Thursday, November 23, 2006

A whole new world.. and Launchy!

Well first off I'll start with an update on things. We implemented CruiseControl.Net last Sunday and have been using pair programming for the last few weeks. It’s been a really great learning experience. I had always thought that pair programming wasn’t something that would ever interest me but it turns out I was wrong. I find that I’m much more productive with someone to work problems through and the noise levels in the room don’t affect me at all. We’re also doing a bit of TDD. Well our own version of it, which we update as I get time to read Test Driven Development: By Example. I’m also looking forward to reading the 2nd edition of Extreme Programming Explained. I’ve definitely become an agile convert but now I want to research the various flavors to see what best jives with me. All in all I’m very happy with how life is progressing professionally.

And in other news Jean-Paul released another little tidbit of information that has helped me immensely. It's a product called Launchy and let me tell you this thing is awesome. By default it scans your Start -> Programs and Control Panel for all applications. When you bring it up you type in the name of the program (or just the first letter) and it will show you the most likely match. After a second or two a drop down will appear that shows you the top 10 matches which you can pick from. Once you use an application with it, it will make it more likely to return that application (especially for the same keystrokes) in the future. It’s replaced Slickrun as my application launcher of choice.

2007 Microsoft Launch

Well I and a few others from my company went to the 2007 Microsoft Launch event and I figured what better reason to get caught up on my blogging.

For those of you who didn't know today was the official launch event for " Windows Vista™, the 2007 Microsoft® Office system and Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007". There was a keynote and then a day of sessions. I of course took the developer track so I can only comment on it but there was also a Business, IT Pro and Architecture track.

The keynote itself was very much oriented towards the Business and IT crowd. I'm interested in the business side of things though so it was still interesting to see. The only real complaint I have was with the guy I have dubbed "Mr. Uhm". Where I use to work we had a rule that the usage of the word Uhm was not allowed during any discussion. The reasoning being that if you used it in front of your fellow co-workers you were probably also going to use it in front of customers. And anyone who has seen a presenter who keeps saying the word Uhm or Uhh can tell you that it makes for a very unprofessional display. We had different counts but my personal count was on average one Uhm every 6 seconds.

After that we started on our developer track. I don’t remember the names of the two people who gave the various presentations but they were both very good. The first session was an overview of Windows Vista and Office 2007. There was some good information provided for those who haven’t been following the products. I’ve actually used the Office 2007 Beta 2 a bit so I’m already very impressed with the new interface. And seeing some of the capabilities of Windows Vista really gets me excited about being able to play with it.

The next session was on Windows Presentation Foundation. I know a bit about the technology having heard about Xaml but seeing it in action was very cool. There is going to be a lot of interesting interfaces coming out of Xaml. Some will be monsters but there will also be gems. The session itself was well presented though the audio levels were a bit loud as the presenter has a voice that projects very well.

Next on the menu was a session on development using the Microsoft Office 2007 System . There were a few technical problems in this session but even with those it was still worth going to. It was funny because I had to drag one of my coworkers there and he actually ended up liking it. The fact that a docx is really a zip file blew us both away. Also the usage of XML to store the values from custom fields in a document will make for a lot of interesting possibilities. All in all I think that developing for Office 2007 is going to be an enjoyable experience.

Our next session was the one I had been looking forward to the most. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF – not WWF since we all know what happened to the wrestlers who tried to take on the panda bears); after having worked with MSMQ and worked on a workflow design I can say that both of these technologies really excite me. And that was before seeing the presentation. Now having seen how easy these technologies make things I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to use them. The ease with which WCF allows you to change your communication layer is amazing. And WF has the potential to change things. The ease with which any application can now implement workflow is going to open up so many possibilities. It doesn’t hurt that the actual implementation and tools look very nice.

And last but not least was Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with a dab of InfoPath (web-based). We actually use SharePoint where I work and the things that we saw in this session gave me a lot of ideas. The ease with which you can bring data in from your own applications is very cool. The fact that SharePoint 2007 is also a WF host is amazing. You can now setup a workflow so that when a new item gets added to a library a workflow is initiated. And they even provide a tool that makes it so non-developers can create workflows. We didn’t get to see too much of it so I’m not sure how advanced it is but it does look interesting.

So all in all I was quite happy with the event and I learnt a lot of interesting things. I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the various technologies. In fact I’ve got .Net 3.0 and the various tools downloading right now. If you live in one of the cities where this event is coming in the near future I recommend you take the time to see it. Even if you’re not working with Office or workflows or communication today you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Internet Explorer 7.0 gives up the ghost

Well Internet Explorer 7.0 will no longer run on my machine. Not sure what happened but I was running it.. and it suddenly disappeared. After that any time I tried to execute it it would show up for a second and then disappear. Uninstalled and reinstalled and still the same behavior so now I'm back to good ole IE 6.

Tabbed browsing how I miss thee.. and yes I know about Firefox..

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ReSharper for VB.Net (Early Access)

Well it looks like those of us who are in VB.Net land are now being let in on one of the most amazing tools available for C#

Resharper 2.5 has been released under the Early Access Program. It currently only has read-only functionality (Go to, Navigation, etc) but that alone makes for much more efficent programming.

I also recommend you download the Resharper 2.0 Default Keymap, print it out and keep it next to you.

Between this and SlickEdit Command Spy gadget mouseless programming has never been easier.