Maarten Balliauw {blog}

ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, Windows Azure, PHP, ...

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Byebye 2009, welcome 2010!

Fireworks!

A year just ended, a new has begun. Congratulations! Happy newyear 2010! And welcome in the next decennium. It’s time for a 2009 wrap-up post. And perhaps, even the time for some things I want to do in 2010. First things first: the top 5 blog posts of 2009.

Top 5 blog posts of 2009

1. More ASP.NET MVC Best Practices – A blog post gathering best practices from different sources and adds some more of my own.

2. Code based ASP.NET MVC GridView (2008: 4th) – This post gives a shot at a gridview for the ASP.NET MVC framework, built using expressions.

3. Code performance analysis in Visual Studio 2008 (2008: 2nd) – Visual Studio developer, did you know you have a great performance analysis (profiling) tool at your fingertips?

4. Building an ASP.NET MVC sitemap provider with security trimming (2008: 5th) – Building an ASP.NET MVC sitemap provider that can be used with standard ASP.NET sitemap controls.

5. ASP.NET load balancing and ASP.NET state server (aspnet_state) (2008: 3rd) – A how-to on load balancing with ASP.NET. Also related to ASP.NET Session State Partitioning and ASP.NET Session State Partitioning using State Server Load Balancing.

I did a similar list last year, and you can see that I actually can stop blogging. 4 posts are in the top 5 again, with one newcomer on the 1st place.

Open-source in 2009

What should I say about this one… I did a lot of that :-) I continued to work on PHPExcel, PHPLinq and PHPPowerPoint, started work (with Microsoft) on the Windows Azure SDK for PHP, released the ASP.NET MVC SiteMap Provider, released TwitterMatic on CodePlex and did some contributions to Zend Framework. Then there’s also my port of MEF to PHP, which I will be releasing somewhere in Q1 2010.

That’s a lot! And I really hope to keep the same pace going in 2010. I’m constructing a house though, which also takes some time… Luckily: no windows yet, so I can consider it open-source as well :-)

Presentations in 2009

Let’s see what we have there… A lot! And I hope to do the same amount (or more) in 2010. TechDays Belgium, TechDays Finland and PHPBenelux conference have been confirmed already, a good start. Anyway: here’s the 2009 list. Note that there’s also some more at various schools in Belgium, and internal sessions for RealDolmen.

Cloud computing and the Windows Azure Services Platform

This session covers the basics of the Windows Azure Services Platform and drills into some architectural challenges. Learn what components the Windows Azure Services Platform is built of and how they can be leveraged in building a scalable and reliable application.

KU Leuven, December 7, 2009

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/maartenba/cloud-computing-and-the-windows-azure-services-platform-ku-leuven

MSDN - Converting an existing ASP.NET application to Windows Azure

Put your stuff in the cloud! Windows Azure allows you to take advantage of cloud computing infranstructure for hosting, computing, and storage of your applications. In this demo filled session we take an existing ASP.Net Application and move it to be hosted in Windows Azure, while taking advantage of Windows Azure storage.

MSDN Live Meeting for MSDN Belgium, November 24, 2009

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/maartenba/msdn-converting-an-existing-aspnet-application-to-windows-azure
Demo code: MSDN - Converting an existing ASP.NET application to Windows Azure.zip (2.01 mb)
Live recording: http://www.microsoft.com/belux/MSDN/fr/chopsticks/default.aspx?id=1491

ASP.NET MVC Wisdom

Building a Twitter clone in 60 minutes, featuring what's new in ASP.NET MVC 2 preview 1 and focusing on some of the core ASP.NET MVC features like security and routing.

Remix Belgium 2009, Brussels, September 29, 2009

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/maartenba/aspnet-mvc-wisdom
Demo code: ASP.NET MVC Wisdom - ReMix.zip (8.91 mb)
Live recording: http://blog.maartenballiauw.be/post/2009/10/23/Recording-of-my-session-at-Remix-2009-ASPNET-MVC.aspx

PHP and Silverlight

So you have an existing PHP application and would like to spice it up with a rich and attractive front-end. Next to Adobe Flex, you can also choose Silverlight as a solution. This session shows you around in Silverlight and shows that PHP and Silverlight can go together easily.

