MSDN Flash
UK MSDN Flash
07 January 2009
Editor's Intro

Hello all,

Welcome to the first edition of the year. I hope that you have a great 2009 despite the obvious challenges. I recommend the first thing you do is download this fun calendar created by the UK community and start planning which events you will attend. Don’t forget to mark the Professional Developers’ Day on Monday 23 March and the MSDN Events in February taking place in London (10), Birmingham (12), Edinburgh (24) and Manchester (26).

As a team we plan to try out plenty of new things during 2009 including making our content easier to find and view via sites such as YouTube/ukdpe and Slideshare/ukdpe. We are also attempting to aggregate our “online presence” on Friendfeed/ukdpe to make it a little easier for you to track what we are up to. It is early days and we know we have plenty more to do but I felt it was worth sharing at an early stage to get your feedback. I also will be making a few changes to the Flash. The first of these is to give you all the chance to contribute to the Flash by writing a 400 to 500 word Technical Article. My reasoning is pretty simple - I am convinced you will do a fabulous job of it! Check out this summary if you think you may be interested. I will also be adding a Visual Studio tip into each edition drawing shamelessly on the excellent tip archive of Sara Ford. Expect more improvements over the coming months.

I have plenty of Fresh Discoveries for you to explore. Our USA colleagues have started a weekly video podcast on Visual Studio 2010, there is a great introduction to the world of designing for testability, plenty of SQL Server 2005 downloads now that Service Pack 3 is out and the MIX 10K Smart Coding Challenge. The challenge is to create a great web application in Silverlight or WPF in just 10 kilobytes of code. We already have at least one UK entry (BlockSquash) and I would love to see more – the prize is a great one!

The Technical Article takes a look at Windows Azure, the new Operating System for the Cloud from Microsoft. Windows Azure has the potential to significantly change how we solve business problems in 2009 and beyond whilst still using our favourite .NET tools and languages. Well worth a read.

Finally, thanks to all those who took part in the fun poll in December. It was a close run thing but apparently slightly more of you preferred two 32inch monitors to snow for Christmas – shame on you :-) This time around the Poll is on the importance of UML in software development given our renewed focus on UML in Visual Studio 2010.

All the best

Eric
Follow me on Twitter 



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Fresh Discoveries
Top Tip
Tip
How to optimise Visual Studio for Multi-Monitor setups.
Yes , my choice was influenced by the results of the December poll!
Articles
Book
Microsoft .NET Framework-Application Development Foundation, 2nd Edition
By Tony Northup (Receive 40% off via MSDN Flash).
Articles
Article
2009 and Beyond?
A panel of industry leaders provides a glimpse into the turbulent year ahead.
Articles
Blog
Best of the Moth 2008
Ex team member Daniel shares his best 18 links from 2008.
Downloads
Screencast
Weekly Video Podcast on Visual Studio 2010 – part 1
Part one discusses how to start playing safely with Visual Studio 2010 using the CTP.
Articles
Article
Flexible and Powerful Data Binding with WPF
Could WPF data binding be the binding framework we've been waiting for?
Articles
Article
A Better Approach for Building Claims-based WCF Services
Introduction to "Geneva," the new framework for building claims-based applications.
Downloads
Download
Downloads
Screencast
Five Screencasts on Windows Azure for Developers
Fundamentals of the Azure Services Platform and how to build applications in the cloud.
Downloads
Video
Top 10 security pet peeves (8 mins)
Two guys with lots of security knowledge discuss 10 “mistakes”.
Downloads
Video
Detailed walkthrough of the new SDL Threat Modelling Tool (25 mins)
Security Development Lifecycle discussion and tool demo. Well worth a watch.
Articles
Case Study
Mapping-Solution Developer adopts WPF
MapDotNet UX takes advantage of Windows Presentation Foundation.
Articles
Case Study
Roxio Creator 2009 uses WPF 
A new user interface that is visually rich and easy to use courtesy of WPF.
Articles
Website
MIX 10K Smart Coding Challenge – great prizes to be won
What could you create for the Web if you only had 10 kilobytes of code?
Downloads
Download
Microsoft Data Access Components Utility: Component Checker 
Determine installed version information and diagnose installation issues.
Articles
Blog
Running a Service in the Azure Cloud
Jon Udell blogs about building an Azure calendar aggregator.
Articles
Article
Multi Column Combo Cell for a .NET 2.0 DataGridView Control
Solve the issue of Multi Column Combobox cells in DataGridView of Visual Studio 2008.
Articles
Article
Design for Testability
A good introduction to doing automated testing well.
Downloads
Download
Web Services for Remote Portlets toolkit 
Allows developers to use SharePoint data and mini-apps on third-party portal software.
Articles
Blog
ASP.NET MVC Design Gallery
HTML design templates for MVC development plus insight into RC features.
Articles
Article
Microsoft program manager on LINQ to SQL
Tim Mallalieu discusses the future of LINQ to SQL and the recent announcements.
Downloads
Download
SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3
Download Service Pack 3 for Microsoft SQL Server 2005.
Downloads
Download
SQL Server 2005 Data Mining Add-ins for Microsoft Office 2007 
Table Analysis Tools and Data Mining Client.
Downloads
Download
SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Technologies 
Simplify using Reporting Services with Sharepoint.
Downloads
Download
Feature Pack for SQL Server 2005 - December 2008 
A new version of the feature Pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2005.


