Scott Hanselman

New ASP.NET website launched

December 2, '11 Comments [39] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Microsoft | MSDN
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A few weeks ago we introduced a beta of a freshly designed http://asp.net website. Today we launched it. Jon, myself, and the team that manages the site took lots of your feedback (lots from the comments of the Beta Blog Post) and did our best to incorporate as much as we could. This is just the start, and we've got lots of plans for the future including responsive design, more text content, localization, more HTML 5, HD Video, closed captioning and lots more.

It is a big site with thousands and thousands of pages. However, a lot of those pages were hard to find. We're continuing to try to get folks what they need in fewer clicks.

There's new content for people getting started, including "choosing a technology" videos, the Big Green Button remains with a new download video as well as quick download links for the stuff you're always searching for.

Each top level page (Web Pages, Web Forms, MVC) has a 5 minute app building video and lots more getting stated content. You asked for more text tutorials and we heard you. In-depth tutorials on deployment, working with the Entity Framework, suggested open source projects to check out for each, books, samples, and more. And, you can always find out about the next version of ASP.NET at http://asp.net/vnext.

The new ASP.NET Navigation

The home page header is smaller, per your feedback, making room for more Daily Community Spotlight content as well as pinned announcements. There's a cleaned up Community page with easy to access RSS feeds, a quick navigator and lots more fresh community content packed onto the page. Tutorials are more organized like a living book now and are easier to follow. Tutorials can now appear as multi-part tutorials with better navigation. Forums got a nice facelift, as did the Wiki, and Weblogs. Each technology also includes a great free video course from Pluralsight. Feedback is always appreciated.

Example Nerddinner Tutorial with Multi-part article navigation at right

Videos are larger, video downloads are simpler and links with table of contents are everywhere. All those videos you never could find actually do exist.

New video page includes more information and makes better use of space

The site is still powered by the Open Source CMS Umbraco and we're very happy with it. Jon Galloway worked tirelessly on this new site launch along with TerriM, ScottHu, SridharM, Samir and lots of other folks smarter than I. Jon digs into the new layout and "information architecture" over on his blog so check that out for more details on our thinking.

yslow on aspnetAlso as a part of this process we've gotten the http://facebook.com/aspnet and http://twitter.com/aspnet accounts up and firing on all cylinders. Join us on your favorite social network or subscribe in your favorite reader and we''ll make sure all the fresh Jon Galloway-curated spotlight content is delivered to you as we get it.

I'm also pretty proud of how we're doing in YSlow. The perf on the site is great. The home page is under 100 lines of HTML5, the markup is clean, and we're aiming for similar results in other parts of the site. Soon we'll make the ASP.NET site's personal CDN cookieless and have straight "A's" on YSlow, which is no small feat.

We realize that the #1 piece of feedback from you all is that you don't like the ads. At this point, that's out of my hands, but I'm working with the team on providing less distracting and more reasonably designed ads. Most of the ads are for hosting or controls, and the vendors that get ads are happy with being on the site. We're also working with the bosses on how to ensure that the site is funded appropriately. You don't have to tell me...I get it. Feel free to vote on the ASP.NET User Voice site.

It's never finished, but it's getting there. We're really happy with the improved performance, better navigation, fresher and more relevant content. We've got more in store, so stay tuned.

Hope you like it.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Visual Studio Explosion! - VS2010 SP1 *BETA* Released and Context

December 10, '10 Comments [33] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Bugs | IIS | Microsoft | MSDN | VB | VS2010
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Link to VS2010 Wallpapers Site It's a holiday miracle! OK, maybe not a miracle, but folks have been working hard on Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1. The BETA was released today. See how BETA is in RED? That's because it's a beta.

Funny thing about beta service packs. They are Service Packs so there are lots of good bug fixes. But it's beta, which means we, Dear Reader, are not sure if they've missed some.

It's beta software, so be careful. Back things up, maybe take a disk image.

There is a go-live license, which means you can use this software today and use it in production. Upgrading from SP1 Beta to SP1 "final" will be one step.

If you hate betas, feel overwhelmed, don't like being on the cutting edge and don't want obscure details, stop reading now and go here.

