Scott Hanselman

If you're not using Glimpse with ASP.NET for debugging and profiling, you're missing out

July 20, '13 Comments [40] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Open Source | Tools
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Glimpse NuGet packages

I've blogged about Glimpse since the day I first saw it at Mix 2011's open source fest. It's popular, but frankly, Glimpse is so useful more people need to know about it.

From within your ASP.NET application in Visual Studio, install Glimpse using NuGet. You'll want to install the right Glimpse packages for the ASP.NET features you're using. For example, I'm using MVC4 and Entity Framework 5, so I will use NuGet and:

install-package Glimpse.MVC4
install-package Glimpse.EF5

These packages pull in the core Glimpse libraries plus the hooks for the specific ASP.NET modules and handlers needed for Glimpse to collect all the information about your application and present it to the client side. Be sure to pick the right NuGet packages for your project type.

The releases of Glimpse 1.4.0, and now most recently 1.5.0 improve Glimpse with the addition of a really amazing HUD (Heads Up Display). As you hover over each segment, it pops up with lots of details about the HTTP request, AJAX requests, deep inspection database interactions, and lots more.

Glimpse's new HUD

Here I've hovered over one segment and you can see the time it took to render this first page, and exactly how much time was spent during each activity, from rendering to action methods to database connections.

The Glimpse HUD expanded

You can move from the HUD to the standard Glimpse view. The best part is that each Glimpse Tab is a plugin itself! There's a whole community creating Glimpse Plugins. If you're using RavenDB, or NHibernate, or SignalR or whatever, you can get introspection into what's going on in a Glimpse Tab.

You turn Glimpse on and off with cookies, and you can setup security policy however you want. Glimpse isn't in the background creeping around - you have absolute control over when you want it used. Perhaps local and only when debugging, or perhaps always and with a specific cookie value, it's up to you.

Below you can see the actual SQL query executed by my Entity Framework code and how long it took to execute. I didn't have to change any part of my code or do anything more than just install Glimpse. Glimpse added the modules and handlers, and Glimpse policies can be installed to turn Glimpse on or off based on any option I can think of. I can even put Glimpse into production and only turn it on for certain requests, giving me a profiling tool I can peek at whenever I like.

EF SQL queries viewed within Glimpse

You likely use F12 developer tools in Chrome, IE and Firefox, and you've seen Timeline views before. But remember that Glimpse is JavaScript and HTML on the client - it's NOT a browser plugin - and it's a series of plugins on the server that give you a holistic view that's way more than just what's visible on the client.

Glimpse's Timeline View shows you exactly what's happening on the server, how long it's taking, and how it all fits together.


Sessions within Glimpse are all tracked and be optionally named. Since the server is collecting what's going on, you can pull out a popup browser window of Glimpse and connect to sessions from other browsers. Below I'm using an iPhone mobile emulator from ElectricPlum and inspecting requests from another browser window.

Using Glimpse to debug remotely against an iPhone Emulator

Glimpse is all open source and under the Apache 2.0 license. You can certainly help out, but the most interesting thing in my opinion is writing Glimpse Tabs - extending Glimpse to collect and show new data. Tabs can show technical stuff, but even business stuff that's specific to your application or style of application. For example, the Umbraco CMS could make a Glimpse Tab that puts configuration or technical Umbraco specific details up front. A line of business app could show tax details or shopping cart contents.

Glimpse is so useful that it's the first thing I install after I File | New Project on any non-trivial thing I'm working on. It's replaced Mini-Profiler as my go-to "production profiler" for web apps, and if you use ELMAH to collect and manage your application errors, there's even a Glimpse ELMAH plugin!

Check it out and go talk to Anthony and Nik about Glimpse on Twitter and thank for their work!

DISCLOSURE NOTE: The Red Gate company sponsors the Glimpse open source project. Red Gate also sponsored my blog feed this week. That is a cool coincidence, but it's just a coincidence. Red Gate does a lot of stuff. This post about Glimpse was written earlier. Just an FYI for y'all.

Sponsor: Big thanks to the folks at Red Gate for sponsoring the feed this week. Take a moment and check out their free download of Deployment Manager! Easy release management: Deploy your .NET apps, services and SQL Server databases in a single, repeatable process with Red Gate’s Deployment Manager. There’s a free Starter edition, so get started now!

