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  • HTML5 Form Validation

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The latest versions of Google Chrome (16+), Mozilla Firefox (8+), and Internet Explorer (10+) all support HTML5 client-side validation. It is time to take HTML5 validation seriously. The purpose of the blog post is to describe how you can take advantage of HTML5 client-side validation regardless of the type of application that you are building. You learn how to use the HTML5 validation attributes, how to perform custom validation using the JavaScript validation constraint API, and how to simulate HTML5 validation on older browsers by taking advantage of a jQuery plugin. Finally, we discuss the security issues related to using client-side validation. Using Client-Side Validation Attributes The HTML5 specification discusses several attributes which you can use with INPUT elements to perform client-side validation including the required, pattern, min, max, step, and maxlength attributes. For example, you use the required attribute to require a user to enter a value for an INPUT element. The following form demonstrates how you can make the firstName and lastName form fields required: <!DOCTYPE html> <html > <head> <title>Required Demo</title> </head> <body> <form> <label> First Name: <input required title="First Name is Required!" /> </label> <label> Last Name: <input required title="Last Name is Required!" /> </label> <button>Register</button> </form> </body> </html> If you attempt to submit this form without entering a value for firstName or lastName then you get the validation error message: Notice that the value of the title attribute is used to display the validation error message “First Name is Required!”. The title attribute does not work this way with the current version of Firefox. If you want to display a custom validation error message with Firefox then you need to include an x-moz-errormessage attribute like this: <input required title="First Name is Required!" x-moz-errormessage="First Name is Required!" /> The pattern attribute enables you to validate the value of an INPUT element against a regular expression. For example, the following form includes a social security number field which includes a pattern attribute: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Pattern</title> </head> <body> <form> <label> Social Security Number: <input required pattern="^d{3}-d{2}-d{4}$" title="###-##-####" /> </label> <button>Register</button> </form> </body> </html> The regular expression in the form above requires the social security number to match the pattern ###-##-####: Notice that the input field includes both a pattern and a required validation attribute. If you don’t enter a value then the regular expression is never triggered. You need to include the required attribute to force a user to enter a value and cause the value to be validated against the regular expression. Custom Validation You can take advantage of the HTML5 constraint validation API to perform custom validation. You can perform any custom validation that you need. The only requirement is that you write a JavaScript function. For example, when booking a hotel room, you might want to validate that the Arrival Date is in the future instead of the past: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Constraint Validation API</title> </head> <body> <form> <label> Arrival Date: <input id="arrivalDate" type="date" required /> </label> <button>Submit Reservation</button> </form> <script type="text/javascript"> var arrivalDate = document.getElementById("arrivalDate"); arrivalDate.addEventListener("input", function() { var value = new Date(arrivalDate.value); if (value < new Date()) { arrivalDate.setCustomValidity("Arrival date must be after now!"); } else { arrivalDate.setCustomValidity(""); } }); </script> </body> </html> The form above contains an input field named arrivalDate. Entering a value into the arrivalDate field triggers the input event. The JavaScript code adds an event listener for the input event and checks whether the date entered is greater than the current date. If validation fails then the validation error message “Arrival date must be after now!” is assigned to the arrivalDate input field by calling the setCustomValidity() method of the validation constraint API. Otherwise, the validation error message is cleared by calling setCustomValidity() with an empty string. HTML5 Validation and Older Browsers But what about older browsers? For example, what about Apple Safari and versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer older than Internet Explorer 10? What the world really needs is a jQuery plugin which provides backwards compatibility for the HTML5 validation attributes. If a browser supports the HTML5 validation attributes then the plugin would do nothing. Otherwise, the plugin would add support for the attributes. Unfortunately, as far as I know, this plugin does not exist. I have not been able to find any plugin which supports both the required and pattern attributes for older browsers, but does not get in the way of these attributes in the case of newer browsers. There are several jQuery plugins which provide partial support for the HTML5 validation attributes including: · jQuery Validation — http://docs.jquery.com/Plugins/Validation · html5Form — http://www.matiasmancini.com.ar/jquery-plugin-ajax-form-validation-html5.html · h5Validate — http://ericleads.com/h5validate/ The jQuery Validation plugin – the most popular JavaScript validation library – supports the HTML5 required attribute, but it does not support the HTML5 pattern attribute. Likewise, the html5Form plugin does not support the pattern attribute. The h5Validate plugin provides the best support for the HTML5 validation attributes. The following page illustrates how this plugin supports both the required and pattern attributes: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>h5Validate</title> <style type="text/css"> .validationError { border: solid 2px red; } .validationValid { border: solid 2px green; } </style> </head> <body> <form id="customerForm"> <label> First Name: <input id="firstName" required /> </label> <label> Social Security Number: <input id="ssn" required pattern="^d{3}-d{2}-d{4}$" title="Expected pattern is ###-##-####" /> </label> <input type="submit" /> </form> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.4.4.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery.h5validate.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> // Enable h5Validate plugin $("#customerForm").h5Validate({ errorClass: "validationError", validClass: "validationValid" }); // Prevent form submission when errors $("#customerForm").submit(function (evt) { if ($("#customerForm").h5Validate("allValid") === false) { evt.preventDefault(); } }); </script> </body> </html> When an input field fails validation, the validationError CSS class is applied to the field and the field appears with a red border. When an input field passes validation, the validationValid CSS class is applied to the field and the field appears with a green border. From the perspective of HTML5 validation, the h5Validate plugin is the best of the plugins. It adds support for the required and pattern attributes to browsers which do not natively support these attributes such as IE9. However, this plugin does not include everything in my wish list for a perfect HTML5 validation plugin. Here’s my wish list for the perfect back compat HTML5 validation plugin: 1. The plugin would disable itself when used with a browser which natively supports HTML5 validation attributes. The plugin should not be too greedy – it should not handle validation when a browser could do the work itself. 2. The plugin should simulate the same user interface for displaying validation error messages as the user interface displayed by browsers which natively support HTML5 validation. Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer all display validation errors in a popup. The perfect plugin would also display a popup. 3. Finally, the plugin would add support for the setCustomValidity() method and the other methods of the HTML5 validation constraint API. That way, you could implement custom validation in a standards compatible way and you would know that it worked across all browsers both old and new. Security It would be irresponsible of me to end this blog post without mentioning the issue of security. It is important to remember that any client-side validation — including HTML5 validation — can be bypassed. You should use client-side validation with the intention to create a better user experience. Client validation is great for providing a user with immediate feedback when the user is in the process of completing a form. However, client-side validation cannot prevent an evil hacker from submitting unexpected form data to your web server. You should always enforce your validation rules on the server. The only way to ensure that a required field has a value is to verify that the required field has a value on the server. The HTML5 required attribute does not guarantee anything. Summary The goal of this blog post was to describe the support for validation contained in the HTML5 standard. You learned how to use both the required and the pattern attributes in an HTML5 form. We also discussed how you can implement custom validation by taking advantage of the setCustomValidity() method. Finally, I discussed the available jQuery plugins for adding support for the HTM5 validation attributes to older browsers. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any jQuery plugin which provides a perfect solution to the problem of backwards compatibility.

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  • jQuery and Windows Azure

    - by Stephen Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to describe how you can host a simple Ajax application created with jQuery in the Windows Azure cloud. In this blog entry, I make no assumptions. I assume that you have never used Windows Azure and I am going to walk through the steps required to host the application in the cloud in agonizing detail. Our application will consist of a single HTML page and a single service. The HTML page will contain jQuery code that invokes the service to retrieve and display set of records. There are five steps that you must complete to host the jQuery application: Sign up for Windows Azure Create a Hosted Service Install the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio Create a Windows Azure Cloud Service Deploy the Cloud Service Sign Up for Windows Azure Go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/ and click the Sign up Now button. Select one of the offers. I selected the Introductory Special offer because it is free and I just wanted to experiment with Windows Azure for the purposes of this blog entry.     To sign up, you will need a Windows Live ID and you will need to enter a credit card number. After you finish the sign up process, you will receive an email that explains how to activate your account. Accessing the Developer Portal After you create your account and your account is activated, you can access the Windows Azure developer portal by visiting the following URL: http://windows.azure.com/ When you first visit the developer portal, you will see the one project that you created when you set up your Windows Azure account (In a fit of creativity, I named my project StephenWalther).     Creating a New Windows Azure Hosted Service Before you can host an application in the cloud, you must first add a hosted service to your project. Click your project on the summary page and click the New Service link. You are presented with the option of creating either a new Storage Account or a new Hosted Services.     Because we have code that we want to run in the cloud – the WCF Service -- we want to select the Hosted Services option. After you select this option, you must provide a name and description for your service. This information is used on the developer portal so you can distinguish your services.     When you create a new hosted service, you must enter a unique name for your service (I selected jQueryApp) and you must select a region for this service (I selected Anywhere US). Click the Create button to create the new hosted service.   Install the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio We’ll use Visual Studio to create our jQuery project. Before you can use Visual Studio with Windows Azure, you must first install the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/ and click the Get Tools and SDK button. The Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio works with both Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010.   Installation of the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio is painless. You just need to check some agreement checkboxes and click the Next button a few times and installation will begin:   Creating a Windows Azure Application After you install the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio, you can choose to create a Windows Azure Cloud Service by selecting the menu option File, New Project and selecting the Windows Azure Cloud Service project template. I named my new Cloud Service with the name jQueryApp.     Next, you need to select the type of Cloud Service project that you want to create from the New Cloud Service Project dialog.   I selected the C# ASP.NET Web Role option. Alternatively, I could have picked the ASP.NET MVC 2 Web Role option if I wanted to use jQuery with ASP.NET MVC or even the CGI Web Role option if I wanted to use jQuery with PHP. After you complete these steps, you end up with two projects in your Visual Studio solution. The project named WebRole1 represents your ASP.NET application and we will use this project to create our jQuery application. Creating the jQuery Application in the Cloud We are now ready to create the jQuery application. We’ll create a super simple application that displays a list of records retrieved from a WCF service (hosted in the cloud). Create a new page in the WebRole1 project named Default.htm and add the following code: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Products</title> <style type="text/css"> #productContainer div { border:solid 1px black; padding:5px; margin:5px; } </style> </head> <body> <h1>Product Catalog</h1> <div id="productContainer"></div> <script id="productTemplate" type="text/html"> <div> Name: {{= name }} <br /> Price: {{= price }} </div> </script> <script src="Scripts/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="Scripts/jquery.tmpl.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var products = [ {name:"Milk", price:4.55}, {name:"Yogurt", price:2.99}, {name:"Steak", price:23.44} ]; $("#productTemplate").render(products).appendTo("#productContainer"); </script> </body> </html> The jQuery code in this page simply displays a list of products by using a template. I am using a jQuery template to format each product. You can learn more about using jQuery templates by reading the following blog entry by Scott Guthrie: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2010/05/07/jquery-templates-and-data-linking-and-microsoft-contributing-to-jquery.aspx You can test whether the Default.htm page is working correctly by running your application (hit the F5 key). The first time that you run your application, a database is set up on your local machine to simulate cloud storage. You will see the following dialog: If the Default.htm page works as expected, you should see the list of three products: Adding an Ajax-Enabled WCF Service In the previous section, we created a simple jQuery application that displays an array by using a template. The application is a little too simple because the data is static. In this section, we’ll modify the page so that the data is retrieved from a WCF service instead of an array. First, we need to add a new Ajax-enabled WCF Service to the WebRole1 project. Select the menu option Project, Add New Item and select the Ajax-enabled WCF Service project item. Name the new service ProductService.svc. Modify the service so that it returns a static collection of products. The final code for the ProductService.svc should look like this: using System.Collections.Generic; using System.ServiceModel; using System.ServiceModel.Activation; namespace WebRole1 { public class Product { public string name { get; set; } public decimal price { get; set; } } [ServiceContract(Namespace = "")] [AspNetCompatibilityRequirements(RequirementsMode = AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode.Allowed)] public class ProductService { [OperationContract] public IList<Product> SelectProducts() { var products = new List<Product>(); products.Add(new Product {name="Milk", price=4.55m} ); products.Add(new Product { name = "Yogurt", price = 2.99m }); products.Add(new Product { name = "Steak", price = 23.44m }); return products; } } }   In real life, you would want to retrieve the list of products from storage instead of a static array. We are being lazy here. Next you need to modify the Default.htm page to use the ProductService.svc. The jQuery script in the following updated Default.htm page makes an Ajax call to the WCF service. The data retrieved from the ProductService.svc is displayed in the client template. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Products</title> <style type="text/css"> #productContainer div { border:solid 1px black; padding:5px; margin:5px; } </style> </head> <body> <h1>Product Catalog</h1> <div id="productContainer"></div> <script id="productTemplate" type="text/html"> <div> Name: {{= name }} <br /> Price: {{= price }} </div> </script> <script src="Scripts/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="Scripts/jquery.tmpl.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> $.post("ProductService.svc/SelectProducts", function (results) { var products = results["d"]; $("#productTemplate").render(products).appendTo("#productContainer"); }); </script> </body> </html>   Deploying the jQuery Application to the Cloud Now that we have created our jQuery application, we are ready to deploy our application to the cloud so that the whole world can use it. Right-click your jQueryApp project in the Solution Explorer window and select the Publish menu option. When you select publish, your application and your application configuration information is packaged up into two files named jQueryApp.cspkg and ServiceConfiguration.cscfg. Visual Studio opens the directory that contains the two files. In order to deploy these files to the Windows Azure cloud, you must upload these files yourself. Return to the Windows Azure Developers Portal at the following address: http://windows.azure.com/ Select your project and select the jQueryApp service. You will see a mysterious cube. Click the Deploy button to upload your application.   Next, you need to browse to the location on your hard drive where the jQueryApp project was published and select both the packaged application and the packaged application configuration file. Supply the deployment with a name and click the Deploy button.     While your application is in the process of being deployed, you can view a progress bar.     Running the jQuery Application in the Cloud Finally, you can run your jQuery application in the cloud by clicking the Run button.   It might take several minutes for your application to initialize (go grab a coffee). After WebRole1 finishes initializing, you can navigate to the following URL to view your live jQuery application in the cloud: http://jqueryapp.cloudapp.net/default.htm The page is hosted on the Windows Azure cloud and the WCF service executes every time that you request the page to retrieve the list of products. Summary Because we started from scratch, we needed to complete several steps to create and deploy our jQuery application to the Windows Azure cloud. We needed to create a Windows Azure account, create a hosted service, install the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio, create the jQuery application, and deploy it to the cloud. Now that we have finished this process once, modifying our existing cloud application or creating a new cloud application is easy. jQuery and Windows Azure work nicely together. We can take advantage of jQuery to build applications that run in the browser and we can take advantage of Windows Azure to host the backend services required by our jQuery application. The big benefit of Windows Azure is that it enables us to scale. If, all of the sudden, our jQuery application explodes in popularity, Windows Azure enables us to easily scale up to meet the demand. We can handle anything that the Internet might throw at us.

