Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Microsoft CRM 3.0 Resources

Just collating together some useful links

VPC image which contains Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 environment for development, testing and demos. The image includes:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 + Active Directory + Windows SharePoint Services

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 + SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services

  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2003

  • Microsoft Office Professional 2003

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Professional

  • Microsoft CRM 3.0 + Microsoft CRM 3.0 Desktop Client for Outlook + Adventure Works Cycle Demo Data

This is quite a large image file (>10GB), which has been compressed and split into six separate downloads, and can be found here:

Also found two Flash Demos on Microsoft CRM 3.0 as well.

Top 30 New Features in Microsoft CRM (PPT): link

Monday, December 19, 2005

WinFX December CTP is available for download

This just in.
The Dec CTP of WinFX is out and available for download now

Follow Aaron Stebner's blog here on what order you should install the bits. Lots like its going to be a fun-filled Christmas this year for me (trying out all the lastest bits-n-bobs)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

.NET 2.0: Back to Basics [Generics]

Glad it's the weekend and the wife has been kind enough to let me spent the Sunday afternoon in front of the computer. Downloaded the Visual Studio 2005 RTM and SQL Server 2005 RTM last weekend but only managed to get a chance today to have a go at it. Migrated all my Beta2 projects and all of them to be complied fine without a problem.

Saw a few FAQ's on Generics by Juval Lowy. Definately worth a quick read thorough.

  1. Fundamentals

  2. .NET Framework

  3. Tool Support

  4. Best Practices

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 RTM

Well everyone at MS is blogging about it. I thought I might as well jump on the bandwagon too ;)

Yeap, that's right. VS2005 and SQL Server 2005 is now available for the masses (well only if you are a MSDN subscriber). And for those who are wondering what's a RTM, well it means "Release to Manufacturing" (that the version they send to the CD/DVD duplicators). So it looks like its green lights for the big launch on the Nov 7th.
The redistributables packages are also available to the general public for downloads.

BTW, Dan Fernandez mentioned here of a tool to help with the un-installation of all pre-RTM versions from your machine. (Automatic uninstall tool).

A couple of notes about the uninstaller tool (again from Dan's blog)

  • Do not use this tool if you have installed SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition or higher (SQL Server 2005 Express is okay). Why? Because we don't do ref counting on who is using the Framework and you can get into a situation where the uninstall tool will remove a pre-RTM version of the .NET Framework 2.0, but SQL Server 2005 Workgroup+ will still be installed on the machine. Because Workgroup edition uses managed code, you've now "hosed" your SQL 2005 Workgroup edition uninstall. Check the product readme for step-by-step instructions

  • Do not click "Cancel" when the Automatic uninstall tool is running. Depending on when you click Cancel, it can "hose" your machine uninstall

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

PDC05 Sessions Online

Yes, that's right!!
Michael Swanson just announced it on his blog.

All the sessions from PDC05 is available for your viewing pleasure. So for those of you missed the conference or were there but missed some of the sessions, you can now view them here.

And for all those who have loads of bandwidth to spare, you can download the whole session for your offline viewing pleasure. Now I can catch up on all the sessions that I've missed.


Windows Presentation Foundation Hands-On-Labs

Check out the HOL for the WPF. Its a great way to come to grips with the new features of WPF. I have already completed "PRSHOL08: Creating Rich 2D and 3D Content with Windows Presentation Foundation" and "PRSHOL03: Creating Custom Controls with Windows Presentation Foundation" and found the labs an invaluable way to get up to speed on things.

Why not have a go and try some of the labs out? (BTW, is you missed PDC'05, these labs are exactly the same ones they had at the conference.)

Windows Presentation Foundation Hands-On-Labs


Everyone's a rifleman.

Another very insightful blog for the day. Steve Teixeira draws parallels from the Marine Corps and successful software organisations.

One pattern I've observed over the years is that high performance software development organizations have an "everyone's a developer" philosophy  In these organizations, the ranks of company leaders and decision makers include people that understand what it means to be a developer.  And I'm not talking about a CTO-token-techie type. I'm talking significant representation within company leadership of those in tunes with what it means to be a developer.

Which leads to the question of the day: "What's the lowest common denominator in your company, from which all actions and decisions are made with it in mind?"

