Good turnout to VS.NET tricks bof

I was totally impressed with the 200 or so people turn out at our VS.NET Tips & Tricks bof. More than one bof organizer was a bit concerned about us bringing a projector - but I don't know how you'd fully appreciate some tips without getting to see them on the screen. It worked well. The O# posse showed up with enough tips to fill the 60 minutes, but we didn't really get to use many of them. The crowd involvement was terrific. At one point, I had to tell people to keep it down because the banter was running wild. This is a good problem. This might have been better done as a VS.NET Tips Cocktail Reception, maybe next year.

My favourite tip? Well it's a tip and a best practice from Dave Lloyd. During and after a build, the output window is kind of important, but VS.NET immediately hides it by default with the Tasks window. We tend to look at the first task to see what caused a failed build but it isn't often the right one. You really need to look at the build output, and you really need it to be bigger than a typical docked window. I'm forever resizing that thing up during a build post-mortem - and back down when I'm done. Right click on the output window title bar and uncheck Dockable. Presto! The output window is now in your editor space as another tab. Beautiful.

Whidbey is looking good

Yet another long day, I feel like I have been at this conference for a week already, I'm exhausted.

At this moment I am installing Longhorn on one of the extra laptops we brought for just such an occasion. I hope they don't monitor hydro usage per room because between the wireless router, 2 phones, 3 IPAQ's, and 4 laptops plugged in we must be over our quota.

After I install Longhorn, I'll be installing Whidbey. For those who don't know, Whidbey is the code name for the next release of Visual Studio. I'm a software developer and have been for 20 years. So when presenters are on stage using old editors and compiling on the command line. I'm with them and sometimes feel a little nostalgic. As much as I once loved K-edit I wouldn't trade Visual Studio .net for it now. Like any software VS.net has it's problems. But the development teams at Microsoft have done a wonderful job addressing a lot of the issues. Assuming they deliver what I saw today.

So what did I see today?

  • I saw tools to make interactive development easier. Like smart tags. You can drop a control on a form then right click and make it something else. Maybe it was a textbox at first but them you decide to make it a date time picker. Just right click select DateTimePicker and you’re done.
  • Ever want to try something by coding it? As a result you end up with WindowsApplication1, WindowsApplication2, WindowsApplication3 ... on your machine. Whidbey works like word, your project is not saved until you save it. So you could create a project write some code compile it and run. Then exit without saving and discard the whole thing. (Honest that's what he said.)
  • I saw Paul Yuknewicz create an employee.user.vb. What's that you say? Well it's what Microsoft refers to as a partial class. You can have a class split across multiple files and they will be compiled into one. So the file employee.user.vb goes with employee.vb which goes with employee.xsd. You guessed it. It's an extension of a Typed DataSet. :)
  • The new snap lines for aligning controls are wonderful. If you are adding multiple labels and controls just drag one near another and it shows you lines to tell when it's lined up with the other controls and the labels. It's hard to explain how nice it looks. I'll be happy to demo it when I get back.
  • There is this thing called a DataSource Picker. To bind a control you can simply drag from you DataSource to the control and it binds it.
  • There is this new control called a DataContainer, all I can say is PowerSoft DataWindow. (I'll save the comparison for another Blog)
  • There are some enhancements to the XML editor. Nothing else to see here move along.
  • Actually one really note worthy XML addition. You can set breakpoints in an XSLT file and debug it.
  • Oh yeah I remember this is nice. When you add a datasource to DataBinding in the property window. You can grab the editor and stretch it out to see everything. It's really nice

Enough about Whidbey for now.

The exhibition hall was cooking tonight, must have been the free drinks. We stopped into a few booths, chatted with some folks, did a little shopping in the Microsoft Store. Can't tell you what I bought. My Daughters have been reading along, and it's for them.

It's time to unwind and relax, another long day tomorrow at PDC.

