Is Microsoft Good for jQuery?

It's been a rough week for Microsoft, but AJAX developers at least have a bit of good news.

The first Redmond code contributions to the open source JavaScript Library, which were announced by Scott Guthrie at Microsoft's MIX10 in March, are now officially supported by the jQuery Project. The jQuery Template, Data Link and Globalization APIs extend the framework for ASP.NET and Visual Studio developers.

The plug-ins replace some of the key functionality in the Microsoft AJAX platform, which fell by the wayside when Microsoft decided to officially support jQuery as its client-side AJAX implementation.

Boris Moore, a developer on the Microsoft AJAX platform, explained his view of the jQuery developments in his blog:

"[T]here were a number of features in our AJAX platform which were not in jQuery, and indeed were pretty much ahead of the curve as far as AJAX platforms in general are concerned…[a]mongst those features -- our client templates, our concept of observable JavaScript objects and arrays (which we now refer to as "data-linking"), our globalization support, and our script loader."

Microsoft is also working to bring the script loader code into jQuery, according to Moore, who is part of the team that is working on the jQuery development.

The jQuery plug-ins are available for download on Github. Currently, documentation is available for the jQuery Templates and Data Linking APIs.

jQuery project lead John Resig commented on the new templates in the jQuery blog on Monday:

"During the seven months of development, the jQuery and Microsoft teams worked closely to ensure that the code conformed to the best practices specified by the jQuery project and filled specific needs of the jQuery community. We also ensured that any code contributed would be available to the jQuery community under the same non-restrictive licensing terms as the jQuery JavaScript Library."

The jQuery Template will be integrated into the Core jQuery Library with version 1.5, according to Resig. jQuery Globalization will be part of the jQuery UI Project.

When John Resig first announced Microsoft's support for jQuery in September 2008, the other major player revealed at the same time was Nokia. The mobile phone company planned to support jQuery in its mobile app dev framework.

With the Windows Phone 7 launch event on October 11th, the folks at Microsoft are collectively holding their breath. Stay Calm and Carry On? Or as the greeting card I saw yesterday suggested--Freak Out and Throw Things—especially, if you're Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft may want to consider the new model used by the Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation in my city: the parking tickets come with yoga positions on them. You have to get one of these babies plastered on your windshield to really grasp what the public officials have accomplished with your tax dollars.

The ticket is nestled in an envelope that has black silhouettes of the meter maid with his handheld electronic ticket device, sitting back to back with you, the lucky ticket holder. Next to your $20 dollar fine is the Citation Salutation: 1) Sitting back to back, breathe out. 2) Breathe in, rise up on one knee. 3) Breathe out, reach back to give and receive the citation.

You can't make this stuff up.

How would you rate Microsoft's code contributions to jQuery? Is the company enhancing or forking the framework? Express your thoughts on the latest developments below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 10/05/2010 at 12:54 PM2 comments


Wider Release of ASP.NET Security Patch

Today Microsoft released the ASP.NET Padding Oracle Vulnerability security patch, described in the Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-070, to the rest of its distribution channels, including Windows Update and Windows Server Update Services. The emergency patch has been available from the Microsoft Download Center since Tuesday.

The ASP.NET security hole if exploited could allow an attacker to gain access to AES encrypted View State form data, through detailed error codes returned during a padding oracle attack. The vulnerability affects all applications that run any version of the .NET Framework, excluding .NET 1.0 SP3. For .NET 3.5 SP1 and above, attackers could gain access to file content, including Web.config files, according to Microsoft.

Two researchers said they found the vulnerability when testing their Padding Oracle Exploit Tool (POET). They released information about their findings just prior to presenting their research at a security conference earlier this month.

According to a Microsoft Security Response Center blog by Dave Forstrom, Microsoft's director of Trustworthy Computing:

"Customers are strongly encouraged to download the Security Update, test it in their environments and deploy it as quickly as possible. For customers using Automatic Update, this update will automatically be applied."

How would you rate Microsoft's response to the ASP.NET security issue? Did these researchers sound the alarm on the ASP.NET Oracle Padding Vulnerability to promote themselves, or to protect the .NET community from security threats? Express your thoughts on the latest developments below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/30/2010 at 12:54 PM1 comments


Visual Basic Arrives on Windows Phone 7

Microsoft is answering the call for Visual Basic on Windows Phone 7. Today the company is releasing a Visual Basic CTP for the Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools and platform. It provides Visual Studio 2010 project templates, designer, debugging, IntelliSense, Windows Phone Emulator and device support.