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  • Scrum in 5 Minutes

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to explain the basic concepts of Scrum in less than five minutes. You learn how Scrum can help a team of developers to successfully complete a complex software project. Product Backlog and the Product Owner Imagine that you are part of a team which needs to create a new website – for example, an e-commerce website. You have an overwhelming amount of work to do. You need to build (or possibly buy) a shopping cart, install an SSL certificate, create a product catalog, create a Facebook page, and at least a hundred other things that you have not thought of yet. According to Scrum, the first thing you should do is create a list. Place the highest priority items at the top of the list and the lower priority items lower in the list. For example, creating the shopping cart and buying the domain name might be high priority items and creating a Facebook page might be a lower priority item. In Scrum, this list is called the Product Backlog. How do you prioritize the items in the Product Backlog? Different stakeholders in the project might have different priorities. Gary, your division VP, thinks that it is crucial that the e-commerce site has a mobile app. Sally, your direct manager, thinks taking advantage of new HTML5 features is much more important. Multiple people are pulling you in different directions. According to Scrum, it is important that you always designate one person, and only one person, as the Product Owner. The Product Owner is the person who decides what items should be added to the Product Backlog and the priority of the items in the Product Backlog. The Product Owner could be the customer who is paying the bills, the project manager who is responsible for delivering the project, or a customer representative. The critical point is that the Product Owner must always be a single person and that single person has absolute authority over the Product Backlog. Sprints and the Sprint Backlog So now the developer team has a prioritized list of items and they can start work. The team starts implementing the first item in the Backlog — the shopping cart — and the team is making good progress. Unfortunately, however, half-way through the work of implementing the shopping cart, the Product Owner changes his mind. The Product Owner decides that it is much more important to create the product catalog before the shopping cart. With some frustration, the team switches their developmental efforts to focus on implementing the product catalog. However, part way through completing this work, once again the Product Owner changes his mind about the highest priority item. Getting work done when priorities are constantly shifting is frustrating for the developer team and it results in lower productivity. At the same time, however, the Product Owner needs to have absolute authority over the priority of the items which need to get done. Scrum solves this conflict with the concept of Sprints. In Scrum, a developer team works in Sprints. At the beginning of a Sprint the developers and the Product Owner agree on the items from the backlog which they will complete during the Sprint. This subset of items from the Product Backlog becomes the Sprint Backlog. During the Sprint, the Product Owner is not allowed to change the items in the Sprint Backlog. In other words, the Product Owner cannot shift priorities on the developer team during the Sprint. Different teams use Sprints of different lengths such as one month Sprints, two-week Sprints, and one week Sprints. For high-stress, time critical projects, teams typically choose shorter sprints such as one week sprints. For more mature projects, longer one month sprints might be more appropriate. A team can pick whatever Sprint length makes sense for them just as long as the team is consistent. You should pick a Sprint length and stick with it. Daily Scrum During a Sprint, the developer team needs to have meetings to coordinate their work on completing the items in the Sprint Backlog. For example, the team needs to discuss who is working on what and whether any blocking issues have been discovered. Developers hate meetings (well, sane developers hate meetings). Meetings take developers away from their work of actually implementing stuff as opposed to talking about implementing stuff. However, a developer team which never has meetings and never coordinates their work also has problems. For example, Fred might get stuck on a programming problem for days and never reach out for help even though Tom (who sits in the cubicle next to him) has already solved the very same problem. Or, both Ted and Fred might have started working on the same item from the Sprint Backlog at the same time. In Scrum, these conflicting needs – limiting meetings but enabling team coordination – are resolved with the idea of the Daily Scrum. The Daily Scrum is a meeting for coordinating the work of the developer team which happens once a day. To keep the meeting short, each developer answers only the following three questions: 1. What have you done since yesterday? 2. What do you plan to do today? 3. Any impediments in your way? During the Daily Scrum, developers are not allowed to talk about issues with their cat, do demos of their latest work, or tell heroic stories of programming problems overcome. The meeting must be kept short — typically about 15 minutes. Issues which come up during the Daily Scrum should be discussed in separate meetings which do not involve the whole developer team. Stories and Tasks Items in the Product or Sprint Backlog – such as building a shopping cart or creating a Facebook page – are often referred to as User Stories or Stories. The Stories are created by the Product Owner and should represent some business need. Unlike the Product Owner, the developer team needs to think about how a Story should be implemented. At the beginning of a Sprint, the developer team takes the Stories from the Sprint Backlog and breaks the stories into tasks. For example, the developer team might take the Create a Shopping Cart story and break it into the following tasks: · Enable users to add and remote items from shopping cart · Persist the shopping cart to database between visits · Redirect user to checkout page when Checkout button is clicked During the Daily Scrum, members of the developer team volunteer to complete the tasks required to implement the next Story in the Sprint Backlog. When a developer talks about what he did yesterday or plans to do tomorrow then the developer should be referring to a task. Stories are owned by the Product Owner and a story is all about business value. In contrast, the tasks are owned by the developer team and a task is all about implementation details. A story might take several days or weeks to complete. A task is something which a developer can complete in less than a day. Some teams get lazy about breaking stories into tasks. Neglecting to break stories into tasks can lead to “Never Ending Stories” If you don’t break a story into tasks, then you can’t know how much of a story has actually been completed because you don’t have a clear idea about the implementation steps required to complete the story. Scrumboard During the Daily Scrum, the developer team uses a Scrumboard to coordinate their work. A Scrumboard contains a list of the stories for the current Sprint, the tasks associated with each Story, and the state of each task. The developer team uses the Scrumboard so everyone on the team can see, at a glance, what everyone is working on. As a developer works on a task, the task moves from state to state and the state of the task is updated on the Scrumboard. Common task states are ToDo, In Progress, and Done. Some teams include additional task states such as Needs Review or Needs Testing. Some teams use a physical Scrumboard. In that case, you use index cards to represent the stories and the tasks and you tack the index cards onto a physical board. Using a physical Scrumboard has several disadvantages. A physical Scrumboard does not work well with a distributed team – for example, it is hard to share the same physical Scrumboard between Boston and Seattle. Also, generating reports from a physical Scrumboard is more difficult than generating reports from an online Scrumboard. Estimating Stories and Tasks Stakeholders in a project, the people investing in a project, need to have an idea of how a project is progressing and when the project will be completed. For example, if you are investing in creating an e-commerce site, you need to know when the site can be launched. It is not enough to just say that “the project will be done when it is done” because the stakeholders almost certainly have a limited budget to devote to the project. The people investing in the project cannot determine the business value of the project unless they can have an estimate of how long it will take to complete the project. Developers hate to give estimates. The reason that developers hate to give estimates is that the estimates are almost always completely made up. For example, you really don’t know how long it takes to build a shopping cart until you finish building a shopping cart, and at that point, the estimate is no longer useful. The problem is that writing code is much more like Finding a Cure for Cancer than Building a Brick Wall. Building a brick wall is very straightforward. After you learn how to add one brick to a wall, you understand everything that is involved in adding a brick to a wall. There is no additional research required and no surprises. If, on the other hand, I assembled a team of scientists and asked them to find a cure for cancer, and estimate exactly how long it will take, they would have no idea. The problem is that there are too many unknowns. I don’t know how to cure cancer, I need to do a lot of research here, so I cannot even begin to estimate how long it will take. So developers hate to provide estimates, but the Product Owner and other product stakeholders, have a legitimate need for estimates. Scrum resolves this conflict by using the idea of Story Points. Different teams use different units to represent Story Points. For example, some teams use shirt sizes such as Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large. Some teams prefer to use Coffee Cup sizes such as Tall, Short, and Grande. Finally, some teams like to use numbers from the Fibonacci series. These alternative units are converted into a Story Point value. Regardless of the type of unit which you use to represent Story Points, the goal is the same. Instead of attempting to estimate a Story in hours (which is doomed to failure), you use a much less fine-grained measure of work. A developer team is much more likely to be able to estimate that a Story is Small or X-Large than the exact number of hours required to complete the story. So you can think of Story Points as a compromise between the needs of the Product Owner and the developer team. When a Sprint starts, the developer team devotes more time to thinking about the Stories in a Sprint and the developer team breaks the Stories into Tasks. In Scrum, you estimate the work required to complete a Story by using Story Points and you estimate the work required to complete a task by using hours. The difference between Stories and Tasks is that you don’t create a task until you are just about ready to start working on a task. A task is something that you should be able to create within a day, so you have a much better chance of providing an accurate estimate of the work required to complete a task than a story. Burndown Charts In Scrum, you use Burndown charts to represent the remaining work on a project. You use Release Burndown charts to represent the overall remaining work for a project and you use Sprint Burndown charts to represent the overall remaining work for a particular Sprint. You create a Release Burndown chart by calculating the remaining number of uncompleted Story Points for the entire Product Backlog every day. The vertical axis represents Story Points and the horizontal axis represents time. A Sprint Burndown chart is similar to a Release Burndown chart, but it focuses on the remaining work for a particular Sprint. There are two different types of Sprint Burndown charts. You can either represent the remaining work in a Sprint with Story Points or with task hours (the following image, taken from Wikipedia, uses hours). When each Product Backlog Story is completed, the Release Burndown chart slopes down. When each Story or task is completed, the Sprint Burndown chart slopes down. Burndown charts typically do not always slope down over time. As new work is added to the Product Backlog, the Release Burndown chart slopes up. If new tasks are discovered during a Sprint, the Sprint Burndown chart will also slope up. The purpose of a Burndown chart is to give you a way to track team progress over time. If, halfway through a Sprint, the Sprint Burndown chart is still climbing a hill then you know that you are in trouble. Team Velocity Stakeholders in a project always want more work done faster. For example, the Product Owner for the e-commerce site wants the website to launch before tomorrow. Developers tend to be overly optimistic. Rarely do developers acknowledge the physical limitations of reality. So Project stakeholders and the developer team often collude to delude themselves about how much work can be done and how quickly. Too many software projects begin in a state of optimism and end in frustration as deadlines zoom by. In Scrum, this problem is overcome by calculating a number called the Team Velocity. The Team Velocity is a measure of the average number of Story Points which a team has completed in previous Sprints. Knowing the Team Velocity is important during the Sprint Planning meeting when the Product Owner and the developer team work together to determine the number of stories which can be completed in the next Sprint. If you know the Team Velocity then you can avoid committing to do more work than the team has been able to accomplish in the past, and your team is much more likely to complete all of the work required for the next Sprint. Scrum Master There are three roles in Scrum: the Product Owner, the developer team, and the Scrum Master. I’v e already discussed the Product Owner. The Product Owner is the one and only person who maintains the Product Backlog and prioritizes the stories. I’ve also described the role of the developer team. The members of the developer team do the work of implementing the stories by breaking the stories into tasks. The final role, which I have not discussed, is the role of the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the team is following the Scrum process. For example, the Scrum Master is responsible for making sure that there is a Daily Scrum meeting and that everyone answers the standard three questions. The Scrum Master is also responsible for removing (non-technical) impediments which the team might encounter. For example, if the team cannot start work until everyone installs the latest version of Microsoft Visual Studio then the Scrum Master has the responsibility of working with management to get the latest version of Visual Studio as quickly as possible. The Scrum Master can be a member of the developer team. Furthermore, different people can take on the role of the Scrum Master over time. The Scrum Master, however, cannot be the same person as the Product Owner. Using SonicAgile SonicAgile (SonicAgile.com) is an online tool which you can use to manage your projects using Scrum. You can use the SonicAgile Product Backlog to create a prioritized list of stories. You can estimate the size of the Stories using different Story Point units such as Shirt Sizes and Coffee Cup sizes. You can use SonicAgile during the Sprint Planning meeting to select the Stories that you want to complete during a particular Sprint. You can configure Sprints to be any length of time. SonicAgile calculates Team Velocity automatically and displays a warning when you add too many stories to a Sprint. In other words, it warns you when it thinks you are overcommitting in a Sprint. SonicAgile also includes a Scrumboard which displays the list of Stories selected for a Sprint and the tasks associated with each story. You can drag tasks from one task state to another. Finally, SonicAgile enables you to generate Release Burndown and Sprint Burndown charts. You can use these charts to view the progress of your team. To learn more about SonicAgile, visit SonicAgile.com. Summary In this post, I described many of the basic concepts of Scrum. You learned how a Product Owner uses a Product Backlog to create a prioritized list of tasks. I explained why work is completed in Sprints so the developer team can be more productive. I also explained how a developer team uses the daily scrum to coordinate their work. You learned how the developer team uses a Scrumboard to see, at a glance, who is working on what and the state of each task. I also discussed Burndown charts. You learned how you can use both Release and Sprint Burndown charts to track team progress in completing a project. Finally, I described the crucial role of the Scrum Master – the person who is responsible for ensuring that the rules of Scrum are being followed. My goal was not to describe all of the concepts of Scrum. This post was intended to be an introductory overview. For a comprehensive explanation of Scrum, I recommend reading Ken Schwaber’s book Agile Project Management with Scrum: http://www.amazon.com/Agile-Project-Management-Microsoft-Professional/dp/073561993X/ref=la_B001H6ODMC_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345224000&sr=1-1

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  • Ajax Control Toolkit November 2011 Release

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m happy to announce the November 2011 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. This release introduces a new Balloon Popup control and several enhancements to the existing Tabs control including support for on-demand loading of tab content, support for vertical tabs, and support for keyboard tab navigation. We also fixed the top-voted bugs associated with the Tabs control reported at CodePlex.com. You can download the new release by visiting the CodePlex website: http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com Alternatively, the fast and easy way to get the latest release of the Ajax Control Toolkit is to use NuGet. Open your Library Package Manager console in Visual Studio 2010 and type: After you install the Ajax Control Toolkit through NuGet, please do a Rebuild of your project (the menu option Build, Rebuild). After you do a Rebuild, the ajaxToolkit prefix will appear in Intellisense: Using the Balloon Popup Control Why a new Balloon Popup control? The Balloon Popup control is the second most requested new feature for the Ajax Control Toolkit according to CodePlex votes: The Balloon Popup displays a message in a balloon when you shift focus to a control, click a control, or hover over a control. You can use the Balloon Popup, for example, to display instructions for TextBoxes which appear in a form: Here’s the code used to create the Balloon Popup: <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm1" runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtFirstName" Runat="server" /> <asp:Panel ID="pnlFirstNameHelp" runat="server"> Please enter your first name </asp:Panel> <ajaxToolkit:BalloonPopupExtender TargetControlID="txtFirstName" BalloonPopupControlID="pnlFirstNameHelp" BalloonSize="Small" UseShadow="true" runat="server" /> You also can use the Balloon Popup to explain hard to understand words in a text document: Here’s how you display the Balloon Popup when you hover over the link: The point of the conversation was <asp:HyperLink ID="lnkObfuscate" Text="obfuscated" CssClass="hardWord" runat="server" /> by his incessant coughing. <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm1" runat="server" /> <asp:Panel id="pnlObfuscate" Runat="server"> To bewilder or render something obscure </asp:Panel> <ajaxToolkit:BalloonPopupExtender TargetControlID="lnkObfuscate" BalloonPopupControlID="pnlObfuscate" BalloonStyle="Cloud" UseShadow="true" DisplayOnMouseOver="true" Runat="server" />   There are four important properties which you need to know about when using the Balloon Popup control: BalloonSize – The three balloon sizes are Small, Medium, and Large. BalloonStyle -- The two built-in styles are Rectangle and Cloud. UseShadow – When true, a drop shadow appears behind the popup. Position – Can have the values Auto, BottomLeft, BottomRight, TopLeft, TopRight. When set to Auto, which is the default, the Balloon Popup will appear where it has the most screen real estate. The following screenshots illustrates how these settings affect the appearance of the Balloon Popup: Customizing the Balloon Popup You can customize the appearance of the Balloon Popup by creating your own Cascading Style Sheet and Sprite. The Ajax Control Toolkit sample site includes a sample of a custom Oval Balloon Popup style: This custom style was created by using a custom Cascading Style Sheet and image. You point the Balloon Popup at a custom Cascading Style Sheet and Cascading Style Sheet class by using the CustomCssUrl and CustomClassName properties like this: <asp:TextBox ID="txtCustom" autocomplete="off" runat="server" /> <br /> <asp:Panel ID="Panel3" runat="server"> This is a custom BalloonPopupExtender style created with a custom Cascading Style Sheet. </asp:Panel> <ajaxToolkit:BalloonPopupExtender ID="bpe1" TargetControlID="txtCustom" BalloonPopupControlID="Panel3" BalloonStyle="Custom" CustomCssUrl="CustomStyle/BalloonPopupOvalStyle.css" CustomClassName="oval" UseShadow="true" runat="server" />   Learn More about the Balloon Popup To learn more about the Balloon Popup control, visit the sample page for the Balloon Popup at the Ajax Control Toolkit sample site: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/BalloonPopup/BalloonPopupExtender.aspx Improvements to the Tabs Control In this release, we introduced several important new features for the existing Tabs control. We also fixed all of the top-voted bugs for the Tabs control. On-Demand Loading of Tab Content Here is the scenario. Imagine that you are using the Tabs control in a Web Forms page. The Tabs control displays two tabs: Customers and Products. When you click the Customers tab then you want to see a list of customers and when you click on the Products tab then you want to see a list of products. In this scenario, you don’t want the list of customers and products to be retrieved from the database when the page is initially opened. The user might never click on the Products tab and all of the work to load the list of products from the database would be wasted. In this scenario, you want the content of a tab panel to be loaded on demand. The products should only be loaded from the database and rendered to the browser when you click the Products tab and not before. The Tabs control in the November 2011 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit includes a new property named OnDemand. When OnDemand is set to the value True, a tab panel won’t be loaded until you click its associated tab. Here is the code for the aspx page: <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm1" runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:TabContainer ID="tabs" OnDemand="false" runat="server"> <ajaxToolkit:TabPanel HeaderText="Customers" runat="server"> <ContentTemplate> <h2>Customers</h2> <asp:GridView ID="grdCustomers" DataSourceID="srcCustomers" runat="server" /> <asp:SqlDataSource ID="srcCustomers" SelectCommand="SELECT * FROM Customers" ConnectionString="<%$ ConnectionStrings:StoreDB %>" runat="server" /> </ContentTemplate> </ajaxToolkit:TabPanel> <ajaxToolkit:TabPanel HeaderText="Products" runat="server"> <ContentTemplate> <h2>Products</h2> <asp:GridView ID="grdProducts" DataSourceID="srcProducts" runat="server" /> <asp:SqlDataSource ID="srcProducts" SelectCommand="SELECT * FROM Products" ConnectionString="<%$ ConnectionStrings:StoreDB %>" runat="server" /> </ContentTemplate> </ajaxToolkit:TabPanel> </ajaxToolkit:TabContainer> Notice that the TabContainer includes an OnDemand=”True” property. The Tabs control contains two Tab Panels. The first tab panel uses a DataGrid and SqlDataSource to display a list of customers and the second tab panel uses a DataGrid and SqlDataSource to display a list of products. And here is the code-behind for the page: using System; using System.Diagnostics; using System.Web.UI.WebControls; namespace ACTSamples { public partial class TabsOnDemand : System.Web.UI.Page { protected override void OnInit(EventArgs e) { srcProducts.Selecting += new SqlDataSourceSelectingEventHandler(srcProducts_Selecting); } void srcProducts_Selecting(object sender, SqlDataSourceSelectingEventArgs e) { Debugger.Break(); } } } The code-behind file includes an event handler for the Products SqlDataSource Selecting event. The handler breaks into the debugger by calling the Debugger.Break() method. That way, we can know when the Products SqlDataSource actually retrieves the list of products. When the OnDemand property has the value False then the Selecting event handler is called immediately when the page is first loaded. The contents of all of the tabs are loaded (and the contents of the unselected tabs are hidden) when the page is first loaded. When the OnDemand property has the value True then the Selecting event handler is not called when the page is first loaded. The event handler is not called until you click on the Products tab. If you never click on the Products tab then the list of products is never retrieved from the database. If you want even more control over when the contents of a tab panel gets loaded then you can use the TabPanel OnDemandMode property. This property accepts the following three values: None – Never load the contents of the tab panel again after the page is first loaded. Once – Wait until the tab is selected to load the contents of the tab panel Always – Load the contents of the tab panel each and every time you select the tab. There is a live demonstration of the OnDemandMode property here in the sample page for the Tabs control: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/Tabs/Tabs.aspx Displaying Vertical Tabs With the November 2011 Release, the Tabs control now supports vertical tabs. To create vertical tabs, just set the TabContainer UserVerticalStripPlacement property to the value True like this: <ajaxToolkit:TabContainer ID="tabs" OnDemand="false" UseVerticalStripPlacement="true" runat="server"> <ajaxToolkit:TabPanel ID="TabPanel1" HeaderText="First Tab" runat="server"> <ContentTemplate> <p> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna. </p> </ContentTemplate> </ajaxToolkit:TabPanel> <ajaxToolkit:TabPanel ID="TabPanel2" HeaderText="Second Tab" runat="server"> <ContentTemplate> <p> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna. </p> </ContentTemplate> </ajaxToolkit:TabPanel> </ajaxToolkit:TabContainer> In addition, you can use the TabStripPlacement property to control whether the tab strip appears at the left or right or top or bottom of the tab panels: Tab Keyboard Navigation Another highly requested feature for the Tabs control is support for keyboard navigation. The Tabs control now supports the arrow keys and the Home and End keys. In order for the arrow keys to work, you must first move focus to the tab control on the page by either clicking on a tab with your mouse or repeatedly hitting the Tab key. You can try out the new keyboard navigation support by trying any of the demos included in the Tabs sample page: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/Tabs/Tabs.aspx Summary I hope that you take advantage of the new Balloon Popup control and the new features which we introduced for the Tabs control. We added a lot of new features to the Tabs control in this release including support for on-demand tabs, support for vertical tabs, and support for tab keyboard navigation. I want to thank the developers on the Superexpert team for all of the hard work which they put into this release.

