.NET To Go Mobility Roadshow

GANG (Great Lakes Area .NET Users
Group)
 is helping to host the .NET To Go Mobility
Roadshow
 on Wed., Oct 20, 2004 at the Microsoft Offices in Southfield.

.NET To Go

The .NET To Go Mobility Roadshow will provide
you with the answers to your mobile development questions. Digging into the
details, using more code and fewer slides, these technical sessions will show
you how to develop and implement mobile solutions using the .NET Compact
Framework and languages you are already familiar with. To register for this
FREE event or to learn
more, go to www.msmobilitytour.com
.

Registration is required to make sure that you can get in. You can register
at the MS Events page – http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032259728&Culture=en-US.

Wise WebCast

Bill Wagner (Great Lakes Area .NET Users Group President, Regional Director
and author of the C# Core Language Little Black Book and Effective C#) is going
to be doing a webcast on how to install and configure Data Driven Web
Applications.

If you’ve faced the frustration deploying a data-driven
Web application to a server, or tried moving applications from one server to
another, you need to attend this webcast. Learn how to create installations for
your Web application as easily as a desktop application. By attending this
webcast you will learn:

  • Why your Web application needs an installer
  • What problems you will face deploying manually
  • How to create multiple Web sites and virtual
    directories in the same installation
  • How to connect to and configure SQL Server databases
  • How to manage security for your application
  • How to edit web.config to customize your installation

 

Join Wise Solutions and Bill Wagner of SRT Solutions as
we cover the
process of creating an easy installation
for a complex Web application.

Thursday, September 30 @ 8:30 a.m. EST

For Registration go to http://www.wise.com/wfwi_webcasts.asp.

Blog Post Headlines and Pictures

Patrick Steele (http://weblogs.asp.net/psteele/archive/2004/09/16/230473.aspx?Pending=true) and Scoble have been talking about using descriptive titles on your blog posts to make it easier to scan and triage what posts you read. That’s actually a great point. I know that I scan 150+ blogs and Patrick is in the same ballpark. That’s an average of 80-120 posts a day and some days are more intense than that. The good news is that NewsGator (http://www.NewsGator.com), SharpReader (http://www.sharpreader.net/) and RSS Bandit (http://www.rssbandit.org/) all make scanning new posts.

 

Patrick went on to post about the number of pictures that are on blogs and how frustrating that is when you are offline. One the one hand, I agree with that. It’s really frustrating that when you are offline and the major portion of a given blog with an interesting headline is a picture. On the other hand, I really like the pictures that are on some of the blogs that I read. Some examples of this are:
http://bucsfishingreport.com/pMachine/weblog.php

http://weblogs.asp.net/jrule/Rss.aspx

 

I’m not saying that the pictures make the post but it does help the item. Some other blogs just add pictures for the fun of it and they don’t really add anything to the post.

There are few things that I’d like to suggest about pictures.

First, be judicial in your use of pictures. That is, make sure that they add something to the post.

Second, in the short term, make sure that you provide alternative text for all of the pictures on your blog.

Third, I’d love it if one on the readers (or all of them for that matter) would have an option to download pictures and the like with the posts.

History of Programming Languages

I thought that this was an interesting item. It’s the history of programming languages back to the mid-50s. There are a few things that I saw that were interesting – such as the fact that Fortran will be 50 this November and is the ancestor to a number of programming languages. There were a few inaccuracies, such as the fact that they skipped from VB 1.0 to VB 6.0 and completely missed all of the releases between.

 

 

 

Oh well, it’s an interesting thing anyways…

CodeDom Article

I know that it’s not a really big deal to many authors, but I got my first article published on the Fawcette Reports web site.

I didn’t know that it was actually published until I started getting emails about it – but it’s linked below.

Databinding on the Compact Framework

Through careful use of databinding, your UI code can be very light weight.

There are two forms of databinding that we need to discuss, binding to properties of objects and binding to a list of objects – which often binds to properties of the individual objects.

First, let’s deal with the less talked about binding to properties. The code to setup a binding to a particular property on an object is fairly simple. The following snippet binds the text property of the _txtName textbox to the name of a person.

 

_txtName.DataBindings.Add(“Text”, person, “name”);

 

This assumes several things. First of all, it assumes that the TextBox has a Text property. Second, it assumes that the person is not null and lastly, that the person has a valid property called name. Once you work through those assumptions, the TextBox in question will not only show but allow you to edit the person’s name with that one line of code. If, however, instead of a person object, you have a table with rows of people, you will bind as follows.

 

_txtName.DataBindings.Add(“Text”, _dataSet.Tables[“person”], “name”);

 

As a quick note, on the full framework, I would bind the text as follows.

 

_txtName.DataBindings.Add(“Text”, _dataSet, “person.name”);

 

However, this is a shortcoming of the Compact Framework in that it is not able to bind to expressions like “person.name”.