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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Making a better, somewhat prettier, but definitely more functional Windows Command Line

July 16, '13 Comments [58] Posted in Tools
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Running htop via ssh under ConEmu

I've blogged before, in fact in 2004, (!) that Windows is missing the text mode boat. There is a massive opportunity for a great, nay, awesome and pretty, command line on Windows. If someone cracks this problem, they're gonna be heroes.

I love iTerm2 and its tabs, its font handling, its simple elegance. I want this on Windows. In 2011 I found Console2, and then in 2012 I moved to ConEmu, a great tabbed terminal for Windows. Even then, it's not "pretty." I love these guys, and the ConEmu is truly an amazing and configurable piece of software, but it was written by developers for developers. I have to change the fonts to Consolas for the main font and Segoe UI for the rest to make it tolerable. Am I being petty and focusing on looks? Absolutely. Gorgeous and functional software is why Mac companies like Panic exist. They make things that are pretty AND functional. Windows folks could definitely "lovingly design" stuff more.

Here's some command line utilities that augment and help - but don't yet complete save - the Windows Command Line.


I just learned about Clink and I'm hooked. It's hooked as well, directly into your cmd.exe window! *rimshot*

We all know that there's Cygwin for a bash-like experience in Windows, but Click is a small utility that brings some of those productivity and editing features into cmd.exe directly!

  • Bash-like line editing from GNU's Readline library. Read more on Readline's keyboard shortcuts.
  • Better path completion (TAB).
  • Paste from clipboard (Ctrl-V). Oh yes.
  • Support for the completion of executables/commands, and environment variables.
  • Undo/Redo (Ctrl-_ or Ctrl-X, Ctrl-U)
  • Improved command line history.
    • Persists across sessions.
    • Searchable (Ctrl-R and Ctrl-S).
    • History expansion (e.g. !!, !, and !$).

The most significant change that Clink makes is to Tab Completion, moving to a more Bash-y "show them the choices" mode rather than the DOS-like "make them cycle through everything." Here I've pressed TAB over 2013-0 and Clink is showing me what I can choose from.

using Clink to make cmd.exe better

PowerShell ISE

Surprise! You already have this on your Windows computer. Ya, it freaked me out also. You can even hide the script pane if you want (Ctrl-R) and just use PowerShell ISE as a console! You get auto completion (see the Directory intellisense below), coloring, aliases and all the power of PowerShell.

Sure, it's not bash, but that may be a good thing. You may not have been exposed to PowerShell and the prospect may frighten you, but try it for a bit. They've aliased the obvious commands "ls" does what you'd expect as does "dir." Moving around will feel like any command prompt.

Not to mention if you are using PowerShell you already get a full debugger experience.

The PowerShell ISE

It won't win any awards for good looks (again, I come back to the importance of fonts, whitespace, and good typography...get a designer) but it is extremely functional and you already have it!

ConEmu lets you put your consoles in JumpLists!ConEmu

I've talked about ConEmu before, but I'll bring some of that over here. ConEmu takes your command prompt and adds tabs, status bar details, admin tabs, freakin' taskbar progress bars on copies (which is hot), and deep support for FarManager (Norton Commander anyone?)

Tabs in ConEmu in Windows

ConEmu is definitely a huge jump for console usability on Windows. The feature that really blew me away was Progress Bar integration. If you're familiar with Windows 7 you are likely familiar with the way that progress bars are overlaid over a Windows 7 Taskbar button. ConEmu looks at the current application running and some heuristics and overlays progress. Madness. Do a chkdsk and watch the progress bar. Love this little detail.

ConEmu Progress Bar

Git for Windows or Cygwin

If you want a Linux-like experience on Windows with a nice shell, Cygwin has long been a choice. However, since the release of Git for Windows most folks I know just install it and use the Git Bash. If you get Cygwin proper you'll get a much more complete "fake Linux" through their very competent set of command line tools, but for most, Git Bash will suffice.

Git Bash gets you close

What about SSHing? That's a fundamental part of command-line life for folks connecting to remote Unix machines. For me, I have a Linux farm I run on Azure that I often need to ssh into.

Random: I like to say I 'shoosh' into the machines, but folks keep looking at me weird. I thought this was a thing?

However, the SSH clients for Windows suck. Ok, they don't suck, but they are ugly. It's scandalous how ugly. Mad respect to PuTTY for being awesome and super functional, but it's like running Windows 95 in a window every time I launch it. Here's some better SSH clients, including a fork of PuTTY itself.