Download Links:

Here's the curent Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Beta README file.

Beta Caveats (That's a fancy word for "Warning")

Be aware that Microsoft is in the middle of a lot of Beta Releases. It's your choice to play now or wait.

First, MOST of this beta stuff works together just fine. You may have seen my PDC talk where I used all of this together to build an application.

For example, all this works together today:

  • VS 2010 SP1 Beta
  • ASP.NET MVC 3 RC2 (releasing VERY VERY SOON - install it over the top to maintain Razor IntelliSense)
  • Razor Tooling
  • SQL Compact Edition 4 Beta
  • Entity Framework 4 Code First (CTP5)

There may be some bugs, so If you need things to not break at all, then just wait a month or two for all this Beta to calm down. For example, the new "Async CTP" isn't compatible with the web tooling.

Some folks have asked, "When will the beta releases be over and I can start working with final code?"

ASP.NET MVC 3, WebMatrix, IIS Express, SQL Compact Edition 4 and more will all be released in mid-January. Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1 will finalize a few months later. Use VS2010 today and come spring you'll have some new improvements that will build on VS2010 and make coding more enjoyable. They'll all work together.

That said, if you have a little patience, I encourage you to check out Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Beta. There's LOTS of great fixes, updated features and new tooling. Here's a sense of what's updated. We'll get a more complete (meaning "official") list nearer to release. This list isn't complete. I'm working on getting a complete list.

What's in Visual Studio 2010 SP1 BETA

In addition to fixes for bugs and things reported via Microsoft Connect, there's also these updates to Visual Studio 2010.

Web Bug Fixes

Just over 100 bug fixes related to web development, including fixes for JavaScript/CSS/HTML editors, crash bugs, design view bugs, and Visual Web Developer bugs.

HTML5 Schema Support

We’ve added *initial* support for HTML5 to the HTML editor so you can get IntelliSense and validation for HTML5 elements and attributes (choose HTML or XHTML5 from the schema drop-down). Includes support for popular new elements, e.g. video, audio, section, header, etc., and data-* attributes. The implementation is not complete and we are continuing to work on providing a great HTML5 experience for a future version of Visual Studio. There are *no* IntelliSense updates for HTML5 JavaScript APIs, e.g. Canvas, Cross-document Messaging, DOM Storage, etc.

IIS Express Support

Support for IIS Express as a local hosting option for Web Sites and Web Application Projects, including the option to set it as the default for new projects. No need to be an administrator to use IIS Express, including creating new sites from within Visual Studio. IIS Express supports:

  • SSL
  • Classic & Integrated pipeline modes
  • Basic & Windows authentication
  • Edit & Continue in debug
  • Creating new virtual directories when using IIS or IIS Express in Web Sites

Here's IIS Express appearing in a dialog choosing where a new Web Application should be:

IIS Express

Project Properties has been updated. Note the choices for IIS Express, Visual Studio Development Server, etc.

IIS Express

Here we're able to add a New Virtual Directory from within Visual Studio.

clip_image006

Note, SP1 does *not* include IIS Express, you need to download and install it separately. IIS 7.5 Express Beta 3 can be installed using Web PI 3.0 via the UX or directly via this direct link. Note that you don't need WebMatrix to get IIS Express now (win!).

IIS Express Beta 3

SQL Compact Edition 4 Tooling

I've blogged about EF Code First ("Entity Framework Magic Unicorn") before, which released a CTP5 today. I've also talked about SQL Compact Edition 4, a tiny xcopyable file based SQL Server. I showed them all working together in my PDC talk PDC10: Building a Blog with Microsoft "Unnamed Package of Web Love"

In that talk, I was able to open SQL Compact Edition 4 database files directly in Visual Studio. Internally we call that "SQL Compact Edition Tooling." Microsoft folks often refer to the Runtime and the Tooling separately.

Here's the SQL Compact Edition 4 Tools for VS2010 SP1 Beta that I used in my PDC talk. Additionally Web Deploy v2 is coming, and will allow you to easily migrate SQL Compact 4 to SQL Server directly when you outgrow the former. You can install both of them directly from the Web Platform Installer 3.0.

