11 Jul 2011

Security is hard for users, so let us clean up with NEAT & SPRUCE

Microsoft used to be a horrid company with regards to their security, then they sat down and made security a quality gate – we do not ship if security is wrong. How do they know what is wrong? A 24 page guideline with 68 bullet points?! Perfect holiday reading Smile with tongue out

The security development lifecycle team has recently tried to help us developers improve our applications so we not the next company with a bad security issues with two acronyms which will improve security notices to our users: NEAT & SPRUCE

What is NEAT?

  • N: Necessary – Only show messages that you need. If you can take a safe action automatically or defer the message, do that!
  • E: Explained – If you do interrupt the user, explain in everything to the user. EVERYTHING?! Yes, and the SPRUCE acronym will help explain what everything is.
  • A: Actionable – A message should only be presented to the user if there is steps the user can take to make the right decision.
  • T: Tested – A security message needs to be tested. TDD, Usability Testing, Visual Inspection, every test.

So, we need to show the message now – what do we put in there? SPRUCE:

  • S: Source – Why are we showing this message? Did a website do something or a file or a user action? Tell the user.
  • P: Process – Give the user the steps they need to go through to make sure they make the right decision.
  • R: Risk – Explain what the consequences of getting the decision wrong.
  • U: Unique – If your software knows everything, do the right thing automatically. So if you are showing the message, it means the user has unique information that is needed to make the decision. Explain what information is needed (slightly similar to P).
  • C: Choices – Show the user all the options and recommend the safer one.
  • E: Evidence – Provide any additional information that the user may need to make the decision.

Now that the training is done, let’s look at real implementations:

A web page contains secure & nonsecure content

Here is what the dialog looked like in the bad old days of IE6:

11[2]

In IE 9 where this logic has been applied:

ie9

Let’s look at the differences:

  • N (Necessary) has been applied – previously this was a blocking model UI, which the user was forced to deal with to continue working. Today it shows discreetly with at the bottom and only if the user needs to work with this they have to, otherwise ignoring it.
  • E (Explained) has had been done with the What’s the risk? – which shows the dialog below. It is not perfect as it hasn't followed SPRUCE fully but it is a good improvement.
  • A (Actionable) has been applied – previously you had both a yes & no, now we have one action that can be done. Close or ignore and nothing happens.
  • T (Tested) there is some weird language issues with the old one especially if English isn’t your primary language because of the yes/no not being perfectly clear. The new dialog has a single very clear labelled button!

whats the risk

Takeaways

Now that we have looked at how it can help you and how to do it, attached is a nice simple 3 page document with more details and reminders about this. GO IMPROVE YOUR APPLICATIONS!

 

AttachmentSize
File NEATandSPRUCEatMicrosoft-final.docx68.68 KB
03 May 2011

Rapid Business Development: Lightswitch vs. Dynamics CRM vs. SharePoint 2010 vs. ASP.NET MVC 3

In this post I am going to look at comparing four technologies that can be used to build business applications easily. This post was inspired by how similar a number of products have become over the last few years and more importantly how the new kid on the block Visual Studio Lightswitch, which is a specialised rapid business tool development platform built on top of Visual Studio, is going to affect this eco-system. It is important to also remember that this is being written in the Lightswitch Beta 2 timeframe, so some details may change by launch.

Lightswitch feels very similar to me, to another product I have worked with in the past: Dynamics CRM, which is a Customer Relationship Management tool from Microsoft. CRM does very well in the xRM (x = extensible) scenario, where I think it will come up against Lightswitch a lot. I haven’t had an opportunity to use the latest CRM release yet, so I have had to rely on the help of experts to fill in my gaps!

SharePoint 2010 is another product I have worked with, can of course be used for building business applications quickly cause it is the “operating system of the enterprise” and has good features for these types of applications.

