Archive for category Development

Office 2010 Beta Now Available to MSDN / TechNet Subscribers

imageWhile I spend a lot of time writing and speaking about enterprise technology (such as server virtualization), like most techies, I do it using Microsoft Office.  I’m a big fan of Microsoft Office 2007, and I’m always eager to try new beta version of the product suite.  Thanks to the MSDN Subscriber Download’s RSS feed, I found out that the official first beta of Office 2010 is now available for download.  If you have a subscription, you can access the downloads from the following sites:

Just search for “Office 2010”, and you should see the relevant downloads.  Be sure to generate keys for activation of the beta, as well.  I’m not sure about the exact plans for making the downloads available publicly, but Microsoft will hopefully make the beta easily accessible to a wide range of potential testers later this week.

For more information on what’s new, see the official Microsoft Office 2010 product site.  As far as at the client applications themselves, the changes seem to be largely incremental (all apps now have the Ribbon UI).  I’m pondering upgrading my primary computer to the newest beta and will likely post some more details here if I do.  Particularly, I’ll focus on backwards-compatibility and file format upgrade issues (such as upgrading my Outlook PST files to work with Outlook 2010).  Happy downloading!

Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 Available for Download


Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 development environment is a complete overhaul of the popular IDE.  It will continue to support all current Microsoft development languages and technologies, but it also features a completely revamped UI that’s based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).  If you have an MSDN or Microsoft TechNet subscription, you can download the files now.  The available editions include:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • Visual Studio 2010 Premium
  • Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
  • Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server

You can also find a number of “Additional Resources”, including web installer packages and tools for testing and team-based development.  More information is available on the Visual Studio 2010 Product Information Site (note that, as of this writing, the site still provides links to the Beta 1 version of VS 2010).

Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet’s Microsoft Watch provides some more details in Testers to get Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 this week; final by March 2010.  It looks like the plan is to open up the beta to all testers later this week.  The article also provides some basic details about the various editions, their estimated prices, and how you can get hold of them upon release.

The first official beta version of VS 2010 came out in May, so it has been a refresh is very welcome.  I have done some informal testing of the first beta and it seems to be fairly stable overall.  That version was clearly nowhere near the polish that the release version should have, but it was certainly usable and provided some exciting new features (I’ll cover the highlights in an upcoming post).

Currently, it looks like the final version will be available in Q1, 2009 (based on reports from ZDNet and other bloggers).  Let’s hope that it provides all the improvements and new features we’ve been waiting for!

Austin Code Camp 2009 Presentations

Code Camps are free events that are held by and for developers.  They focus on real, practical technical information that is presented through demonstrations.  Many user groups hold these sessions on weekends to help support the best attendance and availability.  The topics focus on a wide variety of subjects that are of interest to developers.  Examples include development methodologies, specific technical features, and development techniques.  You can find more information in the Code Camp Manifesto.

Austin Code Camp 2009 is scheduled for Saturday, May 30, 2009 and will be held at the St. Edwards Professional Education Center.  Past events have had hundreds of attendees with dozens of sessions.  If you’re in the area, I highly recommend attending at least part of the event.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? :) 

This year, I’ll be presenting on three topics (listed below, with abstracts).  Each session is scheduled to last two hours and will focus on practical demonstrations.  Specific presentation times have not yet been posted, but keep checking the web site for more details.  In the meantime, be sure to register to attend and vote on proposed topics.  If you can’t make it, I plan to post the presentation slides and sample code on my web site just prior to the event.

Presentation Topics & Abstracts

SQL Server Reporting Services: Report Creation and Deployment:

Using SQL Server Reporting Services, developers can author and distribute complex reports that come from a variety of data sources. The session will begin with an architectural overview of Reporting Services and how developers can install and configure the required services. Then, we will walk through the process of creating new reports by building connections and data sets using Report Builder 2.0 and Visual Studio 2008. Reporting design features including dynamic drill-downs, matrix reports, charts, and sorting will be provided. Also included will be methods by which multiple levels of report parameters can be used to filter data and increase performance. Next, we’ll look at deployment details, including scheduling reports, configuring caching, creating snapshots, and managing security. Time permitting, the presentation will include a demonstration of using Report Viewer controls within ASP.NET and Windows Forms applications.

SQL Server Basics for Non-DBAs

Although relational databases are a critical component of most applications, many developers often have only a basic understanding of how they work. This session will describe the architecture of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and its many features can be used to improve the end-user experience. The presentation will begin with an overview of the SQL Server platform, including installation and configuration of the server. Then, we’ll look at ways in which you can manage logical databases and their constituent files. Recommendations for regular database maintenance and data protection will be covered next. Other important tasks include managing security, including techniques such as role-based security, permissions hierarchies, and data- and object-level encryption. Finally, we’ll conclude with some best practices for managing database schemas and objects. Attendees are encouraged to bring their server and database management questions.

SQL Server Performance Monitoring & Optimization

Developers can dramatically improve performance by understanding how their queries are executing in the "real world". This session will cover ways in which attendees can monitor performance at various levels, and how they can use this information to optimize queries and improve overall application performance. We’ll start with a discussion of developing a performance optimization strategy and how various tools can help. Then, we’ll walk through the process of using SQL Profiler to collect data in a real-world case: Generating a "hit list" of worst-performing queries based on execution times and frequency. Next we’ll look at using the Database Engine Tuning Advisor to make suggestions related to physical database structures such as indexes and partitions. Also included will be ways in which built-in reports and dynamic management views can be used to monitor performance of production systems. Time permitting, the presentation will include methods for reducing deadlocks and managing long-running transactions. Finally, the presentation will include an overview of analyzing query plans. The overall emphasis will be on solving practical, real-world database performance problems.

