Scott Hanselman

Developer != Designer

July 17, '08 Comments [28] Posted in BabySmash | Windows Client | WPF
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I wanted a custom cursor for BabySmash! My son was having trouble associating the mouse cursor on the screen and the movement of the mouse. Clearly a shiny new Kids Cursor was in order.

I went into Expression Blend and drew this hand cursor. I drew it with the spliney-liney pully-thing-tool. (That's the official name for it, I'm sure.

image

I was feeling pretty good about this cursor. It had a gradient and everything. I put it up, but mentioned to Felix The Designer that maybe he wanted to have a go at making a cursor. Seven minutes later I received this. If you want to understand what real design talent is like, read about Felix's thought process as he redesigned the Mix site.

image

At this point I declared, in the style of American Comedian Larry Miller:

"The difference between a Designer and Developer, when it comes to design skills, is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it." - Scott Hanselman with apologies to Larry Miller

More on the Designer/Developer relationship later, but for now, thanks to Felix and Conchango, BabySmash is looking pretty professional, IMHO.

image

Developer != Designer. Sigh.

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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Hanselminutes Podcast 121 - LineRider - Porting a Flash Game to Silverlight 2

July 17, '08 Comments [10] Posted in Podcast | Silverlight
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My one-hundred-and-twentyfirst podcast is up.image In this episode, I talk to Rick Barraza, an Experience Architect from Cynergy with a background in Flash, and Bryan Perfetto, a Developer from Inxile writing his first Silverlight application. We chat about how and why they ported the popular Flash Game LineRider.com to Silverlight 2.

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with µtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Telerik's new stuff is pretty sweet, check out the ONLINE DEMO of their new ASP.NET AJAX suite. RadGrid handles sorting, filtering, and paging of hundreds of thousands of records in milliseconds, and the RadEditor loads up to 4 times faster and the navigation controls now support binding to web services on the client.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

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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ASP.NET MVC Preview 4 - Using Ajax and Ajax.Form

July 16, '08 Comments [51] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC
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ASP.NET MVC Preview 4 is up on CodePlex. The Gu has all the exquisite Gu-Like Detail on his blog. Phil Haack has some notes on this release on his blog.

If you take a look at the generated "changes" document, it shows a bunch of new stuff like AjaxHelpers and AjaxExtensions that set the stage for some interesting things the community could do with ASP.NET MVC and Ajax. I'd like to see some JQuery love in there, maybe with some MVCContrib as they've been quiet lately.

Using the new Preview 4 bits, here's what I was able to get running in just a few minutes.

Given a ViewPage that has a TextBox and a Button on it, when I click the button (and submit the form) I'll call back to the server and get some text that should then go in the div next to the button.

mvcpreview4ajax

The View looks like:

<asp:Content ID="indexContent" ContentPlaceHolderID="MainContent" runat="server">
<p>
<%using (Ajax.Form("ExamineTextBox", new AjaxOptions { UpdateTargetId = "result" }))
{ %>
<%= Html.TextBox("textBox1")%>
<input type="submit" value="Button"/>
<span id="result"/>
<% } %>
</p>
</asp:Content>

Notice the Ajax.Form helper and the UpdateTargetID that refers to the span. There's more AjaxOptions in there to explore as well, that we'll see in a second. The controller action looks like this:

public class HomeController : Controller
{
public string ExamineTextBox(string textBox1)
{
if (textBox1 != "Initial Data")
{
return "This text is MVC different from before!";
}
return String.Empty;
}
}

Notice that the return method of the ExamineTextBox isn't an ActionResult, it's a string. In fact, the string result is being wrapped for you into a ContentResult. You could certainly make a ContentResult yourself, but this makes for a nicer looking method signature.

The result of that method is returned via the AJAX call, then put into that span via magic and pixie dust. Actually, the request looks like this:

POST /Home/ExamineTextBox HTTP/1.1
Referer: http://localhost.:45210/Home
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded; charset=utf-8
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Host: localhost.:45210
Content-Length: 28
Connection: Keep-Alive
Pragma: no-cache

textBox1=dude&__MVCAJAX=true

and the Response like this:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: ASP.NET Development Server/9.0.0.0
Cache-Control: private
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 39
Connection: Close

This text is MVC different from before!

