Haven't I seen these presentations before?

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 15:38

imageIn a few short weeks I will be speaking at TechEd Africa 2013 and if you have come to my talks before (previous TechEd’s, TechDays, Hogshead when I have had one too many) you may see that I am giving similar sounding content – so why should you come to these TechEd talks? What will be new and awesome? I am going to give you an honest review of what you can expect from the three talks below.

Windows Store Apps, Tips & Tricks from the field

This is a brand new talk, filled with awesome new content for people developing apps for Windows 8 today & going forward to the Windows ‘Blue’ world. Some of this is from Windows Store app Development Snack series but not all of it, especially in the architecture & tooling sections of the talk.

Note: This is not an introduction to Windows Store apps talk – I will assume the audience has some of the concepts of apps already. So for example, I will talk about background tasks but not explain what they are or where they used in any depth.

What’s new in .NET 4.5 & VS 2012

Same title as my TechDays talk and really this is the version 2 of that talk. So what can you expect different from TechDays?

  • Part 1 is very similar, in fact you could probably just watch the YouTube video of that part & get 95% of the content. I will have some new tricks, especially since we have two updates to VS available now & I have adjusted the emphasis in some places – but that is the only changes in part 1.
  • Part 2 is very different, both the WCF & LightSwitch sections are gone! LightSwitch was dropped because I have an hour long talk just on that :) WCF was dropped since the demo’s were not great and despite it being an amazing tool, the focus for the talk needs to be what’s new – and the new way for API’s is WebAPI. Do not read that as WCF is dead – hardly, just it doesn’t meet this talks requirements. This means I freed up a lot of time, so I am filling it with A LOT of new ASP.NET content. I will show you tricks & tips in ASP.NET land that will blow your mind away!

What’s new in LightSwitch

This session is vastly different my previous LightSwitch talks – we will start in roughly the same way and look at what it does however rather than 1 hour on that, we do a higher level treatment of that in 20min.  So if you never have seen LightSwitch – I am ensuring you are catered for. That is followed by a quick view of the new stuff and then finally we look to the future and the amazing new items coming down the line.

This talk is aimed at those who have never seen LightSwitch, those who have & those we are using it and want to see where it is headed – so basically everyone :)

TechEd Africa 2013: Levels

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 10:01

imageIn 2010, I wrote a post about how to find the best sessions at TechEd, which is as valid then as it is now… Except for one thing, the decoding sessions part:

Every session at Tech·Ed has a code, and this code has some key information that will mean you get to the right sessions easily. If I look at one of the sessions I am presenting, the code associated is APS309, but what does that mean?

  • APS – This is the track, or the high level concept that the session is part of. APS in this case refers to Application Server. Microsoft has a great guide to all these TLA (three letter acronyms) on the technical track page. The only item missing from there is WTB, which stands for Whiteboard which I will cover next.
  • 3 – This digit is key, it identifies the level of the session and is between 1 and 4.
    • 1 indicates a introduction session - where you can come in with zero knowledge on the topic. Expect it not to be deep, expect the pace to be slow and expect it to cover the concepts.
    • 2 indicates a beginner session - you should’ve seen something on it before arriving. Expect it to cover usage scenarios and the pace and depth to be increased.
    • 3 indicates a technical session – you should be working with the technology. These often go fast and deep or explore a new area in that space.
    • 4 indicates a deep dive – you should expect a session that is for the most advanced of people.
  • 09 – This is a unique identifier.

TechEd this year still has the little codes that help you identify what the talk is about. However you will NOT find any sessions of the level 100 type (that first digit). This doesn’t mean there are no introduction sessions, far from that. What happened is that someone at Microsoft has decided that all level 100 will be reclassified as level 200’s as well. So when you look at the codes, and you see a level 200 session: it could be a introduction or beginner level talk.

This means that the next piece of advice from that post is even more important this year in ensuring the talks you attend are the right talks for you!

The next thing about understanding is to read the abstract for the topic, this is the overall plan for the session. So if we take my session again, the title is: Intro to Workflow Services and Windows Server AppFabric however if you read the abstract you will note that it mentions Workflow Foundation (WF) first and talks about developers using it. Then it mentions WF and usage with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and how they integrate in .NET 4. Finally it mentions AppFabric and hosting.

Visual Studio: Auto-load changes, if saved

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 03/28/2013 - 08:32

Visual Studio is great, but if you are using external tools like Git or Blend at the same time, the constant prompting to update/reload files can be annoying. In this short video I show a great option, that you can enable in Visual Studio that will make the experience a lot more pleasurable.

If you want this option to work with project & solution files in future, please vote on it at User Voice.

Visual Studio: PRESENTON!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 11:36

It sounds a bit like something Inspector Gadget may say: PRESENT ON! but this is a command in Visual Studio that makes VS shine for presentations. I spoke about it in my video on presenter tricks but love this so much, it needs it’s own blog post too! Simply put, it makes the entire of VS look better:

image

To show this I took a photo (with camera phone) when off & when on during a talk I recently gave. Just looking at the difference – the second is easier to see what is going on.