SQL Server 2008 RTM Requires Visual Studio 2008 SP1

While SQL Server 2008 has reached the release (RTM) stage, there’s a potential gotcha that’s going to prevent many of us from upgrading right away.  The issue is that the SQL Server 2008 installer requires you to have installed Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2008 in order to complete the setup process.  If you can’t yet meet this requirement, you’ll receive the following error message:

A previous release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 is installed on this computer. Upgrade Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to the SP1 before installing SQL Server 2008.

The issue is described in Microsoft Article 956139: Visual Studio 2008 SP1 may be required for SQL Server 2008 installations.  Unfortunately, the article seems to leave out an important point: The release version of Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is not yet available (you can download and install the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta, but it won’t meet the installation requirement).  So what can you do? 

It looks like we’ll all have to wait until the final release of VS 2008 SP1.  You can also read more about what features are included in the update at the VS 2008 SP Beta site.  Microsoft currently states that it will be available by August 11th, so it shouldn’t be too much longer.  Still, a better-coordinated release process (and bigger warnings) would have been helpful.

SQL Server 2008 Final Release Available

After what seems like an eternity in development, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 has finally been released.  That’s right – this latest version is not a beta version, a CTP, an RC, or anything of the sort.  MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers can download the RTM bits now.  Physical media should make it’s way to users within the next few weeks.  Here are some links to articles that might help smooth the transition to SQL Server 2008:

That should be plenty of leisure reading to get everyone up to speed on the latest version of SQL Server.  While there’s no rush to upgrade many existing installations, the list of improvements and new features in the latest version provides some compelling reasons to do so.

One note of warning: If you’re running Visual Studio 2008, you might have to wait a few more days before you can install or upgrade to SQL Server 2008.  I’ll post about that separately.

Visual Studio 2008 & Business Intelligence Development Studio (Troubleshooting)

I recently installed Visual Studio 2008 on my main development computer and have been very happy with it overall.  However, before starting the installation, I decided to remove all of the Visual Studio 2005 components from my computer.  Overall, this was a good idea (VS 2008 is backwards-compatible), but I found out that it broke my ability to launch the Business Intelligence Development Studio (the primary tool for creating, among other things, SQL Server Reporting Services projects).  One solution would be to re-run the SQL Server 2005 setup, but I didn’t want to go through the time and trouble.

Fortunately, it looks like there’s a better way…  This MSDN Thread outlines a great response from Dan Jones:

You should make sure that Visual Studio is still installed. If you didn’t previously have VS installed, the BI Dev Studio installation will install a VS shell called Visual Studio Premier Partner Edition. Look in Add or Remove Programs for an entry like this. If you don’t find any entry for Visual Studio go to the location for SQL Server setup and run .\Tools\Setup\vs_setup.exe. This will install the VS Shell. After this is installed repair the BI Studio installation by running the following from the command line from the .\Tools directory: start /wait setup.exe /qb REINSTALL=SQL_WarehouseDevWorkbench REINSTALLMODE=OMUS

After running both commands, I’m back up and running properly.  Hopefully, this “gotcha” will be better documented at some point (perhaps in an official Knowledge Base article?).  For now, though it should get you back up and running within about 10 minutes.  Note that you’ll want to run Microsoft Update to install the Visual Studio SP1 updates on your computer.

Update: If you’re looking for information on SQL Server 2008 R2 and Report Builder 3.0, please see my newer post SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder 3.0 (RTM).

Free Microsoft Learning Courses

If you’re not already familiar with the Microsoft Learning web site, you might be missing out on many different training courses and resources.  The site provides access to hundreds of resources, ranging from books to exams to online training courses.  Content is organized both by the role of an IT pro (systems administration, development, etc.) and by technology.

If you want to get started with content related to security, development, and related topics, see the list of free courses.  Often, these courses cover new technologies or methods that Microsoft wants developers and IT pros to learn about.  Current examples include:

I have completed somewhere around a dozen of these courses over the last few years, and I have found most of them to be pretty useful for quickly getting up to speed on new technologies.  And, they’re a good chance of pace from reading books, blogs, and other online materials.

Visual Studio 2008 RTM now available

For all the developer-types out there, Visual Studio 2008 (formerly code-named "Orcas"), has been released and is now available for download.  You can download a trial version on the Try Visual Studio 2008 site.  Best of all, if you have an active MSDN Subscription, you’re already licensed to run the latest version of Visual Studio.  Just use the MSDN Subscriber Downloads page. 

There’s already a lot of useful information on VS 2008 on other sites and blogs.  I’ll just plug one of the more convenient ones: You no longer have to have multiple versions of Visual Studio involved if you plan to deploy to .NET 2.0, 3.0, or 3.5 applications.  That means that. unless you need to deploy to .NET 1.x platforms, you can replace VS 2005 with VS 2008.  I’m getting warmed up to LINQ and some of the other new features in the IDE.  Good stuff…