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  • Microsoft, jQuery, and Templating

    - by Stephen Walther
    About two months ago, John Resig and I met at Café Algiers in Harvard square to discuss how Microsoft can contribute to the jQuery project. Today, Scott Guthrie announced in his second-day MIX keynote that Microsoft is throwing its weight behind jQuery and making it the primary way to develop client-side Ajax applications using Microsoft technologies. What does this announcement mean? It means that Microsoft is shifting its resources to invest in jQuery. Developers on the ASP.NET team are now working full-time to contribute features to the core jQuery library. Furthermore, we are working with other teams at Microsoft to ensure that our technologies work great with jQuery. We are contributing to the open-source jQuery project in the exact same way that any other company or individual from the community can contribute to jQuery. We are writing proposals, submitting the proposals to the jQuery forums, and revising the proposals in response to community feedback. The jQuery team can decide to reject or accept any feature that we propose. Any feature that Microsoft contributes to jQuery will be platform neutral. In other words, Microsoft contributions will benefit PHP and RAILS developers just as much as they benefit ASP.NET developers. Microsoft contributions to jQuery will improve the web for everyone. Contributing Support for Templates to jQuery Core Our first proposal concerns templating. We want to contribute support for templates to jQuery so that JavaScript developers can use jQuery to easily display a set of database records. You can read our templating proposal here: http://wiki.github.com/nje/jquery/jquery-templates-proposal You can download and play with our prototype for templating here: http://github.com/nje/jquery-tmpl The following code illustrates how you can use a template to display a set of products in a bulleted list: <script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(function(){ var products = [ { name: "Product 1", price: 12.99}, { name: "Product 2", price: 9.99}, { name: "Product 3", price: 35.59} ]; $("ul").append("#template", products); }); </script> <script id="template" type="text/html"> <li>{%= name %} - {%= price %}</li> </script> <ul></ul> The template is contained in a SCRIPT element that has a TYPE=”text/html” attribute. Browsers ignore the contents of a SCRIPT element when they don’t understand the content type. Notice that the placeholder {%=...%} is used within the template to indicate where the name and price of a product should appear. The delimiters {%=…%} are used for expressions and the delimiters {%...%} are used for code. Finally, the products are rendered using the template with the call to $(“ul”).append(“#template”, products). The standard jQuery DOM manipulation methods have been modified to support templates. When the page above is rendered, you get the bulleted list displayed in the following figure. Our goal is to keep our proposal for templates as simple as possible. After support for templating has been added to jQuery, plug-in authors can take advantage of templating when building complex data-driven plug-ins such as a DataGrid plug-in. The Ajax Control Toolkit Over 100,000 developers download the Ajax Control Toolkit every month. That’s a mind-boggling number of downloads. We realize that the Ajax Control Toolkit is extremely popular among ASP.NET Web Forms developers and we want to continue to invest in the Ajax Control Toolkit. If you are adding JavaScript interactivity to an ASP.NET Web Forms application, and you don’t want to write JavaScript, then we recommend that you use the server controls in the Ajax Control Toolkit. Using the Ajax Control Toolkit does not require knowledge of JavaScript and the toolkit enables you to build applications with the concepts familiar to ASP.NET Web Forms applications developers. If, however, you are interested in creating client-side interactivity without server controls then we recommend that you use jQuery. We plan to continue to release new versions of the Ajax Control Toolkit every few months. Our goal is to continue to improve the quality of the Ajax Control Toolkit and to make it easier for the community to contribute code, bug fixes, and documentation. The ASP.NET Ajax Library We are moving the ASP.NET Ajax Library into the Ajax Control Toolkit. If you currently use ASP.NET Ajax Library client templates, client data-binding, or the client script loader then you can continue to use these features by downloading the Ajax Control Toolkit. Be aware that our focus with the Ajax Control Toolkit is server-side Ajax.  For client-side Ajax, we are shifting our focus to jQuery. For example, if you have been using ASP.NET Ajax Library client templates then we recommend that you shift to using jQuery instead. Conclusion Our plan is to focus on jQuery as the primary technology for building client-side Ajax applications moving forward. We want to adapt Microsoft technologies to work great with jQuery and we want to contribute features to jQuery that will make the web better for everyone. We are very excited to be working with the jQuery core team.

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  • Metro, Authentication, and the ASP.NET Web API

    - by Stephen.Walther
    Imagine that you want to create a Metro style app written with JavaScript and you want to communicate with a remote web service. For example, you are creating a movie app which retrieves a list of movies from a movies service. In this situation, how do you authenticate your Metro app and the Metro user so not just anyone can call the movies service? How can you identify the user making the request so you can return user specific data from the service? The Windows Live SDK supports a feature named Single Sign-On. When a user logs into a Windows 8 machine using their Live ID, you can authenticate the user’s identity automatically. Even better, when the Metro app performs a call to a remote web service, you can pass an authentication token to the remote service and prevent unauthorized access to the service. The documentation for Single Sign-On is located here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/live/hh826544.aspx In this blog entry, I describe the steps that you need to follow to use Single Sign-On with a (very) simple movie app. We build a Metro app which communicates with a web service created using the ASP.NET Web API. Creating the Visual Studio Solution Let’s start by creating a Visual Studio solution which contains two projects: a Windows Metro style Blank App project and an ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Application project. Name the Metro app MovieApp and the ASP.NET MVC application MovieApp.Services. When you create the ASP.NET MVC application, select the Web API template: After you create the two projects, your Visual Studio Solution Explorer window should look like this: Configuring the Live SDK You need to get your hands on the Live SDK and register your Metro app. You can download the latest version of the SDK (version 5.2) from the following address: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29938 After you download the Live SDK, you need to visit the following website to register your Metro app: https://manage.dev.live.com/build Don’t let the title of the website — Windows Push Notifications & Live Connect – confuse you, this is the right place. Follow the instructions at the website to register your Metro app. Don’t forget to follow the instructions in Step 3 for updating the information in your Metro app’s manifest. After you register, your client secret is displayed. Record this client secret because you will need it later (we use it with the web service): You need to configure one more thing. You must enter your Redirect Domain by visiting the following website: https://manage.dev.live.com/Applications/Index Click on your application name, click Edit Settings, click the API Settings tab, and enter a value for the Redirect Domain field. You can enter any domain that you please just as long as the domain has not already been taken: For the Redirect Domain, I entered http://superexpertmovieapp.com. Create the Metro MovieApp Next, we need to create the MovieApp. The MovieApp will: 1. Use Single Sign-On to log the current user into Live 2. Call the MoviesService web service 3. Display the results in a ListView control Because we use the Live SDK in the MovieApp, we need to add a reference to it. Right-click your References folder in the Solution Explorer window and add the reference: Here’s the HTML page for the Metro App: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <meta charset="utf-8" /> <title>MovieApp</title> <!-- WinJS references --> <link href="//Microsoft.WinJS.1.0.RC/css/ui-dark.css" rel="stylesheet" /> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.1.0.RC/js/base.js"></script> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.1.0.RC/js/ui.js"></script> <!-- Live SDK --> <script type="text/javascript" src="/LiveSDKHTML/js/wl.js"></script> <!-- WebServices references --> <link href="/css/default.css" rel="stylesheet" /> <script src="/js/default.js"></script> </head> <body> <div id="tmplMovie" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div class="movieItem"> <span data-win-bind="innerText:title"></span> <br /><span data-win-bind="innerText:director"></span> </div> </div> <div id="lvMovies" data-win-control="WinJS.UI.ListView" data-win-options="{ itemTemplate: select('#tmplMovie') }"> </div> </body> </html> The HTML page above contains a Template and ListView control. These controls are used to display the movies when the movies are returned from the movies service. Notice that the page includes a reference to the Live script that we registered earlier: <!-- Live SDK --> <script type="text/javascript" src="/LiveSDKHTML/js/wl.js"></script> The JavaScript code looks like this: (function () { "use strict"; var REDIRECT_DOMAIN = "http://superexpertmovieapp.com"; var WEBSERVICE_URL = "http://localhost:49743/api/movies"; function init() { WinJS.UI.processAll().done(function () { // Get element and control references var lvMovies = document.getElementById("lvMovies").winControl; // Login to Windows Live var scopes = ["wl.signin"]; WL.init({ scope: scopes, redirect_uri: REDIRECT_DOMAIN }); WL.login().then( function(response) { // Get the authentication token var authenticationToken = response.session.authentication_token; // Call the web service var options = { url: WEBSERVICE_URL, headers: { authenticationToken: authenticationToken } }; WinJS.xhr(options).done( function (xhr) { var movies = JSON.parse(xhr.response); var listMovies = new WinJS.Binding.List(movies); lvMovies.itemDataSource = listMovies.dataSource; }, function (xhr) { console.log(xhr.statusText); } ); }, function(response) { throw WinJS.ErrorFromName("Failed to login!"); } ); }); } document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", init); })(); There are two constants which you need to set to get the code above to work: REDIRECT_DOMAIN and WEBSERVICE_URL. The REDIRECT_DOMAIN is the domain that you entered when registering your app with Live. The WEBSERVICE_URL is the path to your web service. You can get the correct value for WEBSERVICE_URL by opening the Project Properties for the MovieApp.Services project, clicking the Web tab, and getting the correct URL. The port number is randomly generated. In my code, I used the URL  “http://localhost:49743/api/movies”. Assuming that the user is logged into Windows 8 with a Live account, when the user runs the MovieApp, the user is logged into Live automatically. The user is logged in with the following code: // Login to Windows Live var scopes = ["wl.signin"]; WL.init({ scope: scopes, redirect_uri: REDIRECT_DOMAIN }); WL.login().then(function(response) { // Do something }); The scopes setting determines what the user has permission to do. For example, access the user’s SkyDrive or access the user’s calendar or contacts. The available scopes are listed here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/live/hh243646.aspx In our case, we only need the wl.signin scope which enables Single Sign-On. After the user signs in, you can retrieve the user’s Live authentication token. The authentication token is passed to the movies service to authenticate the user. Creating the Movies Service The Movies Service is implemented as an API controller in an ASP.NET MVC 4 Web API project. Here’s what the MoviesController looks like: using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; using JWTSample; using MovieApp.Services.Models; namespace MovieApp.Services.Controllers { public class MoviesController : ApiController { const string CLIENT_SECRET = "NtxjF2wu7JeY1unvVN-lb0hoeWOMUFoR"; // GET api/values public HttpResponseMessage Get() { // Authenticate // Get authenticationToken var authenticationToken = Request.Headers.GetValues("authenticationToken").FirstOrDefault(); if (authenticationToken == null) { return new HttpResponseMessage(HttpStatusCode.Unauthorized); } // Validate token var d = new Dictionary<int, string>(); d.Add(0, CLIENT_SECRET); try { var myJWT = new JsonWebToken(authenticationToken, d); } catch { return new HttpResponseMessage(HttpStatusCode.Unauthorized); } // Return results return Request.CreateResponse( HttpStatusCode.OK, new List<Movie> { new Movie {Title="Star Wars", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Title="King Kong", Director="Jackson"}, new Movie {Title="Memento", Director="Nolan"} } ); } } } Because the Metro app performs an HTTP GET request, the MovieController Get() action is invoked. This action returns a set of three movies when, and only when, the authentication token is validated. The Movie class looks like this: using Newtonsoft.Json; namespace MovieApp.Services.Models { public class Movie { [JsonProperty(PropertyName="title")] public string Title { get; set; } [JsonProperty(PropertyName="director")] public string Director { get; set; } } } Notice that the Movie class uses the JsonProperty attribute to change Title to title and Director to director to make JavaScript developers happy. The Get() method validates the authentication token before returning the movies to the Metro app. To get authentication to work, you need to provide the client secret which you created at the Live management site. If you forgot to write down the secret, you can get it again here: https://manage.dev.live.com/Applications/Index The client secret is assigned to a constant at the top of the MoviesController class. The MoviesController class uses a helper class named JsonWebToken to validate the authentication token. This class was created by the Windows Live team. You can get the source code for the JsonWebToken class from the following GitHub repository: https://github.com/liveservices/LiveSDK/blob/master/Samples/Asp.net/AuthenticationTokenSample/JsonWebToken.cs You need to add an additional reference to your MVC project to use the JsonWebToken class: System.Runtime.Serialization. You can use the JsonWebToken class to get a unique and validated user ID like this: var user = myJWT.Claims.UserId; If you need to store user specific information then you can use the UserId property to uniquely identify the user making the web service call. Running the MovieApp When you first run the Metro MovieApp, you get a screen which asks whether the app should have permission to use Single Sign-On. This screen never appears again after you give permission once. Actually, when I first ran the app, I get the following error: According to the error, the app is blocked because “We detected some suspicious activity with your Online Id account. To help protect you, we’ve temporarily blocked your account.” This appears to be a bug in the current preview release of the Live SDK and there is more information about this bug here: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/messengerconnect/thread/866c495f-2127-429d-ab07-842ef84f16ae/ If you click continue, and continue running the app, the error message does not appear again.  Summary The goal of this blog entry was to describe how you can validate Metro apps and Metro users when performing a call to a remote web service. First, I explained how you can create a Metro app which takes advantage of Single Sign-On to authenticate the current user against Live automatically. You learned how to register your Metro app with Live and how to include an authentication token in an Ajax call. Next, I explained how you can validate the authentication token – retrieved from the request header – in a web service. I discussed how you can use the JsonWebToken class to validate the authentication token and retrieve the unique user ID.