DevDays 2009, The Hague, May 29, 2009  -  May 29, 2009
Dutch PHP Conference, Amsterdam, June 12, 2009  -  June 12, 2009

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/maartenba/php-and-silverlight-devdays-session?type=powerpoint
Demo code: PHP and Silverlight - DevDays.zip (1.00 mb)
Live recording (audio): http://techportal.ibuildings.com/2009/12/21/introduction-to-silverlight-for-php-developers/

PHPPowerPoint – More OpenXML from PHP

Session on the newly released open source project PHPPowerPoint, which enables you to build PPTX files from PHP. This session will provide you a general view of PHPPowerPoint and some architectural insights into the API.

DII Workshop, London, May 18, 2009  -  May 18, 2009

Mocking

This session provides an introduction to mocking and shows how test-driven development and the use of mocking frameworks such as Moq can speed up application development.

VISUG Belgium, May 7, 2009  -  May 7, 2009

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/maartenba/mocking-visug-session?type=powerpoint
Demo code: MockingDemoCode.zip (1.64 mb)

ASP.NET MVC (model-view-controller)

This session provides an introduction to the ASP.NET MVC framework. Starting with a short intro to the model-view-controller pattern and Microsoft's vision on implementing this pattern for ASP.NET, over some of the key differences between ASP.NET Webforms and ASP.NET MVC to doing some more advanced things like scaffolding and action filters.

MSDN Belgium, April 23, 2009  -  April 23, 2009

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/maartenba/msdn-aspnet-mvc?type=powerpoint

Azure User Group Belgium

image Together with Kurt Claeys and Yves Goeleven, we did a first session with the new Azure User Group Belgium. AZUG.BE is a Belgian user group with focus on development and architecture of the Windows Azure Platform. Our goal is to share knowledge and experiences with the .NET community on Windows Azure, .NET Services and SQL Azure.

Expect more activity and sessions in 2010!

I wrote a book!

image That’s correct: I did write a book. My first one, but probably not the last one. Don’t know when and on what, but I’ll probably find the energy to do this effort again. Here’s a quite from my announcement post:

It’s been quite a job, but there it is: Packt just announced my very first book on their site. It is titled “ASP.NET MVC 1.0 Quickly”, covering all aspects ASP.NET MVC offers in a to-the-point manner with hands-on examples. The book walks through the main concepts of the MVC framework to help existing ASP.NET developers to move on to a higher level. It includes clear instructions and lots of code examples. It takes a simple approach, thereby allowing you to work with all facets of web application development. Some keywords: Model-view-controller, ASP.NET MVC architecture and components, unit testing, mocking, AJAX using MS Ajax and jQuery, reference application and resources.

That’s it for the marketing part: let’s do a retrospective on the writing process itself. Oh and yes, those are my glasses on the cover. Photo was taken on the beach near Bray-Dunes (France).

Most valuable professional

image In July 2009, I became an MVP ASP.NET. Let’s see if we can repeat this for 2010 :-)

My focus was still on ASP.NET MVC in 2009, but also more and more on Windows Azure. These two make a great combination, and will be the main topics for my blog in 2010 as well.

Traveling

Some traveling in 2009 as well. I went on a ski vacation and a summer vacation, but next to that I did some traveling for work as well:

If only I knew that these last two would provide me a lot of airmiles… Subscribed at www.milesandmore.com for possible traveling in 2010 :-)

Thank you!

I do take credit for all that I did in 2009, but I would also like to thank my company RealDolmen for providing enough room to do some of this during work hours, as well as for challenging me in this. Really appreciated guys!

Now is also a great moment to thank my family for not whining too much and also giving me the room to do all of this, often taking time out of family life. Thanks for letting me do all this!

Summary and look ahead

It’s been a relaxing year. No, seriously: I’ve been busy, and I expect the same for 2010… Not sure if I can do 79 blog posts again, but I will sure try. And in order to do that, I need some input from you:

  • What topics would you like to see covered?
  • Is there anything you want to learn more about?
  • A great conceptual idea, no time to work on it? Shoot! Maybe I will work on it.
  • Any other feedback for me?