And that UpdateTargetID (the span) mentioned in the Ajax Form helper above? That's swapped in via the magic in MicrosoftMvcAjax.debug.js. There are options for before, after and replace.

// Insert the results into the target element
if (targetElement) {
switch (insertionMode) {
case Sys.Mvc.InsertionMode.Replace:
targetElement.innerHTML = executor.get_responseData();
break;
case Sys.Mvc.InsertionMode.InsertBefore:
targetElement.innerHTML = executor.get_responseData() + targetElement.innerHTML;
break;
case Sys.Mvc.InsertionMode.InsertAfter:
targetElement.innerHTML = targetElement.innerHTML + executor.get_responseData();
break;
}
}

Note that I had to manually (for now) add the JavaScript libraries, so I put them in my Site.Master View.

<script src="/Content/MicrosoftAjax.debug.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/Content/MicrosoftMvcAjax.debug.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

Also, notice that the MicrosoftMvcAjax.js is new and it's in your /Content folder if you make a new MVC Application. Congrats to Phil and Eilon and the team for this release!

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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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Learning Opportunity - .NET Terrarium is back!

July 16, '08 Comments [17] Posted in Back to Basics | Learning .NET
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Bil Simser has just done the .NET Community a huge solid. Bil has dug up and re-released Terrarium to CodePlex wtih the intent to update it to use new language features and new usability features like ClickOnce.

If you're newish to the .NET Community (<3-5 years?) you might not have heard of Terrarium. There was a time when it was the tool for getting newbies excited about learning .NET. I showed dozens of high-school and college students how to program using Terrarium. Back at my last company one of our engineers did brown bag lunches on good bug design and ran a Terrarium Server internally.

terriarium

Terrarium hasn't been even looked at by the Microsoft SDK team in two years, as live happens, you know. Bil hunted them down, did a bunch of paperwork and it's back. You can check out the source or download the release.

You can run it alone, just a world in a box, or you can hook it up to a server and that's where it gets interesting, as your bugs all live in a connected world.

Your animals have Idle (event-based) loops that you can react to, and who amongst us hasn't wanted to write these lines of code at least once?

// Reproduce as often as possible 
if (CanReproduce)
BeginReproduction(null);

Now you have the chance.

A great lunchtime project is to get a bunch of the nerds from your company in a room, teach them Terrarium and have a battle!

Personally, I'm a lover, not a fighter, so I run away when attacked.

private void MyAnimal_Attacked(object sender, AttackedEventArgs e)
{
if (e.Attacker.IsAlive)
{
AnimalState TheAttacker = e.Attacker;

BeginDefending(TheAttacker); //defend against the attacker
WriteTrace("Run away to some random point");

int X = OrganismRandom.Next(0, WorldWidth - 1);
int Y = OrganismRandom.Next(0, WorldHeight - 1);

BeginMoving(new MovementVector(new Point(X, Y), 10));
}
}

Go check out the release of Terrarium and download the app, SDK and server. There will be more to come on Bil's Blog, I'm sure. He'll also be running a public Terrarium Server. It's exciting to see this blast from the past. Now I think it's time for me to visit a local High School Computer Science class again some lunchtime...

One of the things I think will be interesting to see, is if folks come up with better patterns for managing state within these animals. Many Terrarium animals end up with Idle loops that look like Arrow Code.

if
if
if
if
do something
endif
endif
endif
endif

This isn't nice to look at, and it would promote bad habits if it was the first kind of code someone new to programming ever saw.

The world has changed since this was released in 2002. The race is on and now I ask:

  • Who will write the first aesthetically pleasing (from a code perspective) Terrarium Animal?
  • The first F# Terrarium animal?
  • The first Ruby (DLR) Terrarium animal?
  • Boo? Nemerle? IronPython?

Enjoy!

