.NET Developments

January 7, 2008  11:38 AM

Silverlight to power NBC’s Summer Olympics Web site

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

On the face of it, Silverlight and sports Web sites complement each other nicely. In fact, Silverlight is a part of both MLB.com and NBA.com, the respective sites for North America’s major baseball and basketball leagues. There’s also WWE.com, the site for World Wrestling Entertainment. (Insert debate about professional wrestling as a sport here.)

The RIA framework gives these sites embedded video, real-time statistics and, for those purchasing tickets, 3D diagrams that show users where to find their seats and how close to the court or field they will be sitting — features without which few diehard fans could survive.

So Microsoft’s announcement that NBC Universal will use Silverlight 2.0 to power its 2008 Summer Olympics site is not a huge surprise.

Nonetheless, it is impressive, especially given the scale. The site will feature 3,000 hours of live and on-demand video coverage, Soma Somasegar indicates in the above blog entry. Each video will contain quite a bit of metadata, too, ranging from player bios to maps of the venues where the event is taking place.

One point of interest here, which Somasegar did not address, is performance. NBC Olympics can expect massive traffic as the Olympics go on. (Games run Aug. 6-24, with the opening ceremony beginning Aug. 8.) It will be interesting to see how Silverlight 2.0 handles what very well could be millions of requests from viewers across the globe.

Mind you, any Rich Internet Application would face that kind of scrutiny, but Silverlight is the proverbial new kid on the block — and you can bet Microsoft wants it to end up like Mark Wahlberg and not Jordan Knight.

January 4, 2008  10:25 AM

Your name could be in lights

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

Our .NET Developments blog is approaching its two-month birthday. We certainly enjoy writing it, as it gives us a chance to bring you news and notes in a different, and hopefully more interesting and thoughtful, way than we have in the past.

But, let’s face it — two guys sitting at computers, banging out one blog entry after another, ain’t exactly setting the world on fire. Thus I am putting out a call to you, dear readers, to help us out.

If you’ve ever wanted to share with the world your ruminations on .NET, now’s the chance.

We’re not looking for treatises or novellas — just a couple hundred words about relevant .NET topics like Web development, smart clients, architecture and so on.

You need not focus on the latest and greatest either. Stick to what you know. After all, odds are pretty good that plenty of people out in the blogosphere are interested in tried and true technologies and methodologies as well.

So if that sounds appealing, let us know and we’ll chat about it.

January 3, 2008  1:15 PM

Preparing for that job interview

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

Happy third day of 2008, dear reader!

For many of you, the beginning of the new year may mean seeking out a new job, whether through promotion at your current company or by seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

In either case, that’ll likely mean going through an interview process and demonstrating your knowledge of common .NET development concepts.

Blogger Eric Wise — who himself begins 2008 at a new job — is now in the process of hiring developers. Admittedly “amazed at the number of candidates who come my way who have little or no understanding of object oriented fundamentals,” Wise has posted what he feels are eight questions every .NET developer should be able to answer.

These questions, by design, are open-ended. One example: What is serialization, and how do you implement it in .NET? “Open-ended [questions] tend to give the candidate enough freedom to show their knowledge or lack of depth,” Wise suggests, adding, “I find it is harder for people to fake knowledge with such open-ended questions.”

As Wise points out, not everyone is going to answer all eight questions correctly — and they shouldn’t expect to, particularly if they are just getting started. Rather, they offer a chance to demonstrate what they know about concepts and, perhaps, engage in a philosophical discussion.

Rob Teixeira, meanwhile, advocates a different approach. As he writes in OOP and Interviews, his interviews start off vague and get more specific as time marches on.

In particular, Teixeira wants specifics on a candidate’s contributions to previous projects: “I want to hear what you did specifically, not what your team did. I want to know what you know, not what your team knows,” he says.

Also, saying “I don’t know” to Teixeira isn’t the end of the world, he admits. If that happens, he says, “I will then try to assess how you would solve such a problem involving that topic, and that’s more important to me than knowing every answer from memory.”

Check out Wise’s list of questions, and Teixeira’s rebuttal of sorts, and let us know what you think.  Is that list missing any key concepts or topics that might be important for a job interview? Or have you had better luck just describing what you know, what you’ve done and what you want to do?