Most often or not, software organisations are managed by people who by choice or skills are unable to be "riflemen". The result of which is quite rightly described by Steve below
And, speaking anecdotally, I know some of the most frustrating times my career were spent in organizations led by individuals or groups that I believed were unwilling or unable to be riflemen, which severely compromised their ability to lead.

Definitely worth a read and a think about.
For the full article: Everyone's a rifleman

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite Vs. Bill Gates

At every PDC so far, the team at Microsoft always come up with funny spoofs which IMHO is the real highlight at the keynotes on Day1. At the last PDC in 2003, it was the Matrix starring Steve Balmer and Bill Gates.

Well this year at PDC'05, we were all treated to hilarious spoof of Napoleon Dynamite. So since its the end of the week, why not kick up your heels, take a short coffee break and watch the short video? Guaranteed to leave you in stitches.

View Video

Language Wars - Who is Winning? Who Cares? [by Scott Golightly]

This is just a repost of Scott Golightly's thoughts from PDC'05. Thought I post this up here on my blog, because the original page gets update with every so often with new insights and reflections from various MSDN Regional Directors. (I have been trying to get Rocky Lhotka's PDC reflections post on LINQ. )

For about as long as there have been computers there have been computer languages and people who will champion one language above another. While it is understandable and even desirable for a language to have a devout set of followers, this is sometimes taken to extremes. When the love and evangelism of a language takes on a religious fervor and the proponents favorite language becomes “the only language for the job” then things are out of hand. For many people deeply involved in the language wars there is nothing more important than “showing” the “uninformed” people on the other side of the argument why they should switch to the “correct” language.

For many years the language wars centered around assembly, C++, and Visual Basic. In 1991 Sun Microsystems introduced Java. This added a brand new language to the mix and helped to stir the debate. In 2000, Microsoft announced C# and VB.NET as two new languages to program against the .NET framework. This started many discussions and arguments over whether Java or .NET is the “correct” platform for the job and even when .NET is chosen there are arguments over whether C# or VB.NET should be used.

One of the latest salvos in the language wars is an editorial by Calvin Austin posted at Java Developers Journal entitled C#: Is the Party Over? that ends with the statement : “C# isn't going anywhere soon but its best days may be behind it.”. I am not going to try to address the points made in the article. What I would like to ask is does it really matter?

The arguments over which language is the best, like many a sports rivalry, invoke heated passion for those involved but for those not involved it appears to be an unwinnable argument with neither side willing to budge. When it comes to choosing a language for a project many developers are forced by choice of platform to choose a language. In other cases it might be a company edict or business requirement that drives the choice. For others it might be the challenge to learn something new or the idea that knowing a particular language will increase their salaries that drives the decision. Finally, for other developers the choice is made based on what languages they have used in the past and which one they feel the most comfortable with.

In an ideal world there would be a rational analysis of the problem to be solved followed by a review of all of the available programming languages with a comparison of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each language against the problem to be solved. Other factors such as platform, training, and maintenance would be factored in and the best language for the job would be chosen. In the practical world this kind of analysis doesn’t occur. Instead, as a new project comes up the programming language is usually given very little thought. Unless the programmers are unhappy with their current development environment or they want to branch out into new languages the requirements are analyzed in the context of the current programming language. If a requirement can not be done easily in the current programming language, a review of other languages might occur. In some cases the requirements are changed to “fit” the constraints of the programming language.

So if the vast majority of developers tend to pick a language or two and stick with them you would expect the language wars to die out over time as people pick sides. Since the language wars continue over time we have to ask the question, who stands to win from continuing the wars? As with any war, there are combatants and the arms dealers that stand to gain a lot from the war. The combatants are the zealots and the language vendors. For a zealot the ultimate goal is to convert everyone in the world to use their language and in the mean time be seen as a leading expert. It is easy to see where the people who produce the language would like to see their language and the development tools that go along with it take over the market to sell more licenses and make more money. I can understand that, it is just good old fashioned capitalism. The “arms dealers” in the language wars are the authors, technical publications, and training companies that make money off of explaining the strengths and weaknesses of a language to developers and how to best use them.

Since there are winners, it would stand to reason that there would be losers as well. The real losers in the language wars are the people who are stuck working with an older language which will not be supported in the future and those who can not cut through all the rhetoric to understand the true business value of the debated languages.