Enjoy 2010! I will.

Hoping they will learn… Usability!

How about ending the year 2009 with a blog post on something annoying I see on the Internet, as well as some others? I’m talking about automatic localization… Please, go ahead and read some tweets by @KvdM and @patrickv. And then, there’s my own annoyance on Windows Mobile Marketplace. The base for al this frustrated year-end whining has to do with the fact that there are assumptions being made about the location of a user, rather than about a user itself…

On every request my browser makes, my preferred language is being sent out. Where I am, that would be “nl-BE” (Dutch, in Belgium). At my customer’s location, that would be “nl-NL” (Dutch, in the Netherlands). If everything works according to plan, both of these should be telling the website that I want to display it in Dutch. However, some websites out there like Twitter, Facebook, … look at the second part, serving me a “Belgian” version of the site in the first case and a “Netherlands” version in the second case. According to Wikipedia, a site that actually does the above trick in the correct fashion, Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. Since history however linked the French language to Belgium, most websites think that the default language for Belgium should be French. While I actually do send out my preferences on every request my browser makes.

No problem, I do speak (a little) French, so I am able to find the language switch on most websites in no time. It would be a bit nicer though if my preference was respected or switched to English if no Dutch version is available. The Internet is mostly English, I’m fine with that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those Flemish nationalists saying French is bad and the Walloon part of Belgium is bad. No, all I’m saying is that some websites are making wrong assumptions, forcing me to add an extra click (switching the language) to some of the sites I’m visiting. Not the ideal situation in an era where usability is something being focused on more and more.

Things do get worse sometimes. In the above situation, there was still a language switch. And then, there’s Windows Mobile Marketplace… The website does recognize I’m “nl-BE” and displays in Dutch. After installing the software on my cell phone and linking my Windows Live ID, it seems that the only market I can download software in is… Belgium – French! No problem, the software listed is the same as the one in the “Belgium – Dutch” market so I can download what I want, and I do speak enough French to find my way around. However: no language switch… Marketplace is something great, but there’s a small usability catch…

Someone pointed out that there’s something available which can switch the language for Marketplace, but it’s an extra tool I have to download and install. Usability? And for the other situation: I have “en-US” (English, USA) registered as the default language my browser sends out:

Default culture settings in Internet Explorer

This does fix a lot of usability frustration, but I think it’s not the way all of this was meant to be. So, when planning a new web application in 2010, do make use of all the information clients provide you. Don’t make assumptions, default to English if you don’t have the requested language available. And while you are thinking: also make use of OpenID or something like that for doing account registration. Small things can make a website much more usable!

That being said: enjoy the last days of 2009, enjoy the time-warp to 2010!

Cloud computing and the Windows Azure Services Platform (KU Leuven)

It was a fun session yesterday at KU Leuven university! I did a session on cloud computing and Windows Azure there for the IEEE Student Branch Leuven.

Abstract: "This session covers the basics of the Windows Azure Services Platform and drills into some architectural challenges. Learn what components the Windows Azure Services Platform is built of and how they can be leveraged in building a scalable and reliable application."

If you want more info about Windows Azure and how to develop, architect or benefit from the platform as a whole, register freely at the Azure User Group Belgium.

Thank you for attending!

Microsoft Web Development Summit 2009

PHP at Microsoft Being in the US for 2 times in a month (PDC09 and Web Development Summit) is fun, tiring and rewarding. The WDS09 was an invite-only event organized by Microsoft, focusing on interaction between Microsoft and the PHP community. I must say: the event has been helpful and interesting for both parties!

  • The Heathman Hotel in Kirkland is a nice hotel!
  • Traveling towards the US is far more productive than flying back: I did PHPMEF traveling westbound, I crashed (half sleep/half awake) on the eastbound flight…
  • If you just traveled over 26 hours: do NOT go shopping immediately when you arrive home! It’s really frustrating and tiring.
  • Did a session on Windows Azure SDK for PHP, PHPExcel and PHPLinq.
  • Did an interview for the Connected Show
  • Met a lot of people I knew from Twitter and e-mail, and met a lot of new people, both Microsoft and PHP community. Nice to meet you all!
  • Event focus was on feedback between Microsoft and PHP community, overall I think the dialogue was respectful and open and helpful to both parties.