(UPDATED Jan. 7 — Charles Miller, who has seen his share of resumes come across his desk at Atlassian, has added his $0.02 and linked to additional relevant ruminations in a blog entry called On Resume, Error. Miller’s main point is that, when it comes to resumes, developers must do something difficult and think like marketers.)

January 3, 2008  11:55 AM

Raymond Chen on diagnosing deadlocks of doom

Yuval Shavit Profile: YuvalShavit

The deadlock is a dreaded state. When non-famous programmers get deadlocked they sometimes call on famous programmers such as Raymond Chen. A late-year entry on his The Old New Thing blog considers the trail one must follow forensically to uncover the culprit. The (somewhat long) title says it: Psychic debugging: The first step in diagnosing a deadlock is a simple matter of following the money.

Chen writes: ”The thing about debugging deadlocks is that you usually don’t need to understand what’s going on. The diagnosis is largely mechanical once you get your foot in the door. (Though sometimes it’s hard to get your initial footing.)”

In Chen’s scheme, finding the deadlock is a matter of figuring out when Thread One is waiting for Thread Two, discerning what the latter thread is doing, and seeing if there is a fatal dependency there that is based on what Thread One is doing.

Note: The treaded comments on this post are great – obviously a few people have more on their minds than Sudoku.

Also, check out Raymond Chen’s annual link clearance. Warning:  they are not all about technology issues.

January 2, 2008  10:43 AM

Top of the Pops: WCF blog rundown for 2007

Yuval Shavit Profile: YuvalShavit

It is list time. WCF blogger extraordinaire Nick Allen put together his yearly review of his most popular posts.  Among the most-read Allen articles written in the year just past are tips on Preventing Anonymous Access, Client IP Address, Using XML Serialization with WCF and MSMQ Poison Messages.

What is a Poison Message? It is a permanent processing error, possibly caused by a malformed message that can get locked into a ”futile cycle of retrieving the message and unsuccessfully processing it.” In one of his top posts, Allen shows you how to take the Poison Message out of the queue and apply a useful programming strategy that avoids futile cycles.

Allen notes that his article on client IP addresses elicited important feedback that directly contributed to that feature being added in Orcas.  Both posts and feedback comments are valuable on this Indigo blog.

2007 Year In Review  – Dr. Nick’s Indigo Blog

December 28, 2007  12:06 AM

Visual Basic 2008 documentation just about ready

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

The Visual Basic 2008 language specification has been posted. It’s not 100% totally officially ready, as it needs some copy edits, but it is available for download here.

A short list of what appears in the language specification, as well as an apology for not getting the documentation out sooner, appears here on Paul Vick’s blog. (Vick also notes that some XML versions have been added since the previous version of the VB 2008 spec was released.)

Numerous Visual Basic 2008 features, such as anonymous types, extension methods and lambda expressions, were introduced to accommodate LINQ. This is the Language Integrated Query and, as its name implies, it brings SQL, XML and other data queries right into VB and C#.

Considerable help with LINQ in VB 2008 is available in the Visual Basic How Do I video series devoted to LINQ. Since much of that is concerned with client application development, Paul Yuknewicz has put together a lengthy blog post, LINQ for the Web using VB, over on the Visual Basic Team Blog.

That’s all for now.

December 27, 2007  12:46 PM

Mulling the pros and cons of XAML

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

XAML, the Extensible Application Markup Language, is the code-behind language for Windows Presentation Foundation and Silverlight applications. The idea is that application designers can create the whiz-bang graphics they want and hand them over to developers as XAML files that the developers need not touch (or “ruin,” depending on whom you ask).

A couple bloggers have had a chat recently about programming with XAML. They focus primarily on using XAML with WPF — not surprising, since, in relative terms, it has been around a lot longer than Silverlight. Both articles are worth a read, especially for those just getting started with XAML programming.

Tomer Shamam loves XAML, particularly the way it separates design from code, is hierarchical and is able to define a graphic using fewer lines of code than do static languages.