General Session at PDC

So I sit here eating my Chinese food for lunch. Barry went to a session. He's a trooper. I'm thinking about the cool things I saw in the general session. I'm new to blogging and I am not going to try and dump everything I saw here in one entry. I'll leave that to the more serious bloggers and writers out there.

However I will tell you a little about the general session.

  • No bathroom breaks
  • 8000 or so people, watching at least 16 giant screens.
  • Check out the pictures. It was pretty cool just from a logistics point of view.

Some demo highlights while I sip the last of my ice tea here:

  1. XAML (pronounced Zamil) is a new buzz word. From what I can gather it's code behind for windows and web. If you have been trying to peg yourself as a windows or web developer stop, it won't matter soon. XAML is an XML language that lets you write your user interface.
  2. Doing cool graphics is easy. Or at least Don Box and Chris Anderson made it look easy.
  3. Very cool demo by Amazon.com. If you get a chance check out the carousel control, Very cool. If anyone knows where you can see a sample of it let me know.
  4. Another cool demo was paging up and down in a document. If you click on the scroll bar a thumbnail appears that shows you where that is in the document. In the demo that particular section of the document had a video playing. It played in the thumbnail too. :)

There was a lot more and a lot more important that these for example the new file system is very exciting. But I have session in a few minutes and I have to find it. I'll try and get on again later today.

Thanks Paolo

Someone who attended the Tips and Tricks BOF session took notes. We tried but it was going pretty fast.

Thanks Paolo for posting these tips in your blog.

Getting Started

Since this is the first entry in my first weblog, I feel the need to describe what readers (or potential subscribers) can expect.  First, my background is an interesting combination of technical and marketing.  I have spent most of the last twenty years working in the technology field, covering everything from DOS to UNIX to Windows and now .NET. In my current incarnation, I have been developing both Web and Windows applications using the .NET Framework.  However along with my technical side comes some communication skills.  At least, I like to think they've come along.

I have been writing for technical publications and speaking at anyplace that would have me for most of the last decade.  This experience allowed me to find what I call my 'voice'.  As anyone who has both read and heard me will attest, the two styles are not that different.  In other words, I write like I talk.  And I talk in a stream of consciousness. So be ready for topics that can go all over the map.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, let me describe what the blog will contain.  In the course of my work, I get a chance to work with Web Services in the real world.  While much of the theory and standards are interesting, the sometimes get in the way of actually making Web Services do what we need them to do.  This blog is dedicated to discussing Web Services where the petal meets the metal.  I'll be discussion the quirks of creating Web Services and getting them to interoperate with other non-Microsoft environments.  I'll look at how to go about creating an infrastructure that supports Web Services at the enterprise level.  This includes both security and instrumentation.  I think that this mandate (the one that I'm giving myself, that is) should allow for a wide range of commentary.  And I'll try to keep the posts as regular as my work allows.

Tips and Tricks Birds of a Feather @ PDC

Tonight at 8pm we hosted a “Birds of a Feather” session. These are meant to be round table discussions for people with common interests. This one was a little large to be an effective round table. But it turned out good.

We took our projector to setup, because we thought we might have to show a few to get the group warmed up. As it turned out there were between 100 and 200 people at the session. So we showed a few tips each, all the while prompting the floor to submit some.

And they did! It was great, the session attendees got right into it. With that big a crowd is was a challenge to stay organized. Barry Gervin did a great job of facilitating.

People always think their tip will be silly and everyone will know it, but the truth is we can all learn from each other. Every time someone gave a tip someone else in the audience gave the “oh good one” response.

I thought I would share a couple of my favorites here on the Blog.

  1. To select a vertical block of text you can alt-drag. I knew word had this feature but I didn't know VS did. The last editor I used with this was K-edit back in my C programming days.
  2. Ctrl-Pgup or Ctrl-Pgdn to flip between editor views. (i.e. Design/Html or DataSet/XML)

There were plenty more. I'll add some more in as the week goes on.

Tomorrow the sessions start. I'm really looking forward to a lot of them. I want to be well rested and ready, so I'll say good night now.