 

Back to the original thought, as this is a simple textbox, this is only able to bind to one row at a time so it’s going to enlist the BindingManagerBase for the form to pick which row is bound. The BindingManagerBase controls the databinding for a particular object for all of the bound sub-controls of the control from which it was returned. Most often, it is used to control the bindings for an entire form, as I’ve done in the sample, but it can also be used on a particular Tab or Panel. To get the BindingManagerBase, use the BindingContext for the container in question to retrieve it as follows.

 

BindingManagerBase _bindingManager = null;

_bindingManager = this.BindingContext[_dataSet.Tables[“person”]];

 

At this point, you can use the BindingManagerBase to control the position in the list and thus the current row bound by the TextBox by setting its Position or to monitor changes to the object by subscribing to the CurrentChanged event.

 

BindingManagerBase _bindingManager = null;

private void Bind()

{

            _bindingManager = this.BindingContext[_dataSet.Tables[“person”]];

            _bindingManager.PositionChanged +=

                      new EventHandler(_bindingManager_PositionChanged);

_bindingManager.CurrentChanged +=

         new EventHandler(_bindingManager_CurrentChanged);

 

            _txtName.DataBindings.Add(“Text”, _dataSet.Tables[“person”], “name”);

            _txtEmail.DataBindings.Add(“Text”, _dataSet.Tables[“person”], “email”);

}

private void _btnNext_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)

{

            _bindingManager.Position++;

}

private void _btnPrevious_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)

{

            _bindingManager.Position–;                   

}

 

This will allow you to cycle through the list easily.

 

The second form of databinding, binding to lists, is even easier. The code is as follows.

 

private void BindList()

{

            _lstMain.DataSource = _dataSet.Tables[“person”];

            _lstMain.DisplayMember = “name”;

}

 

Setting the DataSource on the list requires that the list (or table in this sample) implements IList or IListSource, which the DataTable does. Setting the DisplayMember is similar to the binding of the properties that we did earlier in that it will show the name column or property on the person object or row in the list.

 

There are some benefits to combining these methods of databinding. For example, if you bind the table to the list and bind the textbox to the same table – the listbox will automatically keep track of the positioning of the BindingManagerBase.

 

In conclusion, there is very little need to write a lot of UI code anymore. Instead, leverage databinding to your advantage to keep your UI lightweight and responsive. 

 

For a full code listing download the sample code below.

Unit Testing

There is a fantastic article on the subject linked to from this item by Justin Gehtland. I really like how the Justin equates unit testing to the spell checker in Word. You shouldn’t have to wait until you are done with the document or, worse, wait until the client calls you to know that you misspelled something.

RSS Winterfest

I “Attended” most of the RSS Winterfest and it was an interesting experience on many levels.


First, some thoughts about the content itself. It was interesting to hear some of the uses of RSS. I personally think that it would be more interesting to have heard more about the technical implementations of some of the uses of RSS rather than chatter about how cool it is and how well it was being adapted. By virtue of attending the conference, we were by definition the proverbial choir that was being preached to. As a result, I thought that most of this was wasted. Bill French of MyST gave one of the more interesting talks because he talked about actual uses of RSS and how it helped solve problems outside of the realm of blogging and news syndication. In that same vein was Greg Lloyd of Traction Software who talked about using RSS to fight drug gangs in San Diego. This is not obvious at first, but if you start thinking about getting the right knowledge out into the hands of everyone who needs it about the latest gang intelligence so that they can more work efficiently – RSS is the obvious answer.


Some of the things that were interesting were the discussions on how to make the business case for RSS and the discussion about advertising. The short version is that since most of the RSS feeds are for free and businesses want to make money off of them, they don’t see the value of them. As a result of this, some of people are looking at the value of advertising in the feeds as a way of generating revenue.


Second, I want to talk about the virtual conference experience itself. On the whole it was a decent experience. I got to sit in the comfort of my home and listen to the whole thing with my own coffee (rather than the cheap junk that they usually try to pass off as coffee), my own food (same as the coffee) and so on. That part of it was really nice.


However, there were a couple of things that I found less than appealing… No, I’m not talking about the lack of swag on the exhibitor floor because I speak at enough conferences that I’m sick of the cheap t-shirts and pens that were bought at $10.00 a thousand. Mainly, I missed the personal contact with the speakers and other attendees. Yes, there was the Wiki and so on, but I could really get to know anyone or corner a speaker after a talk for half an hour to really get to know him and ask him about the talk. From a speakers stand point, it would be hard to get a read on the crowd to know if you’ve lost them or not. I mean, how do you know that the Wiki is not just 10 people that are interested and the other 1000 people are tuning out because you’ve lost them.


The last point on the conference itself is that I was rather unimpressed by the pushing of the powerpoint and so on. It would have been much more engaging, I think, to have a more traditional web cast type of setup where the audience could see the speakers. At a minimum, it would have been nice to have photos of the speakers on the page so that we could see who they were and put names/voices with faces.


I’m really interested in comments on the virtual conference idea here as I’m always looking for good ways to reach people. I’m just wondering if the virtual conference is the right media.