The Visual Basic CTP comes about a week after the final WP7 tools were published. Visual Basic support was the most requested feature by developers interested in building apps for Windows Phone 7, said Brandon Watson, Microsoft director of developer experience for WP7, in a blog posting about the announcement.

The Windows Phone Developer Tools, released last week, consist of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, the Windows Phone Emulator, Expression Blend for Windows Phone, Silverlight 4 Tools for Visual Studio and XNA Game Studio 4.0.

Game on? Not quite, while Nielsen research indicates that games are the most frequently downloaded mobile apps by smartphone users, Microsoft's XNA Game Studio does not support Visual Basic. (Microsoft has indicated efforts to work on greater parity between C# and Visual Basic, in general.)

The Visual Basic CTP can be used for Silverlight for Windows Phone development. It requires the final WP7 tools, Visual Studio 2010 Professional or higher, Windows 7 or Windows Vista.

The Visual Basic Team blog offers a detailed walkthrough of how to create a WP7 app.

Microsoft is not publicly committing to a timeline for Visual Basic for Windows Phone 7. The preview is meant for evaluation only; it does not support a Go-Live license. For now, Microsoft is primarily interested in developer feedback, according to Watson, who said:

"We’re not formally announcing the schedule for when Visual Basic will be fully supported. We’re giving VB developers early access to the Windows Phone 7 platform so that they can start thinking about what amazing apps they want to build."

To VB or not to VB? Check out the tools and tell us what you think. You can download the preview here.

Is full support for Visual Basic your biggest WP7 request? Express your views on these latest developments. Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/23/2010 at 12:54 PM9 comments


Microsoft's Massive Mobile Tools Launch

The folks in Redmond released the developer tools for Windows Phone 7, a Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone and the Panorama control (finally!) for Silverlight apps with the user interface design that scrolls wider than the screen for a panoramic view.

Developers who intend to market their apps in the Windows Phone 7 marketplace will need to use the final versions of the tooling to receive app certification, explained Brandon Watson, Microsoft director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, in the Windows Phone Developer blog.

Microsoft has expanded on the Silverlight Toolkit theme with a separate Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone that currently offers six out-of-band controls under the MS-PL license.

Today also marked the release of the Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone 7, which allows developers to integrate text and banner ads from the Microsoft Ad Exchange for Mobile into their apps for monetization.

"In addition to Microsoft’s own sales force and adCenter ad marketplace, several third party mobile ad networks, including Millennial Media, WHERE, InMobi and MobClix are working closely with our engineers so that they will have completed their technical integration and be able to participate in the exchange by the consumer launch of Windows Phone 7," explained Microsoft's Raj Kapoor in a blog about how Windows Phone 7 developers can benefit from the ad exchange.

Whew! Express your thoughts on the Windows Phone 7 development. Any word on the ad campaign to consumers? Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/16/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments


Will Nokia Call on Silverlight?

The announcement on Friday that Stephen Elop was leaving his post as president of Microsoft's Business Division to replace the CEO of Nokia has caused much speculation.

A key technology absent from much of the discussion is Silverlight, Microsoft's answer to the Android and iPhone platforms for mobile application developers.

Elop's sudden move to Microsoft's longstanding partner may serve as the latest 'step' in an alliance that surfaced in the spring of 2008.

In April of that year, many people were caught off guard when Microsoft announced a partnership with Nokia at its MIX08 conference. Silverlight 1.0 for Mobile, which was slated to support Silverlight Web apps on Windows Mobile devices, now had a second target platform, the Symbian OS on the Nokia s60 series. As Microsoft's David Kline, who worked with the .NET Compact Framework team at the time stated, the ultimate goal was to enable developers to write one Silverlight app that runs on all devices. (Microsoft Silverlight for Symbian Developer Tools was released in July of this year; the Microsoft Silverlight for Symbian runtime beta was made available in March.)

In August 2009, the Nokia partnership expanded into the enterprise. Stephen Elop announced that Microsoft Office Mobile and Office Mobile Communicator, which supported enterprise IM, conferencing, email and contacts through Exchange ActiveSync, would be developed for a non-Microsoft platform—starting with the Nokia Eseries. As part of the collaboration between the two companies, support for Nokia smartphones would also be integrated into other backend systems such as Microsoft System Center for enterprise device management and SharePoint server. The first application from the enterprise alliance, Microsoft Office Mobile Communicator for Nokia devices, was released this May.