While it does lots of things, let me highlight some of the critical differences:

image

image

So how do you use this?

First you must download the productivity power tools extension from Microsoft. This is a free extension & not only gives you this, but also gives you a lot more AWESOME functionality. Next you need to go to the Quick Launch box in Visual Studio 2012.

image 

Now type: PRESENTON and hit enter (or click the item in the list when it appears). BOOM! Done! Happy Audiences!

image

When you are finished, just type PRESENTOFF in Quick Launch and you are back to normal.

Presenter Tricks: WOW your audience

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 03/26/2013 - 18:05

imageAs TechEd is fast approaching, I thought it would be a great time to share some tricks I will be using  to make my technical presentations a success. These are five tricks that focus on technical presentations on Windows and they include:

  • ZoomIt: An essential tool to focus the audience & magnify content
  • Turning off Windows 8 notifications
  • Turning on HIGH PERFORMANCE mode in Windows, so everything runs amazingly
  • Turning off presenter view in PowerPoint 2013
  • The amazing PresentOn option in Visual Studio, which makes VS look amazing on stage!

Download links:

Cannot connect to LocalDB from .NET

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 03/05/2013 - 11:51

imageYou are trying something simple – just open a connection to a LocalDB instance from .NET but it is failing with a SqlException which has the following message:

A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. The server was not found or was not accessible. Verify that the instance name is correct and that SQL Server is configured to allow remote connections. (provider: Named Pipes Provider, error: 40 - Could not open a connection to SQL Server)

You know LocalDB is working, since you copied the connection string from within Visual Studio, but it just doesn’t work!

The cause of this issue is the connection string, however it may not be obvious at first glance:

var sqlConnection = new SqlConnection("Data Source=(localdb)\v11.0;Initial Catalog=Astronauts;Integrated Security=True;Connect Timeout=5");

image

The root cause is the Data Source and the \v in it – normally when you have a \ it complains unless it is a valid escape sequence like \r or \t and since it is not complaining here, it must be a valid escape sequence, just maybe one you are not familiar with, as \v is for a vertical tab.

The solution is easy when you realise that the escape sequence is messing with you, just add another slash:

var sqlConnection = new SqlConnection("Data Source=(localdb)\\v11.0;Initial Catalog=Astronauts;Integrated Security=True;Connect Timeout=5");

Visual Studio 2012 - LightSwitch: The selected project was created by a newer version of this application and cannot be opened.

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 03/05/2013 - 02:06

imageYou may have run into this annoying dialog when creating an HTML application with Visual Studio 2012 LightSwitch after installing Update 2 CTP 4. The issue does not appear when creating a “normal” application.

The cause of this is a conflict between the old bits that came with the Office Dev tools update and the new bits that came in the Visual Studio update.

Prevent it in future!

You can prevent this by following these steps [source]:

Before installing CTP 4 you must uninstall HTML Client Preview 2 and clear the Application Manifest cache:

  1. Open Add\Remove Programs.
  2. Select the entry for Microsoft LightSwitch HTML Client Preview 2 for Visual Studio 2012.
  3. Right-click the entry and select Uninstall.
  4. Select the entry for Windows Azure Tools for LightSwitch HTML Client Preview 2 for Visual Studio 2012 – June 2012 SP1.
  5. Right-click the entry and select Uninstall.
  6. Clear your application manifest cache by deleting the following folders:
    • %localappdata%\Microsoft\MSBuild\VSLS\11.3
    • %localappdata%\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.3

How do I fix it?

While the above is useful information ahead of time, it is is not helpful after the fact. So how do you fix your Visual Studio to be able to get into the fantastic new LightSwitch bits?

works-on-my-machine-starburstYour mileage may vary with this since this is been found with a bit of trial and error as I fixed on my machine.

First shutdown Visual Studio and then follow the steps above. Once done, run the CTP 4 installer again and chose the uninstall option. Once it is completely uninstalled you then reinstall the CTP.

Finally make sure you may want to make double sure you have cleaned the manifest cache (step 6 above) – it won’t hurt to do it again either. Just make sure Visual Studio is close when you do it.

Do not try a repair

You may think a repair is as good as an uninstall/reinstall of the CTP. It isn’t, since it gives you this lovely fun:

image

Creating a timeline chart in Excel 2013

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 08:43

My last two posts have both contained an timeline chart in them which I create in Microsoft Excel 2013. Since it is a fairly awesome trick, I have created a short 10min video showing how you can do it too!

imageWhile this in itself is pretty awesome to do, because it is Microsoft Office – you can easily copy and paste it into PowerPoint for presentations. Then by simply changing the Effect Options ► Sequence to By Category you can get a great effect where each event pops in one by one.

