Sunday, 21 October 2007

Bizarre Keyword Search

I run google analytics on my blog to keep an eye on what content is interesting folks.

Today, the most bizarre search came through to my blog.

Somebody from Google (Mountain View), was searching for "free pizza cambridge uk". They got to my blog due to the fact that I advertise the Cambridge region of NxtGenUG (which I help coordinate).

I find it bizarre that whoever this person is who is visiting Cambridge, feels a major priority is getting Pizza and not paying for it. Don't you love our industry :)

Well Mr Google Person, you are very welcome to come along to one of our sessions, and get your free pizza.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

F# to become a part of Visual Studio

This is a superb announcement that F# is to become productionized and be given the same status as C#, VB etc.

Congratulations to both Don and James on this achievement.

Anyone who attends NxtGenUG Cambridge (which I help run), will have probably guessed that this announcement was coming. We had a great session from Don on F# on our launch event of the new user group. Don gave some very big hints that something was going to happen (and most of us had already guessed this might be it).

So a big congrats from everyone at NxtGenUG, and I hope that we can have you back across doing another session (this time much longer) on F#.

F# really is a very cool language (and Don has a great book on it). I hope at some point to clear some time and write some F#

Thursday, 18 October 2007

ASP.NET rebuilding inapproriately

I have been aware of this awhile now, but it has only annoyed me enough today to blog about it.

If you are using Orcas Beta 2, ASP.NET Web Application Projects, if you modify the aspx file (not the code behind), it seems to be forcing recompile of the whole app. Aaaaargh.

I may have got some funny setting go on, but it is annoying

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

My speaking schedule

Unfortunately at the moment, I have been not well for the past few weeks. This has meant I haven't done much Silverlight etc. I have just increased my speaking schedule for the next few months, so I have a few more days to get better and then i need to get on with the preparation.

End of October: Automatic Properties nugget at NxtGenUG in Birmingham
Mid November: Nugget at NxtGenUG in Coventry
End of November: (hopefully a session at DDD, will find out this weekend if any of my proposed sessions are accepted.
December: Silverlight Christmas session (double act with Richard Costall) at NxtGenUG Coventry and Cambridge
January: Silverlight Session (not the same as the december one) at NxtGenUG Southampton.

I have made myself tired just looking at my schedule. Anyways I have a few days left to relax and recover.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Visual Studio 2008 - Go Online

Today, our TFS server was offline for a few hours.

VS2005 is normally a pain and requires me to track what changes i have made, and then prat around for around half an hour trying to get my changes checked in.

VS2008 is a dream, just click the "Go Online" button, and off it goes and works out which files you have changed.

I think this might be one of the best new features of Visual Studio 2008

Silverlight Controls rant

I just responded to a question on Silverlighters, and i figured i should publish my answer here too (it related to Silverlight controls).

The control providers are not really providing a useful set of controls at the moment. If you do use their controls you are likely to be locked into their technology (and unfortunately provided styles).

The main reason for this is that Silverlight at the moment doesn't include the standard set of controls that you would expect to build applications (Textbox etc), and get with WPF. The reason they haven't really provided these controls is that the plumbing for layout management (StackPanel, Grids etc) Databinding and Control Templating haven't been done. These features really need to be in place before MS will provide these standard controls. I believe that we will start to see a bunch of controls at the end of this year (based on what Scott Guthrie said at Mix UK), therefore I don't think you have to wait too long.

There are lots of things to get to grips with in Silverlight and if you are just playing, I would look at these fundamentals first ( as a great set of quickstarts). If you are really needing to get on with building applications and wish to use the standard controls in the future, I would consider Dave Relyea's controls (, as they should have a smaller migration path when the standard controls are released).

If you don't care and just want some controls and start developing: have a good set of free controls (same sort of controls as you get with WinForms), i believe they use the trick of interacting with HtmlControls (which is the current recommended practise for Textboxes etc). also have some pretty controls

I would ignore Telerik (for just now) as they don't seem to offer much beyond what you get already in Silverlight.

Friday, 12 October 2007

DDD Voting Begins

DDD voting has now opened.

I have submitted a some sessions on Silverlight. If you are interested in Silverlight and will be at DDD, feel free to put some my votes my way.

There are loads of great sessions posted by some great folks, so the day will be a blast I'm sure.

Silverlight Mix Sample hits Silverlight.Net Galley

I just noticed this in Google Analytics, but my Mix UK event schedule Silverlight sample is now on the the community gallery

Another nugget in Birmingham

I am back at NxtGenUG in Birmingham at the end of this month to do the first of a series of nuggets.

I am very pleased to be back as I really enjoyed the nugget i did there last month. And its nice to get to know the folks of Birmingham (my third month in a row in Birmingham).

This month I will be covering Automatic Properties, and will be digging down deep into what is going on behind the scenes at an IL level (scary I know but it is halloween).

Click here for further details of the event

Bug: Attaching to Debugger with development web server

I know i use a strange method of debugging but nonetheless it has always worked in Visual Studio 2005.

I start the development server via the command line and then attach to the debugger whilst working in

This has always worked in Visual Studio 2005, but doesn't seem to work in Visual Studio 2008. I thought it might be something I have done on my machine (hence why i haven't blogged about it before), however Allister ran into the same issue yesterday.

I am not ruling out the fact that it might be something wrong with the solution or project files (haven't tried this against different projects), however it is a little annoying.

This has meant that i have been back to using the play button (i could instead use IIS and attach that way, but i don't want too).

Hopefully this will be fixed for the RTM.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

NxtGenUG Cambridge October 23rd - XSLT 'Extreme'

This is a reminder about the October Cambridge NxtGenUG Meeting which will be held on 23rd October 2007 at St John's Innovation Centre.