Finally, while watching Scott Hanselman do the ASP.NET MVC 3 demo in the MIX 11 Keynote, I was struck with how that is very close to a rapid business user development tool with all the new scaffolding features. ASP.NET MVC is a real outsider in this group because it is first a development toolset for web development and, maybe a rapid tool second where the rest are rapid development platforms or tools first.

I think the differences between these four are very interesting and while each has it’s strong & weak points, this should definitely not be looked at as a pick one only post. There are many scenarios where you want to combine them for even better experiences.

I have broken down the issues into twenty one(!) aspects (key points we can compare them against each other) which are grouped into six scenarios to make it easier to digest. Each scenario starts with a list of the aspects and a brief description followed by a comparison table of those aspects.

Starting

  • Ready to go out of the box: Once installed, can it do anything? Seems silly, but quick turn around at the start, even if actual development is longer is important as it helps with prototyping, shows some rapid development and hints at how hard it is to learn (for me at least, if it does something I find I can experiment and learn quickly). Important to note, we are not looking at making it align with your company needs here, we just want it to do something. Eating CPU cycles & RAM is not something either.
  • Northwind Style Sample development costs: This aspect looks further than the above aspect and looks at how much more would it take to get it tailored for a company, like the fictional Northwind, to have a XRM type system as it can be done across all four. Fewer $ signs means less time and/or resources for the functionality.
  Lightswitch (LS) Dynamics CRM SharePoint 2010 (SP) ASP.NET MVC My Thoughts
Ready to go out of the box Fast Fastest Fast Slowest LS & MVC need development, while SP needs at least 5min of tailoring. CRM, is ready to go once installed.
Northwind Style Sample development costs $ $$ $$ $$$ ASP.NET MVC has the highest development costs as so little is out of the box. Lightswitch excels in this scenario.

Finishing

  • Cost for on-premise deployments: This looks at the money cost for licensing to get the solution up and running on premise (i.e. in your company). Licensing is, of course, flexible and this will vary based on who you are – so this is not indicative for all. It does not include such things as server hardware or common costs, for example operating system licensing.
  • Deployment Complexity: Getting a solution up and running shouldn’t be difficult for an organisation and a lot of time can be lost (and costs incurred) changing, upgrading and troubleshooting systems that do not want to be deployed.
  • Deployment Documentation: When it happens that you need to deploy, having a wealth of documentation (be that video’s, best practice guides, troubleshooting material) is vital and plays a large part in getting a solution up that works every time.
  Lightswitch (LS) Dynamics CRM SharePoint 2010 (SP) ASP.NET MVC My Thoughts
Cost for on premise deployments $$$

Unknown.
Likely cost per developer seat.
No per user costs.
$ to $$$

Cost per user & cost per server. Visual Studio only if you are doing integrations or custom workflows.
$$$$ to $$$$+

Cost per user & cost per server. Visual Studio licenses for any serious work.
$$

Visual Studio licenses.No per user costs.
CRM on the small scale with low development is very cheap but since you pay per user can get expensive. LS & MVC only have development software costs, which is more expensive up front but do not increase as you add users to the system.
Deployment Complexity Medium Hard Hardest Easy LS, CRM & SP all have requirements that they need to work, in increasing deployment complexity, but CRM & SP are significantly harder than LS though due to their more complete product nature. MVC is easy because there is no constraints from it (other than a web server).
Deployment Documentation Yes Yes Yes No Only MVC has no official documentation, which makes sense as it is a development tool. All four have GREAT communities to help as well!

User Experience

  • Front End Technology: A good looking, feature rich UI can seriously ease adoption, and what we are looking at here is the richness level of technology used for the out of the box front end user interface.
  • How good the standard UI looks: Completely subjective and really this is based on what I think looks best.
  • Flexibility of out of box front end: In this aspect we are concerned about how easy it is to adjust and tweak the out of the box front end.
  • Themability : Corporate branding is massive business and making sure the application out of the box looks like it is part of your business is important. It is important to note that both CRM & SharePoint can have custom front ends built which enable this scenario, but that requires extra development, and we are focusing on the out of the box options here and assuming you have the theme built already.
  Lightswitch (LS) Dynamics CRM SharePoint 2010 (SP) ASP.NET MVC My Thoughts
Front End Technology Silverlight.

