Linq Resources

As you may have heard, the LINQ(Language Integrated Query) Project was announced publicly today at PDC. There will be a lot more information coming throughout the week, but here's the resources available as of today.




Visual Basic


Microsoft LINQ Bloggers

Upcoming Chats

UPDATE: Added Dinesh, Matt and Luca to the bloggers list.
UPDATE 2: Added Rob, Erik, and Amanda to the bloggers list.


Reflections on the PDC Day 1 Keynote

Bill Gates gave a pretty typical high level keynote to introduce the keynote this morning. He talked about the past, how far we've come, and how now is the most exciting time, and that we are in most exciting industry. Not that I don't disagree, but I swear I've heard this keynote before.

After Bill, a series of VP's and Architect's ran through more product details. Things started to get much more interesting at this point. Chris Capossela gave an end user run down of Windows Vista and Office 12 - which will be both released at the same time near the end of 2006.

The UI is just stunning (as it always is in these demos). It was also nice to see the QuickSearch text box integrated through both products. Not unlike Google Desktop Search, and using the same engine as MSN Desktop Search, the QuickSearch text box gives context sensitive searching through the application. If you're in a document explorer - you can search there for documents. If you are in the start menu, you can easily search for applications (and recent documents). If you are in outlook you can easily search your in-box, contacts, etc. Of course you can do broad computer searches too, but that context is nice.

Chris also showed off Sidebar which isn't really big news, but he also showed the audience Sideshow. Sideshow uses the same dock-able gadgets that Sidebar does, but re-use them on what I can only describe as a built in Pocket PC device that is built into the cabinetry of your laptop. This allows you to check real-time information (email, appointments, etc.) without turning on or booting up your laptop. Expedia had a nice gadget working in Sideshow that showed up to the minute flight status. Nice.

RSS is also taking a prominent position in Vista and Office. An RSS store was announced that would store subscribed RSS feed content. This content would be regularly downloaded automatically, and the content would be available to the Sidebar, Outlook, IE7, and your own applications. Cool.

Office 12 has a new user interface that hopes to make more of its features discoverable. At first glance I wasn't all too excited about this, but I'll reserve my judgment until I play around with it. The quick “wizard“ like features were absolutely stunning though.

The integration with Outlook and Sharepoint is quite impressive. We are all accustomed to having our email/contacts/appointments offline stored in our outlook store. With Office 12, you can keep in sync with any Sharepoint folder to keep those files on your local store. Sweet. Better yet, a special new Sharepoint List for sharing PowerPoint decks. When you upload a PowerPoint file, an item appears in the list for each slide. From within PowerPoint, I can create a new deck, and pull individual slides from the Sharepoint server. You can optionally have it keep that slide up to date so if a new version is uploaded to the server, you'll automatically get it. Corporate plagiarism has just become so much easier.

After Chris's “consumer“ demos, Jim Alchin came out with Don Box, Chris Anderson, Anders Hejlsberg and Scott Guthrie. Jim started by giving some demos of some interesting plumbing bits. One cool thing in Vista is Super Fetch. Super Fetch is a preloaded memory cache of things you'll likely need, but unlike typical hard drive caches, it basis it's decisions on analyzing your behavior over days, weeks, months to determine what an idle machine should be preloading. The second part of his demo tied in very nicely where he showed that any USB Memory Stick could be plugged into a Vista machine and it would automatically start using it for expanded virtual ram. That totally rocks for laptops which can quickly max out their ram capacities.

Don and Anders went on to talk about some big news, namely the Language Integrated Query (LINQ) project. Linq provides a query engine on top of XML, Object and Relational data stores using a common query language reminiscent of SQL. No, this isn't an O/R mapping tool, but you can see how they may have wanted to delay ObjectSpaces until they got Linq out the door. I'll have more on this in my blog in the coming days. Attendees at PDC are getting Linq bits to try out, and don't forget to stop by the track lounge to pick up a copy of a Linq whitepaper. 

Next Don and Chris messed around with Indigo, and they also created a goofy Avalon application. Scott Guthrie came out to show off the Atlas product which is a set of cross browser javascripts and server side ASP.NET 2 controls to make Ajax style programming a snap.

To close out the lengthy presentation, Jim brought out a few other people to demonstrate complete applications to bring up the wow factor, including Microsoft Max and a kiosk application created for the North Face.

UPDATE: Dinesh Kulkarni gives some inside scoop on how ObjectSpaces is dead, or rather morphed into DLinq. It would appear ObjectsSpaces is not something you'll see built down the road on top of Linq.

Metro Toronto .NET User Group Meeting September 8th: Managed Code in Sql Server 2005

On September 8th I'll be speaking at the .NET User Group here in Toronto. I'll be talking about how developers can take advantage of Sql Server 2005's ability to host managed code. Full abstract and registration details are here.