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  • jQuery Templates on Microsoft Ajax CDN

    - by Stephen Walther
    The beta version of the jQuery Templates plugin is now hosted on the Microsoft Ajax CDN. You can start using the jQuery Templates plugin in your application by referencing both jQuery 1.4.2 and jQuery Templates from the CDN. Here are the two script tags that you will want to use when developing an application: <script type="text/javascript" src=”http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js”></script> <script type="text/javascript" src=”http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery.templates/beta1/jquery.tmpl.js”></script> In addition, minified versions of both files are available from the CDN: <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery.templates/beta1/jquery.tmpl.min.js"></script> Here’s a full code sample of using jQuery Templates from the CDN to display pictures of cats from Flickr: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Cats</title> <style type="text/css"> html { background-color:Orange; } #catBox div { width:250px; height:250px; border:solid 1px black; background-color:White; margin:5px; padding:5px; float:left; } #catBox img { width:200px; height: 200px; } </style> </head> <body> <h1>Cat Photos!</h1> <div id="catBox"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery.templates/beta1/jquery.tmpl.min.js"></script> <script id="catTemplate" type="text/x-jquery-tmpl"> <div> <b>${title}</b> <br /> <img src="${media.m}" /> </div> </script> <script type="text/javascript"> var url = "http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/[email protected]&lang=en-us&format=json&jsoncallback=?"; // Grab some flickr images of cats $.getJSON(url, function (data) { // Format the data using the catTemplate template $("#catTemplate").tmpl(data.items).appendTo("#catBox"); }); </script> </body> </html> This page displays a list of cats retrieved from Flickr: Notice that the cat pictures are retrieved and rendered with just a few lines of code: var url = "http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/[email protected]&lang=en-us&format=json&jsoncallback=?"; // Grab some flickr images of cats $.getJSON(url, function (data) { // Format the data using the catTemplate template $("#catTemplate").tmpl(data.items).appendTo("#catBox"); }); The final line of code, the one that calls the tmpl() method, uses the Templates plugin to render the cat photos in a template named catTemplate. The catTemplate template is contained within a SCRIPT element with type="text/x-jquery-tmpl". The jQuery Templates plugin is an “official” jQuery plugin which will be included in jQuery 1.5 (the next major release of jQuery). You can read the full documentation for the plugin at the jQuery website: http://api.jquery.com/category/plugins/templates/ The jQuery Templates plugin is still beta so we would really appreciate your feedback on the plugin. Let us know if you use the Templates plugin in your website.

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  • ASP.NET 4 Unleashed in Bookstores!

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m happy to announce that ASP.NET 4 Unleashed is now in bookstores! The book is over 1,800 pages and it is packed with code samples and tutorials on all the features of ASP.NET 4. Given the size of the book – did I mention that it is over 1,800 pages? -- I can safely say that it is the most comprehensive book on ASP.NET  This edition of the book has several new chapters written by Kevin Hoffman and Nate Dudek. Kevin and Nate did a fantastic job of covering the new features of ASP.NET 4 including: The new ASP.NET Chart Control The new ASP.NET QueryExtender Control The new ASP.NET routing framework jQuery You can buy the book from your local bookstore or buy the book from Amazon:

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  • April 2013 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I’m excited to announce the April 2013 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. For this release, we focused on improving two controls: the AjaxFileUpload and the MaskedEdit controls. You can download the latest release from CodePlex at http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com or, better yet, you can execute the following NuGet command within Visual Studio 2010/2012: There are three builds of the Ajax Control Toolkit: .NET 3.5, .NET 4.0, and .NET 4.5. A Better AjaxFileUpload Control We completely rewrote the AjaxFileUpload control for this release. We had two primary goals. First, we wanted to support uploading really large files. In particular, we wanted to support uploading multi-gigabyte files such as video files or application files. Second, we wanted to support showing upload progress on as many browsers as possible. The previous version of the AjaxFileUpload could show upload progress when used with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox but not when used with Apple Safari or Microsoft Internet Explorer. The new version of the AjaxFileUpload control shows upload progress when used with any browser. Using the AjaxFileUpload Control Let me walk-through using the AjaxFileUpload in the most basic scenario. And then, in following sections, I can explain some of its more advanced features. Here’s how you can declare the AjaxFileUpload control in a page: <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:AjaxFileUpload ID="AjaxFileUpload1" AllowedFileTypes="mp4" OnUploadComplete="AjaxFileUpload1_UploadComplete" runat="server" /> The exact appearance of the AjaxFileUpload control depends on the features that a browser supports. In the case of Google Chrome, which supports drag-and-drop upload, here’s what the AjaxFileUpload looks like: Notice that the page above includes two Ajax Control Toolkit controls: the AjaxFileUpload and the ToolkitScriptManager control. You always need to include the ToolkitScriptManager with any page which uses Ajax Control Toolkit controls. The AjaxFileUpload control declared in the page above includes an event handler for its UploadComplete event. This event handler is declared in the code-behind page like this: protected void AjaxFileUpload1_UploadComplete(object sender, AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadEventArgs e) { // Save uploaded file to App_Data folder AjaxFileUpload1.SaveAs(MapPath("~/App_Data/" + e.FileName)); } This method saves the uploaded file to your website’s App_Data folder. I’m assuming that you have an App_Data folder in your project – if you don’t have one then you need to create one or you will get an error. There is one more thing that you must do in order to get the AjaxFileUpload control to work. The AjaxFileUpload control relies on an HTTP Handler named AjaxFileUploadHandler.axd. You need to declare this handler in your application’s root web.config file like this: <configuration> <system.web> <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.5" /> <httpRuntime targetFramework="4.5" maxRequestLength="42949672" /> <httpHandlers> <add verb="*" path="AjaxFileUploadHandler.axd" type="AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadHandler, AjaxControlToolkit"/> </httpHandlers> </system.web> <system.webServer> <validation validateIntegratedModeConfiguration="false"/> <handlers> <add name="AjaxFileUploadHandler" verb="*" path="AjaxFileUploadHandler.axd" type="AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadHandler, AjaxControlToolkit"/> </handlers> <security> <requestFiltering> <requestLimits maxAllowedContentLength="4294967295"/> </requestFiltering> </security> </system.webServer> </configuration> Notice that the web.config file above also contains configuration settings for the maxRequestLength and maxAllowedContentLength. You need to assign large values to these configuration settings — as I did in the web.config file above — in order to accept large file uploads. Supporting Chunked File Uploads Because one of our primary goals with this release was support for large file uploads, we added support for client-side chunking. When you upload a file using a browser which fully supports the HTML5 File API — such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox — then the file is uploaded in multiple chunks. You can see chunking in action by opening F12 Developer Tools in your browser and observing the Network tab: Notice that there is a crazy number of distinct post requests made (about 360 distinct requests for a 1 gigabyte file). Each post request looks like this: http://localhost:24338/AjaxFileUploadHandler.axd?contextKey={DA8BEDC8-B952-4d5d-8CC2-59FE922E2923}&fileId=B7CCE31C-6AB1-BB28-2940-49E0C9B81C64 &fileName=Sita_Sings_the_Blues_480p_2150kbps.mp4&chunked=true&firstChunk=false Each request posts another chunk of the file being uploaded. Notice that the request URL includes a chunked=true parameter which indicates that the browser is breaking the file being uploaded into multiple chunks. Showing Upload Progress on All Browsers The previous version of the AjaxFileUpload control could display upload progress only in the case of browsers which fully support the HTML5 File API. The new version of the AjaxFileUpload control can display upload progress in the case of all browsers. If a browser does not fully support the HTML5 File API then the browser polls the server every few seconds with an Ajax request to determine the percentage of the file that has been uploaded. This technique of displaying progress works with any browser which supports making Ajax requests. There is one catch. Be warned that this new feature only works with the .NET 4.0 and .NET 4.5 versions of the AjaxControlToolkit. To show upload progress, we are taking advantage of the new ASP.NET HttpRequest.GetBufferedInputStream() and HttpRequest.GetBufferlessInputStream() methods which are not supported by .NET 3.5. For example, here is what the Network tab looks like when you use the AjaxFileUpload with Microsoft Internet Explorer: Here’s what the requests in the Network tab look like: GET /WebForm1.aspx?contextKey={DA8BEDC8-B952-4d5d-8CC2-59FE922E2923}&poll=1&guid=9206FF94-76F9-B197-D1BC-EA9AD282806B HTTP/1.1 Notice that each request includes a poll=1 parameter. This parameter indicates that this is a polling request to get the size of the file buffered on the server. Here’s what the response body of a request looks like when about 20% of a file has been uploaded: Buffering to a Temporary File When you upload a file using the AjaxFileUpload control, the file upload is buffered to a temporary file located at Path.GetTempPath(). When you call the SaveAs() method, as we did in the sample page above, the temporary file is copied to a new file and then the temporary file is deleted. If you don’t call the SaveAs() method, then you must ensure that the temporary file gets deleted yourself. For example, if you want to save the file to a database then you will never call the SaveAs() method and you are responsible for deleting the file. The easiest way to delete the temporary file is to call the AjaxFileUploadEventArgs.DeleteTemporaryData() method in the UploadComplete handler: protected void AjaxFileUpload1_UploadComplete(object sender, AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadEventArgs e) { // Save uploaded file to a database table e.DeleteTemporaryData(); } You also can call the static AjaxFileUpload.CleanAllTemporaryData() method to delete all temporary data and not only the temporary data related to the current file upload. For example, you might want to call this method on application start to ensure that all temporary data is removed whenever your application restarts. A Better MaskedEdit Extender This release of the Ajax Control Toolkit contains bug fixes for the top-voted issues related to the MaskedEdit control. We closed over 25 MaskedEdit issues. Here is a complete list of the issues addressed with this release: · 17302 MaskedEditExtender MaskType=Date, Mask=99/99/99 Undefined JS Error · 11758 MaskedEdit causes error in JScript when working with 2-digits year · 18810 Maskededitextender/validator Date validation issue · 23236 MaskEditValidator does not work with date input using format dd/mm/yyyy · 23042 Webkit based browsers (Safari, Chrome) and MaskedEditExtender · 26685 [email protected](ClearMaskOnLostFocus=false) adds a zero character when you each focused to target textbox · 16109 MaskedEditExtender: Negative amount, followed by decimal, sets value to positive · 11522 MaskEditExtender of AjaxtoolKit-1.0.10618.0 does not work properly for Hungarian Culture · 25988 MaskedEditExtender – CultureName (HU-hu) > DateSeparator · 23221 MaskedEditExtender date separator problem · 15233 Day and month swap in Dynamic user control · 15492 MaskedEditExtender with ClearMaskOnLostFocus and with MaskedEditValidator with ClientValidationFunction · 9389 MaskedEditValidator – when on no entry · 11392 MaskedEdit Number format messed up · 11819 MaskedEditExtender erases all values beyond first comma separtor · 13423 MaskedEdit(Extender/Validator) combo problem · 16111 MaskedEditValidator cannot validate date with DayMonthYear in UserDateFormat of MaskedEditExtender · 10901 MaskedEdit: The months and date fields swap values when you hit submit if UserDateFormat is set. · 15190 MaskedEditValidator can’t make use of MaskedEditExtender’s UserDateFormat property · 13898 MaskedEdit Extender with custom date type mask gives javascript error · 14692 MaskedEdit error in “yy/MM/dd” format. · 16186 MaskedEditExtender does not handle century properly in a date mask · 26456 MaskedEditBehavior. ConvFmtTime : function(input,loadFirst) fails if this._CultureAMPMPlaceholder == “” · 21474 Error on MaskedEditExtender working with number format · 23023 MaskedEditExtender’s ClearMaskOnLostFocus property causes problems for MaskedEditValidator when set to false · 13656 MaskedEditValidator Min/Max Date value issue Conclusion This latest release of the Ajax Control Toolkit required many hours of work by a team of talented developers. I want to thank the members of the Superexpert team for the long hours which they put into this release.

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  • May 2011 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m happy to announce that the Superexpert team has published the May 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit at CodePlex. You can download the new release at the following URL: http://ajaxcontroltoolkit.codeplex.com/releases/view/65800 This release focused on improving the ModalPopup and AsyncFileUpload controls. Our team closed a total of 34 bugs related to the ModalPopup and AsyncFileUpload controls. Enhanced ModalPopup Control You can take advantage of the Ajax Control Toolkit ModalPopup control to easily create popup dialogs in your ASP.NET Web Forms applications. When the dialog appears, you cannot interact with any page content which appears behind the modal dialog. For example, the following page contains a standard ASP.NET Button and Panel. When you click the Button, the Panel appears as a popup dialog: <%@ Page Language="vb" AutoEventWireup="false" CodeBehind="Simple.aspx.vb" Inherits="ACTSamples.Simple" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="act" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head runat="server"> <title>Simple Modal Popup Sample</title> <style type="text/css"> html { background-color: blue; } #dialog { border: 2px solid black; width: 500px; background-color: White; } #dialogContents { padding: 10px; } .modalBackground { background-color:Gray; filter:alpha(opacity=70); opacity:0.7; } </style> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <act:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> <asp:Panel ID="dialog" runat="server"> <div id="dialogContents"> Here are the contents of the dialog. <br /> <asp:Button ID="btnOK" Text="OK" runat="server" /> </div> </asp:Panel> <asp:Button ID="btnShow" Text="Open Dialog" runat="server" /> <act:ModalPopupExtender TargetControlID="btnShow" PopupControlID="dialog" OkControlID="btnOK" DropShadow="true" BackgroundCssClass="modalBackground" runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html>     Notice that the page includes two controls from the Ajax Control Toolkit: the ToolkitScriptManager and the ModalPopupExtender control. Any page which uses any of the controls from the Ajax Control Toolkit must include a ToolkitScriptManager. The ModalPopupExtender is used to create the popup. The following properties are set: · TargetControlID – This is the ID of the Button or LinkButton control which causes the modal popup to be displayed. · PopupControlID – This is the ID of the Panel control which contains the content displayed in the modal popup. · OKControlID – This is the ID of a Button or LinkButton which causes the modal popup to close. · DropShadow – Displays a drop shadow behind the modal popup. · BackgroundCSSClass – The name of a Cascading Style Sheet class which is used to gray out the background of the page when the modal popup is displayed. The ModalPopup is completely cross-browser compatible. For example, the following screenshots show the same page displayed in Firefox 4, Internet Explorer 9, and Chrome 11: The ModalPopup control has lots of nice properties. For example, you can make the ModalPopup draggable. You also can programmatically hide and show a modal popup from either server-side or client-side code. To learn more about the properties of the ModalPopup control, see the following website: http://www.asp.net/ajax/ajaxcontroltoolkit/Samples/ModalPopup/ModalPopup.aspx Animated ModalPopup Control In the May 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we enhanced the Modal Popup control so that it supports animations. We made this modification in response to a feature request posted at CodePlex which got 65 votes (plenty of people wanted this feature): http://ajaxcontroltoolkit.codeplex.com/workitem/6944 I want to thank Dani Kenan for posting a patch to this issue which we used as the basis for adding animation support for the modal popup. Thanks Dani! The enhanced ModalPopup in the May 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit supports the following animations: OnShowing – Called before the modal popup is shown. OnShown – Called after the modal popup is shown. OnHiding – Called before the modal popup is hidden. OnHidden – Called after the modal popup is hidden. You can use these animations, for example, to fade-in a modal popup when it is displayed and fade-out the popup when it is hidden. Here’s the code: <act:ModalPopupExtender ID="ModalPopupExtender1" TargetControlID="btnShow" PopupControlID="dialog" OkControlID="btnOK" DropShadow="true" BackgroundCssClass="modalBackground" runat="server"> <Animations> <OnShown> <Fadein /> </OnShown> <OnHiding> <Fadeout /> </OnHiding> </Animations> </act:ModalPopupExtender>     So that you can experience the full joy of this animated modal popup, I recorded the following video: Of course, you can use any of the animations supported by the Ajax Control Toolkit with the modal popup. The animation reference is located here: http://www.asp.net/ajax/ajaxcontroltoolkit/Samples/Walkthrough/AnimationReference.aspx Fixes to the AsyncFileUpload In the May 2011 release, we also focused our energies on performing bug fixes for the AsyncFileUpload control. We fixed several major issues with the AsyncFileUpload including: It did not work in master pages It did not work when ClientIDMode=”Static” It did not work with Firefox 4 It did not work when multiple AsyncFileUploads were included in the same page It generated markup which was not HTML5 compatible The AsyncFileUpload control is a super useful control. It enables you to upload files in a form without performing a postback. Here’s some sample code which demonstrates how you can use the AsyncFileUpload: <%@ Page Language="vb" AutoEventWireup="false" CodeBehind="Simple.aspx.vb" Inherits="ACTSamples.Simple1" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="act" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head id="Head1" runat="server"> <title>Simple AsyncFileUpload</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <act:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> User Name: <br /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtUserName" runat="server" /> <asp:RequiredFieldValidator EnableClientScript="false" ErrorMessage="Required" ControlToValidate="txtUserName" runat="server" /> <br /><br /> Avatar: <act:AsyncFileUpload ID="async1" ThrobberID="throbber" UploadingBackColor="yellow" ErrorBackColor="red" CompleteBackColor="green" UploaderStyle="Modern" PersistFile="true" runat="server" /> <asp:Image ID="throbber" ImageUrl="uploading.gif" style="display:none" runat="server" /> <br /><br /> <asp:Button ID="btnSubmit" Text="Submit" runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> And here’s the code-behind for the page above: Public Class Simple1 Inherits System.Web.UI.Page Private Sub btnSubmit_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles btnSubmit.Click If Page.IsValid Then ' Get Form Fields Dim userName As String Dim file As Byte() userName = txtUserName.Text If async1.HasFile Then file = async1.FileBytes End If ' Save userName, file to database ' Redirect to success page Response.Redirect("SimpleDone.aspx") End If End Sub End Class   The form above contains an AsyncFileUpload which has values for the following properties: ThrobberID – The ID of an element in the page to display while a file is being uploaded. UploadingBackColor – The color to display in the upload field while a file is being uploaded. ErrorBackColor – The color to display in the upload field when there is an error uploading a file. CompleteBackColor – The color to display in the upload field when the upload is complete. UploaderStyle – The user interface style: Traditional or Modern. PersistFile – When true, the uploaded file is persisted in Session state. The last property PersistFile, causes the uploaded file to be stored in Session state. That way, if completing a form requires multiple postbacks, then the user needs to upload the file only once. For example, if there is a server validation error, then the user is not required to re-upload the file after fixing the validation issue. In the sample code above, this condition is simulated by disabling client-side validation for the RequiredFieldValidator control. The RequiredFieldValidator EnableClientScript property has the value false. The following video demonstrates how the AsyncFileUpload control works: You can learn more about the properties and methods of the AsyncFileUpload control by visiting the following page: http://www.asp.net/ajax/ajaxcontroltoolkit/Samples/AsyncFileUpload/AsyncFileUpload.aspx Conclusion In the May 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we addressed over 30 bugs related to the ModalPopup and AsyncFileUpload controls. Furthermore, by building on code submitted by the community, we enhanced the ModalPopup control so that it supports animation (Thanks Dani). In our next sprint for the June release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we plan to focus on the HTML Editor control. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated.