Bitvise SSH Client - more importantly, SSH from the command line

The Bitvise SSH Client is free for personal use and works great. There's a whole GUI, and, bless them, it's not pretty. However! There's also a command line version which is the REAL treasure. I just want to type ssh and be on my way.

In fact, I made a batch file called "ssh.bat" and put it in my PATH that just has this inside: "stermc %1" this means I can just type ssh user@hostname:port and be on my way. This is, for me, WAY easier than putty for most things. Bitcise is definitely worth checking out.

Find a SSH command line too like Bitvise


Kitty is a fork of version 0.62 of the original PuTTY. There's also a portable version that I've put in my Dropbox utils folder (which is in my PATH) so it's on every machine I have automatically. Kitty has some nice features like Send to Tray, transparency, session launching (so you don't need Pageant), and lots of little poweruser features like "rolling up" the app if you Ctrl-Click on the Title Bar.

Kitty is a better PuTTY alternative

Kitty also can integrate into your browser to handle ssh:// links, which is a nice touch.

What console app improvers have I missed? What do you use on Windows? Sound off in the comments.

Sponsor: Big thanks to the folks at RedGate for sponsoring the feed this week. Take a moment and check out their free download of Deployment Manager! Easy release management: Deploy your .NET apps, services and SQL Server databases in a single, repeatable process with Red Gate’s Deployment Manager. There’s a free Starter edition, so get started now!

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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Hanselman's Newsletter of Wonderful Things: June 4th, 2013

July 11, '13 Comments [8] Posted in Newsletter
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I have a "whenever I get around to doing it" Newsletter of Wonderful Things. Why a newsletter? I dunno. It seems more personal somehow. Fight me.

You can view all the previous newsletters here. You can sign up here to the Newsletter of Wonderful Things or just wait and get them some weeks later on the blog, which hopefully you have subscribed to. Email folks get it first!

Here's the newsletter that I sent out June 4th.

Hi Interfriends,

Thanks again for signing up for this experiment. Here's some interesting things I've come upon this week. If you forwarded this (or if it was forwarded to you) a reminder: You can sign up at and the archive of all previous Newsletters is here.

Remember, you get the newsletter here first. This one will be posted to the blog as an archive in a few weeks. 

Scott Hanselman

(BTW, since you *love* email you can subscribe to my blog via email here: DO IT!)

P.P.S. You know you can forward this to your friends, right?

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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Cross-Platform Portable Class Libraries with .NET are Happening

July 9, '13 Comments [28] Posted in Learning .NET
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imagePortable Class Libraries are the Happy Little Feature that Could. They've been chugging along, doing their thing, and it's getting to the point where they are going to pop. That's pop in a good way.

If you're not writing .NET apps for more than one target, then you likely haven't bumped into them. However for those people who are writing .NET and want it to run on everything from Watches to Phones to Tablets to Xboxen to Desktops to the Cloud, they are enjoying what PCLs can offer.

There's still a few technical and legal challenges but I'm confident they'll be dealt with and we'll be able to create great binary libraries that can be used everywhere.

There's been a bunch of recent activity in the .NET community around Portable Class Libraries and cross platform .NET.  Overall, Portable Class Libraries are starting to see wider adoption, more open source libraries are being released with portable support, and the MVVM pattern is proving to be a great way to maximize code sharing in cross platform apps.

Portable Library Releases

First of all, there have been a bunch of new libraries released as PCLs recently.  Three of them are from GitHub's own Paul Betts:

  • Reactive UI – Reactive UI is an MVVM framework built on top of the Reactive ExtensionsVersion 5.0 was released last week, which is "totally Portable-Friendly", and supports the following platforms:
    • Xamarin.iOS
    • Xamarin.Android
    • Xamarin.Mac
    • .NET 4.5 (WPF)
    • Windows Phone 8
    • Windows Store Apps (WinRT)
  • Akavache - An asynchronous, persistent key-value store.  Version 3.0, which includes PCL support, was also released last week, and now "nearly all of your serialization and network access layer can be cross-platform." Akavache supports the same set of platforms as Reactive UI. This is a really amazing piece of software that deserves its own blog post. I'll do one soon.
  • Splat – "A library to make things cross-platform that should be." It has cross platform APIs for images and colors, with platform-specific extension methods to go back and forth between the platform-specific native types.  This looks like an elegant solution to the problem you run into if you want a portable ViewModel but you want to expose an image in it.