Standing at the Microsoft logo

This was actually my first time at the WDS which has been around for 5 years already. The Interop team invited me there, and I want to thank them for doing that: it was a great trip, a great event and I got the chance to meet lots of new people.

Attendees were mostly people from the PHP community, like Cal Evans, Rafael Doms, Chris Cornutt, Romain Bourdon (WAMP server anyone?), Alison “snipe” Gianotto, … Next to that, lots of Microsoft people came by during various sessions. Some of them even reserved the whole week and were attending all sessions to make sure they were in the feedback loop all the time.

We’ve seen Microsoft sessions on IIS, Web Platform Installer, Silverlight, SQL Server, Bing, Powershell (sorry, Scott Hanselman, for disturbing your presentation with a tweet :-)). Interesting sessions with some info I did not know. PHP community sessions were also available: Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, the PHP community perspective, feedback sessions, PHPLinq, PHPExcel, interoperability bridges, … A good mix of content with knowledgeable speakers and good communication between speakers, product groups and audience. Well done!

PHP Managed Extensibility Framework – PHPMEF

image While flying sitting in the airplane to the Microsoft Web Developer Summit in Seattle, I was watching some PDC09 sessions on my laptop. During the MEF session, an idea popped up: there is no MEF for PHP! 3500 kilometers after that moment, PHP got its own MEF…

What is MEF about?

MEF is a .NET library, targeting extensibility of projects. It allows you to declaratively extend your application instead of requiring you to do a lot of plumbing. All this is done with three concepts in mind: export, import and compose. (Glenn, I stole the previous sentence from your blog). “PHPMEF” uses the same concepts in order to provide this extensibility features.

Let’s start with a story… Imagine you are building a Calculator. Yes, shoot me, this is not a sexy sample. Remember I wrote this one a plane with snoring people next to me…The Calculator is built of zero or more ICalculationFunction instances. Think command pattern. Here’s how such an interface can look like:

[code:c#]

interface ICalculationFunction
{
    public function execute($a, $b);
}

[/code]

Nothing special yet. Now let’s implement an instance which does sums:

[code:c#]

class Sum implements ICalculationFunction
{
    public function execute($a, $b)
    {
        return $a + $b;
    }
}

[/code]

Now how would you go about using this in the following Calculator class:

[code:c#]

class Calculator
{
    public $CalculationFunctions;
}

[/code]

Yes, you would do plumbing. Either instantiating the Sum object and adding it into the Calculator constructor, or something similar. Imagine you also have a Division object. And other calculation functions. How would you go about building this in a maintainable and extensible way? Easy: use exports…

Export

Exports are one of the three fundaments of PHPMEF. Basically, you can specify that you want class X to be “ exported”  for extensibility. Let’s export Sum:

[code:c#]

/**
  * @export ICalculationFunction
  */
class Sum implements ICalculationFunction
{
    public function execute($a, $b)
    {
        return $a + $b;
    }
}

[/code]

Sum is exported as Sum by default, but in this case I want PHPMEF to know that it is also exported as ICalculationFunction. Let’s see why this is in the import part…

Import

Import is a concept required for PHPMEF to know where to instantiate specific objects. Here’s an example:

[code:c#]

class Calculator
{
    /**
      * @import ICalculationFunction
      */
    public $SomeFunction;
}

[/code]

In this case, PHPMEF will simply instantiate the first ICalculationFunction instance it can find and assign it to the Calculator::SomeFunction variable. Now think of our first example: we want different calculation functions in our calculator! Here’s how:

[code:c#]

class Calculator
{
    /**
      *  @import-many ICalculationFunction
      */
    public $CalculationFunctions;
}

[/code]

Easy, no? PHPMEF will ensure that all possible ICalculationFunction instances are added to the Calculator::CalculationFunctions array. Now how is all this being plumbed together? It’s not plumbed! It’s composed!

Compose

Composing matches all exports and imports in a specific application path. How? Easy! Use the PartInitializer!