Go here to install Web PI 3, shut it down, then run it again from the Start Menu and select the things you want.

Additional Good Stuff

  • Silverlight 4 Tools for Visual Studio 2010 plus RIA Services is now included in the box along with Silverlight 3 support.
  • Unit Testing on .NET 3.5 – Today all unit tests are run under .NET 4. While acceptable for most users because of the compatibility done in .NET 4, this caused problems for some of you with .NET 3.5-specific dependencies.
  • IntelliTrace F5 for 64 bit and SharePoint projects – This is awesome for me as I needed IntelliTrace on x64 literally yesterday.
  • Performance Wizard for Silverlight – Now you can use the profiling tools on Silverlight apps as well.
  • VB Compiler runtime switch – This switch will enable Visual Basic developers to target their apps and libraries at platforms where the full VB Runtime hasn’t traditionally been available. Should be a win for VB on phone, XNA, etc.

Some Choice Bug Fixes (my choice)

  • The XAML editor respects control visibility
  • Offline Helper View with Index (is back)
  • IntelliTrace with F5 on Sharepoint Projects
  • More C++ MFC support for Windows 7 shiny things
  • Silverlight startup performance improvments

Simple Conclusion in Context

  • Keep using Visual Studio 2010 and feel no pressure to install a beta anything. There's lots of great stuff in VS2010 to explore.
  • If you install VS2010 SP1 beta, don't uninstall it if you can avoid it. Rather, wait for SP1 final which will upgrade your beta cleanly and leave you in the best state.
  • If you want to see the update wave of Web Tools and get some beta bug fixes, install the SP1 Beta and report bugs. If you're using SQL Compact, check out their tools as well.
  • If you aren't installing the beta tools today, then relax, and install the final web tools stuff in the January then VS2010 SP1 later in spring.
  • When it's all released, you'll be able to install all this as one package from Web Platform Installer. You'll run Web PI, select Visual Studio 2010 SP1, then install.

Related Links

Enjoy.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Visual Studio 2010 - Help Viewer Power Tool BETA - Help Index and Standalone Help

May 4, '10 Comments [30] Posted in MSDN | VS2010
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The help system changed in Visual Studio 2010. I totally had a "Who Moved My Cheese" moment, as did many folks.

  • Where's my "as I type" Help Index?
  • Where's my separate Help Viewer? I don't want help in my browsers, it clutters my tabs.

If you don't install the Help Documentation at the end of the Visual Studio 2010 setup, you help will be online and shown in your default browser. Personally, I like the idea of an external help viewer. I just saw on the Help Team's blog that they released the Help Viewer Power Tool today. It's an unsupported local content Help Viewer.

First, make sure your Help Content is installed locally, rather than served from the web.

  1. Click Help | Manage Help Settings.
  2. Click Choose Online or Local. Select Local, a path, then OK.
  3. Click Install Content from Online (or from Disk)
  4. Select your content by clicking Add on each topic you want, click OK.

When you've got local help content setup, go install the Help Viewer Power Tool. So what do you get?

The Help Viewer Power Tool supports two modes: in-browser and standalone.

  1. The Power Tool defaults to an in-browser experience that adds two additional tabs – Index and Search – to the left pane using a Silverlight control. In addition, the left pane is now fully resizable.
  2. The Power Tool can be configured to provide a standalone experience with three tabs for navigating content: Contents, Search Results, and Index. This mode provides some additional features over the in-browser experience:
    • The help window has its own icon and is easily located in the task bar.· The help window can be pinned to the Win7 Taskbar.
    • F1 queries overlay the previous help topic (eliminates tab proliferation).
    • The standalone window is resizable and can be positioned independently without affecting browser settings.

Here's what your in-browser Help will look like. Notes the Contents, Search Results and Index on the left:

in-browser help

Here's the standalone Help Viewer. Once you've run it, you can also pin it to Explorer in Windows 7.

Standalone Help Brower 

How do I switch to standalone mode?

