Scott Hanselman

Bring Kindness back to Open Source

July 23, '15 Comments [48] Posted in Open Source
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Nick Burns - Your Company's Computer GuyWhen you're rude/crisp/sharp/whatever to someone in a PR or Issue, your meanness may have turned off the next generation of open source committer. It's that simple. When folks are just starting out as Code Newbies their initial interactions in this new world matter.

I've been doing this for over 20 years. There's knowledge and (hopefully) wisdom that I've gained in all that time, assuming it's not the same year of experience twenty times. Along with all that time that I (and you!) put in comes great responsibility. We need to think as a community about stewardship, sustainability, and successor management.

There are folks in open source - successful folks - that think that all this talk of "niceness" is overrated. "Talk is cheap, show me the code" is a fun thing to say. But no, talk isn't cheap. It's not cheap, yes, it takes time and patience, but it IS important.

As we try to move towards more representative teams and expand the leadership beyond the old network, this somehow controversial idea of being welcoming and patient to new people is even more important.

There are many folks out there with skills and knowledge that are not joining open source because their initial attempts to contributed were rebuffed.

Jesse Pollak posted two great tweets last week that really point out what's wrong with open source, especially for new people just starting out.

Jesse pledged a "no meanness" rule. I join him in this pledge and encourage you to also.

I've thought similar things before.

Sound like too much work? There are ways to built a welcoming culture into the process. Here's some ideas. I'm interested in yours also.

  • Make a contributing.md.
    • Gently point folks to it.
    • If you get a lot of newbies, write a kind form letter and funnel them towards forums or mentors.
    • Create a Getting started friendly FAQ.
  • Tag issues with "up-for-grabs" in your repositories.
    • Classify by difficulty. Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane.
  • Point new people towards samples, easier parts of the code, docs, tutorials, etc. Grow your enthusiasts.
  • Join http://up-for-grabs.net
  • Consider applying the Contributor Covenant or a similar CoC to your project. Enforce it.
  • Make an issue and "only accept a PR from someone who has never contributed to open source" just like Kent C Dodds did for his project!

Have you helped with an open source project? Did you had a bad initial experience? Did it slow you down?

Perhaps you had a great one and your first pull request was awesome? I'd like to hear your story.

Sound off in the comments!


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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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Visual Studio 2015 Released plus ASP.NET 5 Roadmap

July 21, '15 Comments [32] Posted in Open Source | VS2015
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Microsoft released Visual Studio 2015 today! You can watch the keynote video from today with me, Soma, Beth Massi, Amanda Silver, and Brian Harry here on Channel 9. All the supporting videos and Q&A are also up as individual videos if you'd like.

ASP.NET in 2015

NOTE: Because ASP.NET 5 will not only run on .NET Framework 4.6, which was released today, but also on the .NET Core Framework that will support Windows, Mac, and Linux, ASP.NET 5 isn't released today. The ASP.NET 5 roadmap is up on GitHub though. We'll have a Release Candidate that you can Go-Live with Microsoft support in November and it will 1.0 in the first quarter of 2016. Also, be sure to grab the free Visual Studio Code, no matter what platform you're on. http://code.visualstudio.com

That ASP.NET 5 developers should start exploring the framework now, and go live around the holidays on the operating system of your choice with ASP.NET 5 and the Core CLR. We'll keep doing the weekly ASP.NET Community Standup and updating you each week on our progress. Remember that the schedule is at http://www.asp.net/vnext and the documentation is growing at http://docs.asp.net.

ASP.NET 4.6

That said, ASP.NET 4.6 is live today and included in Visual Studio 2015 and VS has some great new features for Web Developers.

  • JSON is first class with a .json editor and JSON Schema validation within VS. There's also intellsense for bower.json, npm, and other JSON formats.
  • Even more HTML 5 support in the editor. Of note is intellisense for Angular, ARIA, and Bootstrap CSS classes. We're also watching Web Components and including support (as the world decides) for things like link rel="import."
    Angular
  • JavaScript support for Angular JS controllers, factories, animations, etc. Support for JSDoc and more.
  • Syntax Highlighting and intellisense for ReactJS! Support for Grunt and Gulp!
  • HTTP/2 Support in ASP.NET 4.6 with SSL enabled on Windows 10 and IIS Express.