UPDATE: I've got this running on my XP machine and my XP VMs but because of missing DirectX 6/7 DLLs I can't get it running under Vista. Possible workaround in the comments below. It'll likely be faster to just recompile it. I'll talk to Bil and see what's up.

 

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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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New Modules for IIS7: Application Request Routing - Proxy and Load Balancing Module

July 15, '08 Comments [12] Posted in IIS
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image I really like the IIS7 team at Microsoft. They're cool people, but the what I like is that IIS7 is so freaking modular (I've talked about this at conferences before when showing how to use PHP and Ruby under IIS7 using FastCGI) that the group keeps bringing out new functionality as "OOB" or Out Of Band releases.

Bill Staples as a good post on how IIS7 ships software now. There's a big list of all the Release to Web (RTW) modules for IIS7. I demo'ed a the Bit Rate Throttler at TechEd and talked about it in a post on"Squeezing the most out of IIS7 Media Bit Rate Throttling which can help people save bandwidth money while hosting downloadable files/media.

This week the IIS7 team put out three new preview releases for download.

  • IIS7 PowerShell Provider CTP2
    • This provider marries the two technologies and makes administrating IIS7 feel more natural to PowerShell folks. To put it bluntly, you can "cd" into iis:\ as if it were a drive, the type "dir" to see your websites. Drink that in. It's the bomb. I loves me some Powershell.
  • URL Rewrite Module CTP1
    • Just what it sounds like. Unlike ISAPI_Rewrite (which I love) this is an HTTP Module rather than an ISAPI Filter, and it includes an integrated UI for management within the IIS Manager.
  • OSIApplication Request Routing CTP1
    • This is the real dark-horse release. It's got that bland "huh?" name that might cause you to just blow it off or ignore it in the middle of these three modules' release. However, it's deceptively powerful and worth checking out.
      • It requires the URL Rewrite Module above, and hugely builds on its functionality. If you get an error while installing ARR, you need to go install the URL Rewrite Module first.
      • IMPORTANT NOTE: You have to run the MSI from an Administrator Command Prompt. Just running the MSI by double clicking doesn't work. This is a known bug in this CTP. Bummer.

Application Request Routing is interesting. At first I thought it was like NLB (Network Load Balancing), that feature of NT 4.0 that used to be called "Wolfpack." I figured that the great Load Balancing Wars of the '90s were won, and the winner was hardware. I've used Cisco LocalDirector and F5's BigIP in my previous jobs.

ARR is basically a proxy module with load balancing capability that does its routing at Layer 7, rather than Layer 4. That means you make decisions at the HTTP level rather than the IP level. It sits on top of the URL rewrite module, so you can write routing or load balancing rules that can key off of HTTP Headers or Server Vars. You can do Client Affinity via cookie to differentiate between clients behind NAT.  These rules mean it could compliment a system that has an existing hardware load balancer.

If you're familiar with Apache, IIS7's ARR Module kind of combines the functionality you'd find in modproxy, modloadbalance, modproxyhttp along with some other goodness.

It's also a nice reverse proxy if you've ever wanted to do have a smarter IIS7 app router in your home to sit on the outside of your network and route traffic to machines or services inside.

For example, this screenshot shows a routing condition where we want to route folks who have .NET 3.5 on their systems to a separate server. Perhaps a beta site, or a site that has ClickOnce apps or some different functionality. It's totally up to you. You could route folks with certain cookie values, browsers, or  based on path requested.

image

If we had 3 machines in the farm, one IIS7+ARR for routing in front and two other IIS7 machines behind it, I could write a rule that said "don't route requests for images." In this example, I'll have the /images folder served by the ARR machine up front instead.

image

It also has Health Monitoring to check on boxes being down, and you can decide what "healthy" means to you.

ARR is a free download and it plus into IIS7 Manager using the new UI extensibility stuff in IIS7, so it just looks like part of IIS and is managed the same way you manage everything else.

Download

Check 'em out. I'm looking into how I can use ARR to expose my internal Subversion server in a more secure and easily configurable way.

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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.