New Course! Architecting Applications with Visual Studio Team System (Bootcamp)

On March 17th in Toronto, I'll be teaching our first delivery of this new course. It's a one day hands on, instructor led - whirlwind bootcamp style course that gives you a lap around Visual Studio Team System - specifically with a Solution Architect's perspective. We touch a little bit on the project management stuff, testing and some of the developer tools, but primarily we'll spend more than half the day on modeling as we walk through the Whitehorse designers.

Now how can we teach a course on a product that's not even in beta you ask? Very carefully. A lot of people are evaluating if and how they'll use VSTS in their shops once it is released so by popular demand we're offering this course a little earlier than we would normally. This course probably needs to be 3 days to properly focus on best practices and true “architecture” but for the purposes of evaluating this technology and letting people make their own minds, we are focusing primarily on the tools provided. With that in mind, this abbreviated 1 day course is being delivered in 6 cities across Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Quebec City. There is also a promotional price of $299 CAD. For more details, full schedule and registration, visit 



DevTeach June 18-22, Montreal and a $50.00 Rebate Code!

DevTeach is a really nice conference. I went to it for the first time last year and it's a very intimate and interactive conference. While smaller than your TechEd's and PDC's, it manages to attract a very good set of speakers....Kevin McNeish, Brian Noyes, Julia Lerman, Don Kiely, Patrick Hynds, Carl Franklins, Mario Cardinal, Ted Neward, Nick Landry, Etienne Tremblay, Sam Gentile, Jim Duffy, Guy Barrette, Eric Cote, Markus Egger, Kate Gregory and me too. I'll be doing a DataSet tips and tricks talk - but mostly just so I can get a free pass to go and see all the other great talks. This year it is being held once again in Montreal which is a beautiful city with a great night life.

And last but not least, here is a rebate code for $50.00 "TO000OBJSHARP". You can register at

Get your Free Visual Studio Tools for Office custom applications here.

Ok, this is very cool - not often somebody gives you something for free.

Is your company upgrading to Office 2003 between June & July of this year?

Could you envision a customized solution built on top of Office - perhaps using Visual Studio Tools for Office, to solve some business need? If so, not only can we help with that, but Microsoft Canada is willing to foot the bill for the development effort. This is a great risk free way to try out Visual Studio Tools for Office projects - either the current 2003 or 2005 versions.

For more info, drop me an email.

Dog Food .NET

Here is a list of MS products that either include or are built using the .NET Framework. I was surprised to see how big it is. Thanks to Dan Fernandez @ MS for this list.

  • Windows Server 2003 includes 1.1
  • Sharepoint Team Services requires the .NET Framework
  • Sharepoint Portal Server 2.0 requires 1.1 and written in managed code.
  • Small Business Server 2003 - Remote Web Workplace and the Backup Snap-in use .NET
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition - 1.1 is included, and the Tablet API is written in managed code.
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition includes 1.1 and some of the applications are written in managed code.
  • Outlook Business Contact Manager - majority written in .NET
  • SQL Reporting Services - majority written in managed code.
  • Exchange 2003 Outlook Mobile Access is written in managed code using ASP.NET mobile controls
  • BizTalk 2004 - parts are written in managed code
  • Commerce Server 2002 - parts are written in managed code
  • Content Management Server 2002 - parts are written in managed code
  • MSN Messenger Server (Presence server and admin/config tools)
  • Microsoft Business Network written in managed code, requires .NET Framework 1.1
  • MS-CRM – parts are written in managed code
  • SharePoint Portal Server 2003 – Parts written in managed code
  • Speech Server 2004 – Parts written in managed code
  • ASP.NET Web Matrix – Fully written in managed code
  • Visual Studio .NET 2002/3 - parts are written in managed code
  • This one seems obvious......NET Framework 1.0/1.1 - parts are written in managed code.


What are you doing for your summer job?

We have a very exciting internship project coming up this summer for a university student, perhaps co-op - but not mandatory.

This high-profile project is to develop a software system to monitor the various systems in a “green” home that is completely off of the power grid. The house is fed by batteries charged by solar and wind (and a backup generator). There are many other systems in place to optimize power usage throughout the house. Although this home is off the grid, it's not off the internet, so the software will have to publish it's information and allow remote access via it's 2-way satellite system. The software will also be developed in .NET, likely using the current whidbey beta.

You are a university student with some combination of electrical engineering and computer science. You are strong “quality-oriented” programmer. You have strong design skills and are good at listening and capturing requirement. The position will be located in southern ontario.

If you are interested, please send your resume to .

.NET Celebrity Auction

Be a sport and click on this link:

Then make a generous bid. If you'll win, you'll get an hour (or more) of help from a .NET guru/celebrity (or possibly me). But more, you'll also be helping Tsunami relief efforts.

The top bid gets to pick their consultant. Then next, and so on and so on. If you are in southern Ontario, and you get me, I'll make it up to you by coming to your office - for a whole day, hang out, and bring donuts. What will I do? I can tell you everything I know about Visual Studio Team System (breaking all kinds of NDA rules, etc.), try to convince you to use data sets, do some code reviews, help debug something nasty, defrag your hard drive, organize your mp3's, tell you what DataGrid girl is really like, whatever.

