Tools & Apps

It's Dev4Dev's time again!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 08/20/2010 - 09:30

My favourite gathering of developers happens 2 or 3 times a year, it’s called Dev4Devs. This is a free event which Microsoft runs, where ANYONE can present a topic but they only have 20min! This means that in a morning you see 7 topics and rather than getting swamped in all the details you dive directly to the really important parts.

The topic list is below, and there is some exciting topics there and even some non-MS technology is covered too!

I am also really glad that the entire ATC team at BB&D, which is the team I work in, is presenting – they are highlighted in the list below!

The next one comes on the 4th September 2010 and it occurs at Microsoft’s offices in Johannesburg and you can register at

Session List for Dev4Devs

Windows Phone 7 - Getting Started

A high level introduction to getting started with Windows Phone 7 development including: where to begin, options for developers, thinking about design and a demonstration application.

Presenter: Johannes van Schalkwyk

Making MVVM easy

Starting with WPF, Silverlight or WP7? Heard of MVVM but think it’s WAY too complex for your simple application? Join me for a crash course using the easiest MVVM framework available… Caliburn.Micro!
Presenter: Rudi Grobler (ATC Team Member)

Why you should care about Google Closure

Closure is a modularised set of JavaScript libraries that can assist you in building rich internet applications.

It's been battle-tested by Google on sites like: Gmail, Google Docs and Google Maps.

Attend this short intro to get an understanding of how important these libraries are and why you should consider using them in your next big internet app.

Presenter: Simon Stewart

Introducing NHibernate 3

The daddy of .NET ORM is back with a new release, in this session you'll see a few of the newest features - such as a full IQueryable LINQ provider - that makes NHibernate 3 the best release yet!
Presenter: Kevin McKelvin

Branding SharePoint 2010 with MasterPages, Layouts and CSS

One of the largest limitations of WSS3.0 and MOSS2007 is the ability to brand SharePoint without intricate knowledge of the platform and in some cases breaking a few rules and modifying out of the box system files to get the desired look and feel. Come and see how the theming engine in SharePoint 2010 together with CSS, Master Pages and Layouts can be used to brand your SharePoint site using the amazing new SharePoint Designer 2010.
Presenter: Brent Samodien

Unit Testing - Code Coverage & Mocking

In this presentation William will demonstrate how code coverage tools help measure the effectiveness of your unit tests.  He will also show how Mocking tools can help to add value to your unit tests and ensure that all edge-case logic is properly checked.
Presenter: William Brander (ATC Team Member)

Getting ready for Windows Azure development

Heard about the cloud? Excited about the possibilities? In this session we have a 1000-mile introduction to Microsoft’s operating system for the cloud, Windows Azure, how it compares to the other cloud offerings that are out there and how to get your hands dirty with the skill-up process. Endless possibilities + new tech = fun stuff.
Presenter: Ryno Rijnsburger

An introduction to Mercurial Source Control

Want a quick introduction into a Distributed Version Control System (DVCS)? Meet Mercurial it is a cross-platform, fast, lightweight source control management system designed for easy and efficient handling of distributed projects.
Presenter: Zayd Kara (ATC Team Member)

Making money with Coded UI

Coded UI is a brand new feature of Visual Studio 2010 which enables you to quickly build automated user interface tests for your application and run them as if they were unit tests. In the talk we will look at how Coded UI can change your life, one UI at a time!
Presenter: ME! (ATC Team Member)

Hack .Net in 10 Seconds - Why obfuscation is critical

Hacking 101 – I demonstrate how to bypass basic copy protection in an unobfusctaed .Net application through reverse engineering and show how obfuscation adds a layer of protection. I also demonstrate additional techniques for protecting your applications from hacking once they are released in the wild.
Presenter: Mark Pearl

Composite Applications with PRISM

In this session Stephan will demonstrate how to leverage the Composite Application Libraries to create modularized applications for WPF and Silverlight. He will also show you how to do multi-targeted development by sharing lots of code between the web and desktop applications.
Presenter: Stephan Johnson

An Introduction to Pex and Moles

An introduction into Pex and Moles, covering the basics of Mole Types and Mole Stubs and Parameterised Testing.
Presenter: Dave Russell

ASP.NET Dynamic Data

I will briefly introduce ASP.NET Dynamic Data by showing how to build a complete data maintenance web application with almost zero code.