  1. From your system drive, run the following from an elevated command prompt
    (note you might be in \Program files (x86))
    cd \program files\microsoft help viewer\v1.0
    hlpvwpt.exe standaloneviewer=true
  2. Shut down any instances of the Help Library Agent. Right-click on the Help Library Agent icon in the taskbar and select ‘Exit.

How do I switch back to in-browser mode?

  1. From your system drive, run the following from an elevated command prompt:
    cd \program files\microsoft help viewer\v1.0
    hlpvwpt.exe standaloneviewer=false
  2. Shut down any instances of the Help Library Agent. Right-click on the Help Library Agent icon in the taskbar and select ‘Exit.

If you're installing on a non-English system, make sure you read the Readme to make sure your localized help is shown. Also, if you only have IE6, you'll need IE8.

Another way to find the Help Viewer Power Tool

Start Page - Microsoft Visual Studio

As an aside, you can also just go to the Tools | Extension Manager inside VS2010, and query something like "help viewer power" and you can get to the download page from inside VS.

Extension Manager (2)

Related Links

  • How To: Updating multiple VS 2010 installations' Help content with a single download - This technique will show you how to share help between multiple developers via a Shared Drive. This is helpful in constrained bandwidth environments.
    • A comment from my blog: "Also, while the updating feature is great, the downloads appear quite large and if you have a number of machines to update then this can be a slow and bandwidth consuming task, is there any way to download and share the help system updates between multiple installations?
  • Community Created H3Viewer.exe - Alternative VS 2010 help viewer in the style of DExplore. Features a full TOC, full Index, Search and favorites.
  • Keyword Index for Visual Studio 2010 Help Documentation - An unsupported inside-the-IDE Help Client with keyword index.
  • Developer Documentation and Help Forum - Ryan, the developer of this tool, will be watching the forums for your feedback.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Visual Studio 2010 Released

April 12, '10 Comments [114] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Learning .NET | Microsoft | MSDN | Spotlight | VS2010 | Windows Client | WPF
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It's a big day at Microsoft today as Visual Studio 2010 officially releases. There's a lot going on with this release and I thought I'd do a big rollup post with lots of details and context to help you find your way to the information and downloads you're looking for.

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4

Download Visual Studio 2010

First, if you want it, go download Visual Studio 2010 now. If you're an MSDN Subscriber or WebSiteSpark/BizSpark member, you can download the final release now. If not, you can download a free trial or one of the free Express editions.

I'm running the free Visual Web Developer 2010 Express on my netbook. You can install ASP.NET 4, ASP.NET MVC 2, and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express really quickly with the Web Platform Installer.

There's an excellent page on MSDN that's cherry-picked and categorized the best VS2010 content, but I've included my own list below.

What's new in Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4?

Buttloads. Here's the things I'm digging most.

Also, there's a FREE e-Book called "Moving to Visual Studio 2010" that you might want to check out. It's an excerpt of a larger book that'll be coming from MSPress later this summer. It takes a interesting approach as it has three parts, moving from VS2003, moving from VS2005, and moving from VS2008. It's clever, actually. You start in the book on the version that you're currently on. If you're not familiar with versions like VS2008, you start at the beginning. Otherwise, you jump ahead. When you're done, you're ready to move to VS2010.

MSDN and Visual Studio 2010

When a new product launches, MSDN launches with updates and new features of its own. Here's a few things the folks at MSDN have been doing to support the launch.