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  • ASP.NET in Moscow!

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m traveling to Russia and speaking in Moscow next week at the DevConf. This will be the first time that I have visited Russia, and I know that there is a strong ASP.NET community in Russia, so I am very excited about the trip. I’m speaking at the DevConf (http://www.devconf.ru/). I don’t speak Russian, so the only words that I recognize off the home page of the conference website are ASP.NET and JavaScript (PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby must be Russian words). I’m giving talks on both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC: What’s New in ASP.NET 4 Web Forms Learn about the new features just released with ASP.NET 4 Web Forms and Visual Studio 2010 that enable you to be more productive and build better websites. Learn how to take control of your markup, client IDs, and view state. Learn how to take advantage of routing with Web Forms to make your websites more search engine friendly.   What’s New in ASP.NET MVC 2 Come learn about the new features being introduced with ASP.NET MVC 2. Templated helpers allow associating edit and display elements with data types automatically. Areas provide a means of dividing a large Web application into multiple projects. Data annotations allows attaching metadata attributes on a model to control validation. Client validation enables form field validation without the need to perform a roundtrip to the server. Learn how these new features enable you to be more productive when building ASP.NET MVC applications. Hope to see you at the conference next week!

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  • Announcing the June 2012 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I’m excited to announce the June 2012 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. You can download the new release by visiting http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com or (better) download the new release with NuGet: Install-Package AjaxControlToolkit The Ajax Control Toolkit continues to be super popular. The previous release (May 2012) had over 87,000 downloads from CodePlex.com and over 16,000 downloads from NuGet. That’s over 100,000 downloads in less than 2 months. Security Improvements for the HtmlEditorExtender Unfortunately, in the previous release, we made the HtmlEditorExtender too secure! We upgraded the version of the Microsoft Anti-Cross Site Scripting Library included in the Ajax Control Toolkit to the latest version (version 4.2.1) and the latest version turned out to be way too aggressive about stripping HTML. It not only strips dangerous tags such as <script> tags, it also strips innocent tags such as <b> tags. When the latest version of the Microsoft Anti-Cross Site Scripting Library is used with the HtmlEditorExtender, the library strips all rich content from the HtmlEditorExtender control which defeats the purpose of using the control. Therefore, we had to find a replacement for the Microsoft Anti-Cross Site Scripting Library. In this release, we’ve created a new HTML sanitizer built on the HTML Agility Pack. If you were using the AntiXssSanitizerProvider then you will need to substitute the HtmlAgilityPackSanitizerProvider. In particular, you need to modify the sanitizer sections in your Web.config file like this: <configuration> <configSections> <sectionGroup name="system.web"> <section name="sanitizer" requirePermission="false" type="AjaxControlToolkit.Sanitizer.ProviderSanitizerSection, AjaxControlToolkit" /> </sectionGroup> </configSections> <system.web> <sanitizer defaultProvider="HtmlAgilityPackSanitizerProvider"> <providers> <add name="HtmlAgilityPackSanitizerProvider" type="AjaxControlToolkit.Sanitizer.HtmlAgilityPackSanitizerProvider"></add> </providers> </sanitizer> </system.web> </configuration> We made one other backwards-breaking change to improve the security of the HtmlEditorExtender. We want to make sure that users don’t accidently use the HtmlEditorExtender without an HTML sanitizer by accident. Therefore, if you don’t configure a HTML sanitizer provider in the web.config file then you’ll get the following error: If you really want to use the HtmlEditorExtender without using an HTML sanitizer – for example, you are using the HtmlEditorExtender for an Intranet application and you trust all of your fellow employees – then you can explicitly indicate that you don’t want to enable HTML sanitization by setting the EnableSanitization property to false like this: <ajaxToolkit:HtmlEditorExtender TargetControlID="txtComments" EnableSanitization="false" runat="server" /> Please don’t ever set the EnableSanitization property to false for a public website. If you disable HTML sanitization then you are making your website an easy target for Cross-Site Scripting attacks. Lots of Fixes for the ComboBox Control In the latest release, we also made several important bug fixes and feature enhancements to the ComboBox control. Here’s the list of issues that we fixed: 22930 — ComboBox doesn’t close its drop down list when losing input focus to another ComboBox control 23140 — ComboBox Issues – Delete, Backspace, Period 23142 — ComboxBox SelectedIndex = -1 does not clear text 24440 — ComboBox postback on enter 25295 — ComboBox problems when container is hidden at page load 25469 — ComboBox – MaxLength ignored 26686 — Backspace and Delete exception when optionList is null 27148 — Combobox breaks if ClientIDMode is static Fixes to Other Controls In this release, we also made bug fixes and enhancements to the UpdatePanelAnimation, Tabs, and Seadragon controls: 21310 — OnUpdated animation starts before OnUpdating has finished 26690 — Seadragon Control’s openTileSource() method doesn’t work (with fix) Title is required We also fixed an issue with the Tabs control which would result in an InvalidOperation exception. Summary I want to thank the Superexpert team for the hard work that they put into this release. In particular, I want to thank them for their effort in researching, building, and writing unit tests for the HtmlAgilityPack HTML sanitizer.

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  • Metro: Query Selectors

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to explain how to perform queries using selectors when using the WinJS library. In particular, you learn how to use the WinJS.Utilities.query() method and the QueryCollection class to retrieve and modify the elements of an HTML document. Introduction to Selectors When you are building a Web application, you need some way of easily retrieving elements from an HTML document. For example, you might want to retrieve all of the input elements which have a certain class. Or, you might want to retrieve the one and only element with an id of favoriteColor. The standard way of retrieving elements from an HTML document is by using a selector. Anyone who has ever created a Cascading Style Sheet has already used selectors. You use selectors in Cascading Style Sheets to apply formatting rules to elements in a document. For example, the following Cascading Style Sheet rule changes the background color of every INPUT element with a class of .required in a document to the color red: input.red { background-color: red } The “input.red” part is the selector which matches all INPUT elements with a class of red. The W3C standard for selectors (technically, their recommendation) is entitled “Selectors Level 3” and the standard is located here: http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-selectors/ Selectors are not only useful for adding formatting to the elements of a document. Selectors are also useful when you need to apply behavior to the elements of a document. For example, you might want to select a particular BUTTON element with a selector and add a click handler to the element so that something happens whenever you click the button. Selectors are not specific to Cascading Style Sheets. You can use selectors in your JavaScript code to retrieve elements from an HTML document. jQuery is famous for its support for selectors. Using jQuery, you can use a selector to retrieve matching elements from a document and modify the elements. The WinJS library enables you to perform the same types of queries as jQuery using the W3C selector syntax. Performing Queries with the WinJS.Utilities.query() Method When using the WinJS library, you perform a query using a selector by using the WinJS.Utilities.query() method.  The following HTML document contains a BUTTON and a DIV element: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <meta charset="utf-8"> <title>Application1</title> <!-- WinJS references --> <link href="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/css/ui-dark.css" rel="stylesheet"> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/js/base.js"></script> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/js/ui.js"></script> <!-- Application1 references --> <link href="/css/default.css" rel="stylesheet"> <script src="/js/default.js"></script> </head> <body> <button>Click Me!</button> <div style="display:none"> <h1>Secret Message</h1> </div> </body> </html> The document contains a reference to the following JavaScript file named \js\default.js: (function () { "use strict"; var app = WinJS.Application; app.onactivated = function (eventObject) { if (eventObject.detail.kind === Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation.ActivationKind.launch) { WinJS.Utilities.query("button").listen("click", function () { WinJS.Utilities.query("div").clearStyle("display"); }); } }; app.start(); })(); The default.js script uses the WinJS.Utilities.query() method to retrieve all of the BUTTON elements in the page. The listen() method is used to wire an event handler to the BUTTON click event. When you click the BUTTON, the secret message contained in the hidden DIV element is displayed. The clearStyle() method is used to remove the display:none style attribute from the DIV element. Under the covers, the WinJS.Utilities.query() method uses the standard querySelectorAll() method. This means that you can use any selector which is compatible with the querySelectorAll() method when using the WinJS.Utilities.query() method. The querySelectorAll() method is defined in the W3C Selectors API Level 1 standard located here: http://www.w3.org/TR/selectors-api/ Unlike the querySelectorAll() method, the WinJS.Utilities.query() method returns a QueryCollection. We talk about the methods of the QueryCollection class below. Retrieving a Single Element with the WinJS.Utilities.id() Method If you want to retrieve a single element from a document, instead of matching a set of elements, then you can use the WinJS.Utilities.id() method. For example, the following line of code changes the background color of an element to the color red: WinJS.Utilities.id("message").setStyle("background-color", "red"); The statement above matches the one and only element with an Id of message. For example, the statement matches the following DIV element: <div id="message">Hello!</div> Notice that you do not use a hash when matching a single element with the WinJS.Utilities.id() method. You would need to use a hash when using the WinJS.Utilities.query() method to do the same thing like this: WinJS.Utilities.query("#message").setStyle("background-color", "red"); Under the covers, the WinJS.Utilities.id() method calls the standard document.getElementById() method. The WinJS.Utilities.id() method returns the result as a QueryCollection. If no element matches the identifier passed to WinJS.Utilities.id() then you do not get an error. Instead, you get a QueryCollection with no elements (length=0). Using the WinJS.Utilities.children() method The WinJS.Utilities.children() method enables you to retrieve a QueryCollection which contains all of the children of a DOM element. For example, imagine that you have a DIV element which contains children DIV elements like this: <div id="discussContainer"> <div>Message 1</div> <div>Message 2</div> <div>Message 3</div> </div> You can use the following code to add borders around all of the child DIV element and not the container DIV element: var discussContainer = WinJS.Utilities.id("discussContainer").get(0); WinJS.Utilities.children(discussContainer).setStyle("border", "2px dashed red");   It is important to understand that the WinJS.Utilities.children() method only works with a DOM element and not a QueryCollection. Notice that the get() method is used to retrieve the DOM element which represents the discussContainer. Working with the QueryCollection Class Both the WinJS.Utilities.query() method and the WinJS.Utilities.id() method return an instance of the QueryCollection class. The QueryCollection class derives from the base JavaScript Array class and adds several useful methods for working with HTML elements: addClass(name) – Adds a class to every element in the QueryCollection. clearStyle(name) – Removes a style from every element in the QueryCollection. conrols(ctor, options) – Enables you to create controls. get(index) – Retrieves the element from the QueryCollection at the specified index. getAttribute(name) – Retrieves the value of an attribute for the first element in the QueryCollection. hasClass(name) – Returns true if the first element in the QueryCollection has a certain class. include(items) – Includes a collection of items in the QueryCollection. listen(eventType, listener, capture) – Adds an event listener to every element in the QueryCollection. query(query) – Performs an additional query on the QueryCollection and returns a new QueryCollection. removeClass(name) – Removes a class from the every element in the QueryCollection. removeEventListener(eventType, listener, capture) – Removes an event listener from every element in the QueryCollection. setAttribute(name, value) – Adds an attribute to every element in the QueryCollection. setStyle(name, value) – Adds a style attribute to every element in the QueryCollection. template(templateElement, data, renderDonePromiseContract) – Renders a template using the supplied data.  toggleClass(name) – Toggles the specified class for every element in the QueryCollection. Because the QueryCollection class derives from the base Array class, it also contains all of the standard Array methods like forEach() and slice(). Summary In this blog post, I’ve described how you can perform queries using selectors within a Windows Metro Style application written with JavaScript. You learned how to return an instance of the QueryCollection class by using the WinJS.Utilities.query(), WinJS.Utilities.id(), and WinJS.Utilities.children() methods. You also learned about the methods of the QueryCollection class.

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  • September 2012 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I’m excited to announce the September 2012 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit! This is the first release of the Ajax Control Toolkit which supports the .NET 4.5 framework. We also continue to support ASP.NET 3.5 and ASP.NET 4.0. With this release, we’ve made several important bug fixes. The Superexpert team focused on fixing the highest voted issues associated with the CascadingDropDown control. I’ve created a list of these bug fixes later in this blog post. You can download the latest release of the Ajax Control Toolkit by visiting the following page at CodePlex: http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com Alternatively, you can install the latest version of the Ajax Control Toolkit using NuGet by firing off the following command from the Package Manager Console: Install-Package AjaxControlToolkit Using the Ajax Control Toolkit with ASP.NET 4.5 Let me walk through the steps for using the Ajax Control Toolkit with ASP.NET 4.5. First, I’ll create a new ASP.NET 4.5 website with Visual Studio 2012. I’ll create the new website with the ASP.NET Web Forms Application template: When you create a new ASP.NET 4.5 site with the ASP.NET Web Forms Application template, you get a starter website. If you run the site, then you get a page with default content: Let me show you how you can add the Ajax Control Toolkit Calendar control to the homepage of this starter site. The first step is to use NuGet to install the Ajax Control Toolkit. Right-click the References folder in the Solution Explorer window and select the menu option Manage NuGet Packages. In the Manage NuGet Packages dialog, use the search box to search for the Ajax Control Toolkit (enter “AjaxControlToolkit”). After you find it, click the Install button to add the Ajax Control Toolkit to your project. That’s all you have to do to install the Ajax Control Toolkit! Now we are ready to start using the Ajax Control Toolkit controls. Open the default.aspx page so we can modify the contents of the page. Erase everything contained in the Content control with the ID of BodyContent. After erasing the content, declare the following two controls: <asp:TextBox ID="vacationDate" runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:CalendarExtender TargetControlID="vacationDate" runat="server" /> The first control is a standard ASP.NET TextBox control and the second control is an Ajax Control Toolkit Calendar control. You should get intellisense as you type out the Ajax Control Toolkit Calendar control. If you don’t, then close and re-open the Default.aspx page. Now, let’s run our app. Hit the F5 button or select Debug, Start Debugging from the Visual Studio menu. You will get the error message “MsAjaxBundle is not a valid script name”. Don’t despair! We need to update the Master Page so it uses the ToolkitScriptManager instead of the default ScriptManager. Open the Site.Master file and find where the ScriptManager is declared. The ScriptManager should look like this: <asp:ScriptManager runat="server"> <Scripts> <%--Framework Scripts--%> <asp:ScriptReference Name="MsAjaxBundle" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="jquery" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="jquery.ui.combined" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebForms.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/WebForms.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebUIValidation.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/WebUIValidation.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="MenuStandards.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/MenuStandards.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="GridView.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/GridView.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="DetailsView.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/DetailsView.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="TreeView.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/TreeView.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebParts.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/WebParts.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="Focus.js" Assembly="System.Web" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/Focus.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebFormsBundle" /> <%--Site Scripts--%> </Scripts> </asp:ScriptManager> We need to make three changes to the ScriptManager: 1) We need to replace the asp:ScriptManager with the ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager 2) We need to remove the MsAjaxBundle bundle from the ScriptReferences 3) We need to remove the Assembly=”System.Web” attributes from the ScriptReferences After you make these three changes, the ToolkitScriptManager should looks like this: <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat="server"> <Scripts> <%--Framework Scripts--%> <asp:ScriptReference Name="jquery" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="jquery.ui.combined" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebForms.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/WebForms.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebUIValidation.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/WebUIValidation.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="MenuStandards.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/MenuStandards.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="GridView.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/GridView.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="DetailsView.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/DetailsView.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="TreeView.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/TreeView.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebParts.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/WebParts.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="Focus.js" Path="~/Scripts/WebForms/Focus.js" /> <asp:ScriptReference Name="WebFormsBundle" /> <%--Site Scripts--%> </Scripts> </ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager> After we make these changes, the app should run successfully. You’ll get a page which contains a text field. When you click inside the text field, a popup calendar is displayed. Ajax Control Toolkit and jQuery You might have noticed that the ScriptManager includes a reference to jQuery by default. We did not remove that reference when we converted the ScriptManager to a ToolkitScriptManager. You can use the Ajax Control Toolkit and jQuery side-by-side. Here’s how you can modify the Default.aspx page so that it contains two popup calendars. The first popup calendar is created with the Ajax Control Toolkit and the second popup calendar is created with jQuery: <asp:TextBox ID="vacationDate" runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:CalendarExtender TargetControlID="vacationDate" runat="server" /> <input id="birthDate" /> <script> $("#birthDate").datepicker(); </script> Before you can start using jQuery UI plugins, you need to complete one more step. You need to add the jQuery UI themes bundle to the HEAD of the Site.Master page like this: <head runat="server"> <meta charset="utf-8" /> <title><%: Page.Title %> - My ASP.NET Application</title> <asp:PlaceHolder runat="server"> <%: Scripts.Render("~/bundles/modernizr") %> </asp:PlaceHolder> <webopt:BundleReference runat="server" Path="~/Content/css" /> <webopt:BundleReference runat="server" Path="~/Content/themes/base/css" /> <link href="~/favicon.ico" rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon" /> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" /> <asp:ContentPlaceHolder runat="server" ID="HeadContent" /> </head> The markup above includes a reference to the jQuery UI themes bundle: <webopt:BundleReference runat="server" Path="~/Content/themes/base/css" /> Now that we have made these changes, we can use the Ajax Control Toolkit and jQuery at the same time. When you run your app, you get two popup calendars. When you click in the first text field, the Ajax Control Toolkit calendar appears. When you click in the second text field, the jQuery UI popup calendar appears: Bug Fixes in this Release We made several important bug fixes with this release of the Ajax Control Toolkit and integrated several Pull Requests contributed by the community. Our primary focus during this sprint was fixing issues with the CascadingDropDown control. We fixed the following issues associated with the CascadingDropDown: · 9490 – Don’t disable dropdowns in CascadingDropDown · 14223 – CascadingDropDown Reset or Setting SelectedValue from WebMethod · 12189 – CascadingDropDown not obeying disabled state of DropDownList · 22942 – CascadingDropDown infinite loop (with solution) · 8671 – CascadingDropdown options is null or undefined · 14407 – CascadingDropDown: populated client event happens too often · 17148 – CascadingDropDown – Add “UseHttpGet” property · 10221 – No NotNull check in CascadingDropDown · 12228 – Provide property for case-insensitive DefaultValue lookup in CascadingDropdown We also fixed the following two issues which are not directly related to the CascadingDropDown control: · 27108 – CalendarExtender: Bug when selecting December shifts to January. · 27041 – Input controls with HTML5 types do not post back in Firefox, Chrome, Safari Finally, we integrated several Pull Requests submitted by the community (Thank you community!): · Added French localized resources for the AjaxFileUpload · Resolved an issue which prevented the AjaxFileUpload control from working with pages that require query string variables. · Extended the AjaxFileUploadEventArgs class to include the current file index in the queue and the total number of files in the queue. · Fixed an issue with TabContainer and TabPanel which caused the OnActiveTabChanged event to fire too often. Summary I’m happy to see the Ajax Control Toolkit move forward into the brave new world of ASP.NET 4.5! In this latest release, we focused on ensuring that the Ajax Control Toolkit works smoothly with ASP.NET 4.5 applications. We also fixed the highest voted bugs associated with the CascadingDropDown control and integrated several Pull Request submitted by the community. Once again, I want to thank the Superexpert team for their hard work on this release!

