlight/WCF services.
  • Top 7 Lessons Learned On My First Big Silverlight Project (Ben Day)
    • Real world tips for architecting Silverlight applications, testing, and pain points.
  • WPF Validation – Techniques & Styles (Miguel Castro)
    • Various validation offerings including MVVM-based, and custom styling.
  • Hack Proofing Your ASP.NET Web Forms and MVC Applications (Adam Tuliper)
    • Why most existing applications can be hacked, details of common attacks, and techniques for protecting against hack attacks.
  • Introduction to jQuery QUnit (John Peterson)
    • Basics of using QUnit for testing jQuery.
  • Static Analysis in .NET (Jason Bock)
    • Benefits, how to improve code, and custom rules
  • Extending ASP.NET MVC with jQuery/Ajax and jSON (John Peterson)
    • Some information on Ajax and jSON, but mostly discussion on using jQuery.

As you can see, I attended a mixture of sessions on various technologies.

What’s Next?

Over the next week or so, I will be documenting all that I learned and sharing the wealth of information in future blog posts.

Plus, I was the “tweet to win” winner for a free 5 day pass to attend another VS Live event later in the year…I chose Orlando, FL in December. This event in Orlando is actually 4 events in 1 (Visual Studio, SQL Server, SharePoint, and Cloud & Virtualization). I am really looking forward to this one!

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Las Vegas Strip

I’m headed to Visual Studio 2010 Live! in Las Vegas at the end of the month. I’ll post all the cool things I learn when I get back.

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