Supports out of browser (desktop) & in browser
Web

Just ASP.NET
Web

ASP.NET under the covers with sprinklings of Silverlight
ASP.NET LS clearly best here, since it will give the richest UI out of the box. ASP.NET MVC out of the box scaffolding isn’t pretty but can easily be improved.
How good the standard UI looks (very subjective) Low Medium Very. Low Depends on your web designer This is the most subjective aspect: LS & SP both have a fairly plain out of the box UI but SP has a bad UX to go with it. CRM is much better out of the box and if you are going down the MVC route you will likely be taking advantage of the best UI thanks to the complete flexibility – but that depends on how good your designers are.
Flexibility of UI development in the tool High Medium Medium High MVC & LS can almost do anything on the front end, especially if you combined MVC with Silverlight. SharePoint & CRM too have lots of options and work with Silverlight.
Themability Medium Low Medium High The flexibility of MVC is highest as it is a pure programming, with LS following up thanks to it’s strong theme support. SharePoint can be themed but not the same level as LS. CRM will always look like CRM!

Extensibility

  • API for integration: In the short term having an API means it is easy to get data into your new solution, in the medium term it means more ways to sync data and mash up your systems and in the long term it gives you a way to get your data out. It is vital to have an API.
  • Marketplace: Apple kicked the idea of having an AppStore into reality for many of us and now having a marketplace to get extensions, customisations or themes is an important aspect. I am ignoring public sites, like Codeplex for example, and only focusing on an official marketplaces. Galleries are just marketplaces with no vetting, which means they are bigger but the quality bar is not guaranteed.
  • Additional Authentication Options: Only your employees or customers (which may be everyone if you are lucky enough) should access your solutions. What do we get out of the box to limit access to the system? All four systems support Windows & Forms based authentication so I am only listing other options which are available.
  • Permission Structure (Authorisation): Being able to control what parts of a solution you can access, once you have logged in is also vital and having a lot of flexibility in this space is also important as very seldom will one structure work for everyone.
  Lightswitch (LS) Dynamics CRM SharePoint 2010 (SP) ASP.NET MVC My Thoughts
API for integration Yes Yes Yes - at least 5 of them. N/A In MVC you could build one, oData for instance, but it doesn’t have one out of the box. LS creates a WCF RIA Service for us. CRM & SP both have API’s, but SP is more complex as it supports so many different API’s with different subsets of features supported.
Marketplace Once it is released a gallery will exist. Yes Nope Gallery available CRM leads here in a big way with a REAL marketplace. ASP.NET MVC has it’s own gallery plus a strong 3rd party marketplace ecosystem.
Additional Authentication Options Anonymous and more available through custom development (e.g. Windows Live). Claims based authentication(custom development required). Claims based authentication via STS Anonymous and more available through custom development (e.g. Windows Live). Claims based authentication(custom development required). Anonymous and more available through custom development (e.g. Windows Live). Claims based authentication(custom development required).  
Permission Structure (Authorisation) Very basic and really just a half a step ahead of editing XML that MVC needs. Fantastic out of the box option, plus plenty of extensibility if needed. Good structure with many levels of customisation.
Out of the box is very simple.
Basic support for it but can be extended through development. A lot of XML work though may be needed. LS & MVC are the lightest here, both supports authorisation options but enforcing it is up to the developer to implement. LS is better slightly better at guiding the developer and needs no XML editing. SP authorisation is as varied & powerful as what CRM offers. However SP can easily get messy, users can break permission inheritance, while CRM enforces authorisation all the time and makes for a better structured environment.