Registration

We are now at the conference centre. We registered and got our free gifts. Yet another laptop nap sac, a t-shirt and a coupon that is good for a bunch of CD's we can't get until tomorrow. Now we'll have to put the coupon in the room safe so all the other attendees don't try steeling it from us before we can redeem it tomorrow. :)

We got a copy of Office 2003, which is very nice.

The wireless access is excellent in the conference hall. I'm on it now. You can see how good it is eh?P>

Tonight We are hosting a Birds of a Feather (BOF) Session at 8:00 in room 402AB entitled VS.NET Secret Tips & Tricks
I may attend this BOF session  Web Services Orchestration: More Than Just Getting the Weather and Checking Your Stocks at 7:00 pm

I'll let you know how they turn out.>

PDC in L.A. is smokin'

Yesterday was a long day between 6 hours of flight time, and several other hours of miscellaneous travel between home, airports, terminals, and hotels. The descent into L.A. was interesting. We were warned about the smell of smoke since there some brush fires in our path. We saw a couple of them from the air and I was completely surprised at the amount of smoke obscuring the ground....and then bam - we flew into a huge smoke cloud and the smell of smoke didn't surprise me as much as the light blocking effects. It's wierd when somebody turns off the sun. As we were getting off the plane some pilots from our plane were talking in the ramp....“Holy Crap, that was like flying into a thunderstorm“. Don't they have a pilot's lounge for this kind of thing?

After a fine dinner at Gladstone's in Mailbu with DennisLee , DaveLloyd and about 25 pigeon's that could swallow my youngest daughter whole, we retired back to the hotel to do some pre-Bof collection of content for our Visual Studio.NET Tips and Tricks session. I learned lots of neat tricks from both of them. I also had some good things to share. This was sort of a mini bof between 3 people. I can already see that I'll have to really play the moderator role. Tips were flying back and forth so quick - we also need a scribe tonight.

One of the tips which was more of a PDC tip than anything, is that on of use who will remain nameless - isn't familiar with the fully enriched PDC Calendar - which is only available if you log on . “Log on?” He asked. Yes, you first go to http://mymsevents.com/MyMSEvents/ and then in the toolbar - click Login and use your passport account that you registered with. You see a few new menu items available afterwards like “My Calendar”. Don't even think of using the “Sessions” menu item to browse the list of topics - it's way too pedestrian. The My Calendar is printable. I thought it was also downloadable to PocketPC and Outlook but I can't seem to do that anymore. Anyone else ever see that? Am I missing something? Also check out the “Session Evaluations“  a nice way to do online evals.

I need breakfast...badly.

Time Change

I left home at 4:45 am so I would have time to pick up Barry Gervin and get to the airport for our 7:20 flight. I stopped for coffee knowing it would be the last time for a week that I would enjoy the sweet aroma and flavour of a Tim Horton's large black 2 sugars. I was hungry so I pick up a couple of blueberry muffins for breakfast.

Our flight left on time, and the first leg was quick. Between Toronto and Cleveland we got coffee and a blueberry muffin. It was OK.

Between Cleveland and LA we had in flight entertainment. The movie Legally Blonde II and episodes of the TV shows Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Wings.

Next thing you know they start serving breakfast. I sat eagerly awaiting some eggs and of course one of the standard breakfast meats. The flight attendant pulled her cart up to our aisle and set down a lovely healthy breakfast. Cereal, milk a banana and a blueberry muffin. It's a good thing I really like blue berry muffins.

That was a long day. I was in bed by 9 pm and them up at 6 which of course I thought was 7. Now I am going to get that breakfast I have been waiting for, then off the convention centre to register for PDC 2003.

Visual Studio .NET Tips and Tricks @ PDC

I'm hosting a birds of a feather Sunday night from 8-9pm at the Microsoft PDC. The topic is Visual Studio .NET Tips and Tricks. Hope to see you there - and grab a beer or three afterwards.

Code:
BoF29
Room: Room 402AB