  • Better MSDN Search - Most people likely use a search engine to search MSDN, but if you do search from within MSDN, there are a number of new improvements. You can refine by source, saying only search blogs, or only search the library. There's also an OpenSearch provider so you can search the MSDN Library directly from within Windows itself.
    XDocument - Search Results in MSDN
    MSDN Search also includes Metadata from the results to help you find right thing. For example, if a search turns up a CodePlex project, I can see type-specific details within search results:
    MSDN Search
  • MSDN Subscriber Downloads Improvements - There's been lots of UX improvements including as-you-type filtering as well as filtering by platform (x64, etc) and language. I will very likely not need to download Quechua Windows, so now I don't need to see it.
  • MSDN Library in Lightweight and ScriptFree - You can choose between three flavors of MSDN Library, Classic (the one with the treeview on the side), Lightweight (what I use) or ScriptFree. ScriptFree is great for mobile devices, and it's lightning fast anywhere. Lightweight is the new default and I like it because it features community annotations made to the library prominently on the left side as well as a tabbed interface for code sample languages. I blogged a preview of this work last year and included some charts and graphs showing the improvements in speed worldwide.
    XmlNode Class (System.Xml) - Windows Internet Explorer
  • Integration of all VS sites - There were too many developer "centers" on MSDN and folks were getting lost. Many centers have been conflated into a clearer, more logical layout. The Visual Studio, Team System, and VS Extensibility Centers were merged into the single Visual Studio Center. There's a lot more focus on discoverability in the Visual Studio Center.
  • Video Improvements - There's thousands of How Do I? videos on MSDN and they tell me they are improving the backend, the player and the metadata around them. The player is larger now, you can share videos from MSDN on your favorite social networking site, rate them, leave comments, and explore related videos.
  • Profile Activities - User Profiles are integrated between sites and you can see your activity and points as you move through the system. For example, here's Arnie Rowland's profile. You can see his activity in the forums and galleries as well as his ranking and points as a community contributor.

Other Cool Stuff Happening Today

I'd hate to have this little nugget get buried in the deluge of VS2010 goodness.

  • Microsoft Surface Logo The Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch BETA goes out today. Check out http://www.surface.com under Technical Resources and the Surface Blog for more details. This toolkit is a set of controls and sample code that let WPF developers create cool multi-touch enabled experiences with the cool "Surfacey" controls that the only folks with Big Ass Tables have been able to use. This is exceedingly cool because it not only makes it WPF devs can make better multi-touch apps for Windows Touch PCs but it acts as a jump-start for the next version of Microsoft Surface. It will integrate with Visual Studi0 2010 and give you new project and item templates and a dozen new controls like the ScatterView and SurfaceInkCanvas. This is a cool thing, so I'll be talking about it soon, as will Pete Brown.

Lots of great stuff going on today. Have fun!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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We moved your ASP.NET website cheese, in a good way

March 11, '10 Comments [43] Posted in MSDN
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We've just pushed live an update to the http://www.asp.net site. This is the first of a series of updates to the site we'll be making this year.

ASP.NET Website

The home page for the site was getting bogged down with info and was too visually busy. It was too complex for beginners and too intense for advanced folks. Our focus with today's update is to make it easy for new folks to get started, but still make it easy for advanced people to get what they want in few clicks.

Getting Started

The Get Started section is completely new and we'll be adding even more content and samples from Joe Stagner and Jon Galloway in the coming weeks. Both guys are working on complete applications for ASP.NET WebForms 4 and ASP.NET MVC 2, as well as tutorials and videos for each.

WebForms and MVC

Both the WebForms and MVC sections have been completely reorganized with two things in mind. First, there's a lot of videos on the site, but they were poorly categorized and hard to find. Second, we weren't ordering the videos in a way that's conducive to learning. Every video on the site has been re-categorized and been organized in a more logical way. Videos are short, to the point and their lengths have been included on the listing pages. We'll continue to make improvements with the goal to make everything easy to find with upcoming changes including tagging, ranking, etc.

Community

We've added lots of content to the Community page in an active widget that aggregates news, blogs, podcasts, videos, forum activity and more. We've also added widgets to suck in content from Twitter, Digg and Delicious.

Open Source

Jon has also added an Open Source section to the site with a list of frameworks, applications, and tools that ASP.NET developers might be interested in. They're hand-picked by Jon, so if he missed one that he should consider, let him have it.

Hosting

You'll hear more soon about how it's easier to deploy ASP.NET applications to hosters, and we've added a "Find a Hoster" page that will showcase hosting deals, like Shared, Virtual, or Dedicated hosts.

There's lots of fun to come, but here's Step 0. I hope it help! Thanks to everyone, Cyra, Othmane, Laurence, Jon, Joe, Terri, KevinG, and to ScottGu for kicking us all in the butt daily. Please sir, may I have another? ;)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.