So back to my original question on who is winning the language wars and who cares? The answer is you. If you put in a little effort you can be a big winner in the language wars. By finding vendors, authors, and training companies that are willing to give away information for free in return for the chance to change your opinion. By applying a little bit of skepticism to their claims and putting in a little work to prototype and find out for yourself you can come up with a lot of information without having to pay a lot of money.

About the Author: Scott Golightly is a Senior Principal Consultant with Keane, Inc. and a Microsoft Regional Director from Utah. Scott has over a decade of experience helping clients build, manage, and maintain systems that provide real business value.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Windows Workflow Foundation & BizTalk: Where does it all fit?

The most common question on most developers/technologists minds: Where does this Workflow Foundation fit it and does it replace BizTalk? The answer is a big fat NO and Scott Woodgate tells us why here.

I have included a brief excerpt from his post.

So what about BizTalk and Windows Workflow Foundation? Did you bet on the wrong horse by choosing BizTalk Server? No you didn't. BizTalk Server is, was, and will be the right architecture for business process and integration on Windows. To properly serve the needs of business process and integration you need a "man in the middle" server that adapts, routes, tracks, manages, scales and has all the appropriate BPM capabilities such as BAM. Windows Workflow Foundation gives you none of that. On the other hand there are many scenarios that Windows Workflow Foundation is useful outside of business process and integration such include page-flow in ASP.NET web applications, workflow within line of business applications that ISVs build, workflow within Office. By targeting ISVs primarily the Windows Workflow Foundation technology can be embedded within these applications.

Put simply:
A. Workflow within applications = Windows Workflow Foundation
B. Workflow across applications = BizTalk Server


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Installing the WinFX Sep05 CTP build

Its finally the weekend and been almost a month back from PDC'05. Been meaning to install and try out all those new bits but never really finding the time.

But I managed to get up quite early today and kicked off the install. Found a nice guide on LonghornBlogs on installing WinFX Sep05 CTP build to help me along the way. Hope someone finds it helpful like I've have.

Tags: winFX

Monday, October 10, 2005

Alphabetizing your .NET Resource (RESX) files [by Scott Hanselman]

A great tip from Scott. Just needed to keep a link to it for future reference.

Keep those resource files nice and ordered.
Alphabetizing your .NET Resource (RESX) files

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More PDC goodies: WinFS Video

Steve De Mar, the Product Designer for the WinFS team just blog about the release of the WinFS video that was shown at PDC'05.

As Steve puts it: of the most important aspects of the video is the experiences represented in the application UI’s. Our goal was to peak the curiosity of you, the developers, to get you thinking about what could really be built on WinFS. We wanted you to see how WinFS enables a totally new class of user experiences. The UIs in the video are all based on some of the great prototype applications that have already been developed for the WinFS platform. Although we cast them in a more futuristic visual "theme" to fit the style of the video, the functionality we showed exists in the prototypes that either we’ve developed in house or we’ve seen others develop on WinFS. A number of these were demo’d at the PDC, and we've more on the way which you should be hearing about shortly.

We hope the video inspires you to bring to life cool new innovative applications for WinFS!

Get it while its still hot (high-res, low-res)


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Meebo: Web IM

If you haven't heard of meebo, check them out right way. Its a great AJAX im client that works with major im services (eg. MSN, Jabber, etc.)

The 3 smart folks (guy and gals) behind Meebo are doing hell of a job and I wish them all the best. You guys rock!! Keep up the good work. Two weeks online and already gaining lots of attention and deservingly so.

As Wikipedia puts it:
Meebo is an Ajax instant messaging client that works with major instant messaging services, including AOL, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger and Jabber.

It launched a private release on September 4, 2005, and it was publicly released on September 14, 2005 and has had five major revisions since.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Windows Workflow Foundation: Missed it at PDC?

For all you folks that weren't there or missed the breakout sessions at PDC, Paul Andrew has kindly posted up a list of resources on WWF.

But wait, there's more. From the team that brought you WWF at PDC, they are doing a series of webcast on Windows Workflow Foundation.

So what are you waiting for?
Download it here and give it a go!
You know you want to :)

Currently reading: Presenting Windows Workflow Foundation

Tags: ,

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Back From PDC [and into work :| ]

Sorry for the lack of blogs from PDC. Last week has been a crazy sort of a week for me at PDC'05. Crazy but in good way though.

