December 2008 - Posts

January's Toolbox Column Now Online
29 December 08 08:51 AM | Scott Mitchell

My Toolbox column in the January 2009 issue of MSDN Magazine is available online. The January issue examines:

  • Script# - Script# is a utility created by Nikhil Kothari that translates C# code into JavaScript code, allowing you to create ASP.NET AJAX components and behaviors and Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets writing using a strongly-typed language (C#) with compile-time error checking, familiar OOP syntax and semantics, and better design-time tool support.
  • Blogs of Note - Eric Lippert. Eric is a Senior Software Design Engineer at Microsoft. His blog offers some of the best in-depth looks at features in C#. He's also a very witty and talented writer, and has a knack for describing and illuminating complex topics in an interesting and lighthearted manner. For example, check out this blog entry, which looks at why getting a 'simple' change in one of Microsoft's products is not as easy as one might naively expect: How many Microsoft employees does it take to change a lightbulb?
  • IntelliSpell - IntelliSpell is a Visual Studio Add-In that checks the spelling of your comments, strings, and markup. It's a stand-alone spell checker (you don't need Microsoft Word installed on your computer, for instance), and offers a host of features like as you type spell checking, custom dictionaries, and foreign language dictionaries for spell checking multi-lingual projects.

This issue's Bookshelf section reviewed Pro T-SQL 2008 Programmer's Guide, by Michael Coles. An excerpt follows:

I recently finished the book Pro T-SQL 2008 Programmer's Guide (Apress) by Michael Coles, which provides a thorough review of the T-SQL syntax and language features. The book begins with a look at the new features in T-SQL 2008, such as the MERGE statement and new data types. The author then moves on to the core T-SQL constructs—user-defined functions; stored procedures; triggers; XML, XQuery, and XPath support. He then continues with coverage on encryption, common table expressions and windowing functions, SQL CLR programming, and error handling, among others. Each of these topics is given its own chapter with in-depth discussion and examples. And each chapter concludes with a series of exercises whose answers are provided in the appendix.

Enjoy! - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd315418.aspx

As always, if you have any suggestions for products, blogs, or books to review for the Toolbox column, please send them to toolsmm@microsoft.com.

Four Helpful Custom Base Page Features
18 December 08 02:23 PM | Scott Mitchell

One of the first things I do when creating a new ASP.NET web application is create a custom base page class and add a handful of useful methods I've used in other projects. My latest article on DotNetSlackers.com shares four helpful features that you can add to your base page class:

  • Display a JavaScript Alert
  • Recursively Search the Control Hierarchy
  • Record Page Execution Times
  • Set the Page's Title

Read more at: Four Helpful Features to Add to Your Base Page Class.

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What Would You Be Doing If Computers Didn't Exist?
04 December 08 01:45 PM | Scott Mitchell

Over Thanksgiving weekend Fredrik Normen asked an interesting hypothetical question: What would you be doing today if computers didn't exist?

I've been programming since age 10 when my family procured its first personal computer and my dad showed me how to use GW-BASIC and your imagination to make computer games. So it's hard to imagine a life without computers. (Heck, it hard to imagine life without the Internet, yet close to half of my computing lifetime was spend disconnected. I guess I have a poor imagination.)

If computers didn't exist I would probably be employed in one of three fields:

  • The sciences - in high school I had an interest in biology and physics and, for a brief time, actually considered majoring in Biology at University before deciding that computer science would be a more interesting and enjoyable path. If computers had never existed I could see myself going down this path, perhaps being an 'in the field' biologist or, if the math didn't kill me, a physicist.
  • Education - I've always enjoyed teaching and tutored younger kids in science and math during high school to earn some spending money. I doubt I'd have the patience or fortitude to be a full-time public teacher, but teaching in a higher education facility or personal tutoring could be something I'd do for a living.
  • Writing - I started writing stories (longhand) when I was in elementary school, and didn't stop writing fiction until college. If computers didn't exist perhaps I'd be a technical writer, writing the instruction manual for abacuses and slide rules.

What would you be doing today if computers didn't exist?

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December's Toolbox Column Now Online
02 December 08 03:59 PM | Scott Mitchell

My Toolbox column in the December 2008 issue of MSDN Magazine is avaiable online. The December issue examines:

  • Improving Software Quality with Static Code Analysis Tools, in which three tools are examined:
    • FxCop - a free tool from Microsoft that examines compiled assemblies for conformance to Microsoft's official Design Guidelines for Developing Class Libraries. This includes checks for naming, type design, exceptions, and so forth.
    • StyleCop - another free tool from Microsoft. StyleCop examines the C# source code (rather than a compiled assembly) and reports any violations against a defined coding style. For example, StyleCop will warn you if you indent loops using spaces instead of tabs (if you have it configured as such), or if you omit white space from both sides of operators like == and !=.
    • CodeIt.Right - a third-party tool that integrates within Visual Studio and provides similar conformace tests as FxCop and StyleCop. Some of the advantages of CodeIt.Right over FxCop and StyleCop include a much easier mechanism for creating and defining custom rules and the ability to refactor violating code into conforming code with the click of the mouse.
  • Blogs of Note - Matt Berseth. Matt's blog is an excellent resource for ASP.NET and AJAX development, and includes a level of detail and professionalism not found in most blogs. Most of Matt's entries show how to do some cool task with ASP.NET and AJAX. There are a plethora of screen shots in virtually every blog entry, along with downloadable source code and online demos.

There was no book review in this issue.

Enjoy! - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd263071.aspx

As always, if you have any suggestions for products, blogs, or books to review for the Toolbox column, please send them to toolsmm@microsoft.com.

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