3

(click the above image to see a higher resolution version of it)

Visual Studio Extension Guide

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 02/26/2013 - 14:55

Version: 1 – Feb 26 2013 – Current Count: 24

This page is meant to provide a one stop shop for the Visual Studio Extensions that are available for Visual Studio 2012. Included here will be only extensions from Microsoft that are available on the Visual Studio Gallery. Some maybe betas, CTPs etc…  If you think I have missed any please contact me!

Bing Maps SDK for Windows Store apps

Color Printing

EnterpriseLibrary.Config

GAT 2010 for Visual Studio 2012

  • The Guidance Automation Toolkit (GAT) is a Visual Studio extension that helps build guidance packages, which empower software teams to automate key development tasks (like custom templates, wizards, and code generation) inside Visual Studio.
  • More information
  • Download

GAX 2010 For Visual Studio 2012

  • The Guidance Automation Extensions (GAX) enables Visual Studio to run guidance packages, such as those included in Software Factories, which empower software teams to automate key development tasks inside Visual Studio.
  • More information
  • Download

Highlight all occurrences of selected word

  • This extends the editor to highlight all occurrences of a selected word and place a glyph on the left margin (VS2012 version).
  • More information
  • Download

HTML Spell Checker

LightSwitch Cosmopolitan Shell and Theme

  • A LightSwitch shell and theme with modern and clean UI, inspired by the Silverlight Cosmopolitan theme.
  • More information
  • Download

LightSwitch Metro Theme

Microsoft ASP.NET Scaffolding

Microsoft Parallel Visualization Pack

  • A set of visualizers that allow users to view graphical representations of the data in the Parallel Watch Window.
  • More information
  • Download

Microsoft PlayReady Client SDK for Windows Store apps

Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Feedback Tool

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Feedback Tool allows users to submit feedback about Microsoft Visual Studio 2012
  • More information
  • Download

Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 SDK

  • The Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 SDK includes project templates, tools, tests, and reference assemblies that are required to build extensions for Visual Studio 2012.
  • More information
  • Download

Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 Build Extensions

  • The Team Foundation Server Build Extensions provide the ability to execute Ant or Maven builds from Team Foundation Server and publish the results of the build along with any associated JUnit test results back to Team Foundation Server.
  • More information
  • Download

Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 Update 1 Power Tools

  • Power Tools are a set of enhancements, tools, and command-line utilities that increase productivity of Team Foundation Server scenarios.
  • More information
  • Download

NuGet Package Manager

  • A collection of tools to automate the process of downloading, installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing packages from a VS Project.
  • More information
  • Download

PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2010

Productivity Power Tools 2012

  • A set of extensions to Visual Studio 2012 Professional (and above) which improves developer productivity.
  • More information
  • Download

Smooth Streaming Client SDK

Storyboard Shapes Authoring Tool - RC Version

  • This tool helps you make storyboard shapes that can be used with PowerPoint Storyboarding (available with Visual Studio 2012).
  • More information
  • Download

Team Foundation Server Integration Tools (March 2012 Release)

  • The TFS Integration Tools is a project developed by the Team Foundation Server (TFS) product group and the Visual Studio ALM Rangers to integrate Team Foundation Server with third party systems for migration and synchronization of data.
  • More information
  • Download

Visual Source Safe Upgrade Tool for Team Foundation Server

  • The official upgrade tool to move your Visual Source Safe repositories into Team Foundation Server
  • More information
  • Download

Visual Studio Tools for Git

  • An extension for Team Explorer to provide source control integration for Git. Enables integration with local Git repositories and provides tools to work with remote repositories.
  • More information
  • Download

image

Download the timeline in Excel: here.

Download the source code for the tool that I used to produce the HTML & data for this post: here.

Visual Studio 2012 Update Guide

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Mon, 02/25/2013 - 13:43

Version: 2 – March 4 2013

This page is meant to provide a one stop shop for the updates that are available for Visual Studio 2012. Included here will be only updates from Microsoft. Some maybe betas, CTPs etc. If you think I have missed any please contact me!

VS_Purp256_rgb (1)Visual Studio Update 1

VS_Purp256_rgb (1)Visual Studio Update 2 CTP 4(NEW/UPDATED!)

Git-Icon-1788CGit Tooling for Visual Studio

VS_Purp256_rgb (1)Productivity Power Tools 2012

NuGet_project_logo_svgNuGet

web essentialsWeb Essentials 2012

AzureVS2012_LogoASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2

AzureVS2012_LogoWindows Azure SDK for .NET (VS 2012) 1.8.1 - February 2013

VS_Purp256_rgb (1)Microsoft Office Developer Tools For Visual Studio (NEW/UPDATED!)

WFM-128pxWorkflow Manager Tools for Visual Studio 2012

expressWindows Phone SDK 8.0

sql-option-aSQL Server Data Tools for VS 2012 December Update

odatalogoWCF Data Services 5.0 for OData v3

Want more extensions for Visual Studio? Check out the 31 extensions created by Microsoft for Visual Studio 2012 on the Visual Studio Gallery

Timeline (out of date)

Since I like to visualise these things here is a timeline of the updates:

image

Download timeline in Excel