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UK MSDN Flash
17 June 2009
Editor's Intro

Hello all,

Welcome to our second special edition of the Flash. The first edition was jam packed with pointers to free tools and utilities for developers. This time around the focus is open source frameworks and libraries which help you build great applications in less code and less time with the added bonus of access to the source code of everything you elect to take a dependency on. There are hundreds of open source projects which developers could adopt from which I have selected the “best” based on feedback from colleagues and the UK developer community.

I have tried to strike a balance between some fairly well known projects and some lesser known but equally well respected offerings. Which means we have “old favourites” such as xUnit and Moq (testing and mocking respectively), alongside Argotic (syndication framework), Excel Data Reader (Excel file to DataSet) and #SNMP (SNMP library) as well as some frameworks primarily developed out of the UK such as Fluent NHibernate (no more XML ORM mapping) and OpenRasta (REST based framework for building web applications).

Many of the open source projects in this edition are hosted on the excellent codeplex.com, Microsoft's open source project hosting web site. Which is why I am pleased to have the Program Manager of Codeplex, Sara Ford, as the author of the Technical Article. Sara has done a great job of summarising how to get started with Codeplex as a contributor or project owner.

Finally, the MSDN Flash Podcast will soon move from pilot to live. You can now safely subscribe as described below.

All the best

Eric
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Fresh Discoveries
Top Tip
Tip
Visual Studio has three running modes (2mins)
Make use of the Full Screen, Normal and Debug modes.
Articles
Book
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services Step by Step
By Scott Cameron & Hitachi Consulting (Receive 40% off via MSDN Flash).
Downloads
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[TEST] xUnit.net
One of several very good testing frameworks to aid with TDD.
Downloads
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[TEST] RhinoMocks mocking framework
Ease testing by allowing the developer to create mock implementations of objects.
Articles
Website
[TEST] White for automation of Windows applications
Programmatically drive Windows applications.
Downloads
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[TEST] Gallio Automation Platform
Works with many testing frameworks including MSTest, xUnit, NUnit and MbUnit.
Downloads
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[DATA] Fluent NHibernate 
Fluent NHibernate lets you write mappings in strongly typed C# code.
Downloads
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[OOP] StructureMap Dependency Injection/Inversion of Control
Enable looser coupling between classes and their dependencies.
Downloads
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[OOP] Managed Extensibility Framework
Make the shift from applications being statically compiled to dynamically composed.
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[APPFX] s#arp architecture for web applications
Foundation for rapidly building web applications using ASP.NET MVC with NHibernate.
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[APPFX]OpenRasta REST based framework for building web applications
Simplify exposing a REST based API to your application.
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[APPFX]CSLA.NET Application Framework
A comprehensive framework for .NET development.
Downloads
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[APPFX]Spring.NET Application Framework
A comprehensive framework for building web applications.
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[RUNTIME]Mono enables .NET on Linux and Mac
Use those .NET skills to target Linux, BSD and OS X.
Downloads
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[UTIL] Sandcastle Help File Builder
Create MSDN-style documentation from .NET assemblies.
Downloads
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[HELPER] EasyHook for Windows API Hooking
Extend unmanaged code (APIs) with managed code.
Downloads
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[HELPER] Json.NET for working with JSON formatted data
R/W using the JsonReader and JsonWriter or serialize your .NET objects with a single call.
Downloads
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[HELPER] Excel Data Reader for Excel 97 to 2007
Read Excel files straight into a dataset.
Downloads
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[HELPER]#SNMP Library
A natural API interface to encapsulate SNMP functions.
Downloads
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[HELPER] DotNetZip Library
A great ZIP library plus samples.
Downloads
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[HELPER] Visio Automation Library
Automate Visio from C#, Visual Basic and more.
Downloads
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[HELPER] PHPExcel is not just about Excel!
PHP classes to r/w Excel 2007, PDF, HTML and more.
Downloads
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[HELPER] Argotic Syndication Framework for RSS, Atom, OPML and more
Makes the reading and writing syndicated content in common formats very easy.
Downloads
Download
[HELPER] NLog logging library
Easily write diagnostic traces from your application.
Articles
Website
A great directory of C# Open Source software
Nicely indexed directory of libraries, frameworks and tools.


