What's the Big Announcement?

For weeks now, there has been a buzz about a big announcement at the Mix '07 conference. Well, in his keynote, Ray Ozzie made the following announcements: 

Expression Studio is shipping today - See here for the details. One of the interesting elements of Expression Studio is that it includes the standard edition of Visual Studio 2005. As I mentioned in my last post, I haven't seen the developer experience for Silverlight. Hopefully with this will be at least similar to what developers already expect.

Silverlight Streaming - A companion service to Silverlight. The idea is to allow Silverlight applications to be posted to a set of Microsoft servers in the cloud. From this cloud, the applications can then be delivered to client browsers through your web site. First I've heard of this, so if I misunderstood this 'third part' of the Microsoft strategy, I'll correct it later.

Scott Guthrie announce that Silverlight includes a cross-platform .NET Framework. As of 20 minutes ago, there was a preview for this functionality that was available on the web.  While it is a Beta version, it does have a "Go Live" license.

Silverlight can be downloaded from here. The SDK can be found here.

More to come


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Are you an aspiring architect?

I guess by the very definition of an architect, you would have to have aspirational qualities. Mohammad Akif & and Dave Remmer, Architect Evangelists with Microsoft Canada are putting on a series of web casts just for you. Check them out....

Architecture 101 (Mohammad, May 24)


Architecture is the balance between art and engineering, it requires a certain mindset and approach to solving problems. Architects often function as a bridge between the business users and development groups and are increasingly being recognized as a critical community within organizations. Becoming an Architect can often translate in  to an elevated status from a career stage perspective but it is hard to find prescriptive guidance around how to become an architect. Join Mohammad Akif for the first of a four part series focused on aspiring architects. During the Architecture 101 session we will discuss some key ideas around Architecture and define attributes of an architect.

Software development lifecycle and methodologies (Dave, May 31)


Over the years the various approaches teams have used to develop software have evolved. Join Dave Remmer in the second of a series focused on aspiring architects where we will discuss the various stages projects go through and sample some of the methodologies used by teams developing software. In this session we will compare and contrast the waterfall, agile, RUP, Scrum and MSF methodologies and how they are used within software projects.

Services orientation and other architectural paradigms  (Dave, June 7)


One of the hottest topics in software architecture is the services oriented approach to building solutions and how this can provide agility, flexibility and reuse. Join Dave Remmer in the third of a series focused on aspiring architects where we will be looking at approaches to architecting software. This session will give an overall description of service orientation and how it differs from object oriented and component based architectures as well as a discussion of some of the organizational challenges teams experience when using a services oriented architecture.

Transitioning from a developer to an architect  (Mohammad, June 14)


Are you a developer who would like to learn more about becoming an architect? Or how to get formally recognized as one (since you already wear the design and architecture hat along with the developer one)?. Join Mohammad Akif for the fourth and last part of the series focused on aspiring architects, during this session we will discuss how you can attain the skill set required to be an architect and sell yourself as an architect within your organization and industry. We will also provide a list of resources that you can use to continue the transition from a developer to an architect role.

A Big Strike Against TableAdapters

I'm hoping that someone reads this post and corrects me. But I'm not holding out much hope.

I don't normally use TableAdapters, but for a small application I decided that they seem like a reasonable choice. And so long as I was using them on my development platform, all was well and good. The problem arose when I delivered the application.

Like any good developer, I store the connection string to the data store in the configuration file. Which is what I did for this application. When I defined the TableAdapters, I pointed the connection string property to the same setting. Or so I thought. But what actually happened was that the connection string was actually stored in the DLL that contained the adapters. Hard-coded. As in not modifiable through the config files. And, naturally, this wasn't discovered until deployment.

So I started to look for ways to have the TableAdapter pull the connection string from the config files. I figured that this would be a fairly common scenario, so it should be address. Not so much

Apparently there is no way to automatically have TableAdapters use config settings. The "solution" is to use the fact that TableAdapters are partial classes to create a write-only ConnectionString property. It looks like the following:

public partial class FormTableAdapter
   public string ConnectionString
            System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection conn = new 
            conn.ConnectionString = value;
            this.Connection = conn;

Then, where the adapter is instantiated in your code, you set the ConnectionString property to the value from the config file.

To me, this is unacceptable. I was already a little skeptical of TableAdapters (I don't like the DataSet and the data access code in the same assembly), but this takes the cake. It almost seems like they were designed to not allow a reasonable deployment model. Maybe it will get better in the next version, but until then, I'm sticking with DataAdapters.