Information Worker Features

  • Offline support: Being able to work when you are not in the office is a vital need for many people. So how do these platforms enable that scenario. In theory it is always possible to build this, so we are just looking at the out of box offering.
  • Easily Import Data: How do we get information into the solution, besides the API? Does the product make this easy with out of the box tooling?
  • Printing: Despite the promise of a paperless office, it still is not the case and being able to print is important, even if it is just to XPS or PDF for invoicing.
  • Office Integration: Integration into Microsoft Office products (i.e. Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, InfoPath & OneNote) means that your IW’s will be able to work in the tools that they are comfortable with, easing adoption and productivity.
  Lightswitch (LS) Dynamics CRM SharePoint 2010 (SP) ASP.NET MVC My Thoughts
Offline support No Yes Yes No Being able to work offline is important if you are a roaming user. LS & MVC offer nothing in this space while CRM & SP both offer offline via Outlook.
Easily Import Data (out of the box) Nope Yes, from CVS. Yes. Multiple options. Nope In all cases there are tools and other ways to import data but CRM & SP have an out of the box options.
Printing (out of the box) Nope Yes Yes – Poor Browser Level LS & MVC can have custom development solutions for printing,  other than that they both offer nothing out of the box. As browser printing has improved MVC has a slight advantage being HTML based normally. SP has printing, but it is very poor. CRM leads the way here with a great print scenario.
Office Integration Low

One way export to Excel.

Others can be custom developed
Medium

One way to Excel. Mail merge with Word & Outlook.
Deep integration with Outlook is available too.
High

Only Publisher doesn’t have some integration with SharePoint.
Every other Office product does, some like Excel are one way while others like Access are two way.

SP internally has features that understand Office files too, for example PowerPoint Libraries show thumbnails.
None

Can be custom developed.
 

Other

  • Databases Supported: Where the data can come from for your application is a critical piece of the puzzle because it means the difference between building ETL solutions to handle moving it around if the source is supported or having it just work.
  • Minimum Skills For Tailoring: Tailoring is what I refer to when I think of customisation of a system, without the need for a programming language. At some point you will need a developer but how far away that is and what can be done by a analyst or super user early on is important from a time to solution and cost perspective. Lower is better here.
  • Can run in the cloud?: If you not thinking about how you can leverage the cloud, then you are not thinking. Making sure the solutions can cater for the cloud is an important consideration. All four solutions can run in the cloud but how do they run is also important
  • ALM Experience: How does this tool work with a full ALM experience? Can I unit test it easily? Will it go into source control easily and what happens when multiple developers are updating the same files? How about build server and development tool integration? All important questions in understanding a complete picture of that these tools cost or what you sacrfice with some of them.
  • Requires Silverlight: Despite decent market penetration and ease of deployment in corporate scenarios, the requirement for Silverlight can be a deterrent to business, especially those where the CEO uses an iPad2 Smile with tongue out. This is not answered in the table as only Lightswitch requires Silverlight. CRM has no dependencies, SharePoint has a fall back mode and if you used Silverlight with MVC it would be possible to have a fallback mode, provided you developed it.
  • Data performance: This is also not in the table since it only applies to Lightswitch. For CRM, MVC & SharePoint I assume your front end (web) is always close enough, for example the same LAN, to the database but in Lightswitch you can really separate them. Here it is important to note Lightswitch is NOT great with data performance between backend & frontend. It sends massive amounts of data around. In my view it really does not feel optimised for WAN scenarios.
  Lightswitch (LS) Dynamics CRM SharePoint 2010 (SP) ASP.NET MVC My Thoughts
Databases Supported SQL Server, SQL Azure, SharePoint or anything supported by WCF RIA services. SQL Server SQL Server normally.