Last Thursday, in his memo to Microsoft employees about Elop's departure, Steve Ballmer wrote:

"I appreciate the way that Stephen has been a good steward of the brand and business in his time here, and look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role at Nokia."

In this case, Ballmer may actually mean it.

Is it a coincidence that Apple indicated that it will allow iPhone developers to build Adobe Flash apps for its App Store (excluding video and games) the same week as the Elop announcement? Okay, maybe that was an inevitable response to Android OS 2.2, which supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1, but don't hold your breath for Silverlight support on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.

On Friday, Gartner released research that forecast Android as the top OS in North America by the end of the year as manufacturers release "budget devices" in the second half.

Symbian is forecast to remain the market leader worldwide in mobile OS sales with a projected 40 percent share in 2010, followed by Android with 17.7 percent, Research in Motion with 17.5 percent, Apple's iOS with 15.4 percent and Windows Phone with 4.7 percent, according to Gartner's estimates. By 2014, Symbian and Android are projected to be almost neck in neck, with a combined 58.9 percent worldwide market share.

It's not a stretch to surmise that Microsoft's ultimate goal is to get Silverlight (instead of Android) on high end Nokia smartphones. That's a win for developers, anyway you look at it.

What's your take? Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/14/2010 at 12:54 PM3 comments


Developers View Microsoft as a Key Player in Public Clouds

Evans Data Corp. released the results of a Cloud Development Survey over the summer, which indicated that many developers view Windows Azure as a viable alternative for applications running on servers in a public cloud. Google ranked first among the 500 developers surveyed about the perceived "leader" in setup, infrastructure, app management software and services with 43 percent, Amazon was second with 19 percent and Microsoft followed on the Internet behemoth's heels with 17 percent.

Traditional datacenter vendors were rated highest for private clouds, according to Evans' Cloud Development Survey, namely IBM, Cisco and HP. Similarly VMware dominated virtualization in the private cloud, but developers were willing to consider alternative hypervisors in the public cloud with 28 percent ranking VMware first, followed by Microsoft with 27 percent, IBM with 10 percent and Citrix (open source Xen, which is used by Amazon) with 8 percent.

As Redmond makes inroads in the cloud, the company is also opening up Visual Studio as an IDE for cloud development beyond Windows Azure. This week, hosting company Rackspace announced a plug-in for Visual Studio 2010 that provides templates for developing and managing apps the run on Rackspace Cloud Servers for Windows.

In addition to security and reliability, the ability to move apps and content between public cloud implementations, if needed, is an important feature consideration for developers, according to the Evans Data research. Could Microsoft's public cloud strategy be headed in this direction? Express your thoughts on the latest developments below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/08/2010 at 12:54 PM1 comments


Vote of Confidence for Entity Framework 4?

Microsoft's data access strategy is built around Entity Framework, but is the .NET community on-board?

I talked with developers about latest version of the controversial framework, dubbed EF4, for the September cover story of Visual Studio Magazine.

Remember the ADO.NET Entity Framework Vote of No Confidence before EF1 was even released? That fervor has quieted down as Microsoft addresses some of the issues raised by the petitioners.

In EF4, Microsoft adds support for Plain Old CLR Objects (POCO) templates in VS2010 enabling persistence ignorance, lazy loading and better testing. All among the missing in the vote-of-no-confidence letter to Microsoft signed by 871 people in the summer of 2008.

Dane Morgridge, a Microsoft MVP for Data Platforms, wrote a technical sidebar for the cover story that explains how to use the new POCO templates.

"POCO support in Entity Framework 4 opens up the possibilities for architecting with repositories, if that's what you want to do, and doing unit testing and really building applications where you can have a good separation of concerns, which is really important when you're architecting large applications," says Julie Lerman, an independent .NET consultant who specializes in data platforms.

I was lucky to catch up with Julie Lerman, considered by many the expert on EF outside of Microsoft, and get her take on the second generation framework for the cover story, as she wrapped up the second edition of her book, Programming Entity Framework.

"It wasn't a simple revision, I spent a year writing it," says Lerman. "I thought second edition, no big deal--it took a year." The book is updated to cover Entity Framework 4, .NET Framework 4 and Visual Studio 2010.