[code:c#]

// Create new Calculator instance
$calculator = new Calculator();

// Satisfy dynamic imports
$partInitializer = new Microsoft_MEF_PartInitializer();
$partInitializer->satisfyImports($calculator);

[/code]

Easy, no? Ask the PartInitializer to satisfy all imports and you are done!

Advanced usage scenarios

The above sample was used to demonstrate what PHPMEF is all about. I’m sure you can imagine more complex scenarios. Here are some other possibilities…

Single instance exports

By default, PHPMEF instantiates a new object every time an import has to be satisfied. However, imagine you want our Sum class to be re-used. You want PHPMEF to assign the same instance over and over again, no matter where and how much it is being imported. Again, no plumbing. Just add a declarative comment:

[code:c#]

/**
  * @export ICalculationFunction
  * @export-metadata singleinstance
  */
class Sum implements ICalculationFunction
{
    public function execute($a, $b)
    {
        return $a + $b;
    }
}

[/code]

Export/import metadata

Imagine you want to work with interfaces like mentioned above, but want to use a specific implementation that has certain metadata defined. Again: easy and no plumbing!

My calculator might look like the following:

[code:c#]

class Calculator
{
    /**
      *  @import-many ICalculationFunction
      */
    public $CalculationFunctions;

    /**
      *  @import ICalculationFunction
      *  @import-metadata CanDoSums
      */
    public $SomethingThatCanDoSums;
}

[/code]

Calculator::SomeThingThatCanDoSums is now constrained: I only want to import something that has the metadata “CanDoSums” attached. Here’s how to create such an export:

[code:c#]

/**
  * @export ICalculationFunction
  * @export-metadata CanDoSums
  */
class Sum implements ICalculationFunction
{
    public function execute($a, $b)
    {
        return $a + $b;
    }
}

[/code]

Here’s an answer to a question you may have: yes, multiple metadata definitions are possible and will be used to determine if an export matches an import.

One small note left: you can also ask the PartInitializer for the metadata defined on a class.

[code:c#]

// Create new Calculator instance
$calculator = new Calculator();

// Satisfy dynamic imports
$partInitializer = new Microsoft_MEF_PartInitializer();
$partInitializer->satisfyImports($calculator);

// Get metadata
$metadata = $partInitializer->getMetadataForClass('Sum');

[/code]

Can I get the source?

No, not yet. For a number of reasons. I first want to make this thing a bit more stable, as well as deciding if all MEF features should be ported. Also, I’m looking for an appropriate name/library to put this in. You may have noticed the Microsoft_* naming, a small hint to the Interop team in incorporating this as another Microsoft library in the PHP world. Yes Vijay, talking to you :-)

Supporting multiple submit buttons on an ASP.NET MVC view

Multiple buttons on an ASP.NET MVC view A while ago, I was asked for advice on how to support multiple submit buttons in an ASP.NET MVC application, preferably without using any JavaScript. The idea was that a form could contain more than one submit button issuing a form post to a different controller action.

The above situation can be solved in many ways, one a bit cleaner than the other. For example, one could post the form back to one action method and determine which method should be called from that action method. Good solution, however: not standardized within a project and just not that maintainable… A better solution in this case was to create an ActionNameSelectorAttribute.

Whenever you decorate an action method in a controller with the ActionNameSelectorAttribute (or a subclass), ASP.NET MVC will use this attribute to determine which action method to call. For example, one of the ASP.NET MVC ActionNameSelectorAttribute subclasses is the ActionNameAttribute. Guess what the action name for the following code snippet will be for ASP.NET MVC:

[code:c#]

public class HomeController : Controller
{
    [ActionName("Index")]
    public ActionResult Abcdefghij()
    {
        return View();
    }
}

[/code]

That’s correct: this action method will be called Index instead of Abcdefghij. What happens at runtime is that ASP.NET MVC checks the ActionNameAttribute and asks if it applies for a specific request. Now let’s see if we can use this behavior for our multiple submit button scenario.

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The view

Since our view should not be aware of the server-side plumbing, we can simply create a view that looks like this.