With advanced skills can use external data sources.
For scaffolding anything supported by LinqToSQL or Entity Framework. LS & MVC feel very close here, however LS has it’s own OM which MVC uses established ones meaning more options in the MVC camp.
Minimum Skills For Tailoring Intermediate
Lowest
Low Highest Being able to tailor with less skill is a big plus for CRM & SP. MVC doesn’t have tailoring as it is all development. LS really stuck in the middle ground here – for setting it up I suspect nothing more than power user but that ends much sooner and moves to needed a developer than with CRM and SharePoint.
Can run in the cloud? Platform as a service using SQL Azure for database & compute instances for front end. Software as a service: Can get it from Microsoft & Partners at a cost per user per month. Software as a service: Can get it from Microsoft & Partners at a cost per user per month. Recently launched in beta with Microsoft. Platform as a service using SQL Azure for database & compute instances for front end.  
ALM Experience Medium Low High Highest ASP.NET MVC is a pure development experience and so works well with ALM. SP2010 plus VS2010 is a great ALM experience (although mocking is difficult). LS & CRM are oddly very similar with customisations in XML though so expect some source control pain. Plugin’s for CRM and LS Extensions are a great ALM scenario. CRM falls short in the unit testing scenario though.

Special Thanks

A post this in depth could not have been done without input from my “brain trust”, and I thank each one of you for your help:

11 Apr 2011

Community Night: BE THERE

Clipboard01Tomorrow is another community night, and I realised that there is MANY people who do not know about this fun event. This is a gathering of communities (or user groups or interest groups if you prefer) who meet on a regular basis. This is a totally free event which takes place the 2nd Tuesday of every month at Microsoft’s offices in Bryanston.

*Yawn* another Microsoft marketing session? WRONG! This is run by communities and Microsoft has NO say in the content or agenda, unless a community allows them Smile with tongue out Microsoft is really trying to help all communities by providing the facilities – not the content!

MobiZATo give a concrete example MobiZA, a user group focused on mobile development is doing a session on Android! talk about not Microsoft marketing there!

There is also a variety of communities in a attendance so you can also see things you would not have seen before, for example the business user group or the game developer group! And of course there is plenty of corridors for interesting discussions and some even contain food & drinks!

Hopefully I have given you a taste of what is in store and why you should attend and you can find more details on the DPE team blog.

mapFinally, if you have a user group maybe you should think of joining us at community night? Free venue, projectors, seating, food & drink. Plus plenty of people attend, could be a great way to grow your group. I would personally love to see some Linux & PHP groups there because it would allow those who have not had a chance to see the non-Microsoft world an opportunity and hopefully learn that it isn’t so cut & dry out there.

Remember, tomorrow 12th April 2011 @ Microsoft (map to the left) from first sessions kick off at 16:30 and second sessions get started between 17:30 & 18:00!

07 Apr 2011

DevDays - The event for Microsoft Developers

imageIt’s that time of year again, it is DevDays time again which is the premier conference from Microsoft for developers! This year it is a very different beast from previous years:

  • Cost: For the second year, you’ll need to pay. This year it is R350 and that is excellent value for the event.
  • Cape Town first: It kicks off in Cape Town this year on May 24th and then moves to Johannesburg after that on may 26th!
  • Johannesburg new venue: We are at Gallagher Estate this year! Very excited about the venue!
  • No Durban Sad smile 
  • Hash tag from day one! See complaining to Cliff on Twitter does work so now we can all hash with #DevDaysSA!
  • No SharePoint – I can’t remember a DevDays without SharePoint, but we have so many other awesome SharePoint options now (Information Worker, SharePoint Saturdays etc…) it is good to have some balance.

There is three tracks so you may want to brush up on how to pick good sessions (short answer, mine Winking smile) plus their is special slots for student & community sessions which really excites me to see new presenters getting big stage time!

I am also very glad that BBD Software (previously known as BB&D) is a major sponsor this year!