You may be in luck. A discount on the e-book edition was slated as a one-day special on August 30, but the code was still working earlier today. You can get the e-book for $9.99 as a special deal from the publisher O'Reilly by entering the discount code DDPEF. Lerman shared other discount codes and options in her blog on Monday.

Read the cover story "Get Ready for the Entity Framework" here.

What's your take on Microsoft's data access strategy? Are you still writing your own data access code? Express your thoughts on LINQ, Entity Framework and n-tier architectures. Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/31/2010 at 12:54 PM2 comments


Snapshot of Microsoft's Data Updates in the Cloud

The sun has finally returned after three days of rain and it is hard to think about clouds. Nevertheless, Microsoft has made several noteworthy updates to its Azure technologies this month.

In case you missed it:

The 4th update to its SQL Azure database service went live this week. The service updates for the relational database built on the Windows Azure platform, allow users to copy a database and back it up in real-time to another server in the same data center.

Wayne Walter Berry explained the new database copy capability in the SQL Azure team blog this way:

"This new copy feature is the first step in backup support for SQL Azure, allowing you to get a complete backup of any SQL Azure database before making schema or database changes to the source database. The ability to snapshot a database easily is our top requested feature for SQL Azure, and goes above and beyond our database center replication to keep your data always available."

Project 'Houston', the code name for a lightweight, Web-based management tool for SQL Azure databases currently in CTP1 from SQL Azure Labs was also refreshed (August 2010) this week. It is now supported in multiple datacenters, according to Berry. Currently, users can use Server Explorer in Visual Studio 2010 to access their SQL Azure database services.

Earlier this month, CTP3 of 'Dallas' was released. Dallas is the codename for Microsoft's upcoming subscription-based data marketplace built on Windows Azure for use by developers and businesses. The marketplace was announced alongside the Open Data Web protocol (OData) in March at the company's MIX10 conference, and is expected to become commercially available later this year. Dallas CTP3 is the first preview to feature live OData Services, according Microsoft. The roster of Dallas content providers continues to expand; it includes the Associated Press, DATA.Gov, InfoUSA Business Analytics, Weather Central, NAVTEQ, RiskMetrics Group and United Nations data, among several other providers.

Microsoft also released a major update to its Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Services v1 earlier this month. The latest features support claims-based, federated identity (single sign-on) and authentication by integrating Windows Identity Foundation and adding support for Active Directory Federation Server v2.0 and Web identity providers such as Google, Facebook, Windows Live and Yahoo. Find out more about the host of new features in this latest Labs release on CodePlex.

At the beginning of August, Microsoft started to offer a one-month free pass to Windows Azure and SQL Azure to the first 500 U.S. developers who sign up each month. Find out more about the free accounts here. The user ids and passwords expire at the end of each calendar month. The promotional program is slated to run from August 1 to October 31, 2010.

The updates for these cloud services are coming at an impressive pace. Even so, many developers have indicated that a roadmap from Microsoft for SQL Azure would help their project planning. Information on Reporting Services in the cloud is another frequent request.

Is relational database storage in the Microsoft cloud a viable option for your applications? What limitations and features need to be addressed before you'd consider Windows Azure and SQL Azure? Express your thoughts on the latest developments below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/26/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments


Visual Studio LightSwitch Available for Download

Microsoft released the first beta of its data-driven app tool LightSwitch to MSDN subscribers today. Announced at VSLive! earlier this month, LightSwitch is billed as a new edition of Visual Studio 2010 that is streamlined for business users to build small business or departmental-type apps such as order or inventory tracking, without having to write code or cobble together Access, SharePoint and Excel.

In LightSwitch, you create a data structure (SQL Server Express) or use an existing data source (SharePoint lists, WCF RIA Services), choose from common patterns (screen templates) and the wizard-driven tool applies the templates to the data to build an VB or C# application. Visual Studio LightSwitch creates a Silverlight 4 out-of-browser desktop application by default. The app can be customized in LightSwitch or handed off to developers for further development in Visual Studio 2010 Professional.

The Visual Studio team has worked on the product for several years. The first public beta is expected on Monday, August 23. The team acknowledges that features are missing in the initial beta and they are requesting developer feedback. Microsoft is planning to support Windows Azure and SQL Azure in beta 2. Support for Microsoft Access as a data source is on the roadmap.

When it ships, LightSwitch will be available as a separate Visual Studio 2010 SKU or as a "vertically integrated product," which means that MSDN subscribers will be able to download it and access it from within Visual Studio 2010 as a project type.

