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 http://www.devteach.com

VS Live Toronto 2005 - 10% Discount Priority Code

VS Live is coming to Toronto again - April 13-16th. This year, the event will be right downtown on the lake at the Harbour Westin Castle hotel. Use Priority Code “BARRY” for a 10% discount when you register. You'll also save an additional $250 if you register early by March 16th. Toronto is a great place for a conference, especially when you factor in the exchange rate, this is very affordable for americans.

I'm speaking at this event, covering some of the methodology customization support in Visual Studio Team System and some new ADO.NET stuff too. Should be a lot of fun.

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. bgervin@objectsharp.com

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 bgervin@Objectsharp.com .

.NET Celebrity Auction

Be a sport and click on this link:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5552696499

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....

http://www.stephenforte.net/owdasblog/#a61b646aa-ca24-47ef-b013-012bf852f79d

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.

Trip to Ottawa and Requirements Traceability

I just got back from Ottawa, where last night I was speaking to the Ottawa .NET community about Visual Studio Tools for Office. (more on that later).

I wasn't surprised by the Grep Cup weekend inflated hotel rates, but I was surprised to find a “2.8% DMF Fee” on my hotel bill (on top of the 15% worth of federal and provincial taxes). Upon request, I was informed that this was a “Destination Marketing Fee” which goes to fund marketing efforts to promote tourism in the area. Various Ontario tourism centers (including Hamilton - go figure?) have been lobbying the provincial governments since post 9/11 in an effort for them to allow a tax (a real tax, not a fee) for the same purpose. This past summer however, the hotels decided that this was going nowhere so they decided to start collecting (on a voluntary basis) a fee (not a real tax).

Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking the best way to attract people to your city is not to put a sneaky “DMF Fee” charge on those same people's hotel bill when they come to visit you and hope they don't ask about it. Even worst, because it's a fee charged by the hotel, and not a real tax - guess what - you pay tax on the DMF Fee. Icarumba! It turns out it's voluntary fee and not hotels collect it. The front desk staff sensed I was not pleased about being asked to pay for marketing fees on top of my room rate so they quickly waived the fee. But I wonder how many people willing pay this?

This all reminds me very much about requirements management and software development. Often, people, usually too close to the problem, design features into software that doesn't meet the requirements of the user. Take for example those goofy glyphs on the Lotus Notes login window. What about clippy? Is that satisfying anybody's requirements - or is it just pissing you off? With all of our best intentions, it is extremely important that we take the time to perform reality checks on what we are building against the requirements of our users.

Now to bring it all home. Do users really want to do their work in a web browser? Browsers are great for wandering and finding stuff, but do they want to see the value of their stock portfolio in a browser? You need to find the best environment for the job your users are trying to accomplish. If somebody is accustomed to using Excel to aggregate a bunch of their financial information, then maybe Visual Studio Tools for Office is the right tool for that job. While writing applications in Excel isn't exactly new, with VSTO you have the integration with the .NET Framework, Web Services, and the smart client deployment model, you can apply all professional development skills you have at your disposal to creating applications with Word & Excel. And don't worry, I have yet to see clippy show up in Visual Studio Office projects.

 

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?

Visual Studio Team System and XBox/Halo 2

What does project management, test management, defect tracking, build servers, methodology, automated testing, code coverage, and software diagramming have to do with Halo 2? I'm not sure really, but if you want both - then you need to come to the Toronto Visual Basic User Group meeting tomorrow night. I'll be doing a “powerpoint free” drive through of Visual Studio Team System AND raffling off an xbox console and a copy of Halo 2, worth about $270.  More details here: http://www.tvbug.com/

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.