I'm visiting Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal over the next 3 months so if you live/work near there, my offer stands, pending my schedule. I'll also be in Orlando possibly in June (for TechEd), LA in Sept (for PDC), and Chicago in August, so ditto on those as well.

For more info on how it all works....

And finally, special thanks to the other RD's who are volunteering their time (especially all those fellow Canadians). Last but not least, special thanks to Stephen Forte and Julia Lerman for organizing this.

An Update on Whidbey/Yukon Release Dates

In case you missed it, in this article key microsoft executives are quoted as saying that Whidbey and Yukon are still slated to ship together but that won't be by end of June as earlier stated. They are now estimating that “summer” is a better statement of expected arrival. This may align itself nicely with the PDC 2005 September date. It sounds like both teams blame each other, but really, a lesson can be learned here for all of us: Cross product integration means longer delivery cycles. This is going to be a tough nut for our industry to crack moving forward, not just Microsoft. Is that what SOA promises?

Assembly Reference Resolving in Visual Studio.

I got a question today about a problematic assembly references during a build of a large project.

Visual Studio projects have a user file (*.csproj,user, *.vbproj.user) that stores a “References Path”. You can edit this list of paths in your project properties dialog and it works like a PATH variable.

The twist comes in when you add a reference to a project. The IDE creates a relative formed path to the assembly you picked in the add reference dialog and places that as a “hint path” in the .csproj/.vbproj file.

So imagine you have some carefully crafted hint paths in your project file references, and no references paths in your user file. It's still possible, for your assembly to not be found where you expect it.

Did you know that VS.NET will automatically add References Paths for you as part of it's build process. Let's say you have a list of references in your project. As VS.NET iterates through the list of them one at a time, it will first check the references path. If the assembly is not found, it will use the hint path. If it finds it with the hint path - it will take the fully qualified path to that assembly - and put it in references path of your user file. When it gets to the next assembly it will check all those references paths - including the one it just automatically added.

What happens if you have multiple copies of your referenced dll hanging around? It could find one other than the one you referenced in your hint path.

This is all pretty rare to happen, but if you are like some folks who use Visual Studio itself as your build server (not NAnt) and as a matter of practice you delete your .user files as part of that build (with the predefined reference paths), you could find yourself in hot water. The only solution in this mixed up process is to make sure you don't have multiple copies/versions of your referenced assemblies lying around. Or better yet, use NAnt.

Get lost, have fun.

Ok this is too cool. Bell Mobility has this Location Service called MyFinder. Using Cellular triangulation they can figure out pretty close to where you are. It costs 25cents to locate yourself on any Bell Mobility Cell phone with a browser (plus air time ). You can do things like find the nearest gas station to where you are right now (or ATM, restaurant, etc.) and then using Map Point will give you driving/walking directions. I tried out this service in Waterloo and it found me within a block of where I actually was. Bell says within 150m. In my example that would be pretty close. So your mileage might vary (no pun intended).

If you are lucky enough to have Sanyo 8100 or an Audiovox 8450/8455 you can also use MapMe service which will download a map to your device and your location plotted on it - along with nearby places. This appears from the screenshot to be something along the lines of a Pocket Streets derivative. It costs $5 (one time) for the software, and again 25 cents to be located per use plus air time (unless you have the Mobile Browser Bundle).

Bell Mobility also has a few multiplayer games that you play against people nearby. Less cool. Get a life.

Perhaps the most (potentially) practical is a #TAXI phone number that connects you with the first available taxi based on your location. It uses many cab companies. It sounds like they might find you a taxi parked around the corner but I don't think it quite works that way. It found my city and routed me to the phone number of the nearest taxi company. It also sent me a text message with their direct phone number. A $1.25 a call? The taxi company should pay for that - no?

You can develop applications using this service too. If you are lucky to live in Canada and be a Bell Mobility Subscriber - then you are in luck (as I am) since Bell is now providing realtime MS MapPoint Location Service. It almost makes up for being on a CDMA network and having that limited phone selection problem.

Microsoft MapPoint Location Server is a new component of Microsoft MapPoint Web Service. You will install this component (along with SQL Server) in your enterprise and using the MapPoint Web Service and location data from your provider you can get an inventory of all the people in your company and their locations. For doing dispatch type of applications, 150 meters is probably close enough. General Information on both here (

MSDN Universal, Enterprise, and Professional subscribers are eligible for a free subscription to MapPoint Web Service (a requirement of using MLS)(

Bell Mobility Developers Web site for location based services (



CTTDNUG UG Tomorrow Night: Building Pocket PC Applications with the Compact Framework and SQL CE

As part of the continuing MSDN User Group Tour, I'll be speaking at the Canadian Technology Triangle .NET User Group in Waterloo on Thursday October 7th (tomorrow night). There is a new location for the meeting at Agfa (formerly Mitra) in Waterloo. All the details are here.

Correction: Adam Gallant is going to be the speaker at this event tomorrow night. Sorry for the confusion. It should be a good talk.