14 May 2010

Visual Studio ALM Ranger Champions for 2010!

Group of Blue Men Tossing Another Into the Air Clipart Illustration I am a proud contributor to the Microsoft Visual Studio ALM Rangers (see this post for who they are) and each year, the Rangers have a vote for who they believe are helping the Rangers initiatives the most. The top four from the votes are honoured with the title of Champion! I was honoured in 2009 to be included in the list of the four champions and even more honoured that I have again been listed in the top 4!

Congrats to the other three champions and especially to Mathias Olausson, who was also re-awarded!

For more details on the latest Rangers champions see: http://blogs.msdn.com/willy-peter_schaub/archive/2010/05/12/external-visual-studio-alm-rangers-the-votes-have-been-tallied-and-the-2010-champions-are-have-been-known.aspx

14 May 2010

DevDays Durban Slides and Bits

I had a great time in Durban this week presenting at the DevDays event. I was a bit nervous for my first keynote but calmed down once I was up there. I was much less nervous for the sessions and they turned out to be great fun.

Knowing is half the battle

As part of my prep I did fully script the demos and those scripts are included in hidden slides in the slide shows – so if you are looking to recreate the demos please download the slides and have a look.

For both my sessions I made use of the excellent (but I’m biased) Rule 18 tool. So if you looking for the actual code, which I referred to in my scripts with Rule 18 key presses, you should really download that too.

All the demos were done using Visual Studio 2010.

What’s new in ASP.NET 4?

What’s new in .NET 4?

06 May 2010

Forth Coming Attraction: Brian Noyes speaking

Brian Noyes will be in South Africa next week and for one night only he will be giving a free presentation on MVVM at Microsoft’s offices in Bryanston. Brian works at IDesign and is a Connected Systems MVP and is known for being one of the top Silverlight/WPF/WCF/WF experts and so if you interested in those technologies or the MVVM pattern then this is must attend!


26 Apr 2010

Upgrading to SharePoint 2010: In the field experience

sharepoint1Last week I was able to upgrade BB&D’s internal intranet site from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010! So you can properly understand what happened let me cover a little bit about the intranet first. Our intranet is a small deployment, just a single server deployment however it is kept up to date with technology so it is running on SQL Server 2008 with SP1, Windows 2008 R2 on a 64bit virtual machine. We have also not gone with heavy customisation, rather focusing on small tweaks and adjustments. A good example is we do not have a customised master page but rather use the theme options to get the colour scheme we want.

The first step I did was to download the pre-requisites for SharePoint 2010, and using the option on the installer this was a breeze. I’ve seen this before with Dynamics CRM and once again I am impressed by how a very simple feature makes such a big difference. Next step was the install, which was pain less and quick.

Once installed the configuration manager had to run and this is where I had two issues. The first problem was that I got stuck on task 1! The cause here is that a dialog box had appeared behind the main window (telling me to do the same to all servers in the farm) and won’t go until I clicked OK. This annoying little bug cost me a few minutes.

The second issue was that the SharePoint 2010 install needs to do some Active Directory queries and this meant my user account was not good enough. Not having a good enough user means that the installer produces a very unhelpful error at step 3:

   at System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary`2.get_Item(TKey key)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Utilities.SPUtility.GetUserPropertyFromAD(SPWebApplication webApplicaiton, String loginName, String propertyName)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPManagedAccount.GetUserAccountControl(String username)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPManagedAccount.Update()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPProcessIdentity.Update()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPApplicationPool.Update()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPProcessIdentity.UpgradeToV4ManagedAccount()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPConfigurationDatabase.ResolveObjectAndClassVersions(SPLog log)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Upgrade.SPConfigurationDatabaseSequence2.Upgrade()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Upgrade.SPUpgradeSession.Upgrade(Object o, Boolean bRecurse)

sharepoint2It took ages to figure this out, mostly because it is not a documented requirement. To get the correct permissions you need to get a domain admin to do the following on the domain controller:

  1. Open up Active Directory Users and Computer.
  2. Select Advanced Features from the View menu. Failing to do this means that the tab in step four won’t be visible.
  3. Right-click the your AD account and select Properties.
  4. Select the Securities Tab.
  5. Select Authenticated Users in the Group or user names field.
  6. Allow Full permissions in the Permissions for Account Operators.
  7. Repeat this process for any SharePoint service accounts you may have created.
  8. Next make sure this change replicates to all domain controllers.
  9. Now connect to your SharePoint server, and open the command prompt (cmd.exe) and type gpupdate /force. This will force the changes to the machine as it may have a cached version.
  10. Finally reboot the SharePoint server and start the configuration wizard again.

After all that was done the configuration wizard completed and the upgrade process started in central admin. The upgrade process also took a while to do, but once done everything just worked.

Lastly we applied some theme tweaks and a quick run through of testing it and it was done. One thing that is important to remember about this process is that the entire time it was happening the current intranet was done so plan your deployment accordingly. This is easily the best experience I’ve ever had installing or upgrading SharePoint and shows that the product is maturing.