DevTeach Conference in Montreal

I'm going to be heading out in a couple of weeks to DevTeach in Montreal. In addition to my regular session talk on Datasets, I'll also be participating in an architecture panel discussion as part of Groupe d’usagers Visual Studio Montréal, Software Architecture Special Interest Group's Special Software Architecture Meeting. The meeting is open to conference attendees, members of the user group, and anybody else for $5. Here's the details....

Speaker: Joel Semeniuk, Microsoft Regional Director, Winnipeg

Subject: Software architecture from the trenches


Architecture is the soul of our software. Software Architecture truly helps to define our success since if our architecture fails us, our software fails us. However, what makes a good architecture? What truly drives architectural decisions? Is one architecture better than another? In this session we will explore and discuss some of these questions while taking a close look at a few real-world examples. In each real-world scenario we will explore the resulting architecture and review the constraints the project faced both during design and during production and maintenance phases. We will also look retrospectively at each architecture presented and discuss ways that it could be improved upon with Microsoft .NET 2.0.


Joel Semeniuk is a founder and VP of Software Development at ImagiNET Resources Corp, a Manitoba based Microsoft Gold Partner in Ecommerce and Enterprise Systems. Joel is also the Microsoft Regional Director for Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a degree in Computer Science from the University of Manitoba, Joel has spent the last twelve years providing educational, development and infrastructure consulting services to clients throughout North America. Joel is the author of "Exchange and Outlook: Constructing Collaborative Solutions", from New Riders Publishing and contributing author of "Microsoft Visual Basic.NET 2003 KickStart" from SAMS. Joel has also acted as a technical reviewer on many other books and regularly writes articles for .NET Magazine and Exchange and Outlook Magazine on a variety of infrastructure and development related topics. Reach Joel by email at


Followed by a software architecture expert panel:

Beth Massi, Software Architecture MVP

Joel Semeniuk, Software Architecture MVP, Microsoft Regional Director Winnipeg

Barry Gervin, Software Architecture MVP, Microsoft Regional Director Toronto

Mario Cardinal, Software Architecture MVP

Carol Roy, Microsoft Canada .NET architecture specialist for the public sector


Well known Nick Landry (MVP .NET Compact Framework) will act as the moderator.


Come hear these experts talk about software architecture hot topics.  You'll also have the chance to ask questions and talk to the panelists.


Monday June 20th, 5:30PM to 9:30PM

Location: Sheraton Centre, 1201 Boulevard Rene-Levesque West

Cost: free for all the DevTeach attendees and the Groupe d’usagers Visual Studio Montréal members.  $5 for non members or non DevTeach attendees.

Note: this session will be held in English

More info: or


When is a database oriented as a service?

Do you consider your database as a service? It's worthwhile to review the tenents of a service oriented architecture. The first two tenents above are probably the most relevant to my question.

If you do all of your data access through stored procedures, then you might say your database boundary is explicit.

If your database doesn't depend on other services or applications to exist properly, then you could say that your database is autonomous. That's a little tricky. Although we may use stored procedures to access functionality in our database, we may have well known  practices that we have to call the ap_decrease_inventory  proc after we call the ap_ship_order proc to make sure our that our database values are all in check. I wouldn't call our database autonomous if it has to rely on these external rules being inforced.

I'm going to avoid the discussion of the last two tenents because I think the are a bit to pure for my question. I'm really just trying to differentiate between two types of databases that I see out there. For my purposes, I refer to these as Databases as Services, and Databases as File Systems.

Databases as Services typically are well encapsulated and contain business rules. These databases might be supporting several client applications. You probably take great care in these databases, designing them carefully, perhaps with modeling tools, and encapsulating the persistence function with stored procedures, functions, triggers, etc. You may or may not have a well defined data access layer in your client applications. You might consider all the stored procs to be your data access layer, so you might call you procs directly from UI and/or business layers of your application, but that really depends on how well your client application is written. From you database, you don't really care so much since it's well protected service that operates autonomously.

Databases as File Systems are much less strategic. They serve one purpose only - to save stuff from your application. You probably/hopefully have a well defined data access layer in your application. That may even be an Object Relational Mapping tool (ORM). You probably designed the database to support the persistence of the objects in your application, and to generalize, you probably only have one application using this database. The most important thing though is that all of your business rules should be in your application(s). This type of database doesn't mean you don't have db side logic such as stored procedures or triggers. You may decide for optimization reasons that some code needs to live closer to the tables and that's okay. It's okay, so long as you realize it's harder to reuse some of that logic in higher layers of your application and you are comfortable in having your logic live in multiple platforms.