Taking it on the Road

This coming Saturday (April 28th), I'm going to be doing my Extending the ObjectDataSource talk at the Calgary Code Camp. While this isn't the first time I've spoken in Calgary (I did an MSDN User Group Tour there a couple of years ago), it has certainly been a while. I'm looking forward to participating as well as connecting with some people I haven't seen in a while. If you are in the area, you should seriously think about attending. Code Camps are a lot of fun and the price (free) enhances the value even more. You can find out more about the sessions and register at http://www.calgarycodecamp.com

Distributing SOA Information

As you might have guessed from the name of my blog, I have a long-term love of distributed applications. My infatuation with the technology actually goes back to earlier forms of COM+ and Web services. I believe that a well designed distributed application can be used to address the scalability, reliability and even identity issues that spring up in most large scale business applications. The biggest problem with designing distributed application is knowing which of the many available technologies is the best choice for the situation.

This is the reason that I was looking forward to the release of the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). If nothing else, WCF provided a common interface to the multiple technologies used to build distributed applications. Well, WCF has been released for a few months now (and was actually in a 'go live' state for a lot longer), which means that interest in how it can be used in real-life is growing. To help people learn and use this very cool technology, ObjectSharp is introducing a new course on the best practices surrounding WCF. The course is being developed by Peter Madziak, with more information about the content and thinking behind the course found here. If you have any interest in distributed applications in general and WCF at all, you owe it to yourself to check out the course description.

Roadmap for VSTS

Microsoft has just released (here) a moderately detailed description of where Team Systems is going over the next 12 months or so. The roadmap also includes the beginnings of the functionality that will be found in the next version of VSTS (code named Rosario). Nothing like a little transparency to get people salivating. :)

Distributed Applications Training Kit now available

Although the publication date was slipped slightly (and there was conflicting information coming from some of the vendors), the training kit for the Distributed Applications PRO certification (70-549) is now available. Of the three training kits I was involved in, this is the one where I thought the material would be most useful beyond studying to pass the certification test. The concepts and issues associated with distributed applications are commonplace and the book provides a nice consolidation of the latest thoughts on how to address the problems. I am curious about how people find the book, so if you have any feedback, I would love to hear it.

Thanks Microsoft

I found out yesterday that I have received the Microsoft MVP Award again for Solution Architecture from Microsoft. This was the third time I received the award and I am grateful and honoured to be in such fine company as other the other MVPs out there that contribute to the IT community.

Aside from the recognition, the program opens up opportunities for bi-directional communication with Microsoft. They truly to listen to and value the input from MVP community leaders. While this is not unique, it's certainly rare type of program. There are many other big companies whom have lost sight of their customers, and even their most passionate ones. They would do well to take a lead from Microsoft in this regard.

Follow up on LINQ and ADO.NET Entity Framework Talk

On Saturday on March 31, 2007 I did a couple of talks at the Toronto Code Camp. The first an overview on the LINQ Project and the ADO.NET Entity Framework.

The second talk was an impromptu talk to cover a time slot for a speaker who was unable to attend. I gave the audience some choices of topics and they chose Automated Unit Testing in VSTS. We also touched briefly on the bridge between TDD and QA, other types of tests, integration with source control, work items and builds. My hidden agenda was to convince folks that this is an essential evolution of our develop discipline and is no longer a fringe activity, nor associated to just one kind of development methodology (XP/Agile).

The talk was unscripted and as such no slides. Good thing because we went well into the lunch hour and I appreciate everybody's willingness to hang out and have a good discussion. Here are some links:

And lastly a couple of book recommendations:

Finally a big thanks to Chris Dufour for putting on an excellent glitch free code camp - this should be a model for similar events.

Update: Also check out this blog post for videos of the EDM designer that unfortunately isn't working in the March CTP.

Update 2: I should also include Shyam Pather's excellent Entity Framework screencast tutorial(s) in which he demos Entity Query Language and tells a great story of how to evolve ADO.NET 1.0/2.0 code to ADO.NET 3.0

Toronto Code Camp Slide and Demo

The second annual Toronto Code Camp took place this past Saturday. By all accounts, it was a tremendous success with over 250 people giving their Saturday over to many things technical. I gave a presentation on extending the ObjectDataSource control, and while you should be able to get the slides and demo code from the Toronto Code Camp site shortly, I thought I'd post them here as well, just to get it out as quickly as possible.

Slide Deck - Extending the ObjectDataSource

Demo Code - Extending the ObjectDataSource Demo Code