On the other hand, Omer van Kloeten does not love XAML. It doesn’t make good enough use of the .NET 2.0 CLR, it adds complexity (in the form of new syntax for binding and references, a different parser and compiler, and new layers), and the tooling support for both developers and designers is a bit immature.  

Have any of you out there had XAML experiences that mirror those of either Shamam or van Kloeten? Feel free to weigh in.

December 26, 2007  11:48 AM

Team Foundation Server 2008 Power Tools released

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

The first set of Power Tools for Visual Studio 2008 is now available. Specifically, this release targets Team Foundation Server.

Ed Hintz of Microsoft has blogged about the TFS Power Tools release, which includes tools such as Find in Source Control and Open in Windows Explorer. (Insert joke about monkey wrench and screwdriver here.)

Meanwhile, you can download the TFS Power Tools release here on MSDN and pose questions in the TFS Power Tools and Add-ons forum also on MSDN.

December 26, 2007  11:01 AM

Tetris, Sudoku on Windows Mobile? It must be Boxing Day

Brian Eastwood Profile: Brian Eastwood

Having burned more AA batteries than I can count whilst playing Tetris for Game Boy, I would never withhold Tetris news from anyone. And is there is Sudoku news, too? Well, then, I’m a joyous child on Boxing Day.*

Blogger Carlos Aguilar Mares has created versions of both Tetris and Sudoku that are compatible with Windows Mobile v5 and v6. For these games, as for all good things, necessity was the mother of invention: “During my last two business trips (to Barcelona for TechEd and Mexico for ReMix) I was way too bored on the plane.”

The blog entry Sudoku and Tetris Game for Windows Mobile has some details about compatibility and how to install the games. Really enterprising folks can go straight to http://www.carlosag.net/mobile/ and download the games there. Enjoy!

(*Boxing Day, for those unaware, is a public holiday for many British Commonwealth countries, with origins that date back to feudal times. It refers to the packaging of gifts and not to pugilism.)

(UPDATED Jan. 7 — Another plane trip, another set of games from Carlos Aguilar Mares. Over the Christmas holiday, he created Backgammon and Connect4 for Windows Mobile. His recommendation after this project? “[Y]ou do want to download the Windows Mobile 6 SDK if you are going to target that version (which is what my cell phone has), since it will add new Visual Studio 2005 Project Templates and new Emulator images, which will help you a lot.”)

December 21, 2007  12:06 PM

How does ASP.NET Ajax rate among Ajax frameworks?

Yuval Shavit Profile: YuvalShavit

There’s Ajax and there’s Ajax. There is Ajax in the Java world where it’s no-holds-barrred, Katy-bar-the-door, and find-yourself-a-framework-or-die. Then there is Ajax in the .NET world where Microsoft created its own Ajax framework which is offered to you  as part of the company’s other Web development offerings.  

However, Microsoft’s Ajax framework is not the sole Ajax framework available to .NET developers. And at least one blogger thought it was worthwhile to query the Web audience to see how .NET Ajax framworks stacked up.

Italian Simone Chiaretta, .NET developer and Subtext core member, was spurred in his quest by the recent Richard Monson-Haefel Ajaxian survey on Ajax framework use, but wanted to see what things looked like for .NET. Chiaretta found —  lo-and- behold  — that Microsoft’s ASP.NET Ajax was tops by far among responders.He writes:

… among the 95% of the .NET developers that said they are using some flavor of Ajax either in production, development or prototype, the most-used Ajax toolkit is ASP.NET Ajax, with 73,7%, followed by the Ajax Control Toolkit which is used by almost half of the .NET developer that are using Ajax.

Despite, Microsoft’s predominance, there is percolating use of other Ajax frameworks amid the .NET crew. Interestingly, among ASP.NET users cited in Monson-Haefel’s survey, ASP.NET Ajax use is represented by 36.3% of responders, and is in a statistical dead heat with Prototype and jQuery open-source alternatives. Writes Burton Group’s Monson-Haefel:

What is interesting about the Ajax market is that it’s more diversified in 2007 than it was in 2005 – the number of toolkits keep growing and jostling position in terms of usage.

Check out the .NET Ajax Survey, the Monson-Haefel Ajax survey, and filter of Monson-Haefel’s data.

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