Stored Procedures are increasingly being used to add encapsulation to our database. No longer is performance the rationale for stored procedures. And increasingly, we are seeing advanced services in our databases - 4GL code such as Java and .NET managed code are making their ways into our databases. User Defined Types, Objects, and with the next version of SQL Server, we're seeing a full fledged message queue mechanism with Service Broker. You can even host web services directly in SQL Server 2005.

Is your database a service? Which camp do you fall into? Unfortunately, I think many people live somewhere in between, and that isn't by design. Most of the architectural decisions here should be motivated by where you decide to draw your boundary for strategic reasons, not for what is handy at the moment. I'd like to see people more consciously make this decision and remain committed to it. What are your thoughts?

From Rainier to Orcas and beyond.

This past 3 days I've spent traveling to and from Redmond to visit with a few of the developer tools teams as part of an Software Design Review (SDR). These are a kind of focus group, with the intention of getting qualitative information from folks about what they'd like to see in upcoming development tools. Hopefully I'll be able to talk more about the content after PDC in the fall so stay tuned. It was a refreshing trip in that normally, I'm traveling to either learn or teach. During this trip I was there more to discuss and influence and I got a real sense of just how careful Microsoft listens to the community.

It's fitting that I drove down to Redmond from Vancouver, passing through the town of Everett and past the Whidbey and Orcas islands (part of the San Juan Islands). These names are probably familiar to some of you as code names for Visual Studio 2003 (Everett), 2005 (Whidbey) and beyond (Orcas). For the sake of completeness we should add Rainier as well which was the code name for Visual Studio 2002. Geographically, these go from south east to north west passing more or less through Redmond.

Not unlike the development of these versions, the journey between these stops is a windy road, taking you over hill and vale, and over several bodies of water.  What's after Orcas? Well the next leg of the journey is as ambitious as the following version after Orcas, namely Hawaii. If you look at this path on a map, you'll see that this is indeed quite a leap.

The most interesting thing that happened is that I realized that come Orcas, I'm likely only going to be interested in coding in Visual Basic, and not C#.

15% off of MCSD/MCAD Certification Exams @ Pearson/VUE

Use the following voucher number MSAU113E1020. Good until August 31, 2005.

End of VB6 Support, it could be worst.

As you may have heard, VB6 is coming to it's end of free support shortly. Apparently a bunch of VB6 developers who haven't made the move to .NET are a bit upset. I've declined to comment on the issue as I don't really have much to say one way or the other. But it is interesting to question how MS compares to the competition in supporting their developer tools?

MS has supported VB6 for 7 years. That is also the current plan with SQL Server 2000.

IBM you ask? Web Sphere Application Server 3.5 - only support for slightly more than 3 years. They got a bit better with 4.0 supporting it for about 6 months longer than 3.5 - not quite 4 years.

I'm not a WebSphere expert, but I suppose another argument could be that there was a more direct migration path between those version and the current version 6 as compared to VB6 and VB.NET.

Not your father's NGEN

Mr. Reid “NGEN“ Wilkes has a good article in MSDN magazine about NGEN 2.0 coming in whidbey. NGEN is the command-line tool that pre-compiles MSIL into native PE code....which has been around since .NET 1.0. It's can be a good performance kick on large applications to NGEN your assemblies as part of your deployment.

So what are the highlights?

  • when a dependent shared assembly is updated, your executable's ngen cached image is invalidate. The new NGEN service can queue up requests to do “across the board“ re-ngen's to update your cached image. To accomplish this, NGEN keeps track of all of these dependencies so when an update is deployed - bam - things are queued up and recompiled when your machine has idle time. way cool.
  • NGEN 2.0 blows out your generic parameterized classes into pre-compiled code (almost 100% of the time). Therefore any performance drags on generic expansion at runtime are gone if you NGEN.

Reid makes some good arguments for taking the time to NGEN your code by describing the down side of the JITer and the overhead that it imposes on memory compared to loading native images. What scares me even more is all the dynamic compilation coming in ASP.NET applications. Isn't this going to preclude the using NGEN on ASP.NET applications in whidbey?

But alas, these performance improvements are not always a silver bullet and in some cases JITing is more performant. The bottom line - is test to make sure your assumptions of NGEN improving your performance are correct.

Copy & Paste Support in VSTS Class Designer/Whitehorse

You may have noticed that the refactoring menu's that you see in the code editor are also available in the Class Designer. Furthermore, you can also copy & paste things from one class to another. So if you copy a property from one class to another, not only do you get the property added to the class, but also all the code in your getter's and setters. Ok so this is a nice touch that can help with a refactoring effort that requires moving stuff around - but don't consider this code reuse :)