The Internet offered a platform to the "citizen journalist" (no professional training or three reliable sources for verification required). Is application development headed down a similar path?

Express your thoughts on this emerging category of Microsoft app dev tools--LightSwitch and WebMatrix. Take LightSwitch for a spin and let us know what you think. Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/19/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments


Good News for Windows Phone 7?

Microsoft's Windows Mobile is in a freefall. Oracle is going after Google over licensing fees for 7 Java patents that may affect the open source Android OS. Will these developments help the launch of Windows Phone 7 later this year?

Gartner released its "Competitive Landscape: Mobile Devices, Worldwide, 2Q10" report last week and sales of Windows Mobile smartphones ranked fifth in the second quarter, according to the firm's research, representing 5 percent of 61.6 million in unit sales to end users worldwide. That's down from 9.3 percent in 2Q 2009. Nokia's Symbian OS ranked first with 41.2 percent of the market, followed by Research in Motion with 18.2 percent.

The Android OS moved into third place worldwide in 2Q with 17.2 percent market share--up from 1.8 percent during the same period in 2009--overtaking Apple's iOS, which claimed 14.2 percent of smartphone unit sales worldwide, according to Gartner research.

Ally of San Francisco commented in response to Chris Pailo's news article about the Gartner data:

"The market share of Windows Mobile is basically in free fall. The real problem is that we're seeing OEMs lose interest. Microsoft can claim it will support it forever, but if the OEMs depart, the platform is finished. Enterprises really need to have a strategy in place to migrate to a different platform."

Other readers, who were in the market for new smartphones, indicated that they were willing to look at Windows Phone 7 and hoped that Microsoft didn't disappoint prospective buyers with its new platform.

If Microsoft can deliver on the WP7 platform, end user perception aided by the popularity of Windows 7 and global brand recognition, may be swayed in the company's favor.

Another development that may bode well for Redmond: The glorious rise of the Android OS hit a speed bump with Oracle's lawsuit against Google last week. As Forrester Research analyst John Rymer said in John K. Waters' article,Oracle Sues Google over Java IP in Android Phones:

"[Android] was on the cusp of generating a lot of revenue. I have to believe that others threatened by Google's Android are very happy about this lawsuit."

Did Microsoft catch a break? Windows Phone 7 and Android 3 smartphones are expected at retail before the end of the year.

The future of Windows Mobile is uncertain at best. Many Windows Mobile users don't understand that Windows Phone 7 is a different platform. It represents a clean break, not an upgrade of their existing Windows Mobile OS and current applications. That widely held misconception could create problems for Microsoft.

Developers will play a pivotal role in the success of the WP7 and Android platforms. Is Windows Mobile finished? Tell us what you think. Express your thoughts on the latest developments below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/17/2010 at 12:54 PM6 comments


Mingling with Microsoft at Visual Studio Live! Redmond

VSLive! is taking place this week in Redmond at the Microsoft Convention Center. The 17-year-old event is the live counterpart to Visual Studio Magazine, both are owned by 1105 Media, the publisher of RedDevNews.com. The 70 in-depth technical sessions and Hands-on Labs are focused on the current wave of Microsoft technologies: Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4, Windows Azure, Silverlight, SharePoint, and the new data platforms, among them.

Held at Microsoft for the first time, the developer conference sold out. On Tuesday, 1105 Media announced that the name of the conference had been changed to Visual Studio Live! The new name is based on a tighter association with the Microsoft Visual Studio team.

"I was extremely surprised at how many people are here," said Steve Forte, a Visual Studio Live! presenter and chief strategy officer at Telerik. "It is interesting having a third-party conference on campus –- I don't know if it has ever been done before. I would argue that there is definitely a cache of going to the Microsoft campus even though it is only the conference center." One of the benefits is that it is easier for Microsoft employees to pop-in and interact with attendees, he said.

Several announcements were made during the keynotes at Visual Studio Live! Redmond. The buzz at the show was around the introduction of Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch, a new standalone product for developing business applications, based around data and screens (desktop and cloud). The technology, designed to be easy enough for non-programmers, will be integrated into future versions of Visual Studio Professional and above, according to Microsoft's Jason Zander.

Visual Studio LightSwitch is available this week for attendees to try out in Hands-on Labs at Visual Studio Live! The beta is expected later this month.

