Sep 29, 2006

Live Writer Updated

The Live Writer beta has been updated (yay!).

It now supports the blogger beta, so I guess I'll go download it now and see what the other changes are like.

Many thanks go to the writer team for listening to the community :-)


Update: Blogger changed their own beta and caused the Live Writer connect to fail.  There's a post at to explain how to fix this problem.

(P.S. The update was written in Live Writer to prove it all works now).

Sep 28, 2006

Guidance Explorer

The Microsoft patterns and practices team has just released a Guidance Explorer. This is an easy way to find and lookup all the various how to's, samples and other goodies that come out of p&p.

Best of all though, you can add our own stuff to it (though I'm not quite sure how yet).

There's an online beta (doesn't work in firefox, and it's a bit crappy in IE) and a downloadable copy.

The download is available from gotdotnet, and installation is just a matter of unzipping into a folder and then creating a shortcut to the .exe.

Sep 26, 2006

Wiki uses

The internal dev wiki I installed yesterday is starting to take shape. I started by putting a few different documents there and seeing how things go. The team also has full access to the wiki so they can put up whatever they like as well.

One of the cool things about MoinMoin is it's inbuilt diff tool. It makes it really useful for managing use cases as the diff tool helps in seeing what changes have been made. This helps developers understand what's changed and in turn help them focus their efforts more quickly in their code.

ASP.NET component frameworks

The team have been working up some new interfaces for our ASP.NET application over the past few weeks.

When given a buy vs build choice I'll typically opt for the buy option - it's so much faster to get something written, and it (theoretically) lets the team focus on delivery of business logic rather than interface trickery, the cost is far less than trying to do the same thing yourself, and we don't have to maintain the controls ourselves.

So earlier on in the piece I'd done some research to check out the various component vendors and the ASP.NET control collections we could take advantage of. I looked at quite a few but found that the actual choice is rather limited. My personal favourite was the ComponentArt controls, but the Telerik controls looked OK, and then of course we could use things from Atlas, ASPXLab and Dundas if we needed to.

The team started working with the ComponentArt controls, but within a week had dumped them. They're rubbish when you try to use them with an object datasource instead of a dataset data source. Paging in grids didn't work, they had various browser compatability problems, the documentation was either too sparse or misleading and in the end the frustration was too much for the team.

They switched to the Telerik r.a.d. controls, and within a day had the UI converted and working. Working with the object datasources, working with multiple browsers (including Camino on the Mac, and to a lesser extent Safari) and have since progressed really well.

While there are still the occasional quirks with the Telerik controls, the team are more than happy with them and the the UI is starting to look really good now.

As a note, the ASPXLab controls are pretty poor, and the Atlas stuff the team want to stay away from until it hits it's 1.0 release later this year, which is fair enough.

Sep 25, 2006

Moin Moin Wiki

I've been looking around for a decent wiki that I can use in the development area and while there are thousands and millions of half baked ideas, I haven't found anything as simple as Moin Moin.

Sure it was a bit crappy to install in IIS/W2K3, but most open source is. On the plus side (and this is what I like) it's got a WYSIWYG editor so people don't have to learn stupid wiki code to write half decent pages. The editing of pages has got to be the biggest turn off for a novice user - the idea of having to learn how many quotes to use to make something bold or italicised is nuts. Who wants to go through yet another learning curve just to put in some formatted text!

The whole wiki was up and running in about 15 minutes. Now it's time to put in some content...

Sep 19, 2006

Visual Studio Fonts and Colours

Is Your IDE Hot or Not? Coding Horror has a nice little blog post that's sure to kill more than a few hours of productivity this week. Read it at your peril :-)

Sep 16, 2006

The Wii on the way

Yay! Nintendo has provided a release date for the Wii. December 7! And that's the Aussie release date - not far behind the US on Nov 19 or Japan on Dec 2 and well ahead of the PS3 launch in March sometime.

Price wise, it comes in at A$400 which is a damn sight cheaper than the XBox 360 at $650. And that price includes Wii Sports - 5 games that make use of the one-hand controller (a nunchuk controller is included as well). Release titles include the new Zelda game, Metroid Prime 3 and Brain Academy - a Wii version of the DS Brain Training game

The Wii also has "channels" for non-gaming activities such as photo browsing and web surfing.

I know what I want for Christmas - time to start saving some clams!!

Update: Here's a TV news article about the release - the bowling demo is pretty cool :-)

Sep 12, 2006

"Atlas" 1.0 Naming and Roadmap

Scott Guthrie has announced that Atlas is going to be a fully supported product from Microsoft before the end of the year. Best of all it will be supported on ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005

"Atlas" 1.0 Naming and Roadmap

Sep 11, 2006

Unsolicited updates from the live writer team

Very impressive! I posted recently about how you can't use live writer with the blogger beta. Well I got a comment from one of the team indicating it won't be long till they get it all sorted out.

I'm surprised and impressed because it means people in the live writer team not only have time to read up on what others are saying about their product but also care enough to update people. I can only say really well done! They're setting a great example on how to support and help people in the community without requiring a support contract, inanely telling people to read the FAQ or trying to extract personal information so that they can on-sell it to mass-marketers. If only some of the other players in the industry would take notice!

Sep 8, 2006

Blogger beta thoughts

Now that I've had a bit of time to play with the blogger beta I've got to say that the new features are quite cool.

A few days ago the blogger team made some changes to allow editing of the html behind the new templates. This meant I could change to the new template but keep pretty much the same layouts as what I had with the old templates, including all the little add-ons like the librarything books and the tags.

It's really nice to be able to customise the new templates, add to and change the order of sidebar elements, etc. It's also nice to be able to tag posts without having to resort to the various workarounds that have been published on the net.

I'm looking forward to see what else they add in the beta. Good work blogger.

Oh, by the way, Windows Live Writer doesn't work with the beta so I'm back to writing entries via the interface. Such is life - I'm sure it won't be long before that's sorted out.

The Wii is coming

Ninentdo's Wii is a lot closer to reality now that IBM have reportedly started shipping the chips for the box. I just hope they release the thing worldwide and not just in Japan and the U.S.