[code:c#]

<%@ Page Language="C#" Inherits="System.Web.Mvc.ViewPage<MvcMultiButton.Models.Person>" %>

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" >
<head runat="server">
    <title>Create person</title>
    <script src="<%=Url.Content("~/Scripts/MicrosoftAjax.js")%>" type="text/javascript"></script>
    <script src="<%=Url.Content("~/Scripts/MicrosoftMvcAjax.js")%>" type="text/javascript"></script>
</head>
<body>

    <% Html.EnableClientValidation(); %>
    <% using (Html.BeginForm()) {%>

        <fieldset>
            <legend>Create person</legend>
            <p>
                <%= Html.LabelFor(model => model.Name) %>
                <%= Html.TextBoxFor(model => model.Name) %>
                <%= Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Name) %>
            </p>
            <p>
                <%= Html.LabelFor(model => model.Email) %>
                <%= Html.TextBoxFor(model => model.Email) %>
                <%= Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Email) %>
            </p>
            <p>
                <input type="submit" value="Cancel" name="action" />
                <input type="submit" value="Create" name="action" />
            </p>
        </fieldset>

    <% } %>

    <div>
        <%=Html.ActionLink("Back to List", "Index") %>
    </div>

</body>
</html>

[/code]

Note the two submit buttons (namely “Cancel” and “Create”), both named “action” but with a different value attribute.

The controller

Our controller should also not contain too much logic for determining the correct action method to be called. Here’s what I propose:

[code:c#]

public class HomeController : Controller
{
    public ActionResult Index()
    {
        return View(new Person());
    }

    [HttpPost]
    [MultiButton(MatchFormKey="action", MatchFormValue="Cancel")]
    public ActionResult Cancel()
    {
        return Content("Cancel clicked");
    }

    [HttpPost]
    [MultiButton(MatchFormKey = "action", MatchFormValue = "Create")]
    public ActionResult Create(Person person)
    {
        return Content("Create clicked");
    }
}

[/code]

Some things to note:

  • There’s the Index action method which just renders the view described previously.
  • There’s a Cancel action method which will trigger when clicking the Cancel button.
  • There’s a Create action method which will trigger when clicking the Create button.

Now how do these last two work… You may also have noticed the MultiButtonAttribute being applied. We’ll see the implementation in a minute. In short, this is a subclass for the ActionNameSelectorAttribute, triggering on the parameters MatchFormKey and MatchFormValues. Now let’s see how the MultiButtonAttribute class is built…

The MultiButtonAttribute class

Now do be surprised of the amount of code that is coming…

[code:c#]

[AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Method, AllowMultiple = false, Inherited = true)]
public class MultiButtonAttribute : ActionNameSelectorAttribute
{
    public string MatchFormKey { get; set; }
    public string MatchFormValue { get; set; }

    public override bool IsValidName(ControllerContext controllerContext, string actionName, MethodInfo methodInfo)
    {
        return controllerContext.HttpContext.Request[MatchFormKey] != null &&
            controllerContext.HttpContext.Request[MatchFormKey] == MatchFormValue;
    }
}

[/code]

When applying the MultiButtonAttribute to an action method, ASP.NET MVC will come and call the IsValidName method. Next, we just check if the MatchFormKey value is one of the request keys, and the MatchFormValue matches the value in the request. Simple, straightforward and re-usable.

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Book review: Zend Framework 1.8 Web Application Development

Zend Framework 1.8 Web Application Development My book shelf is starting to look a lot like the warehouse of Packt Publishing: I’ve received yet another book from them. Different from all previous reviews I did: this one is a PHP book, titled “Zend Framework 1.8 Web Application Development” by Keith Pope.

A chapter overview:

  • Chapter 1: Creating a Basic MVC Application
  • Chapter 2: The Zend Framework MVC Architecture
  • Chapter 3: Storefront Basic Setup
  • Chapter 4: Storefront Models (great chapter!)
  • Chapter 5: Implementing the Catalog
  • Chapter 6: Implementing User Accounts
  • Chapter 7: The Shopping Cart
  • Chapter 8: Authentication and Authorization
  • Chapter 9: The Administration Area
  • Chapter 10: Storefront Roundup
  • Chapter 11: Storefront Optimization
  • Chapter 12: Testing the Storefront

Let’s also state the obvious: Zend Framework evolves much faster than publishers. The framework is now at 1.9.6, while the book covers 1.8.0. Do not let this stop you from reading this book! Let me explain why…

  1. The book covers all concepts and components in the Zend Framework in a full-blown application that is built up from scratch.
  2. Next to that, Keith Pope focuses a lot on the application design, using interfaces, unit testing, mocking, dependency injection, … Want to learn a lot about good application design? Then this is the number one reason to read this book!