21 Apr 2010

Death of a SharePoint Developer

Originally from :http://rawsocket.org/pf/arquivos/2004_11_01_index.html I have had to explain many times in the last year why I, a normal developer, am involved with Information Worker which is (mostly) a SharePoint group? I am involved because I believe that the idea of a SharePoint Developer is a fast dying one and soon, people who call themselves a SharePoint Developer will be using it just as a way to justify higher consulting costs more than anything else.

I do not think this is because SharePoint usage is dying, rather the growth (maturity and adoption) of SharePoint is causing SharePoint developers to die off. This is not because SharePoint is so user friendly we no longer need custom code, because we still need custom code in SharePoint. The two reasons for my thinking this is based on two questions, “What SharePoint development really is?” and secondly “What Microsoft is doing about SharePoint development?”.

What is SharePoint development really? In SharePoint versions past (2007 and before) you would develop code for SharePoint using development concepts unique to SharePoint. Now that SharePoint has matured, development of the code for SharePoint involves concepts that are universal to development. There are two examples which come to mind which highlight the maturity of development concepts. First is web parts, which are now the same as ASP.NET web parts, and secondly is web services (and OData if you have SharePoint 2010). Both of these concepts are the exact same as used by many other products made by Microsoft and other companies. For example if you understand how to get data from Twitter, with OData in SharePoint 2010 you will understand how to get data from SharePoint. Yes, you will have some specific bindings/API’s/code that are SharePoint specific but the concepts, which is the difficult part to learn, are the same.

I mentioned two questions and the second is about Microsoft and it’s strategy for SharePoint development, in particular their 2010 strategy (Visual Studio 2010 + SharePoint 2010). A SharePoint developer used to have to go and download special files, install them, fixed issues, try installing again, fix more issues, have special machines or virtual machines to run SharePoint on and so on. The actual process of just writing code for SharePoint meant that you became elite because you had to go through a ritual of fire before you could start. Microsoft have really made SharePoint 2010 development simple and more importantly easy to start with, both by making SharePoint run natively on Windows 7 and also by including everything you need for development within Visual Studio 2010 from day one. It is as hard start wring code for SharePoint now as it is to make a WPF application!

What I am trying to convey is that previously a SharePoint developer had “paid their school fees” by learning so much that was so specific to the process of SharePoint development that they actually had earned a special title. Now that all those barriers have been removed, the title of SharePoint developer no longer applies, we are all just developers now!

03 Mar 2010

DevDays coming to your town soon!

header DevDays, one of the premier Microsoft software developer is starting this month with events in Johannesburg and Cape Town and will be in Durban next month! Not only does it have great local guys presenting but Bart de Smet and Brian Keller will be there too!
Most importantly I will be there, just admit it you want to see me more than Bart and Brian ;), and will have prizes and giveaways at the BB&D stand!

To see the session list head over to: http://www.microsoft.com/southafrica/devdays/sessions.mspx and once you are sold signup at: https://secure.mseventssa.co.za/DevDays/Landing.aspx

02 Mar 2010

MVP Summit 2010, Sightseeing - Part 3 (Warning Photo Heavy)

[The series index can be found here.]

Considering Zayd Kara, Rudi Grobler, and I were in Seattle we took a few days extra to sightsee around the town and so here is some of the highlights from the camera:


First thing we did was find the Needle – since it was the only thing Rudi wanted to see.


The entrance to the Microsoft Visitors Centre – worth a look at the cool tech. Not enough Visual Studio in there though ;)


A entire store devoted to Lego was almost too much for me! You could even buy individual bricks based on type and colour for specific products.


At the Sci-Fi Museum and Hall of Fame (SFM), I geeked out A LOT (ask Rudi about my running tour of the place). R2-D2 was cool.


Still at SFM the flying cop car from Blade Runner!


Right next to SFM was EMP – Experience Music Project. This is the HUGE concert screen in the lobby.


The Yes time capsule at EMP.


Rudi Grobler, Zayd Kara, and myself in our “band” at EPM!


The Eagle artwork at the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Olympic Park.

01 Mar 2010

MVP Summit 2010, Shiny - Part 2

[The series index can be found here.]

As with any conference event you can expect to fill you bag with trinkets to bring home. You know the stuff which is interesting but basically you would never pay for it yourself and Summit had some of that, but that Visual Studio jacket I got I would’ve paid for :) However this is not about those things, this is about two VERY special shiny things I got to bring home.

Towards the end of last year I was awarded VSTS Rangers Champion award however at Summit I got my “trophy” – it’s a Visual Studio 2008 Team System box, personally signed with a message from Jeff Beehler!


The second special item was a big surprise in that internally in the Team System MVP’s there is an award for the best MVP (think of being called the Tom Cruise of Top Gun), which Ed Blankenship deservedly won! Not to be outdone, I won the MVP in Residence award for spending a ridiculous amount of time away from home and doing stuff for Microsoft. The trophy for this was a photo frame with a certificate signed by Brian Harry!