Next, Scott LoveGrove confessed:

I might be getting a little obsessed with PCLs at the moment. #IHaveAProblem (link).

Scott has released four portable libraries that help access web services:

  • Scoreoid Portable - A Portable Class Library that gives developers access to the Scoreoid scoring system.  The library provides a friendly .NET wrapper for the Scoreoid REST APIs, and uses our portable HttpClient NuGet package.
  • FanArt Portable - A Portable Class Library that gives developers access to the film, TV, and music image resources.  It also uses portable HttpClient.
  • Cineworld Portable - A Portable Class Library that gives developers access to the Cineworld film and cinema listings for the UK and Ireland.  It also uses portable HttpClient.
  • LiveSDKHelper - A helper library to more easily use the Microsoft Live SDK.  Contains strong types which the responses from the Live SDK can be deserialized into.

Another new portable library release is Budgie, a library for accessing Twitter. The .NET and Azure Teams have also released a PILE of Portable Libraries.

.NET Team:

Other teams:

Not to mention all these excellent Portable Libraries that you should be familiar with as well.




and of course, my favorite, the HttpClient, making HTTP calls easier, since, well, since a few months ago.

public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> GetTheGoodStuff() 
var httpClient = new HttpClient();
HttpRequestMessage request = new HttpRequestMessage(HttpMethod.Get, "");
var response = await httpClient.SendAsync(request);
return response;


One BUILD attendee took issue with the fact that speakers were telling people that you can't use platform specific functionality from a Portable Class Library, and wrote a blog post about how you can do this with abstraction and (preferably) dependency injection.

On at least 2 occasions recently, I have heard speakers tell their audience that you cannot reference a target-specific .NET library (such as a .NET Framework 4.5 library) from a Portable Class Library. While this is technically true, it doesn't tell nearly the whole story. Even though we can't reference target-specific libraries, we can still USE these libraries. We can call their methods and access their properties under the right circumstances. We can gain access to these libraries via an abstraction. My preferred method of doing this is...Dependency Injection.

Cross Platform .NET Coolness

There's lots of great examples of code reuse, like the podcast I did with the folks who wrote "Draw a Stickman EPIC." This app has 95%+ code reuse, all written in C# and is available in every App Store there is. Here's a few others.

Also, be sure to check out my talk from the Xamarin Evolve Conference - How C# Saved My Marriage. I talk about Portable Libraries in this talk. We'll hear more about Portable Libraries at the MonkeySpace Conference in Chicago in July of 2013.


The British and Irish Lions app is a cross platform app targeting Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android. It uses Portable Class Libraries to share common code across platforms, Azure to host the services it uses, and the MvvmCross MVVM framework which I'm a huge fan of. The UK MSDN blog posted a case study of the development of the app, and there is also a prettier case study (with screenshots, infographics, etc) and a blog post by the developers.  In reference to Xamarin, MvvmCross, and Portable Class libraries, they state "Given the very short time-scales for the Lions apps (less than three months from the first line of code to our first release), we simply could not have delivered a rich native experience across all platforms without the common core."

Lions Rugby

Another cross platform app that uses MvvmCross is Aviva Drive.  This is an insurance company app that you can use to track your driving habits and hopefully get a discount on your insurance.  The app was featured in the Tech Ed Europe day 1 keynote (about 28:40 in), focusing on how it used Azure.

On the game side of things, Taptitude is a successful Windows Phone 7 game (or rather, a collection of minigames) which was ported to Windows Phone 8, Windows Store, iOS, and Android with the help of MonoGame and Xamarin.  The team reports that they have more than 99% shared code between all the platforms, which is especially important to them because they ship updates to the game about every week.


Xamarin has released an amazing .NET Mobility Scanner which analyzes code and tells you how "portable" it is and how compatible it will be with Xamarin.Android, Xamarin.iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows Store.  It lists all the APIs your code uses that aren't available on all the platforms, and an overall percentage of how portable your code is.  It's a very slick implementation and similar to what we've wanted to have for Portable Class Libraries.  Here's a sample report for the SignalR client library. The best part is that it does all this analysis without sending your code or binaries to Xamarin. It all happens in the browser. I love Xamarin.

Phil Haack (former PM for ASP.NET MVC and now working at GitHub) wrote a blog post titled Platform Limitations Harm .NET.  He argues that the Windows platform limitations should be removed from the EULAs for BCL NuGet packages.