Moving on, I will demonstrate some standard ways of customising a Dynamic Data application, and some more advanced non-standard customisation techniques. I will finish off by illustrating how Dynamic Data libraries and controls can be leveraged in other applications that don't normally use dynamic data.

Presenter: Brady Kelly


As you probably already surmised, ASP.NET MVC 3 is the next major release of ASP.NET MVC. Join us as we highlight the upcoming features and modifications to this popular framework.
Presenters: Jaco Pretorius and Kobus Brummer

Pulled Apart - Part II: What? You're not using TFS!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 08/13/2010 - 09:49

Note: This is part of a series, you can find the rest of the parts in the series index.

onebit_26Some people see learning as a side effect of software development and others believe that all must be known upfront and so no learning occurs. The reality is that it learning during software development is a core part and you should be embracing it. One of the the things I have done with Pull is to host the code with CodePlex. CodePlex offers two ways to store source code – you can use TFS/SVN or you can use Mercurial. 

In the past I have always used TFS because I am comfortable there – it’s a tool I know well and I like to use it. However to embrace the learning for Pull, I decided it could be a Mercurial project. Which brought me to my first issue, I didn’t have any Mercurial tools so I went off to find a set I liked.

Being that I didn’t want to install anything, because my machine is so light and fast, a lot of the packages out there were not an option (TortoiseHG, I’m looking at you). In the end I choose the Mercurial Cmd Portable from which gave me a light option, but did mean no GUI which really isn’t a bad thing.

Comparing it to TFS is a two part compare.

  1. If I compare to the full GUI TFS inside Visual Studio then I prefer the Mercurial experience because working disconnected from the server and coming online is easier.
  2. There are TFS Power Tools which provides a command prompt tool called tfpt.exe and that has an online option which makes the whole experience just as good what Mercurial offers.

One of the big areas of difference between how TFS and Mercurial work is branching/merging/labels/forks etc… which I have not experienced yet.

Some of the things I did in my Mercurial setup which may help other people.


My ignore file for C# projects done in Visual Studio, with CodeRush installed.

syntax: glob



My config was fairly straightforward, I have an auth setup so that my CodePlex details are remembered and I created an alias called codeplex. This lets me just type hg codeplex and it prompts for my password and that’s it – one line gets the repro pushed to CodePlex. I also setup WinMerge as the diff tool, because I am a WinMerge fan and this just lets me keep using it easily.



username=Robert MacLean <>

; must uncomment this line
extdiff =

cmd.winmerge = E:\PortableApps\WinMergePortable\App\WinMerge\WinMergeU.exe
opts.winmerge = /r /e /x /u /wl

Pulled Apart - Part I: Introduction

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 11:38

Note: This is part of a series, you can find the rest of the parts in the series index.

onebit_26I have needed software which the available implementations of that type of software doesn’t solve (due to cost, features, experience etc…) thankfully I like to write code and I like to share. This means I am often writing small applications to solve problems. My current one is a podcatcher, it is a program which downloads podcasts, called Pull.


Pull is designed with the idea of being just a podcatcher, because all the media players out there with bundled podcatchers are either VERY heavy or just crap, so my solution to that is just be a tool which does one thing, and does it well.

The second major design feature is that it must be portable – assuming .NET 4 is installed then it should just run without an install. Smile

Lastly it should be quiet and just get on with the job of pulling down podcasts. I do not need to be annoyed with pop-ups and sounds all the time. My view is that I will deal with you when I have the time, else sit in the corner and do your job.

I thought I would blog a series of some aspects of the development both code and technology as I have learnt a ridiculous amount during the initial development. Check the series index at the top for a preview of what I have in mind or to find more parts in this.

Visual Studio and/or Test Manager corrupt licensing?

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 08/11/2010 - 10:44

Blue Male Doctor In A Lab Coat, Sitting On A Stool And Bandaging A Blue Person That Has Been Hurt On The Head, Arm And Ankle Clipart GraphicAt the Visual Studio & TFS event we had a few machines complaining that the Test Manager license was invalid and a new one was needed. Those same machines also said Visual Studio’s license was corrupted and that Visual Studio needed a re-install.