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NxtGenUG - Oxford

The Next Generation User Group focuses on existing and future technologies from Microsoft, helping the enterprising developer stay ahead of the game. The Oxford Branch, founded in November 2006 and run out of Research Machines in Milton Park near Abingdon, meets each month for technical presentations, pizza and swag!

Register Now to Avoid Disappointment
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30 June – 2 July, Birmingham: EuroPython - Annual European Python Conference (£190)
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Feature Article

How to get involved in open source on CodePlex

There are numerous ways to participate in open source without having to start your own project. Let’s see just how easy it is to get involved using CodePlex, Microsoft's open source project hosting web site.

An Open Source Community

At the 2006 O’Reilly Open Source Convention, I attended a wonderful talk by James Howison on Open Source Communities, why some succeed and others fail.

Based on James Howison’s PhD research, below is breakdown (see diagram) of what a healthy open source community looks like.

- Passive users – just download the code; leaves nothing behind except a download count
- Active users – ask questions, report bugs, speak their minds, but no code contributions
- Co-Developer – submits a patch, but doesn’t have write access to source repository. This is the group that also answers questions on the forums, etc.
- Core Developer – full access to source code, fixes bugs and adds features, reviews and approves submissions
- Benevolent Dictator – runs the project, drives the vision, calls the shots, makes the rules

We designed CodePlex based on user personas that map directly to each of these roles.

Contributing Feedback

As a registered user of CodePlex, you can
- Leave comments on wiki pages as feedback on the documentation.
- Leave a rating and/or a review on a release.
- Report bugs about a project.
- Vote for a particular bug to be fixed or a feature to be implemented.

All these avenues provide useful feedback to the project owner to make the Open Source Software (OSS) project even better.

One addition to the CodePlex software I’d like to make is to add an editor role which gave write access to the wiki, but not write access to the code repository.

Contributing a Patch

Any CodePlex registered user can submit a patch to any CodePlex project.

To submit a patch,
1. Zip up your sources using any utility. CodePlex allows any file type to be uploaded.
2. On the project’s Source Code tab, select the Upload Patch.
3. Fill out the description of the patch, and (optionally) associate the work item the code fixes.

You can view other submitted patches on the Patches page, where a project member can accept or decline the patch.

Contributing a Project

For those who have a project that they want to give to the community, any CodePlex registered user can create a new OSS project.

To create a project,
1. Go to the Create a Project page.
2. Fill out a few questions regarding your project.

Project owners then have 30 days to setup their project before going live. The owner must have checked in their sources, modified the homepage, and selected a license in order to publish the project. Unpublished projects are deleted after the 30 day period, which helps ensure only high quality projects appear on CodePlex.

There are lots of great projects on CodePlex which you can get involved in. From full blown application frameworks to small helper libraries – the breadth is amazing! And in case you were wondering, my personal project on CodePlex is http://stickfigurekarate.codeplex.com. The “style of broken limb” bug is especially fun to watch and needs a fix. Maybe you are now tempted to submit a patch?

Sara Ford
CodePlex Program Manager
Read Sara's blog

Flash Poll Question

Question of the fortnight

How many monitors do you use for developing software?

One is all a real developer needs!
Just the one but I would love more
Two
Three
Four
Five, Six or Seven
Eight ... honestly!

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

Results from last poll: 

How interested are you in User Interface design?

54% I am increasingly involved/interested in designing great UI
15% New: I am very interested but hopeless at it!
14% I leave that UI stuff to others - I prefer to code!
13% User interface design is my life - I love it!
4% I don't see anything wrong with cyan and magenta buttons!

 Flash Results


On the Horizon
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10 – 14 August, London: DevelopMentor - Building Distributed Applications with .NET (£1,695 + VAT)
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17 – 21 August, London: DevelopMentor - SharePoint for Developers (WSSv3/MOSS2007) (£1,695 + VAT)




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