You can signup, get more details and engage on the official site at: http://www.microsoft.com/southafrica/devdays/

Agenda:

  • End-to-end software testing with Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio
    • Level: 200
      Speakers: Ahmed Salijee & Colin Dembovsky
      Visual Studio 2010 offers a wide range of software testing capabilities: manual testing, automated UI testing, database testing, low-level unit testing and even performance testing tools capable of simulating thousands of active users. It also provides support for test case management, defect tracking as well as configuring and running your tests in virtual and physical environments. But how do you know which tools to choose for your project? This session will, via a demo scenario, walk you through the various testing capabilities to assist you with the most effective use of Visual Studio 2010's testing capabilities. This session will be useful to developers as well as various tester roles including functional, performance and automation.
  • An end-to-end experience of Windows Phone 7 development
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Rudi Grobler
      An end-to-end walk through for developing Windows Phone 7 applications using Silverlight
  • Blend: Wiring it all together
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Shane Morris
  • A lap around Internet Explorer 9 for web developers
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Simon Wilkinson
      Internet Explorer 9 adds new support for HTML5, CSS3 and many other new web standards, and this is the place to find out all about them. Not only will we learn about those, but we'll take a dive into the work the engineering team has done to make the browser faster through it's new JavaScript engine, the work they've done to ensure that the same mark-up works across all browsers and how hardware acceleration will make your site run faster, without any changes to your code!
  • Azure: Development from scratch
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Gareth Jane
      The Windows Azure platform is a flexible cloud-computing platform which allows developers to rapidly create highly scalable software applications. This session will introduce developers to the various services and components of the Windows Azure Platform. We will create a very simple application on this platform, especially focusing on the areas which distinguish development on Azure from traditional application development
  • ASP.NET web development with MVC
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Brent Samodien
      Join us in this session and discover the new features in ASP.NET MVC3 and what scenarios you can target with it. Learn more about the improved HTML Helpers and the new updates to Controller/Action/Method that make your code cleaner. Also, explore the richer URL routing and URL route mapping. We will also show how you can use alternative View Engines, including Razor.
  • A website's life: From sketch to publishing
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Simon Wilkinson
      WebMatrix is a new, free, fully featured, easy to install web development tool that helps you build ASP.NET and PHP websites and perform validation, SEO optimization and one-click publishing. My favourite feature however is a new script syntax for ASP.NET called Razor, which will help you create dynamic websites incredibly easily. We will spend some time sketching/wireframing our website, doing visual design work in Expression Design and then experiencing the rich development toolset in WebMatrix.
  • Let's get ready for the cloud: Building your applications so they
    are cloud ready
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Robert MacLean
      In a world where you hear people talking about the cloud, here are some guidelines on how to start building and structuring applications that will be easy to migrate to the Azure platform.
  • Code First in entity framework
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Brent Samodien
      Code First has been a great success with customers, and in this talk, we'll take a deep dive into how it works and talk about its upcoming RTM (Q1 2011). You'll see how Code First uses convention over configuration to improve developer productivity. Its flexibility allows for either automatic database provisioning or the ability to work with an existing database. We'll be demoing features beyond the initial RTM, such as Migrations support, and we'll also talk about the roadmap for Code First going forward
  • Silverlight 5: The Future
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Shane Morris
  • Exploring Windows Azure storage
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Gary Hope
      Examine each of the foundation storage capabilities of Windows Azure, Blobs, Tables and Queues. Discover how to create storage accounts; upload and retrieve blobs and blob metadata; create, update and query tables; and create a simple service that uses a message queue for communication
  • LightSwitch basics: Building your first LightSwitch application
    • Level: 200
      Speaker: Robert MacLean
      Visual Studio LightSwitch is the simplest way to build business applications for the desktop and cloud. LightSwitch simplifies the development process by letting you concentrate on the business logic, while LightSwitch handles the common tasks for you. In this demo-heavy session, you will see, end to end, how to build and deploy a data-centric business application using LightSwitch. After that you will discover what is under the hood to better understand the architecture of a LightSwitch application. Finally you will learn how you can use Visual Studio 2010 Professional and Expression Blend 4 to customize and extend its UI and Data layers for when the application's requirements grow beyond what is supported by default
  • Kung Fu Silverlight: Tips and architectural patterns and practices
    • Level: 400
      Speaker: Dave Russell
      Learn about the rewards of using RIA Services together with development patterns, such as the Service Providers, Single Responsibility pattern, Commanding, user Interactions, Messaging, ChildWindows, Design Time Data, Testing, and developing using Model-View/View- Model (MVVM) pattern, to build Silverlight and Windows Phone apps. Hear the top tips you need to know for building data driven Silverlight apps that solve real world problems.
20 Dec 2010

