Scott Hanselman

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October 31, '03 Comments [3] Posted in Longhorn | PDC
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TheLonghornVideo.AVI (1.14 MB)

To say folks were excited about Longhorn may be the understatement of 2003...

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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Avalon, Automation and Accessibility

October 31, '03 Comments [2] Posted in Longhorn | PDC | Africa | Tools
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Here's a great scoop by a Microsoft Insider from the bowels of the Comments on a recent post:

We aren't advertising it as such, but, [Avalon] UI Automation is the replacement for MSAA and it is being built by the Accessibility team at MS. When we talked to developers such as screen reader manufacturers and application developers about MSAA it was clear that MSAA could not stretch to cover the demands of computing that the coming decade will bring. Especially for people with disabilities.

Given the value that testers derived from MSAA, we decided we would get far better penetration of the accessibility framework if we achieved it through promoting the benefit to developers, testers and the companies they work for. That way everyone benefits.

This is welcome news, and I must say “big ups“ to MSFT for making it happen. 

[Unrelated aside: I sat next to a Manager-Type for Word once on a plane and I complemented him on Microsoft's respect for other cultures, specfically for resonable support for Ethiopian Amharic in Word XP.  Turns out the powers that be didn't REALLY care as much as he did, but he sold the idea in another way - as a complete Unicode-ization of Word to simplify deployment and testing.  Getting all these other languages to work was a welcome side effect, as he was an Asian language fan.  He did have to make some special effort for Amharic, and to that I say Amessagganalehugn. Apparently this isn't an unusual way to get things done at MSFT.  I respect the effort. ] 

This new UI Automation Framework will surely make testing easier, but it also opens the door to completely new paradigms for blind or “differently-able“ individuals.  Rather than writing entirely new Shells from scratch, or (gasp) messing with Windows Classes and walking handles(which is the Win32 equivalent to screen scraping) we'll be able to concern ourselves with the behavior or anima of the UI, and not it's implementation.

As an interesting side note, I've worked on Accessible websites that have to comply with the Federal Section 508 Accessiblity standards.  It's hard.  Navigating Windows itself, especially when an unexpected dialog box or error occurs is HARD.  Now, I've got bad eyes.  ~20/1600 to be exact, but I also run 19“ LCDs with 18pt Fonts and Large Icons.  But, if you REALLY want to understand what being blind and computing is like try this:

  • Download a trial copy of JAWS for Windows.  It is a screen synthesizer and it will read whatever's on your screen.  It's VERY souped-up compared to the built-in Windows Accessbility Narrator. 
  • Now, turn off the lights, close the windows, doors, and unplug your monitor.
  • Then, use your now-headless computer for a day.

I did this while doing some research on creating a accessible website for the blind for a large eastern bank.  Surfing the net was obnoxious.  So few sites follow the guidelines outline in the Web Accessibility Inititive and others. 

Try running your own blog or website through Bobby (a Web accessibility software tool) and see what it says.

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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PDC - Conclusion

October 31, '03 Comments [2] Posted in Longhorn | PDC | ASP.NET | Speaking | XML | Web Services
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Oh, yes, PDC was the shiznit.  We learned about the Pillars of Longhorn:

What's in store for PDC 2004/5? - Don't fool yourself, the next PDC will also be “The Longhorn PDC,“ except you'll see your feedback folded into much improved Beta bits.  Remember, this was a preview, there's still great things being done with .NET 1.0, 1.1 and soon Whidbey (.NET 2.0). 

Monday, back to reality, and I'm back to coding some great .NET Framework 1.1 libraries to support some of the world's largest banks (and interop'ing with some VB6 libraries! Oy, the glamour!) :)

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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PDC - Day 2 - WSV303 - Indigo, Using XSD, CLR Types and Serialization in Web Services

October 29, '03 Comments [4] Posted in Longhorn | PDC | ASP.NET | XmlSerializer | Tools
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I'm here sitting with Rory in the Xml Serialization talk being given by the legendary Doug Purdy.  Doug's quite a good speaker and very funny.

Lengendary? Why?  Well, not only is he responsible for the goodness that is the XmlSerializer, he's also responsible (or he knows the guy who is) for this undocumented switch:

      <ADD value="1" name="XmlSerialization.Compilation" />

If you add this to a .config file (for your AppDomain) you'll get some temporary files in c:\documents and settings\local settings\\temp.  Try it.  Run some serialization code and checkout the .CS file(s) that are created.  Very damn useful.  This works today with .NET.

But I'm here to hear about new versions of stuff.  Here's some new things about XmlSerialization in the Whidbey version of .NET.

  • There's a tool called SGEN that will “NGEN” your serialization code. That way you don't need to take the initial hit when the Serialization Assembly is emited.  You can basically ship it with the code.
  • Adding support for Generics to the Serializer, both open generics and instatiated generics
  • Support for Extensibility around Schema Importing
  • SqlType support
  • The BinaryFormatter is Version Tolerant
  • Here's some new Attributes:
    • [OptionalSerializable] - Does just what you'd think.  Makes a field optional, and consequently helps you deal with Version changes between Object Heirarchies

Here's what's going on with XmlSerialization in Indigo (after Whidbey, in Longhorn):

  • The Serializer is now in the Core
  • Architecture of the CLR, not just “tacked on“
  • A Tale of Two Type Systems
    • Act One: Whidbey
      • Mapping XSD into the CLR is very challenging, including mapping some of the concepts that exist in XSD that just don't in the CLR
      • Mapping from the CLR to XSD is fairly straightforward
      • CLR to CLR is really easy
    • Act Two: Indigo
      • Big Conclusion - Serialization is different than Xml Programming.  Developers don't think about the format on the wire.  They want the CLR to fix it for them.
      • New stack: XmlFormatteer consiting of Serialization Engine -> Extensibility -> Xml Processing - Representations
      • XmlBinaryReader and XmlBinaryWriter being introduced
      • Allow the developer to express the data contract for a given type Explicitly
      • [DataMember] lets you markup any member and include it into the Data Contract.  It doesn't care about accessiblity.  That means you can mark something private or internal and if it's marked with [DataMember] then it gets serialized.
      • Cool...you can have two totally “different“ CLR types, perhaps one has a private something with a property accessor and another version has the same “semantic“ member but it's public.  You can mark them up with DataMember to make the contract with the serializer the same so the objects will serialize the same.
      • WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT: You can serialize one CLR object from one Assembly and deserialize it into another totally different implemenation (a totally different CLR type).  As long as we both agree on the contract, we can use the same underlying data representation.  Yum.
  • Existing Types continue to work, but you get loose coupling and version resiliance

Doug said he woke up this morning hoping the sky would be Indigo.  It wasn't.  But one day...

P.S. I forgot to mention that Christian Weyer can lift Rory with ease.  If he were Austrian, he could be a governor.

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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Watch out for Longhorn Mobs...flash your signs...

October 27, '03 Comments [2] Posted in Longhorn | PDC | Speaking
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Apparently my "Longhorn Gang Sign” from .NET Rocks is catching on:

(I have no idea who this is, but I know it's not me. ;) )

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.