The release date of Visual Studio Lab Management 2010 was also announced. The virtual lab manager will be available to all Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Visual Studio Test Professional 2010 users by the end of August, according to Microsoft's Dave Mendlen.

Find out more about Visual Studio Live! news and product announcements. Check out Visual Studio Magazine Editor-in-Chief Michael Desmond's show coverage:

If you missed this event, Visual Studio Live! Orlando takes place November 14-17.

Express your thoughts on the Visual Studio Live! announcements and what you'd like to see at upcoming events. Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/05/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments


Silverlight 4 Tips, HTML5 Questions

Louis-Philippe Pinsonneault, a senior .NET developer and trainer at RunAtServer, an ASP.NET and Silverlight consulting firm in Montréal, shares his tips with RedDevNews for building applications with Silverlight 4.

The question he gets asked again and again is: "Should I use Visual Studio or Expression Blend to build my application?" His answer is both.

"The Silverlight Designer embedded in Visual Studio 2010 is very simple in its functionality. You can add, resize and position controls, but you cannot edit templates or work with some storyboards using this editor," he advises.

"Creating a storyboard manually in Visual Studio is not something to consider based on the complexity of it. But when it's time to implement some code, Visual Studio is more efficient. Visual Studio also supports debugging, which is not available in Expression Blend."

Get more advice from Pinsonneault, who specializes in Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 development, in "Top 10 Things I Wish I knew Before I Started My Silverlight 4 Project."

As developers start to build Silverlight 4 business apps, the volume is getting turned up on the HTML5 question, which is apparently stirring up some debate within Microsoft.

RedDevNews contributor Andrew Brust, chief of new technology for consultancy twentysix New York, ponders Microsoft's stance on HTML5 in his latest column:

"HTML5 includes a number of new capabilities and many of them pose an existential threat to Microsoft and desktop software in general. With Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and the new <canvas> tag, developers can render graphics and animation in the browser from JavaScript that IE8 can only display using Flash or Silverlight. With the new <audio> and <video> tags, media can be similarly embedded and played without the use of rich Internet application (RIA) plug-ins. And with the Web Open Font Format (WOFF), refined typography can be rendered in a Web page as true text, rather than as images. Taken together, these features allow HTML5 to compete vigorously with the media and presentation capabilities of Silverlight (and Flash)."

Read Brust's August column, "IE9 and HTML5: Deep Romance or Strange Bedfellows?"

Are you developing in Silverlight 4? Share your experiences with the latest platform and express your thoughts on HTML5 and what the future may hold. Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/03/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments


ASP.NET MVC 3 Preview Unveils 'Razor'

Microsoft released the first preview of version 3 of its popular model-view-controller framework for building ASP.NET Web applications. An alternative to Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC is used to establish a separation of concerns in Web applications that facilitates test-driven development and maintenance.

ASP.NET MVC 2 shipped in March with support for .NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 project templates. An updated version shipped as part of the Visual Studio 2010/.NET 4 release in April. The updates have come quickly since ASP.NET MVC 1 was first released in April 2009.

ASP.NET MVC 3 is built on top of the ASP.NET 4 runtime and requires Visual Studio 2010. It is backwards compatible with version 2 and can be used on the same server as ASP.NET MVC 2 projects, according to Microsoft.

The big reveal in this preview is the first look at the "Razor" syntax markup template, the new view engine that Scott Guthrie and others described earlier this month. Guthrie walks through a simple example using Razor in his blog and outlines upcoming features expected in future previews, intellisense and colorization support, among them.

"The VS 2010 editor will support Razor file intellisense for C#/VB code, as well as for HTML/CSS/JavaScript," he said.

The ASP.NET MVC 3 preview introduces support for multiple view engines--the built-in Razor, third party or custom templates. New features in .NET 4 such as model validation attributes (System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations) in ASP.NET and dynamic properties (View and ViewModel) in VB and C# are supported. Developers can also expect broader support for Dependency Injections, as Microsoft adds support for Inversion of Control containers and formalizes the process of registering a service locator, which remains optional. Microsoft is also working on JavaScript improvements in Version 3; JSON binding is supported in the first preview.

Check out the new technology and tell us what you think. Get the ASP.NET MVC 3 Preview 1 download here. Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/27/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments


Microsoft Phones Home

With the Kin gone, the stakes for Windows Phone 7 are higher than ever. This week, Microsoft is taking 'dogfooding' to a whole new level.