Reporting Services - Missing features in SRS 2008

clip_image002I recently helped on an interesting problem with SQL Reporting Services, where features of SRS 2008 were just gone!

History

The team had created a number of reports in SQL Server 2005 and used them successfully for a number of years. During their upgrade to SQL Server 2008 they needed to upgrade the reports to SRS 2008 format.

To be clear here, SRS doesn’t support backwards compatibility so if you want to run a report built in 2005 on a 2008 server, it must be upgraded. Thankfully this is a simple process, just open the report solution in Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) 2008 and it will upgrade it.

The Problem

The team knew this process and opened the 2005 reports in BIDS 2008, no errors were reported, all reports saved correctly and were published to the SRS server. The server then rendered them, which to everyone meant that the reports had upgraded successfully.

However there was some changes to how the reports were rendered and the team needed to change the ConsumeContainerWhitespace property on the report to true to fix that rendering issue.

This is a new property in 2008, and the problem the team had is that when the report was opened in BIDS 2008 the property just wasn’t there! They could create new reports and see it, but their existing reports did not contain it.

Diagnosis

My first thing to check was that they were opening the right version of BIDS – this is the SRS persons way of saying “Have you tried turning it off and on?”.

They verified that quickly, so my next step was to check if BIDS was actually doing the upgrade. A report is just an XML file so you can open it up in notepad and check the schema to verify what version of the report it is. If it is http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/reporting/2008/01/reportdefinition it is a 2008 report and if it is http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/reporting/2005/01/reportdefinition it is a 2005 report.

You know what, after the upgrade it was STILL showing as a 2005 report! This confused me to no end – how could SRS 2008 render a 2005 report and why was BIDS not upgrading it?

Solution

I was close to getting the team to call Microsoft, or an exorcist, for assistance – but re-reading the email conversation between the team and me a number of times I stumbled across the piece of missing information which explained the cause. The team was using .rdlc files – these are SRS files designed for client side rendering. SRS supports these and the “normal” .rdl files.

The interesting thing about .rdlc files is that they are frozen on 2005:

  • So they do not get new features of 2008 or 2008 R2, which is why the new properties (like the one the team wanted) does not appear.
  • The schema remains on 2005 (no upgrade in BIDS)
  • and to confuse everyone, they still render on 2008 and 2008 R2!

Thankfully you can convert from .rdlc to .rdl, which means then the reports get upgraded to the 2008 or 2008 R2 formats and get all the features. The team did this and have been smiling ever since!

13 Dec 2010

Bring your hard drive to Community Night

Blue Male Student in a Graduation Cap, Reading a Book and Leaning Against a Stack of Books Clipart IllustrationIf you are coming to tomorrow’s community night, you want to bring your hard drive along because I will have some stuff to fill it up with:

Plus I hear that some prizes may be given away at the events too Winking smile

AttachmentSize
File DevExpress.csv3 KB
10 Dec 2010

Visual Studio Service Pack 1 - Beta: Field Guide

Brian Harry announced the availability of the service pack 1 beta which is fantastic news for all developers. This post is a field guide of me doing the installs.