To make this more odd, we were using virtual machines so every machine was identical yet only some machines had this problem.

The cause was the host OS date was wrong (the year was 2008) and so the virtual machines were set to 2008. In the eyes of the virtual machine this meant that the license was installed magically in the future.

We turned off the VM, deleted the state, fixed the date and started again and it was solved!

Resolving "Could not load type Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.DataCacheSessionStoreProvider"

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Mon, 08/02/2010 - 13:27

If you are using AppFabric and decide to swop out the ASP.NET standard caching with it you may run into the error:

Could not load type "Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.DataCacheSessionStoreProvider”

The error will be pointing to the type of the custom session (line 5 below):

<sessionState mode="Custom" customProvider="AppFabricCacheSessionStoreProvider">
        <!-- specify the named cache for session data -->
        <add name="AppFabricCacheSessionStoreProvider" 
             cacheName="TailSpin" sharedId="TailSpinTravelId"/>

The cause is that the application can’t find that class. To help it find it you need to add the following to the Configuration –> System.Web –> Compilation –> Assemblies:

<add assembly="Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.Client, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"/>
<add assembly="Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.Core, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"/>

Why I like Visual Studio 2010? Undock Windows

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 07/28/2010 - 10:43

imageVisual Studio 2010 has the ability to undock code windows by clicking and dragging on the code window tabs. This is a great feature and it is often touted for multi-monitor setups where you may want to have the form on one window and code on another window, or maybe two different code files open at the same time.


That is very useful, however that is not why I like this feature. I like the ability to undock the windows because it lets me view two different parts of the same file at the same time. Visual Studio 2010 and earlier have supported this using the split view option (image) but that means you lose half of your screen (like below).


Using the undock windows in 2010 you can use the Windows –> New Window option to duplicate the current window.


Then you can drag the second (or third, or forth) windows out and get a full screen side by side view which is GREAT for comparing code.


Cannot open VS project if Blend is used?

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 12:38

1I ran into an issue recently after reinstalling my laptop, where I couldn’t open a C# (WPF) project in Visual Studio 2010. Every time I tried it just grimaced at me and said:

Unable to read the project file 'Rule18.csproj'.

E:\Projects\Rule18\Rule18\Rule18.csproj(335,3): The imported project "C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\Expression\Blend\3.1\WPF\Microsoft.Expression.Blend.WPF.targets" was not found. Confirm that the path in the <Import> declaration is correct, and that the file exists on disk.

Part of the cause is that previously I had Blend installed, and I had used it on this project to do some fairly complex things, in particular Font Embedding. However since reinstalling I had not installed Blend again.

This is caused the build target file not to be installed, and that caused the error.

How do you get around this?

The best solution is to install the FREE Blend SDK because that will put the build targets on the machine. Links for the SDKs:

However I didn’t have time to do this, so as a temporary solution (and definitely not a recommended solution): I opened the project file, and right near the bottom I found the Import for CSharp and Blend. I removed the Blend one, saved and reloaded and worked.


VirtualBox UUID already in use

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Mon, 07/26/2010 - 11:58

I am playing around with using VirtualBox to run virtual machines and I ran into an issue trying to use a clone (copy) of a VDI file. The VDI file is the hard disk drive and it has a unique identifier in it it (UUID) and so trying to use a clone of one gives you the error: UUID of the hard disk is already exist in the media registry.

To solve it you need to run the following command to change the UUID of the file:

VBoxManage.exe internalcommands sethduuid [VDI file]


"c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" internalcommands sethduuid


Announcing new sponsor for Visual Studio and TFS hands on lab event: Devexpress

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 07/23/2010 - 09:50

150x150-URLI’m sure you know that in a week 50 talented and interested people will be getting together for a day of FREE hands on labs focused on Visual Studio 2010 and TFS 2010! If you didn’t know, have a look here.

Today I am very proud to announce we have another sponsor for the event – Devexpress! Devexpress are makers of some FANTASTIC addon’s for Visual Studio and development.

So what are they sponsoring? TWO licenses for their Visual Studio productivity add-on: CodeRush!

These two licenses will be given away as prizes to two lucky people at the event (you must be there to win).