Microsoft's Senior Vice President of the Mobile Communications Business, Andy Lees announced on Wednesday that the company is giving Windows Phone 7 devices to its roughly 90,000 employees, who are invited to write WP7 applications in their free time as part of an employee developer program. Employees will get the devices, when they are launched in their respective markets. The first devices are expected in the United States, before the end of the year.

Who da' Punk, the alleged Microsoft employee who anonymously writes the Mini-Microsoft blog is excited about the opportunity:

"In a move that has totally delighted me, Microsoft is giving every employee the ability to write and deploy WP7 applications (and, what, ability to get a device at launch, too?) - wow! Now's the time to truly show off your stuff and write for WP7 and get your app out the door."

Reports have surfaced that Microsoft is also subsidizing third-party mobile developers to create apps or port their existing apps to Windows Phone 7. The company took a similar approach when the Xbox was launched.

Among the companies that have announced plans to build WP7 apps: Associated Press, EA, Foursquare, Namco, Netflix, Pageonce, Pandora, Shazam and Sling.

Microsoft released the beta of the Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools on Monday and select, third-party developers are expected to get prototype devices from Asus, LG and Samsung, starting this week.

Brandon Watson, director of Windows Phone 7, explained what's new in the beta and anticipated a shortage of prototype phones, which are limited in quantity, in the Windows Phone Developer blog on July 12:

"Sadly, we will not be able to meet all of that demand. We are planning to set up deploy and test labs in major cities to make it a little easier for everyone who wants to have access to a preview phone to have it. More on that soon."

Visit the Windows Phone Developer blog to learn more about how to sign up and get in the queue to receive a WP7 prototype device.

Is mobile development on your radar? Express your thoughts on the different platforms and your experiences with Windows Phone 7 development. Are you optimistic about the platform, tools and the potential market? Drop me a line krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/22/2010 at 12:54 PM2 comments


Visual Studio Scrum Template Released

Microsoft's new Scrum template for Team Foundation Server 2010 is now available for download from the Visual Studio Gallery, following a 30-day sprint (weekends not included) after the template was announced and released in beta at Tech Ed in June.

The Visual Studio Scrum v1.0 template (renamed since the Team Foundation Server Scrum v1.0 beta) differs from the Microsoft Solutions Framework for Agile Software Development 5.0 process template in TFS 2010, primarily in its use of standard Scrum terminology, reporting metrics and state transition models.

As reported earlier, the Scrum process template supports the new hierarchical work items in TFS 2010, which means it is not compatible with TFS 2008/2005. For now, the work items in the Scrum v1.0 template do not integrate with the Excel-based Product Backlog (prioritized list of required features) and Iteration Backlog workbooks, a popular new feature of the MSF Agile 5.0 template. Microsoft Technical Fellow Brian Harry, TFS product unit manager, blogged:

"We've…had a fair amount of requests for the Agile Project Management workbooks to support the Scrum Template. We were not able to get that in for this release but will investigate it for the next one."

According to Harry:

"Most of the changes since the Beta are pretty small. The biggest feedback we got was that people wanted some of the reports from the MSF Agile template to be included in the Scrum template."

Based on that feedback changes since the beta include the addition of four MSF Agile 5.0 Build/Test reports: Build Summary, Builds Success Over Time, Test Case Readiness and Test Plan Progress. The new report types join the three that surfaced in the beta: Release Burndown, Velocity and Sprint Burndown. Integration with SharePoint project portals is supported.

Microsoft Program Manager Aaron Bjork describes the other changes since the beta in v1.0 in his blog. Process guidance, as promised at Tech Ed, is now available on MSDN.

In lieu of the Excel-based planning workbooks, companies may want to check out Urban Turtle 3.2, a Scrum extension to TFS Team Web Access 2010 that supports drag-and-drop management of work items, and sprint and releasing planning. The Scrum Task Board, which has been updated to support Microsoft's new process template, is from Agile consulting firm Pyxis Technologies. Read a fun take on the company's story, "A Retrospective of 840 Sprints."

Urban Turtle gets a nod from Microsoft's Brian Harry, who said:

"I've played with pre-release versions of the Urban Turtle tool and I recommend it. It's a nice tool!"

Microsoft has clearly embraced Agile development and Scrum. Will Scrum work at larger organizations? Express your thoughts on adoption and what you'd like to see going forward. Drop me a line krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/20/2010 at 12:54 PM0 comments