Register Now to Avoid Disappointment
Community event
Community event
13 January, Leicester: VBUG – What’s New in .NET 4.0 
Community event
Community event
Community event
Community event
21 January, Leeds/Bradford: Black Marble - Annual Technical Update
Community event
Community event
Community event
22 January, Cambridge: Software East - Building a Software Business (Register before 15 Jan for £15)


Feature Article

Windows Azure

A few weeks back my colleague (and boss) Gurprit Singh wrote about the Azure Services Platform and touched briefly on Windows Azure, the new Operating System for the Cloud from Microsoft. In this article I describe the services Windows Azure provides and how you can get started. Windows Azure provides four key capabilities.

Firstly it provides computation. In this first community technology preview (CTP) Windows Azure applications are written using .Net Framework 3.5.1 and two application models (or roles) are supported. The first of these is the Web Role. This is an application which can receive requests over HTTP or HTTPS written using ASP.Net for web applications or ASMX\WCF for Web Services. The second role is the Worker Role. Application code in a Worker Role cannot receive input directly from external sources, instead application code in a Worker Role will normally receive input from a Web Role via a queue.

Next it provides storage services. Rather than the familiar file and folder based data abstractions that we find in other versions of Windows, in Windows Azure we find three new ones addressing large scale storage requirements. These are blob storage, table storage and queues. Blob storage is used for storing opaque pieces of data and associated metadata supporting blobs up to 50GB. Table storage enables data to be organised into collections of keyed entities containing properties. Queues are used for persisting messages and are also used to pass requests between the Web and Worker roles. The storage service automatically scales data across multiple servers and provides redundant copies for availability. Besides being available to applications running inside Windows Azure data in the storage system can also be accessed externally via HTTP using RESTful Web Services. LINQ can also be used to query Windows Azure Table storage via the ADO.Net Data Services client.

Windows Azure applications are subject to Code Access Security just like any other .NET code. Rather than running with Full Trust, Azure applications are restricted by Windows Azure Code Access Policy. Both the Web and Worker roles are stateless which means applications need to either save their state within the storage service or return it to the client. These constraints contribute to Windows Azures ability to deliver its third major feature, Service Management. For example, a developer declares how many instances of a particular role are needed and Windows Azure then automatically takes care of deploying the application, making sure that the required number of instances are running, monitoring and managing failures and applying updates as needed.

Finally development for Windows Azure can be done without having to be connected to the cloud. The Windows Azure SDK provides a local developer version of Windows Azure to enable testing and debugging of applications alongside the normal samples and documentation. There are also a set of tool extensions and templates for Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Web Developer 2008. Together these make developing for Windows Azure extremely familiar to .Net Developers.

Getting started with your first Windows Azure application is easy. First download the SDK and tools, then watch the PDC sessions and use the walkthroughs to kick start your efforts. Whilst you don’t need to register for an account to build your applications you can also register for access to the Windows Azure service here.

Simon Davies
Architect Evangelist
Microsoft UK

Flash Poll Question

Results from last poll: 

What would you most like for Christmas as a software developer?

23% Two 32inch monitors
20% Snow obviously!
18 % A powerful developer class notebook
15% Some time off work!
8% A tiny NetBook running Windows 7 Beta
8% No more bugs in your own code
8% No more bugs in Microsoft code

 Flash Results

Question of the fortnight

What has been your experience with UML?

Visual Studio 2010 will add UML 2.1.1 based modelling tools and diagrams. Which of these best describes your experiences with the Unified Modelling Language?

I am a fan of UML. It helps me get my job done
I have used it but never will again!
I dabble with UML from time to time
I have never used UML
It doesn't seem relevant to my role/work

To take part in this week’s poll question please visit my blog to submit your answer.

On the Horizon
Community event
23 March, London: Microsoft Professional Developers' Day @ DevWeek 2009 (Book by 27 Feb for £219 +VAT)
Community event
23 - 27 March, London: DevWeek 2009 (Register by 27 Feb & save up to £100)
Community event




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