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  • Metro: Promises

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to describe the Promise class in the WinJS library. You can use promises whenever you need to perform an asynchronous operation such as retrieving data from a remote website or a file from the file system. Promises are used extensively in the WinJS library. Asynchronous Programming Some code executes immediately, some code requires time to complete or might never complete at all. For example, retrieving the value of a local variable is an immediate operation. Retrieving data from a remote website takes longer or might not complete at all. When an operation might take a long time to complete, you should write your code so that it executes asynchronously. Instead of waiting for an operation to complete, you should start the operation and then do something else until you receive a signal that the operation is complete. An analogy. Some telephone customer service lines require you to wait on hold – listening to really bad music – until a customer service representative is available. This is synchronous programming and very wasteful of your time. Some newer customer service lines enable you to enter your telephone number so the customer service representative can call you back when a customer representative becomes available. This approach is much less wasteful of your time because you can do useful things while waiting for the callback. There are several patterns that you can use to write code which executes asynchronously. The most popular pattern in JavaScript is the callback pattern. When you call a function which might take a long time to return a result, you pass a callback function to the function. For example, the following code (which uses jQuery) includes a function named getFlickrPhotos which returns photos from the Flickr website which match a set of tags (such as “dog” and “funny”): function getFlickrPhotos(tags, callback) { $.getJSON( "http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?jsoncallback=?", { tags: tags, tagmode: "all", format: "json" }, function (data) { if (callback) { callback(data.items); } } ); } getFlickrPhotos("funny, dogs", function(data) { $.each(data, function(index, item) { console.log(item); }); }); The getFlickr() function includes a callback parameter. When you call the getFlickr() function, you pass a function to the callback parameter which gets executed when the getFlicker() function finishes retrieving the list of photos from the Flickr web service. In the code above, the callback function simply iterates through the results and writes each result to the console. Using callbacks is a natural way to perform asynchronous programming with JavaScript. Instead of waiting for an operation to complete, sitting there and listening to really bad music, you can get a callback when the operation is complete. Using Promises The CommonJS website defines a promise like this (http://wiki.commonjs.org/wiki/Promises): “Promises provide a well-defined interface for interacting with an object that represents the result of an action that is performed asynchronously, and may or may not be finished at any given point in time. By utilizing a standard interface, different components can return promises for asynchronous actions and consumers can utilize the promises in a predictable manner.” A promise provides a standard pattern for specifying callbacks. In the WinJS library, when you create a promise, you can specify three callbacks: a complete callback, a failure callback, and a progress callback. Promises are used extensively in the WinJS library. The methods in the animation library, the control library, and the binding library all use promises. For example, the xhr() method included in the WinJS base library returns a promise. The xhr() method wraps calls to the standard XmlHttpRequest object in a promise. The following code illustrates how you can use the xhr() method to perform an Ajax request which retrieves a file named Photos.txt: var options = { url: "/data/photos.txt" }; WinJS.xhr(options).then( function (xmlHttpRequest) { console.log("success"); var data = JSON.parse(xmlHttpRequest.responseText); console.log(data); }, function(xmlHttpRequest) { console.log("fail"); }, function(xmlHttpRequest) { console.log("progress"); } ) The WinJS.xhr() method returns a promise. The Promise class includes a then() method which accepts three callback functions: a complete callback, an error callback, and a progress callback: Promise.then(completeCallback, errorCallback, progressCallback) In the code above, three anonymous functions are passed to the then() method. The three callbacks simply write a message to the JavaScript Console. The complete callback also dumps all of the data retrieved from the photos.txt file. Creating Promises You can create your own promises by creating a new instance of the Promise class. The constructor for the Promise class requires a function which accepts three parameters: a complete, error, and progress function parameter. For example, the code below illustrates how you can create a method named wait10Seconds() which returns a promise. The progress function is called every second and the complete function is not called until 10 seconds have passed: (function () { "use strict"; var app = WinJS.Application; function wait10Seconds() { return new WinJS.Promise(function (complete, error, progress) { var seconds = 0; var intervalId = window.setInterval(function () { seconds++; progress(seconds); if (seconds > 9) { window.clearInterval(intervalId); complete(); } }, 1000); }); } app.onactivated = function (eventObject) { if (eventObject.detail.kind === Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation.ActivationKind.launch) { wait10Seconds().then( function () { console.log("complete") }, function () { console.log("error") }, function (seconds) { console.log("progress:" + seconds) } ); } } app.start(); })(); All of the work happens in the constructor function for the promise. The window.setInterval() method is used to execute code every second. Every second, the progress() callback method is called. If more than 10 seconds have passed then the complete() callback method is called and the clearInterval() method is called. When you execute the code above, you can see the output in the Visual Studio JavaScript Console. Creating a Timeout Promise In the previous section, we created a custom Promise which uses the window.setInterval() method to complete the promise after 10 seconds. We really did not need to create a custom promise because the Promise class already includes a static method for returning promises which complete after a certain interval. The code below illustrates how you can use the timeout() method. The timeout() method returns a promise which completes after a certain number of milliseconds. WinJS.Promise.timeout(3000).then( function(){console.log("complete")}, function(){console.log("error")}, function(){console.log("progress")} ); In the code above, the Promise completes after 3 seconds (3000 milliseconds). The Promise returned by the timeout() method does not support progress events. Therefore, the only message written to the console is the message “complete” after 10 seconds. Canceling Promises Some promises, but not all, support cancellation. When you cancel a promise, the promise’s error callback is executed. For example, the following code uses the WinJS.xhr() method to perform an Ajax request. However, immediately after the Ajax request is made, the request is cancelled. // Specify Ajax request options var options = { url: "/data/photos.txt" }; // Make the Ajax request var request = WinJS.xhr(options).then( function (xmlHttpRequest) { console.log("success"); }, function (xmlHttpRequest) { console.log("fail"); }, function (xmlHttpRequest) { console.log("progress"); } ); // Cancel the Ajax request request.cancel(); When you run the code above, the message “fail” is written to the Visual Studio JavaScript Console. Composing Promises You can build promises out of other promises. In other words, you can compose promises. There are two static methods of the Promise class which you can use to compose promises: the join() method and the any() method. When you join promises, a promise is complete when all of the joined promises are complete. When you use the any() method, a promise is complete when any of the promises complete. The following code illustrates how to use the join() method. A new promise is created out of two timeout promises. The new promise does not complete until both of the timeout promises complete: WinJS.Promise.join([WinJS.Promise.timeout(1000), WinJS.Promise.timeout(5000)]) .then(function () { console.log("complete"); }); The message “complete” will not be written to the JavaScript Console until both promises passed to the join() method completes. The message won’t be written for 5 seconds (5,000 milliseconds). The any() method completes when any promise passed to the any() method completes: WinJS.Promise.any([WinJS.Promise.timeout(1000), WinJS.Promise.timeout(5000)]) .then(function () { console.log("complete"); }); The code above writes the message “complete” to the JavaScript Console after 1 second (1,000 milliseconds). The message is written to the JavaScript console immediately after the first promise completes and before the second promise completes. Summary The goal of this blog entry was to describe WinJS promises. First, we discussed how promises enable you to easily write code which performs asynchronous actions. You learned how to use a promise when performing an Ajax request. Next, we discussed how you can create your own promises. You learned how to create a new promise by creating a constructor function with complete, error, and progress parameters. Finally, you learned about several advanced methods of promises. You learned how to use the timeout() method to create promises which complete after an interval of time. You also learned how to cancel promises and compose promises from other promises.

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  • Back from Russia

    - by Stephen Walther
    Thanks everyone who came to my talks on ASP.NET Web Forms and MVC in Moscow last week!  Here are the slide decks and demo code for the two talks (You need Visual Studio 2010):   What’s New in ASP.NET MVC 2?   What’s New in ASP.NET 4 Web Forms?   I had a great time in Russia. On the second day, I had an opportunity to walk around Moscow. Here’s a picture of me standing in Red Square:   Here’s a picture of me eating Chicken Kiev with Microsoft evangelist James Senior. James has just started his worldwide Web Camp tour to promote ASP.NET 4. He is traveling non-stop country to country. After Russia, he is off to China and Australia. You can find out more about the Web Camps here: http://www.webcamps.ms/

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  • Metro: Introduction to CSS 3 Grid Layout

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with a quick introduction to the new W3C CSS 3 Grid Layout standard. You can use CSS Grid Layout in Metro style applications written with JavaScript to lay out the content of an HTML page. CSS Grid Layout provides you with all of the benefits of using HTML tables for layout without requiring you to actually use any HTML table elements. Doing Page Layouts without Tables Back in the 1990’s, if you wanted to create a fancy website, then you would use HTML tables for layout. For example, if you wanted to create a standard three-column page layout then you would create an HTML table with three columns like this: <table height="100%"> <tr> <td valign="top" width="300px" bgcolor="red"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </td> <td valign="top" bgcolor="green"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </td> <td valign="top" width="300px" bgcolor="blue"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </td> </tr> </table> When the table above gets rendered out to a browser, you end up with the following three-column layout: The width of the left and right columns is fixed – the width of the middle column expands or contracts depending on the width of the browser. Sometime around the year 2005, everyone decided that using tables for layout was a bad idea. Instead of using tables for layout — it was collectively decided by the spirit of the Web — you should use Cascading Style Sheets instead. Why is using HTML tables for layout bad? Using tables for layout breaks the semantics of the TABLE element. A TABLE element should be used only for displaying tabular information such as train schedules or moon phases. Using tables for layout is bad for accessibility (The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is explicit about this) and using tables for layout is bad for separating content from layout (see http://CSSZenGarden.com). Post 2005, anyone who used HTML tables for layout were encouraged to hold their heads down in shame. That’s all well and good, but the problem with using CSS for layout is that it can be more difficult to work with CSS than HTML tables. For example, to achieve a standard three-column layout, you either need to use absolute positioning or floats. Here’s a three-column layout with floats: <style type="text/css"> #container { min-width: 800px; } #leftColumn { float: left; width: 300px; height: 100%; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { background-color:green; height: 100%; } #rightColumn { float: right; width: 300px; height: 100%; background-color:blue; } </style> <div id="container"> <div id="rightColumn"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </div> <div id="leftColumn"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </div> <div id="middleColumn"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </div> </div> The page above contains four DIV elements: a container DIV which contains a leftColumn, middleColumn, and rightColumn DIV. The leftColumn DIV element is floated to the left and the rightColumn DIV element is floated to the right. Notice that the rightColumn DIV appears in the page before the middleColumn DIV – this unintuitive ordering is necessary to get the floats to work correctly (see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/533607/css-three-column-layout-problem). The page above (almost) works with the most recent versions of most browsers. For example, you get the correct three-column layout in both Firefox and Chrome: And the layout mostly works with Internet Explorer 9 except for the fact that for some strange reason the min-width doesn’t work so when you shrink the width of your browser, you can get the following unwanted layout: Notice how the middle column (the green column) bleeds to the left and right. People have solved these issues with more complicated CSS. For example, see: http://matthewjamestaylor.com/blog/holy-grail-no-quirks-mode.htm But, at this point, no one could argue that using CSS is easier or more intuitive than tables. It takes work to get a layout with CSS and we know that we could achieve the same layout more easily using HTML tables. Using CSS Grid Layout CSS Grid Layout is a new W3C standard which provides you with all of the benefits of using HTML tables for layout without the disadvantage of using an HTML TABLE element. In other words, CSS Grid Layout enables you to perform table layouts using pure Cascading Style Sheets. The CSS Grid Layout standard is still in a “Working Draft” state (it is not finalized) and it is located here: http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-grid-layout/ The CSS Grid Layout standard is only supported by Internet Explorer 10 and there are no signs that any browser other than Internet Explorer will support this standard in the near future. This means that it is only practical to take advantage of CSS Grid Layout when building Metro style applications with JavaScript. Here’s how you can create a standard three-column layout using a CSS Grid Layout: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <style type="text/css"> html, body, #container { height: 100%; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; } #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100%; } #leftColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; background-color:green; } #rightColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; background-color:blue; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="container"> <div id="leftColumn"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </div> <div id="middleColumn"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </div> <div id="rightColumn"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </div> </div> </body> </html> When the page above is rendered in Internet Explorer 10, you get a standard three-column layout: The page above contains four DIV elements: a container DIV which contains a leftColumn DIV, middleColumn DIV, and rightColumn DIV. The container DIV is set to Grid display mode with the following CSS rule: #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100%; } The display property is set to the value “-ms-grid”. This property causes the container DIV to lay out its child elements in a grid. (Notice that you use “-ms-grid” instead of “grid”. The “-ms-“ prefix is used because the CSS Grid Layout standard is still preliminary. This implementation only works with IE10 and it might change before the final release.) The grid columns and rows are defined with the “-ms-grid-columns” and “-ms-grid-rows” properties. The style rule above creates a grid with three columns and one row. The left and right columns are fixed sized at 300 pixels. The middle column sizes automatically depending on the remaining space available. The leftColumn, middleColumn, and rightColumn DIVs are positioned within the container grid element with the following CSS rules: #leftColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; background-color:green; } #rightColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; background-color:blue; } The “-ms-grid-column” property is used to specify the column associated with the element selected by the style sheet selector. The leftColumn DIV is positioned in the first grid column, the middleColumn DIV is positioned in the second grid column, and the rightColumn DIV is positioned in the third grid column. I find using CSS Grid Layout to be just as intuitive as using an HTML table for layout. You define your columns and rows and then you position different elements within these columns and rows. Very straightforward. Creating Multiple Columns and Rows In the previous section, we created a super simple three-column layout. This layout contained only a single row. In this section, let’s create a slightly more complicated layout which contains more than one row: The following page contains a header row, a content row, and a footer row. The content row contains three columns: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <style type="text/css"> html, body, #container { height: 100%; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; } #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100px 1fr 100px; } #header { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-column-span: 3; -ms-grid-row: 1; background-color: yellow; } #leftColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-row: 2; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; -ms-grid-row: 2; background-color:green; } #rightColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; -ms-grid-row: 2; background-color:blue; } #footer { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-column-span: 3; -ms-grid-row: 3; background-color: orange; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="container"> <div id="header"> Header, Header, Header </div> <div id="leftColumn"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </div> <div id="middleColumn"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </div> <div id="rightColumn"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </div> <div id="footer"> Footer, Footer, Footer </div> </div> </body> </html> In the page above, the grid layout is created with the following rule which creates a grid with three rows and three columns: #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100px 1fr 100px; } The header is created with the following rule: #header { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-column-span: 3; -ms-grid-row: 1; background-color: yellow; } The header is positioned in column 1 and row 1. Furthermore, notice that the “-ms-grid-column-span” property is used to span the header across three columns. CSS Grid Layout and Fractional Units When you use CSS Grid Layout, you can take advantage of fractional units. Fractional units provide you with an easy way of dividing up remaining space in a page. Imagine, for example, that you want to create a three-column page layout. You want the size of the first column to be fixed at 200 pixels and you want to divide the remaining space among the remaining three columns. The width of the second column is equal to the combined width of the third and fourth columns. The following CSS rule creates four columns with the desired widths: #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 200px 2fr 1fr 1fr; -ms-grid-rows: 1fr; } The fr unit represents a fraction. The grid above contains four columns. The second column is two times the size (2fr) of the third (1fr) and fourth (1fr) columns. When you use the fractional unit, the remaining space is divided up using fractional amounts. Notice that the single row is set to a height of 1fr. The single grid row gobbles up the entire vertical space. Here’s the entire HTML page: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <style type="text/css"> html, body, #container { height: 100%; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; } #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 200px 2fr 1fr 1fr; -ms-grid-rows: 1fr; } #firstColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; background-color:red; } #secondColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; background-color:green; } #thirdColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; background-color:blue; } #fourthColumn { -ms-grid-column: 4; background-color:orange; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="container"> <div id="firstColumn"> First Column, First Column, First Column </div> <div id="secondColumn"> Second Column, Second Column, Second Column </div> <div id="thirdColumn"> Third Column, Third Column, Third Column </div> <div id="fourthColumn"> Fourth Column, Fourth Column, Fourth Column </div> </div> </body> </html>   Summary There is more in the CSS 3 Grid Layout standard than discussed in this blog post. My goal was to describe the basics. If you want to learn more than you can read through the entire standard at http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-grid-layout/ In this blog post, I described some of the difficulties that you might encounter when attempting to replace HTML tables with Cascading Style Sheets when laying out a web page. I explained how you can take advantage of the CSS 3 Grid Layout standard to avoid these problems when building Metro style applications using JavaScript. CSS 3 Grid Layout provides you with all of the benefits of using HTML tables for laying out a page without requiring you to use HTML table elements.