There's lots of significant updates in 2015, but Roslyn is likely the most significant. Roslyn is the open source .NET Compiler Platform. It includes the new features Visual Basic and C# 6 and can be used in your ASP.NET Web Forms projects, pages, and MVC pages.

For example, with String interpolation, this link in Web Forms:

<a href="/Products/<%: model.Id %>/<%: model.Name %>">

looks like this with C# 6. See the string that starts with $""? It's got model's embedded within it. Common calls to String.Format get a LOT easier with this feature.

<a href="<%: $"/Products/{model.Id}/{model.Name}" %>">

Web Forms in ASP.NET 4.6 gets async model binding as well, which means less digging around in the Request object for stuff and you'll do it all asynchronously.

Visual Studio Community 2015 - It's Free!

If you're a student, open-source contributor or a small team, Visual Studio 2015 Community is free. You can use extensions and develop however you'd like. We've got not just Windows and Web Apps, but you can also use Xamarin or Cordova, and even use our Windows Phone and Android Emulators.

Learn about the Community, Professional, and Enterprise versions here and compare them in a feature matrix here.

I'm using Visual Studio 2015 to edit even .NET 2.0 apps so I'm not using older versions of VS, but if you like, it does live side-by-side. On one machine I have 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015, even though it's not really needed.

The final versions of all of today’s releases are available now. 


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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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A/B Testing and Testing In Production with Azure Web Apps

July 17, '15 Comments [6] Posted in Azure
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I've got a lot of production web sites running in Azure right now. Some are for small side projects and some are larger like the sites for the Hanselminutes Podcast and This Developer's Life. I like Web Apps/Sites (which is Platform as a Service) rather than Virtual Machines (Infrastructure as a Service) because I don't like thinking about the underlying operating system if I can avoid it. I like to be able to scale the site up (faster, bigger) or out (more machines in the farm) with a slider bar.

In fact, there's some other more advanced and useful features that Azure Web Apps have that keep me using Web Apps almost exclusively.

I'll use a little site I made called KeysLeft.com that tells you how many keystrokes are left in your hands before you die. Think of it as a productivity awareness tool.

First, I'll add a Deployment Slot to my existing Git-deployed Web App. The source for KeysLeft lives in GitHub here. When I check-in a change it's automatically deployed. But what if I wanted to have a staging branch and automatically deploy to a staging.keysleft.com first? If it works out, then move it to production by swapping sites. That'd be sweet.

Staging Slots for Azure Web Apps

You can see here my main KeysLeft web app has a Staging "side car" app that is totally separate but logically related/adjacent to production. Notice the "swap" button in the toolbar. Love it.

Adding Deployment Slots to an Azure Web App

This Web App has its configuration copied from the main one, and I can setup Continuous Deployment to pull from a different branch, like "staging" for example. The name of the deployment slot becomes a suffix, so keysleft-staging.azurewebsites.net unless you set up a custom CNAME like staging.keysleft.com. You can have up to 4 deployment slots in addition to production (so dev, test, staging, whatever, production) on Standard Web Apps.

A/B Testing for Azure Web Apps

Once I've got a slot or two set up and running a version of my app, I can do A/B testing if I'd like. I can set up a feature that was called "Testing in Production" and is now "Traffic Routing" and tell Azure what percentage of traffic goes to prod and what goes to staging. Of course, you have to be sure to write your application so such that authentication and session is managed however is appropriate, especially if you'd like the user to have a seamless experience.

Here I've got 10% of the traffic going to staging, seamlessly, and the other 90% is going to production. I can make a small change (background color for example) and then hit the main site over and over and see the occasional (10% of course) request being routed to the staging slot. You can configure this static routing however you'd like.

10% Traffic to Staging

Then I could hook up Application Insights or New Relic or some other event/diagnostics system and measure the difference in user reaction between features that changed.

Advanced Testing in Production

Made it this far? Then you're in for a treat. Static routing is cool, to be clear, but scripting a more dynamic experience is even more interesting. Galin Iliev, one of the developers of this feature, gave me this Powershell script to show off more powerful stuff.

First, you can use PowerShell to manage this stuff. You can change routing values and ramp up or ramp down. For example, here we start at 10% and change it by 5 every 10 minutes.