"Watch out, Dave and Rich are in town, and Dave's got his XSLT hat on again, this time with knobs on! Yes its an evening with the NxtGenUG co-founders as Rich talks to his Vista in his award winning Nugget. Dave will be running through his XSLT 'Extreme' session which he will be giving at TechEd in November. Pizza and swag will abound as ever, don't miss it!

Due to building works at Microsoft, we are at our alternative venue at St Johns Innovation Center (thanks to our superb corporate partners for sorting this out). Don't worry we have also upped the Pizza order :)

Anybody is welcome to attend the meeting whether they are a NxtGenUG member or not. Just go to the NxtGenUG site at , register for FREE and book your place! We start sharp at 07.00pm and end at 09.00pm.

Main Session: Dave McMahon XSLT 'Extreme'
Is eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) the greatest language in the world as Dave claims? Well, no matter what you think, Dave think's so. In this session Dave takes a deep dive into some of the more obscure aspects of programming with XSLT in the .NET Framework. We'll look at a few of the not so common syntax, examine some of the advanced options available in .NET for working with XSLT. We'll look at differing forms of output including HTML, XHTML, XML, CSV, Word and XAML that XSLT can generate easily and also at how with a little magic, XSLT cam transform non-XML based data into other non-XML based data!

Nugget: Richard Costall Vista Speech - the Nugget
Richard Costall shows us the demo that went down a storm at DDD. Vista speech starring the Costall Stunt double. But just how good is Vista Speech? Find out in this 10 minute demo which will make you go - WOW!

To register for this event an for a map and directions visit

Thanks, and look forward to seeing you in Cambridge on Tuesday 23rd October

Chris and Allister

Sunday, 7 October 2007


I was at SQLBits in reading yesterday.

I had a superb time and enjoyed the sessions very much.

The best session by far was "Dave's top 10 sql keywords" from Dave McMahon of NxtGenUG Apart from his wig and sunglasses, I was most impressed with SET LANGUAGE 'British' for solving Datetime conversion errors when working with the uk date format (the hacky way).

The second best session was by Simon Sabin and his SQL Server Myths. His session was very deep, and I have gained a much better insight into SQL Server from it.

The 3rd best session was the transactiony one, and my favourite snippet from that one, is SET IMPLICIT_TRANSACTIONS ON. This allows you to modify data within a transaction, so if you knacker up a where clause you can easily rollback.

I had a great day, and it was a superb event, and i will definately go to the next one.

I only have one real complaint for the speakers. When demonstrating code, set your font to Lucida Console, with the size being around 14. It makes a big difference to the audience.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Replication in SQL 2005

In our project (in my day job), we have just implemented the first version of replication.

This is a pretty tough challenge as we are taking replication beyond mere reporting. We have a very large system, with millions of transactions per day. We also have multiple applications connected to the system.

This has meant to distribute load, we are using a subscriber database for non time latency critical tasks, and the publisher for the real time aspects. So we have this interleaving between the publisher and the subscriber based on the application at that point in time.

Although we are following a publisher-subscriber model, we will certainly be looking to use multiple publishers in the future.

To be honest this is pretty exciting stuff, and we are really pushing the boundaries of how you use replication and the performance benefits for us are incredible.

It does lead me to believe that replication is an underused feature in performance systems, and i can see as time goes by, even more use of it.

DDD Sessions

I've just submitted my third session for DDD.

The first 2 sessions of Silverlight are all about the grand tour of Silverlight, and getting to grips with Silverlight.

The third session, I guess is the next level. Its really for those people who have seen Silverlight Sessions before and want to go that little bit deeper and start building applications.

On the first 2 sessions, I want to be clear although they are about learning Silverlight, I will not rehash sessions you have seen before, I will try and bring an original spin, fresh samples, fresh demo's. So hopefully if you have seen Introduction to Silverlight Sessions before, you will get something new from this. If I don't manage to achieve this, then I am truly sorry.

One of the frustrating things about DDD is that we won't find out for 2 weeks which session (if any has been successful). Which then leaves 4 weeks to prepare, where if I start preparing now, I have 6 weeks. However that preparation might be wasted if not voted in.

Therefore I am going to take the opinion, that I have a session on Silverlight in Southampton in January, so if I start the preparations for that, it should fit together with everything else.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Trunc with Replication and reseeding indexes

Thanks to Allister for this one.

With replication in SQL Server 2005 you cannot trunc a database table.

Therefore you have to delete the contents of the table and reseed the index.


The reseed command is useful for those tables where you need to reseed in 2 way replication (because you have been a naughty boy and have not used guids).

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Application of multiple CSS Tags & Inheritence

Following my back2basics thing at the moment.

CSS does not support inheritence of tags, however it does support the application of multiple tags.

Therefore the following allows you to apply 2 styles to one label.

<asp:gridview id="myGrid" autogeneratecolumns="true" cssclass="GridStyle1 GridStyle2" runat="server"></asp:gridview>

Interestingly enough i was interested in the order of preference (for style clashes). Using Visual Studio 2008 and its CSS properties functionality, i discovered that the order of preference comes from the order of the tags in the CSS file (first style found takes precedence).

Therefore be careful about how you order your styles in CSS.

Back to Basics

At the moment, I am doing the whole back to basics thing in .NET.

I think I have learned many things in my many years of .NET, but I have also forgotten many things, or missed many things.

I think I am going to go back to basics and revisit many of the things I have learned with the hope of gaining stronger knowledge.

I will dump this sort of stuff in my blog for just now, but i think in the future I will sort out my website (in order to gain some structure for this).