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  • Ajax Talk at .NET Developers Association

    - by Stephen Walther
    Thanks everyone who came to my Ajax talk tonight at the .NET Developers Association! The slides and demos from the talk can be downloaded by clicking the following link:   ASP.NET Ajax: What’s New?    You need Visual Studio  2010 to view the code samples. The first project, named Demos, contains the following samples: ASPAjax4 1_CompositeScripts.aspx – Demonstrates how to use the ScriptManger to combine, compress, and cache JavaScript files automatically. 2_EnableCdn.aspx – Demonstrates how to retrieve ASP.NET Ajax framework scripts from the Microsoft Ajax CDN automatically. jQuery 1_Selectors.aspx – Demonstrates how to use jQuery selectors 2_WebForms.aspx – Demonstrates how to use the client tablesorter plugin with ASP.NET Web Forms. 3_MVC.aspx – Demonstrates how to use jQuery animation and the templating plugin with ASP.NET MVC. 4_OData.aspx – Demonstrates how to use jQuery with the Netflix API by using JSONP and odata. 5_Templating.aspx – Demonstrates how to use jQuery client templating. 6_TemplateConditionals.aspx – Demonstrates how to use logic within a jQuery template. 7_DataLinking.aspx – Demonstrates how to perform data-binding in jQuery. 8_Converters.aspx – Demonstrates how to defines converters that work with data-binding. The second project, named ACT_Tools, illustrates how to use the Microsoft Ajax Minifier and the JSBuild JavaScript preprocessor. When you perform a build in Visual Studio, all JavaScript and CSS files are minified automatically. Furthermore, any *.pre.js file is processed using the JSBuild preprocessor and the output is saved to the ScriptOutput folder. Select Show All Files in Visual Studio to see the generated results of the minifier and the preprocessor.

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  • Speaking at Tech-Ed Europe Next Week

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m going to Berlin! Next week, I’m giving talks at Tech-Ed Europe on two of my favorite topics: What's New in Microsoft ASP.NET Model-View-Controller ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC) 2 introduces new features to make you more productive when building an ASP.NET MVC application. Templated helpers allow automatically associatiating edit and display elements with data types. Areas provide a means of dividing a large Web application into multiple projects. Data annotations allow attaching metadata attributes on a model to control validation. Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX: Taking AJAX to the Next Level Hear how ASP.NET AJAX 4.0 makes building pure client-side AJAX Web applications even easier, and watch us build an entire data-driven ASP.NET AJAX application from start to finish by taking advantage of only JavaScript, HTML pages, and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services. Also learn about new ASP.NET AJAX features including the DataView control, declarative templates, live client-side data binding, WCF, and REST integration.   The conference has sold out, but you can register for the wait list: http://www.microsoft.com/europe/TechEd/

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  • Metro: Creating a Master/Detail View with a WinJS ListView Control

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to explain how you can create a simple master/detail view by using the WinJS ListView and Template controls. In particular, I explain how you can use a ListView control to display a list of movies and how you can use a Template control to display the details of the selected movie. Creating a master/detail view requires completing the following four steps: Create the data source – The data source contains the list of movies. Declare the ListView control – The ListView control displays the entire list of movies. It is the master part of the master/detail view. Declare the Details Template control – The Details Template control displays the details for the selected movie. It is the details part of the master/detail view. Handle the selectionchanged event – You handle the selectionchanged event to display the details for a movie when a new movie is selected. Creating the Data Source There is nothing special about our data source. We initialize a WinJS.Binding.List object to represent a list of movies: (function () { "use strict"; var movies = new WinJS.Binding.List([ { title: "Star Wars", director: "Lucas"}, { title: "Shrek", director: "Adamson" }, { title: "Star Trek", director: "Abrams" }, { title: "Spiderman", director: "Raimi" }, { title: "Memento", director: "Nolan" }, { title: "Minority Report", director: "Spielberg" } ]); // Expose the data source WinJS.Namespace.define("ListViewDemos", { movies: movies }); })(); The data source is exposed to the rest of our application with the name ListViewDemos.movies. Declaring the ListView Control The ListView control is declared with the following markup: <div id="movieList" data-win-control="WinJS.UI.ListView" data-win-options="{ itemDataSource: ListViewDemos.movies.dataSource, itemTemplate: select('#masterItemTemplate'), tapBehavior: 'directSelect', selectionMode: 'single', layout: { type: WinJS.UI.ListLayout } }"> </div> The data-win-options attribute is used to set the following properties of the ListView control: itemDataSource – The ListView is bound to the list of movies which we created in the previous section. Notice that the ListView is bound to ListViewDemos.movies.dataSource and not just ListViewDemos.movies. itemTemplate – The item template contains the template used for rendering each item in the ListView. The markup for this template is included below. tabBehavior – This enumeration determines what happens when you tap or click on an item in the ListView. The possible values are directSelect, toggleSelect, invokeOnly, none. Because we want to handle the selectionchanged event, we set tapBehavior to the value directSelect. selectionMode – This enumeration determines whether you can select multiple items or only a single item. The possible values are none, single, multi. In the code above, this property is set to the value single. layout – You can use ListLayout or GridLayout with a ListView. If you want to display a vertical ListView, then you should select ListLayout. You must associate a ListView with an item template if you want to render anything interesting. The ListView above is associated with an item template named #masterItemTemplate. Here’s the markup for the masterItemTemplate: <div id="masterItemTemplate" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div class="movie"> <span data-win-bind="innerText:title"></span> </div> </div> This template simply renders the title of each movie. Declaring the Details Template Control The details part of the master/detail view is created with the help of a Template control. Here’s the markup used to declare the Details Template control: <div id="detailsTemplate" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div> <div> Title: <span data-win-bind="innerText:title"></span> </div> <div> Director: <span data-win-bind="innerText:director"></span> </div> </div> </div> The Details Template control displays the movie title and director.   Handling the selectionchanged Event The ListView control can raise two types of events: the iteminvoked and selectionchanged events. The iteminvoked event is raised when you click on a ListView item. The selectionchanged event is raised when one or more ListView items are selected. When you set the tapBehavior property of the ListView control to the value “directSelect” then tapping or clicking a list item raised both the iteminvoked and selectionchanged event. Tapping a list item causes the item to be selected and the item appears with a checkmark. In our code, we handle the selectionchanged event to update the movie details Template when you select a new movie. Here’s the code from the default.js file used to handle the selectionchanged event: var movieList = document.getElementById("movieList"); var detailsTemplate = document.getElementById("detailsTemplate"); var movieDetails = document.getElementById("movieDetails"); // Setup selectionchanged handler movieList.winControl.addEventListener("selectionchanged", function (evt) { if (movieList.winControl.selection.count() > 0) { movieList.winControl.selection.getItems().then(function (items) { // Clear the template container movieDetails.innerHTML = ""; // Render the template detailsTemplate.winControl.render(items[0].data, movieDetails); }); } }); The code above sets up an event handler (listener) for the selectionchanged event. The event handler first verifies that an item has been selected in the ListView (selection.count() > 0). Next, the details for the movie are rendered using the movie details Template (we created this Template in the previous section). The Complete Code For the sake of completeness, I’ve included the complete code for the master/detail view below. I’ve included both the default.html, default.js, and movies.js files. Here is the final code for the default.html file: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <meta charset="utf-8"> <title>ListViewMasterDetail</title> <!-- WinJS references --> <link href="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/css/ui-dark.css" rel="stylesheet"> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/js/base.js"></script> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/js/ui.js"></script> <!-- ListViewMasterDetail references --> <link href="/css/default.css" rel="stylesheet"> <script src="/js/default.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="js/movies.js"></script> <style type="text/css"> body { font-size: xx-large; } .movie { padding: 5px; } #masterDetail { display: -ms-box; } #movieList { width: 300px; margin: 20px; } #movieDetails { margin: 20px; } </style> </head> <body> <!-- Templates --> <div id="masterItemTemplate" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div class="movie"> <span data-win-bind="innerText:title"></span> </div> </div> <div id="detailsTemplate" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div> <div> Title: <span data-win-bind="innerText:title"></span> </div> <div> Director: <span data-win-bind="innerText:director"></span> </div> </div> </div> <!-- Master/Detail --> <div id="masterDetail"> <!-- Master --> <div id="movieList" data-win-control="WinJS.UI.ListView" data-win-options="{ itemDataSource: ListViewDemos.movies.dataSource, itemTemplate: select('#masterItemTemplate'), tapBehavior: 'directSelect', selectionMode: 'single', layout: { type: WinJS.UI.ListLayout } }"> </div> <!-- Detail --> <div id="movieDetails"></div> </div> </body> </html> Here is the default.js file: (function () { "use strict"; var app = WinJS.Application; app.onactivated = function (eventObject) { if (eventObject.detail.kind === Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation.ActivationKind.launch) { WinJS.UI.processAll(); var movieList = document.getElementById("movieList"); var detailsTemplate = document.getElementById("detailsTemplate"); var movieDetails = document.getElementById("movieDetails"); // Setup selectionchanged handler movieList.winControl.addEventListener("selectionchanged", function (evt) { if (movieList.winControl.selection.count() > 0) { movieList.winControl.selection.getItems().then(function (items) { // Clear the template container movieDetails.innerHTML = ""; // Render the template detailsTemplate.winControl.render(items[0].data, movieDetails); }); } }); } }; app.start(); })();   Here is the movies.js file: (function () { "use strict"; var movies = new WinJS.Binding.List([ { title: "Star Wars", director: "Lucas"}, { title: "Shrek", director: "Adamson" }, { title: "Star Trek", director: "Abrams" }, { title: "Spiderman", director: "Raimi" }, { title: "Memento", director: "Nolan" }, { title: "Minority Report", director: "Spielberg" } ]); // Expose the data source WinJS.Namespace.define("ListViewDemos", { movies: movies }); })();   Summary The purpose of this blog entry was to describe how to create a simple master/detail view by taking advantage of the WinJS ListView control. We handled the selectionchanged event of the ListView control to display movie details when you select a movie in the ListView.

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  • ASP.NET and HTML5 Local Storage