# Select-AzureSubscription YOURSGOESHERE

$siteName = "keysleft"
$rule1 = New-Object Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Commands.Utilities.Websites.Services.WebEntities.RampUpRule
$rule1.ActionHostName = "keysleft-staging.azurewebsites.net"
$rule1.ReroutePercentage = 10;
$rule1.Name = "staging"

$rule1.ChangeIntervalInMinutes = 10;
$rule1.ChangeStep = 5;
$rule1.MinReroutePercentage = 1;
$rule1.MaxReroutePercentage = 80;

Set-AzureWebsite $siteName -Slot Production -RoutingRules $rule1

But! What if you could write code to actually make the decision to continue or fall back dynamically? You can add a callback URL and a Site Extension called the "TiP Callback Extension."

$rule1.ChangeDecisionCallbackUrl = https://keysleft.scm.azurewebsites.net/TipCallback/api/routing

The Site Extension (and all Site Extensions for that matter) is just a little sidecar Web API. This callback gets a small POST when it's time to make a decision, and you decide what to do based on HTTP-related context that was passed in and then return a ChangeDirectionResult object as JSON. You can adjust traffic dynamically, you can adjust traffic when doing a deployment, do a slow, measured roll out, or back off if you detect issues.

NOTE: The ChangeDescisionCallbackUrl and this code below is totally optional (so don't stress) but it's super powerful. You can just do static routing, you can do basic scripted dynamic traffic routing, or you can have make a decision callback URL. So the choice is yours.

You can check out the code by visiting yoursite.scm.azurewebsites.net after installing the TiP callback site extension and look at the Site Extensions folder. That said, here is the general idea.

using System.Web.Http;
using TipCallback.Models;

namespace TipCallback.Controllers
{
public class RoutingController : ApiController
{
[HttpPost]
public ChangeDirectionResult GetRoutingDirection([FromBody] RerouteChangeRequest metrics)
{
// Use either Step or RoutingPercentage. If both returned RoutingPercentage takes precedence
return new ChangeDirectionResult
{
Step = (int)metrics.Metrics["self"].Requests,
RoutingPercentage = 10
};
}
}
}

Here's the object you return. It's just a class with two ints, but this is super-annotated.

/// <summary>
/// Return information how to change TiP ramp up percentage.
/// Use either Step or RoutingPercentage. If both returned RoutingPercentage takes precedence
/// Either way MinRoutingPercentage and MaxRoutingPercentage set in API rule are in force
/// </summary>
[DataContract]
public class ChangeDirectionResult
{
/// <summary>
/// Step to change the Routing percentage. Positive number will increase it routing.
/// Negative will decrease it.
/// </summary>
[DataMember(Name = "step")]
public int? Step { get; set; }

/// <summary>
/// Hard routing percentage to set regardless of step.
/// </summary>
[DataMember(Name = "routingPercentage")]
public int? RoutingPercentage { get; set; }
}

All this stuff is included in Standard Azure Web Apps so if you're using Standard apps (I have 19 websites running in my one Standard plan) then you already have this feature and it's included in the price. Pretty cool.

Related Links


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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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Stop, think, research, debug

July 14, '15 Comments [19] Posted in Musings
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I got this great letter from a listener/reader recently. They listened to a recent show on Debugging Windows and it helped them debug a problem at work, but not in a specific technical way. Instead, it changed how they thought about their approach to the topic.

By the way, I've had some amazing guests on lately. If you haven't subscribed, it's a good time to join us. Explore the archives and check our our diverse topics and voices and subscribe. Also, BTW there is a new This Developer's Life out so check that out also.

I've been doing Hanselminutes: Fresh Air for Developers for almost 500 episodes over darn-near 10 years. Getting emails like this is so meaningful, especially when I think about taking breaks or stopping. Sometimes a few shows will go by with no comments and I'll wonder if anyone listens, and then I hear from a Real Live Human who was helped by all this free content I put out and it keeps me going. So first, thanks to all of you for this, if you've ever emailed or donated to fight diabetes.

US Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe by brewbooks, used under CC

Here's what this particular listener said, with emphasis mine.

Scott,
After listening to your podcast with Mario Hewardt earlier this week on Windows Debugging, I had some of the things you were talking about running through my head. Though I've always come away from your podcasts feeling enriched and excited to tackle new and interesting problems, this was the first time that it had a direct impact on my work so soon after listening.