I personally agree. Being able to reuse existing code, make portable libraries, and write apps that run in 64k or 64gigs is what makes .NET an interesting platform.

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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One of Microsoft's Best-Kept Secrets - Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS)

July 2, '13 Comments [78] Posted in Open Source | Python
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Python Tools for VS

I've talked some about the sweet support for node and PHP in Azure. You can also File | New | Node.js express application in WebMatrix, or run WordPress and get intellisense as well.

"I installed windows just so i can use PTVS" - Comment on Hacker News

But I'm consistently shocked that folks forget about Python at Microsoft. I am a C# person, myself, but the Developer Division at Microsoft loves their languages. C++, VB, C#, F#, etc and they aren't messing about when they get serious about a language.

One of the least-known and most-kick-butt free products we have is PTVS - Python Tools for Visual Studio. Whether you're just interested in learning Python or you're a hardcore PhD who wants mixed-language Python and C++ debugging or somewhere in between, you gotta check this out. (Seriously, the mixed-mode debugging thing can't be overstressed...)

The Misconceptions

  • Microsoft? Python?  Oh, it must be all about IronPython, that's dead, right?
    • IronPython is a community-run project and just put an 2.7.4 alpha out last month.  PTVS fully supports IronPython, but the most advanced support is for standard CPython!
  • PTVS needs VisualStudio? I don't have any money.
    • PTVS, combined with the Integrated/isolated VS Shell is completely and perpetually free.  And with the advent of VS2013, they've combined them into a single installer: (at bottom of page).

This is Real

Here's my VS2013 after installing PyTools (PTVS). I've got IronPython which is Python running under the .NET CLR, but I've also got Django apps as well as a regular CPython or making a new project from existing code.

Python inside VS

You can see that PTVS knows what Python engines I have installed, and I can easily switch between them. Here you can see that VS is refreshing the auto-completion (intellisense) databases for each version.

A list of Python Interpreters

There's also a complete REPL inside Visual Studio for each:

Python REPL inside VS

Developing Django Apps in Visual Studio

Maybe you're a Django (one of Python's Web Frameworks) web developer, you can use VS to develop your app.

Go File New | Django App, then make a new Python Virtual Environment from the Solution Explorer, and watch Visual Studio freaking installed pip for you (the Python package manager). It's very seamless.

Adding a Virtual Python Environment

Which gives me this:

Python in my VS and I'm FREAKING OUT

Then I right click on "dev" and just like NuGet (except this is Python, so pip) I install django:

Installing Django

Django is massive, so this took a while, but still! And.....I've accomplished Hello World in Django. Well, Hello Django, at least, launched from Visual Studio.

Hello Django

You should feel free to go and run through the whole Django Tutorial if you like and even deploy your app to Azure! You can host Django on a regular Azure Web Site, or a Virtual Machine if you want more control.

You can even interactively debug Python running in Azure on Linux from your Visual Studio instance! Check out Steve do just that at PyCon in this YouTube video.

There's a bunch of great educational and quick start Tutorials on the Python Tools YouTube Channel, they are a great resource to bookmark.

You can attach to remote Python processes over SSL and debug if you like.

Setting up Python Debugging

It's Really Integrated

Let's get real here for a second. Lots of projects plug stuff into Visual Studio. You may have made it this far into the post and be saying "oh, wah wah, this thing sets up some batch files and some syntax highlighting and calls itself a full-featured Python IDE."

Um, no. This is the best of VS and the best of Python and I'm blown away. Check this out. PTVS knows that I'm doing unit testing here and they've integrated Python Unit Testing with the VS Unit Testing UI.

Unit Testing in Python and VS? My heart can't take it!

This is debugging, remote debugging, cross language debugging, tool tips, watches, locals, call stacks, unit testing, full REPL with inline graphics, profiling, cloud publish, best of class CPython support, and so much more.

Nailed it

If you're into Python or knows someone who is, for reals, drink it in and get on board at Check out their samples. They've got Python talking to Kinect, Python talking to Excel and more. Their PTVS Documentation is really good as well.

Just getting started? Well, go Learn Python The Hard Way.

Installing PTVS

Here's the complete install instrucitons. You need VS, the PTVS, and some Python.

PTVS is free

Finally, explore the Resources and Docs for Python Tools for Visual Studio, including, but not limited to Editing, Refactoring, Unit Tests, Django, IPython notebook and Azure cloud computing, Kinect for Python and Pyvot - an Excel to Python bridge.

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.