Before that I wanted to point out a few key things included in this SP:

  • This can installed in production – this beta includes a “go live” license so it is supported and upgrades to the RTM of the SP will be supported.
  • This includes over 80 hotfixes for between 800 and 1000 bugs and many new features. For a full list see the link above, but here is a brief list:
    • Silverlight 4 tool support!
    • Unit testing can target the 3.5 framework now.
    • IntelliTrace support for 64bit and SharePoint!
    • Performance Wizard for Silverlight!
    • HTML 5 support
    • IIS Express support
    • SQL Compact Edition 4 Tooling

Details on the last three can be found on Hanselman’s blog.

  • Some third party systems may break with this, at this time known ones are:
    • ASP.NET MVC 3 RC 1 – this will be fixed in the next update.
    • Visual Studio Async CTP – this will break completely! No news, yet, on when it will be fixed.

The Process

For me there are three files you need to get:

  • Update for .NET 4
  • Update for Visual Studio
  • Update for Team Foundation Server (not covered in this post)

Step 1

.NET 4 installInstall the .NET 4 update first – this took on my machine 24 minutes to do. It is important to note that I did shutdown Visual Studio first but I had some other applications open, including Pull which is .NET 4.

At the end of the process I needed to restart!

image

This step is no specifically needed as the VS SP will include this automatically, however I personally like the idea of doing it manually and making sure .NET 4 apps continue to work before I continue to the VS install.

Step 2

imageOn to the Visual Studio install which after a few minutes tells you what will be updated and then, tells you that it wants to download 490Mb!

image

What I had done was to download the smaller installer version (less than 1Mb) which means it first figures out what is needed and then downloads the rest. This is great for some people as the download size is less, however since I live in South Africa (read: bandwidth is a luxury) and I work with 300+ other developers it is better for me to get the “DVD” labelled one which is bigger (in my case 103Mb bigger) but contains everything in one go so it can be shared easily and the bandwidth hit just once!

image

Step 3

We re-join the action a while later (when the “DVD” edition downloaded, approx. 1 hour 21 min later) we start process again and this time the download size is 0Mb Open-mouthed smile 

image

This took 29 min to process (remember this is without the download) this install and success!

image

Notes

I haven’t found anything in the many extensions I use daily that has broken! In particular my favourites all work

24 Aug 2010

Tech·Ed Africa 2010: Want to go for free?

Win 1 of 4 Tickets to Microsoft Tech·Ed Africa 2010 worth R6 150 each!!!

Venue:    ICC Durban

Date:       17th - 20th October 2010

All you need to do is take a photo of a Microsoft Tag in a really cool/funny/practical place and upload the picture to the Facebook competition page.

More details in the competition animated video here.

Full Competition Rules on our Facebook page.

Dates for Submissions & Announcements of Winners:

  • 25 Aug 2010    -    Last Date For Submissions (week 1) (5pm)
  • 27 Aug 2010    -    Week 1 Winner Announced
  • 01 Sep 2010    -    Last Date For Submissions (week 2) (5pm)
  • 03 Sep 2010    -    Week 2 Winner Announced
  • 08 Sep 2010    -    Last Date For Submissions (week 3) (5pm)
  • 10 Sep 2010    -    Week 3 Winner Announced
  • 15 Sep 2010    -    Last Date For Submissions (week 4) (5pm)
  • 17 Sep 2010    -    Week 4 Winner Announced

Submissions & Announcements of Winners:

  • A new winner will be selected weekly.
  • Last date for submissions for a particular week is 5pm Wednesday of that week.
  • Winner for that week will be announced on the Friday.
  • Submissions after 5pm will count towards the following week.
  • Submissions which did not win in a previous week will still be considered in following weeks and need not be re-submitted.
  • A person can only win once, thereafter all his other submissions will be ignored.
  • You cannot submit on behalf of another person.
  • Submissions are done by posting a photo to the Facebook page wall.

Terms and Conditions apply:

This competition is limited to Tech·Ed Africa 2010 entrance and does not include Travel, hotel or any other expenses. You will be required to help out at the Developers Community Lounge at Tech·Ed Africa 2010 for 3 hours a day if you do win. For Full list of rules please consult the Facebook page.

Pages