These 2 points actually summarize the whole book. Great read, great content and a must-read for everyone who is not completely sure about his application design skills. Congratulations, Keith!

MSDN - Converting an existing ASP.NET application to Windows Azure

Back from PDC 2009 with a lot of information on Windows Azure, I did an MSDN Live Meeting on ASP.NET and Windows Azure today. Here's the slide deck and demo code.

Abstract: "Put your stuff in the cloud! Windows Azure allows you to take advantage of cloud computing infranstructure for hosting, computing, and storage of your applications. In this demo filled session we take an existing ASP.Net Application and move it to be hosted in Windows Azure, while taking advantage of Windows Azure storage."

Example code can be downloaded here: MSDN - Converting an existing ASP.NET application to Windows Azure.zip (2.01 mb)

If you want more info about Windows Azure and how to develop, architect or benefit from the platform as a whole, register freely at the Azure User Group Belgium.

Before you get started, you need to have a Windows Azure token. Request a token by completing the application here. Tokens are generally issued within a few hours. Once you have received your token, redeem it at http://windows.azure.com. Afterwards, you can deploy your application using the interface at http://windows.azure.com or by issuing a right-click -> Publish... in your Visual Studio solution.

Windos Azure Developer Portal

Thank you for attending!

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Microsoft PDC09 day 2 keynote highlights

Happiness, pure happiness!

Day 2 keynote at Microsoft PDC 2009 was quite exciting. To sum things up: Silverlight 4 went beta, IE9 features were previewed, and we got an external hard disk, nicely fitted in a tablet-pc format case. How thoughtful!

Here’s some of the novelties:

Silverlight 4 Beta

This was a good starter… It’s really incredibly feature packed! In my opinion, I think WCF can now be called obsolete as well, but no announcements on that :-) Anyway, here’s a list of new features: webcam access, multicast streaming, offline DRM and output protection, printing, clipboard support, out-of-browser and out-of-sandbox support, drag and drop, implicit styling, a HTML control, rich-text editing, breathe, ability to share assemblies with .NET 4, data binding improvements, udp multicast, REST enhancements, TCP channel support, …

Also check Tim Heuer’s blog post over at http://timheuer.com/blog/archive/2009/11/18/whats-new-in-silverlight-4-complete-guide-new-features.aspx.

IE9

Yes, IE9 was announced. Running JavaScript lots faster, passing more of the ACID3 test (still not all), and the coolest part: Direct3D rendering of all graphic content. This was demoed and approved by the audience: everything is so muh faster and smoother!

WCF RIA Services

Check out Brad Abrams’ blog for this: http://blogs.msdn.com/brada/archive/2009/11/18/welcome-to-wcf-ria-services-beta.aspx

Basically a rename of RIA services, and converted to run on top of WCF rather than an own transport layer implementation in previous versions.

Overall: a great PDC09 day two!

Microsoft PDC09 keynote highlights

Finally found some time to write a short blog post on the announcements this morning at PDC 2009.Microsoft PDC keynote highlights Ray Ozzie started the keynote this morning, focusing on Microsoft’s “three-screen” vision for the future. There will be three screens connected to the cloud: TV, (handheld) devices and of course good old PC. This vision is driven by some key players: Windows 7, Internet Explorer, Silverlight and Windows Azure. Make sure to have a look at these four if you want to play in this future.

Some announcements were made as well:

Had a great day yesterday, driving trough the city of Los Angeles and looking at various places in town. Conference day one was also very interesting, lots of good sessions. Currently missing a session slot though, waiting for a Channel9 interview on the Windows Azure SDK for PHP. Stay tuned!