So many cool things to see/learn but yet so little time. I managed to squeeze as much out it as humanly possible on 5-6 hours sleep each night. Don't ask how, but let just say that Starbucks made a tidy profit from me.

Saw lots of new cool technologies...
  • Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) -> Creating workflows in your custom app. Very cool and exciting :)
  • "Sparkle" --> Part of the MS Expressions family.

and many many more...

I will start blogging on some of the cool new technologies that I've seen at PDC'05, once I've had a go at them and investigated them further. Which can only mean one thing, more late nights for me. I don't know about you, but trying new bits has always been one of my favourite past time. Call me a geek, but that what makes me tick. ;)

Personally, I see tremendous opportunities in the WWF. It will change the way we think when building custom solutions.

In most cases, the business logic is hard-coded as a series of if..else statements, procedures calls and database lookups. Hopefully with WWF, we can start being more productive when building workflow solutions in our custom apps.

Some links to get you started:
  1. Main Page on MSDN: Link
  2. Dave Green's Blog [he's one of the architect on the WWF team]: Link
  3. Introductory article on MSDN: Link
  4. Paul Andrew's Blog [the technical product manager]: Link


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PreConference at PDC

Just out for a short break. Its Monday 4pm here in LA. Been having an absolute blast at the P&P for Designing SOA - An illustrated example. Beat Schwegler posted the agenda for the pre-conference session here.

Saw a few cool tools and tips and one of them was the Guidance Automation Toolkit (GAT). I have heard of it and read the introductionary article on MSDN, but its only when I saw Project Batman being demo by Don Smith and Beat Schwegler that it really hit me how powerful this tool was.

As its name implies, its all about providing guidances to developers. I think the introductory article on GAT describes it perfectly.

Using the patterns & practices of the Guidance Automation Toolkit, you can make reusable code and pattern assets directly available in Visual Studio 2005.

The toolkit is designed to simplify integrating reusable code into applications allowing architects to automate development activities that developers would usually have to perform manually; often by following a series of instructions. By using the toolkit, architects can also ensure that repetitive and often error-prone activities are performed in a consistent manner, streamlining and accelerating the development process.

The toolkit can be used with assets developed in-house or by third parties; such as the assets created by the Microsoft patterns & practices team. These assets can be exposed to developers within Visual Studio, and in some cases, configured by using configuration files, templates, and wizards.

I think the take-home point on this is that with the GAT, the architect's intent can be clearly expressed in a series of instructions which the developers then completes in a consistent manner.

That's about the coolest tool I've seen so far. Definately looking forward to Project Batman, which is guidance in building services for your SOA solutions.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Free ASP.NET 2.0 Hosting!!

Yes, you heard me right.
Free ASP.NET 2.0 beta hosting is currently being offered by

So what are you waiting for?
Get yours today.

Back to the Future!

Arrived safely in LA, went through customs without any problems. The guy at custom was a bit of a grump, well can't blame him considering all the people he had to process.

Finally here and all I can say is that is extremely hot and dry in LA compared to Wellington. Been drinking heaps of water just trying to keep alive in the heat here.

Meet up with my relatives here and was taken out to dinner. Had a fantastic Vietnamese, good thing we went early cause there was a line outside the restaurant by the time we left. Great food and good service. (I'll have to get you the address, once I ask my cousin. The name keeps escaping me.)

Headed down to CostCo to get the lots of confectionery for the colleagues (Got bags of Reese's peanut butter cups and even a bottle of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce for the boss. Stewart you owe me one. Its a big bottle and heavy)

About to turn in. Been the longest Friday ever for me. Got to love those time-zones ;)
Will start planning my PDC schedule tomorrow. *sleepy*

PDC'05 Here I come!!

I'll be flying off in a few hours. Off to my first ever PDC!!

I'm so stoked that I managed to convince work to send me there. (There's a long story to that, had to write a business proposal why they should really send me instead of the other guy down the hall).

Enough said, leaving Friday 7:00pm (NZ time) and looking forward to the whole PDC experience. Will blog on all entire cool new tech that Microsoft will announce.

Hey Pablo, I'll bring you back some Reese's peanut butter cups you love so much.

<homer>mmm... reese's</homer>