I work at a big data company that does a lot of social network analysis. We use ElasticSearch in our stack, and we are consistently processing millions of documents using complicated, user generated queries. A release we put out late last week allowed for many, larger, even more complicated user queries, which in turn led to substantial slowdown of our product. Though the code only existed in our staging environment, we are on a deadline for release early this next week. As it became obvious that the application was spending a LOT of time in the code my team was responsible for, we were tasked with "fixing" it ASAP.

I took the first shift, and though my brain immediately started coming up with ways to improve our code, something about your podcast regarding "know the tools your tools are built on" was stuck in my head. Instead of jumping in and optimizing what I was already comfortable with, I spent an hour researching the internals of the ElasticSearch functionality we were relying on.

Not sure how familiar you are with ES, but it distinguishes between searches that simply return a set of documents that match a query, much the way that traditional SQL databases do, and searches that return how well documents match a query, for ranking purposes. As it turned out, we were inadvertently using one of the latter ones, meaning when we provided X giant queries in an OR block, even though it was an OR block, which we expected would short circuit as soon as it returned a TRUE condition, it processed all X queries to determine how well each document matched. My big O notation is a bit rusty, but suffice it to say, it was one of the bad ones.

Instead of a gigantic fire drill app optimization over a weekend, it turned out to be an hour of research followed by switching the word "bool" to the word "or". It's remarkable how the most efficient coding you can do is often stopping and thinking about the problem for awhile!

Anyway, thanks to both you and Mario for saving me and my team a bunch of time!

This was a great reminder to me as well. Research is hard. It's not as dynamic as interactive debugging but it can often save you many wasted hours. Truly successful debugging means doing whatever it takes to understand the problem domain and the code paths.

Do you have any tales of debugging where taking the time to really understand the problem domain saved you time? Or perhaps the opposite, where you just dove in and poked at some code until it worked? Don't be ashamed, I think we've all be on both sides.

Sound off in the comments!


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* Photo - US Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe by brewbooks, used under CC

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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Introducing Web Tiles for Microsoft Band - My diabetes data on a Band!

July 9, '15 Comments [27] Posted in Web Services
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Microsoft Bands in various colorsI love wearables. Check out my blog post from 11 years ago on my "Wrist.NET" Microsoft SPOT watch. This was a time before ubiquitous connectivity and it was an amazing device that provided tons of glanceable information.

Fast-forward to today and I've used a Fitbit, an Apple Watch, a few Pebble Watches, and a Microsoft Band. The thing that I wanted in 2004 - and the thing I want today - has always been an easy way to make an application for my wearable device. When the Microsoft Band (If you get one, print out this Sizing PDF first and measure your wrist) came out I immediately wanted to know what the SDK looked like! How easily could I make a new Tile on my Band?

Well, while the Band SDK is super powerful, just like the Apple Watch and most wearables, if I wanted to make a Band Tile I needed to make a mobile app first! That was a bummer for me. If I want to make a new simple Tile and share it with my friends I first need to make an app, and to have full coverage, I'll need three versions of the app (iPhone, Windows Phone, Android) as well?

The Band isn't a watch, and it's not just a pedometer. The Microsoft Band has ten sensors: an optical heart rate sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, light sensor, skin temp sensor, UV sensor, capacitive sensor, a microphone and one for skin response. I wanted a way to easily connect it to anything else I could think of. Lights, my glucose meter, my Nest, and on and on.

I went to the Band team and started pitching them an idea I called Web Tiles. Since every Band user already has the Microsoft Band (Health) app, why not let the existing app be a bridge and it would own new custom tiles! Web Tiles for glanceable data with a low barrier to entry, and the full Band SDK for rich interactivity. I figured we could write new Tiles with web tech. My personal use case was that I wanted a Web Tile to show my blood sugar from Nightscout, an open source app I use to manage my diabetes. Fortunately the Band Team were like-minded and we collaborated. Eventually they really started running and Web Tiles was born. You may have noticed that we gently introduced Web Tiles at the BUILD conference using my sugar data in the demo.

Web Tiles for Microsoft Band

Today the first preview version of Web Tiles is ready to go. You can make a custom Web Tile in just minutes for your Microsoft Band and install it now. You can put it on your OneDrive or blog, or even just email it to a friend.

If you're slightly technical, you can create Web Tiles with just the documentation, Notepad (or the VS Code editor) and a Zip utility. For the rest of us, you can use the online Web Tile Authoring Tool and it will generate the tile and give it to you for download.

