Thursday, 18 December 2008

The .NET Developer Network - January 2009

When: Tuesday 27th January 2009, doors open 6:00pm, meeting starts 6:30pm

Where: UWE (University of the West of England), Frenchay, Bristol (see FAQ for directions and a map) - Room 2q49 (in Q block)

What: Parallel Extensions to the .NET Framework (.NET V4.0)

Who: Mike Taulty, Microsoft Developer Evangelist and absolutely fabulous speaker.

Why: Because all new PCs have more than one processor and this is the future of computing. The problem that we have as developers is that our code is primarily single tasking so the other processors are going to waste. Parallel Extensions is part of the .NET Framework 4.0 and they allow us to make use of additional processors. Also because Mike is quite simply the best presenter on the UK user group circuit and you will be hard pushed to see a better example of how to present all year.

How do I sign up for this meeting: Send an email to meetings at and quote your user name and the January meeting.


The next version of the .NET Framework will come with new classes that start to chip away at the difficulties in building multi-threaded applications that are well placed to take advantage of the modern multi-core processor architectures and the future many-core architectures that are coming over the next few years. In this session, we'll introduce what that Parallel Extensions are, what they can do for you and take a tour around what's available in the current previews for you to start evaluating.


Mike Taulty works in the Developer and Platform Group at Microsoft in the UK where he has spent the past few years helping developers understand and get the best from the Microsoft platform. Prior to this, Mike spent 3 years with Microsoft Consulting Services as a consultant on developer technologies.
Before joining Microsoft, Mike spent the previous 9 years working as a software developer for a number of enterprises, consultancies and software vendors working with a variety of operating system, client, communication and server technologies. Mike holds a BSc Hons (1st Class) in Computer Science from the University of Leeds.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Visual Studio Ora

Code navigation and organisation can become an issue in the real world of development, eventually most code files contain a significant number of lines.  Aware of this problem the Visual Studio team gave us regions which work great but only work to hide code in expandable sections.

At the begging of December a new version of Ora was released, Ora is a Visual Studio 2008 add-in which solves the problems of code navigation (I know I am using it).

With the add in running you are presented with an grouped overview of your classes, whith methods and properties organised by interfaces, scope etc.  The tool removes the need to encase your code in regions and makes the issue of navigating code files so much easier.

To download the source or binaries please visit the codeplex :


As good as a tool like this is, its no excuse for an unorganised file, please keep this in mind.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Visual Studio 2008 Spell Checker

For years I have been so grateful that Word comes with a spell checker, before it arrived I spent alot of time with a dictionary at my side. Although my spelling has greatly improved there are still to odd word I get wrong and these usually show up in my developments, and there is nothing worse than having a client call you up to tell you that your latest release has a spelling mistake (which is usually in a spurious label hidden away).

What we need is a spell checker that knows what to check and what not, well surprisingly there is, the Visual Web Developer Team have created such a spell checker.  The spell checker works only in Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and only for web projects so unfortunately WinDev developers are still out in the cold.

The tool is supports checking of text in the following areas;

  • HTML style comments <-- HTML -->
  • ASP.NET server side comments: <%-- ASP.NET --%>
  • JScript, C# and C++ comments: // C++ style comments
  • CSS and C style comments: /* C style comments */
  • VB and VBScript style comments: 'This is VB comment
  • The spell checker also has an ignore list and works for multiple languages.

    To read the full details and download please visit the Visual Web Developer Team Blog

    Monday, 15 December 2008

    50 CSS Tools

    Smashing Magazine have produced another one of their 50 useful tools posts, this one is concentrated on CSS tools and has a number of useful links. For example there is a tool for formatting text (through CSS) to any shape and a tool which will allow you to test your JavaScript in the browser in real time!

    To see the full list for yourself go to

    Thursday, 11 December 2008

    Cheat Sheets

    How often do you need to know the life cycle of an ASP.NET page or you need to know what code snippets are in Visual Studio 2005, for me these kind of things make me head for google in hopes that someone has this information.

    Now you do not need to search google anymore Jon Sheehan has put together all the cheat sheets he has found related to .NET into one place.

    To see the following cheat sheets visit his blog

    • .NET Format String Quick Reference
    • ASP.NET 2.0 Page Life Cycle & Common Events
    • Visual Studio 2005 Built-in Code Snippets (C#)
    • ASP.NET Page Life Cycle Diagram (PNG)
    • ASP.NET Runtime Cheat Sheet 
    • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Commonly Uses Types and Namespaces (PDF)
    • Visual Studio 2005 Default Keybindings C# | VB (PDF)
    • Visual Studio 2008 Default Keybindings C# | VB
    • Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX Library
    • Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX Client Life Cycle & Events (PDF)
    • LINQ
    • VB.NET/C# Comparison
    • SQL Server
    • HTML Character Entities
    • RGB Hex Color Chart
    • CSS
    • jQuery
    • JavaScript
    • XHTML (PDF)
    • Regular Expressions
    • Microformats

    Wednesday, 10 December 2008

    ASP Chart Control

    Almost every business application needs to support some kind of reporting, regardless of weather the stakeholders realise it.

    Microsoft realise that the ability to view data online is important to us and have just released a new Charting control which can produce charts like this;

    The control is free and Scott Guthrie has all the information in his blog

    Monday, 8 December 2008

    Microsoft Bluprints

    Creating code can be boring! Do not confuse this statement with the fact that enjoy my career immensely and I spend every waking moment reading, learning and doing.  The things that bore me the most is creating the same code over-and-over (boilerplate code), I know how to structure my RIA and my Web Services etc its all taken from best practices and my previous experience.

    To get me past the boring bits I will use software factories, they take the pain away and allow me to concentrate on solving the problems.  The current factory I am using is called "The Web Client Software factory (WCFS)" which uses the Guidance Automation Toolkit to create the wizard interface and hold the code templates for generation. 

    The use of the WCFS is great and really speeds up development and unification in code bases between developers, all I need to do to create another module of functionality is select a special menu option on Visual Studio, follow the wizards, make some decision on name etc and all the boilerplate is done.

    The Guidance Automation framework, on which the WCSF is built, has been around for quite a while however it has not really caught on and not many people use to create this own software factories, in fact this technology has never really hit the main stream even though so many people need a framework to build their own factories in.

    With the release of Blueprints Microsoft hopes to make the software factory work more accessible and replace the Guidance Automation Tool.  Blueprints is a tool for creating and using software factories however this tool seems to be better as it is easier to use by providing a unified environment to run your factories from, the factories can also be accessed from RSS feeds allowing you to always access the latent version.  Also unlike the Guidance Automation Toolkit this tool provides a creation tool already build.

    Blueprints is the next step into software factories so expect to hear alot more about this and code automation in the coming month as we start to become more educated against writing the same code over-and-over and spend more time dealing with the problems and getting though right.

    To read a full description of Microsoft Blueprint go here :

    Download the tool here