Web Tiles are glanceable tiles that are feed by JSON, XML, or ATOM datasources. If you want to make one, feel free to use my Blood Sugar JSON datasource: http://hanselmanbanddata.azurewebsites.net and the Web Tile Authoring Tool.

The Web Tile Authoring Tool

Web Tile Authoring Tool

Otherwise, here's a little more detail. Be sure to check out the Band team's blog posts and web site!

More Technical Stuff

There is a new runtime inside the Microsoft Health app for iOS, Windows Phone, and Android to manage Web Tiles and keep them fresh. Web Tiles are a zip file with a manifest with image files and JSON inside. You can put Web Tiles anywhere on the web or in email attachments. They have a .webtile extension, but you can use the mshealth-webtile:// custom URL scheme to launch the app and download a webtile, like mshealth-webtile://?action=download-manifest&url=http://www.microsoft.com/mywebtile.webtile

A minimal Web Tile would look like this:

  • mytile.webtile (it's a renamed zip, and paths matter!)
    • /manifest.json // Contains web tile definition and references to other assets
    • /icons/*.png // PNG icons used in the web tile

Tiles can have multiple pages, in a master/detail style, binding to the data however you'd like.

image

Small Nightscout LogoTo make a Web Tile that shows my blood sugar from my Nightscout site, I created this 46x46 PNG of the Nightscout logo and pulled from the JSON feed that represents my own glucose values http://hanselmanbanddata.azurewebsites.net.

The JSON for my Diabetes Web Tile is here, as an example. You'll also find it in the How-To documentation for Web Tiles. The first part is obvious, just a manifest. Then the Tile Icon. I just have one. Then we have a single Tile with a Simple style and three lines. The format you see there "bgs[0].sgv" is a way of pulling from the JSON. Like foo.bar.baz[0] if the JSON were nested named objects. The resources are named, and then later bound in strings within pages.

You could create a Web Tile for anything you have that has a JSON endpoint. I'm going to make a Web Tile to monitor my 3D Printer using Octoprint's REST API for example.

{
"manifestVersion": 1,
"name": "Nightscout",
"description": "Nightscout Blood Sugar",
"version": 1,
"versionString": "1",
"author": "Scott Hanselman",
"organization": "Nightscout",
"contactEmail": "",
"tileIcon": {
"46": "icons/tileIcon.png"
},
"refreshIntervalMinutes": 15,
"resources": [
{
"url": "http://hanselmanbanddata.azurewebsites.net/api/Band",
"style": "Simple",
"content": {
"bgs0sgv": "bgs[0].sgv",
"bgs0bgdelta": "bgs[0].bgdelta",
"bgs0direction": "bgs[0].direction"
}
}
],
"pages": [
{
"layout": "MSBand_NoScrollingText",
"condition": "true",
"textBindings": [
{
"elementId": "1",
"value": "Sugar: {{bgs0sgv}}"
},
{
"elementId": "2",
"value": "Delta: {{bgs0bgdelta}}"
},
{
"elementId": "3",
"value": "Trend: {{bgs0direction}}"
}
]
}
]
}

I mail the Web Tile to myself and see this on my iPhone. (Again, it could be in Dropbox, OneDrive, etc)

Emailing a WebTile to myself

Now I "Open in Microsoft Health..."

Adding a Web Tile to my Band

Click Save...

Now I have 2 web tiles in my band

And I've got two new custom Web Tiles now!

IMG_2465

And here's my Band with my Web Tile installed! (Yes, at this moment in time my sugar is a little high, but I'm on it.)

In the future I'd like to see events, buttons, triggers, push notifications, inline images, charts/sparklines, and more. What do you want to use Web Ties for? Is this cool?

I'm sure the team is interested in the direction you'd like to see Web Tiles go. Interactions? Events? Real-time? More sensor support? Authentication? Sound off in the comments, vote on the Microsoft Band and Health UserVoice page and absolutely email them directly at healthms@microsoft.com.

DONATE: If you appreciate this blog and what I'm doing here, please donate to fight diabetes. Read about my story at http://hanselman.com/fightdiabetes, watch my Diabetes YouTube video, and make a tax-deductible donation here http://hanselman.com/fightdiabetes/donate

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.