    - by Stephen Walther
    My favorite feature of HTML5, hands-down, is HTML5 local storage (aka DOM storage). By taking advantage of HTML5 local storage, you can dramatically improve the performance of your data-driven ASP.NET applications by caching data in the browser persistently. Think of HTML5 local storage like browser cookies, but much better. Like cookies, local storage is persistent. When you add something to browser local storage, it remains there when the user returns to the website (possibly days or months later). Importantly, unlike the cookie storage limitation of 4KB, you can store up to 10 megabytes in HTML5 local storage. Because HTML5 local storage works with the latest versions of all modern browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari), you can start taking advantage of this HTML5 feature in your applications right now. Why use HTML5 Local Storage? I use HTML5 Local Storage in the JavaScript Reference application: http://Superexpert.com/JavaScriptReference The JavaScript Reference application is an HTML5 app that provides an interactive reference for all of the syntax elements of JavaScript (You can read more about the application and download the source code for the application here). When you open the application for the first time, all of the entries are transferred from the server to the browser (all 300+ entries). All of the entries are stored in local storage. When you open the application in the future, only changes are transferred from the server to the browser. The benefit of this approach is that the application performs extremely fast. When you click the details link to view details on a particular entry, the entry details appear instantly because all of the entries are stored on the client machine. When you perform key-up searches, by typing in the filter textbox, matching entries are displayed very quickly because the entries are being filtered on the local machine. This approach can have a dramatic effect on the performance of any interactive data-driven web application. Interacting with data on the client is almost always faster than interacting with the same data on the server. Retrieving Data from the Server In the JavaScript Reference application, I use Microsoft WCF Data Services to expose data to the browser. WCF Data Services generates a REST interface for your data automatically. Here are the steps: Create your database tables in Microsoft SQL Server. For example, I created a database named ReferenceDB and a database table named Entities. Use the Entity Framework to generate your data model. For example, I used the Entity Framework to generate a class named ReferenceDBEntities and a class named Entities. Expose your data through WCF Data Services. I added a WCF Data Service to my project and modified the data service class to look like this:   using System.Data.Services; using System.Data.Services.Common; using System.Web; using JavaScriptReference.Models; namespace JavaScriptReference.Services { [System.ServiceModel.ServiceBehavior(IncludeExceptionDetailInFaults = true)] public class EntryService : DataService<ReferenceDBEntities> { // This method is called only once to initialize service-wide policies. public static void InitializeService(DataServiceConfiguration config) { config.UseVerboseErrors = true; config.SetEntitySetAccessRule("*", EntitySetRights.All); config.DataServiceBehavior.MaxProtocolVersion = DataServiceProtocolVersion.V2; } // Define a change interceptor for the Products entity set. [ChangeInterceptor("Entries")] public void OnChangeEntries(Entry entry, UpdateOperations operations) { if (!HttpContext.Current.Request.IsAuthenticated) { throw new DataServiceException("Cannot update reference unless authenticated."); } } } }     The WCF data service is named EntryService. Notice that it derives from DataService<ReferenceEntitites>. Because it derives from DataService<ReferenceEntities>, the data service exposes the contents of the ReferenceEntitiesDB database. In the code above, I defined a ChangeInterceptor to prevent un-authenticated users from making changes to the database. Anyone can retrieve data through the service, but only authenticated users are allowed to make changes. After you expose data through a WCF Data Service, you can use jQuery to retrieve the data by performing an Ajax call. For example, I am using an Ajax call that looks something like this to retrieve the JavaScript entries from the EntryService.svc data service: $.ajax({ dataType: "json", url: “/Services/EntryService.svc/Entries”, success: function (result) { var data = callback(result["d"]); } });     Notice that you must unwrap the data using result[“d”]. After you unwrap the data, you have a JavaScript array of the entries. I’m transferring all 300+ entries from the server to the client when the application is opened for the first time. In other words, I transfer the entire database from the server to the client, once and only once, when the application is opened for the first time. The data is transferred using JSON. Here is a fragment: { "d" : [ { "__metadata": { "uri": "http://superexpert.com/javascriptreference/Services/EntryService.svc/Entries(1)", "type": "ReferenceDBModel.Entry" }, "Id": 1, "Name": "Global", "Browsers": "ff3_6,ie8,ie9,c8,sf5,es3,es5", "Syntax": "object", "ShortDescription": "Contains global variables and functions", "FullDescription": "<p>\nThe Global object is determined by the host environment. In web browsers, the Global object is the same as the windows object.\n</p>\n<p>\nYou can use the keyword <code>this</code> to refer to the Global object when in the global context (outside of any function).\n</p>\n<p>\nThe Global object holds all global variables and functions. For example, the following code demonstrates that the global <code>movieTitle</code> variable refers to the same thing as <code>window.movieTitle</code> and <code>this.movieTitle</code>.\n</p>\n<pre>\nvar movieTitle = \"Star Wars\";\nconsole.log(movieTitle === this.movieTitle); // true\nconsole.log(movieTitle === window.movieTitle); // true\n</pre>\n", "LastUpdated": "634298578273756641", "IsDeleted": false, "OwnerId": null }, { "__metadata": { "uri": "http://superexpert.com/javascriptreference/Services/EntryService.svc/Entries(2)", "type": "ReferenceDBModel.Entry" }, "Id": 2, "Name": "eval(string)", "Browsers": "ff3_6,ie8,ie9,c8,sf5,es3,es5", "Syntax": "function", "ShortDescription": "Evaluates and executes JavaScript code dynamically", "FullDescription": "<p>\nThe following code evaluates and executes the string \"3+5\" at runtime.\n</p>\n<pre>\nvar result = eval(\"3+5\");\nconsole.log(result); // returns 8\n</pre>\n<p>\nYou can rewrite the code above like this:\n</p>\n<pre>\nvar result;\neval(\"result = 3+5\");\nconsole.log(result);\n</pre>", "LastUpdated": "634298580913817644", "IsDeleted": false, "OwnerId": 1 } … ]} I worried about the amount of time that it would take to transfer the records. According to Google Chome, it takes about 5 seconds to retrieve all 300+ records on a broadband connection over the Internet. 5 seconds is a small price to pay to avoid performing any server fetches of the data in the future. And here are the estimated times using different types of connections using Fiddler: Notice that using a modem, it takes 33 seconds to download the database. 33 seconds is a significant chunk of time. So, I would not use the approach of transferring the entire database up front if you expect a significant portion of your website audience to connect to your website with a modem. Adding Data to HTML5 Local Storage After the JavaScript entries are retrieved from the server, the entries are stored in HTML5 local storage. Here’s the reference documentation for HTML5 storage for Internet Explorer: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc197062(VS.85).aspx You access local storage by accessing the windows.localStorage object in JavaScript. This object contains key/value pairs. For example, you can use the following JavaScript code to add a new item to local storage: <script type="text/javascript"> window.localStorage.setItem("message", "Hello World!"); </script>   You can use the Google Chrome Storage tab in the Developer Tools (hit CTRL-SHIFT I in Chrome) to view items added to local storage: After you add an item to local storage, you can read it at any time in the future by using the window.localStorage.getItem() method: <script type="text/javascript"> window.localStorage.setItem("message", "Hello World!"); </script>   You only can add strings to local storage and not JavaScript objects such as arrays. Therefore, before adding a JavaScript object to local storage, you need to convert it into a JSON string. In the JavaScript Reference application, I use a wrapper around local storage that looks something like this: function Storage() { this.get = function (name) { return JSON.parse(window.localStorage.getItem(name)); }; this.set = function (name, value) { window.localStorage.setItem(name, JSON.stringify(value)); }; this.clear = function () { window.localStorage.clear(); }; }   If you use the wrapper above, then you can add arbitrary JavaScript objects to local storage like this: var store = new Storage(); // Add array to storage var products = [ {name:"Fish", price:2.33}, {name:"Bacon", price:1.33} ]; store.set("products", products); // Retrieve items from storage var products = store.get("products");   Modern browsers support the JSON object natively. If you need the script above to work with older browsers then you should download the JSON2.js library from: https://github.com/douglascrockford/JSON-js The JSON2 library will use the native JSON object if a browser already supports JSON. Merging Server Changes with Browser Local Storage When you first open the JavaScript Reference application, the entire database of JavaScript entries is transferred from the server to the browser. Two items are added to local storage: entries and entriesLastUpdated. The first item contains the entire entries database (a big JSON string of entries). The second item, a timestamp, represents the version of the entries. Whenever you open the JavaScript Reference in the future, the entriesLastUpdated timestamp is passed to the server. Only records that have been deleted, updated, or added since entriesLastUpdated are transferred to the browser. The OData query to get the latest updates looks like this: http://superexpert.com/javascriptreference/Services/EntryService.svc/Entries?$filter=(LastUpdated%20gt%20634301199890494792L) If you remove URL encoding, the query looks like this: http://superexpert.com/javascriptreference/Services/EntryService.svc/Entries?$filter=(LastUpdated gt 634301199890494792L) This query returns only those entries where the value of LastUpdated > 634301199890494792 (the version timestamp). The changes – new JavaScript entries, deleted entries, and updated entries – are merged with the existing entries in local storage. The JavaScript code for performing the merge is contained in the EntriesHelper.js file. The merge() method looks like this:   merge: function (oldEntries, newEntries) { // concat (this performs the add) oldEntries = oldEntries || []; var mergedEntries = oldEntries.concat(newEntries); // sort this.sortByIdThenLastUpdated(mergedEntries); // prune duplicates (this performs the update) mergedEntries = this.pruneDuplicates(mergedEntries); // delete mergedEntries = this.removeIsDeleted(mergedEntries); // Sort this.sortByName(mergedEntries); return mergedEntries; },   The contents of local storage are then updated with the merged entries. I spent several hours writing the merge() method (much longer than I expected). I found two resources to be extremely useful. First, I wrote extensive unit tests for the merge() method. I wrote the unit tests using server-side JavaScript. I describe this approach to writing unit tests in this blog entry. The unit tests are included in the JavaScript Reference source code. Second, I found the following blog entry to be super useful (thanks Nick!): http://nicksnettravels.builttoroam.com/post/2010/08/03/OData-Synchronization-with-WCF-Data-Services.aspx One big challenge that I encountered involved timestamps. I originally tried to store an actual UTC time as the value of the entriesLastUpdated item. I quickly discovered that trying to work with dates in JSON turned out to be a big can of worms that I did not want to open. Next, I tried to use a SQL timestamp column. However, I learned that OData cannot handle the timestamp data type when doing a filter query. Therefore, I ended up using a bigint column in SQL and manually creating the value when a record is updated. I overrode the SaveChanges() method to look something like this: public override int SaveChanges(SaveOptions options) { var changes = this.ObjectStateManager.GetObjectStateEntries( EntityState.Modified | EntityState.Added | EntityState.Deleted); foreach (var change in changes) { var entity = change.Entity as IEntityTracking; if (entity != null) { entity.LastUpdated = DateTime.Now.Ticks; } } return base.SaveChanges(options); }   Notice that I assign Date.Now.Ticks to the entity.LastUpdated property whenever an entry is modified, added, or deleted. Summary After building the JavaScript Reference application, I am convinced that HTML5 local storage can have a dramatic impact on the performance of any data-driven web application. If you are building a web application that involves extensive interaction with data then I recommend that you take advantage of this new feature included in the HTML5 standard.

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  • Metro: Understanding Observables

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to describe how the Observer Pattern is implemented in the WinJS library. You learn how to create observable objects which trigger notifications automatically when their properties are changed. Observables enable you to keep your user interface and your application data in sync. For example, by taking advantage of observables, you can update your user interface automatically whenever the properties of a product change. Observables are the foundation of declarative binding in the WinJS library. The WinJS library is not the first JavaScript library to include support for observables. For example, both the KnockoutJS library and the Microsoft Ajax Library (now part of the Ajax Control Toolkit) support observables. Creating an Observable Imagine that I have created a product object like this: var product = { name: "Milk", description: "Something to drink", price: 12.33 }; Nothing very exciting about this product. It has three properties named name, description, and price. Now, imagine that I want to be notified automatically whenever any of these properties are changed. In that case, I can create an observable product from my product object like this: var observableProduct = WinJS.Binding.as(product); This line of code creates a new JavaScript object named observableProduct from the existing JavaScript object named product. This new object also has a name, description, and price property. However, unlike the properties of the original product object, the properties of the observable product object trigger notifications when the properties are changed. Each of the properties of the new observable product object has been changed into accessor properties which have both a getter and a setter. For example, the observable product price property looks something like this: price: { get: function () { return this.getProperty(“price”); } set: function (value) { this.setProperty(“price”, value); } } When you read the price property then the getProperty() method is called and when you set the price property then the setProperty() method is called. The getProperty() and setProperty() methods are methods of the observable product object. The observable product object supports the following methods and properties: · addProperty(name, value) – Adds a new property to an observable and notifies any listeners. · backingData – An object which represents the value of each property. · bind(name, action) – Enables you to execute a function when a property changes. · getProperty(name) – Returns the value of a property using the string name of the property. · notify(name, newValue, oldValue) – A private method which executes each function in the _listeners array. · removeProperty(name) – Removes a property and notifies any listeners. · setProperty(name, value) – Updates a property and notifies any listeners. · unbind(name, action) – Enables you to stop executing a function in response to a property change. · updateProperty(name, value) – Updates a property and notifies any listeners. So when you create an observable, you get a new object with the same properties as an existing object. However, when you modify the properties of an observable object, then you can notify any listeners of the observable that the value of a particular property has changed automatically. Imagine that you change the value of the price property like this: observableProduct.price = 2.99; In that case, the following sequence of events is triggered: 1. The price setter calls the setProperty(“price”, 2.99) method 2. The setProperty() method updates the value of the backingData.price property and calls the notify() method 3. The notify() method executes each function in the collection of listeners associated with the price property Creating Observable Listeners If you want to be notified when a property of an observable object is changed, then you need to register a listener. You register a listener by using the bind() method like this: (function () { "use strict"; var app = WinJS.Application; app.onactivated = function (eventObject) { if (eventObject.detail.kind === Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation.ActivationKind.launch) { // Simple product object var product = { name: "Milk", description: "Something to drink", price: 12.33 }; // Create observable product var observableProduct = WinJS.Binding.as(product); // Execute a function when price is changed observableProduct.bind("price", function (newValue) { console.log(newValue); }); // Change the price observableProduct.price = 2.99; } }; app.start(); })(); In the code above, the bind() method is used to associate the price property with a function. When the price property is changed, the function logs the new value of the price property to the Visual Studio JavaScript console. The price property is associated with the function using the following line of code: // Execute a function when price is changed observableProduct.bind("price", function (newValue) { console.log(newValue); }); Coalescing Notifications If you make multiple changes to a property – one change immediately following another – then separate notifications won’t be sent. Instead, any listeners are notified only once. The notifications are coalesced into a single notification. For example, in the following code, the product price property is updated three times. However, only one message is written to the JavaScript console. Only the last value assigned to the price property is written to the JavaScript Console window: // Simple product object var product = { name: "Milk", description: "Something to drink", price: 12.33 }; // Create observable product var observableProduct = WinJS.Binding.as(product); // Execute a function when price is changed observableProduct.bind("price", function (newValue) { console.log(newValue); }); // Change the price observableProduct.price = 3.99; observableProduct.price = 2.99; observableProduct.price = 1.99; Only the last value assigned to price, the value 1.99, appears in the console: If there is a time delay between changes to a property then changes result in different notifications. For example, the following code updates the price property every second: // Simple product object var product = { name: "Milk", description: "Something to drink", price: 12.33 }; // Create observable product var observableProduct = WinJS.Binding.as(product); // Execute a function when price is changed observableProduct.bind("price", function (newValue) { console.log(newValue); }); // Add 1 to price every second window.setInterval(function () { observableProduct.price += 1; }, 1000); In this case, separate notification messages are logged to the JavaScript Console window: If you need to prevent multiple notifications from being coalesced into one then you can take advantage of promises. I discussed WinJS promises in a previous blog entry: http://stephenwalther.com/blog/archive/2012/02/22/windows-web-applications-promises.aspx Because the updateProperty() method returns a promise, you can create different notifications for each change in a property by using the following code: // Change the price observableProduct.updateProperty("price", 3.99) .then(function () { observableProduct.updateProperty("price", 2.99) .then(function () { observableProduct.updateProperty("price", 1.99); }); }); In this case, even though the price is immediately changed from 3.99 to 2.99 to 1.99, separate notifications for each new value of the price property are sent. Bypassing Notifications Normally, if a property of an observable object has listeners and you change the property then the listeners are notified. However, there are certain situations in which you might want to bypass notification. In other words, you might need to change a property value silently without triggering any functions registered for notification. If you want to change a property without triggering notifications then you should change the property by using the backingData property. The following code illustrates how you can change the price property silently: // Simple product object var product = { name: "Milk", description: "Something to drink", price: 12.33 }; // Create observable product var observableProduct = WinJS.Binding.as(product); // Execute a function when price is changed observableProduct.bind("price", function (newValue) { console.log(newValue); }); // Change the price silently observableProduct.backingData.price = 5.99; console.log(observableProduct.price); // Writes 5.99 The price is changed to the value 5.99 by changing the value of backingData.price. Because the observableProduct.price property is not set directly, any listeners associated with the price property are not notified. When you change the value of a property by using the backingData property, the change in the property happens synchronously. However, when you change the value of an observable property directly, the change is always made asynchronously. Summary The goal of this blog entry was to describe observables. In particular, we discussed how to create observables from existing JavaScript objects and bind functions to observable properties. You also learned how notifications are coalesced (and ways to prevent this coalescing). Finally, we discussed how you can use the backingData property to update an observable property without triggering notifications. In the next blog entry, we’ll see how observables are used with declarative binding to display the values of properties in an HTML document.

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  • Leaving Microsoft

    - by Stephen Walther
    After two and a half years working with the ASP.NET team, I’ve decided that this is the right time to leave Microsoft and, with the help of some friends, re-launch my ASP.NET training and consulting company. The company has the modest name Superexpert. While working on my Ph.D. at MIT, I was surrounded by professors and students who were passionate about knowledge. During the Internet boom, I was lucky enough to work side-by-side with some very smart and hard-working people to create several successful startups. However, the people I worked with at Microsoft were among the smartest and hardest working. Microsoft hires a small number of people and gives them huge responsibilities. It continues to amaze me that so few people work on the ASP.NET team when you consider how much the team produces. I had the opportunity to work with a number of inspiring people at Microsoft. I’ll miss working with Scott Hunter, Dave Reed, Boris Moore, Eilon Lipton, Scott Guthrie, James Senior, Jim Wang, Phil Haack, Damian Edwards, Vishal Joshi, Mike Pope, Jon Young, Dmitry Robsman, Simon Calvert, Stefan Schackow, and many others. I’m proud of what we accomplished while I was working at Microsoft. We reached out to the jQuery team and changed direction from Microsoft Ajax to jQuery. We successfully contributed several important new features to the open-source jQuery project including jQuery Templates, jQuery Data-Linking, jQuery Globalization, and (as John Resig announced at the last jQuery conference) jQuery Require. I’m looking forward to returning to training and consulting. We want to focus on providing consulting on the “right way” of building ASP.NET websites, which we call Modern ASP.NET applications. By Modern ASP.NET applications, I mean applications built with ASP.NET MVC, jQuery, HTML5, and Visual Studio ALM. Additionally, we want to help companies that have existing ASP.NET Web Forms applications migrate to ASP.NET MVC. If you are interested in having us provide training for your company or you need help building a custom ASP.NET application then please contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at Superexpert.com.

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  • Time Tracking on an Agile Team

    - by Stephen.Walther
    What’s the best way to handle time-tracking on an Agile team? Your gut reaction to this question might be to resist any type of time-tracking at all. After all, one of the principles of the Agile Manifesto is “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.  Forcing the developers on your team to track the amount of time that they devote to completing stories or tasks might seem like useless bureaucratic red tape: an impediment to getting real work done. I completely understand this reaction. I’ve been required to use time-tracking software in the past to account for each hour of my workday. It made me feel like Fred Flintstone punching in at the quarry mine and not like a professional. Why You Really Do Need Time-Tracking There are, however, legitimate reasons to track time spent on stories even when you are a member of an Agile team.  First, if you are working with an outside client, you might need to track the number of hours spent on different stories for the purposes of billing. There might be no way to avoid time-tracking if you want to get paid. Second, the Product Owner needs to know when the work on a story has gone over the original time estimated for the story. The Product Owner is concerned with Return On Investment. If the team has gone massively overtime on a story, then the Product Owner has a legitimate reason to halt work on the story and reconsider the story’s business value. Finally, you might want to track how much time your team spends on different types of stories or tasks. For example, if your team is spending 75% of their time doing testing then you might need to bring in more testers. Or, if 10% of your team’s time is expended performing a software build at the end of each iteration then it is time to consider better ways of automating the build process. Time-Tracking in SonicAgile For these reasons, we added time-tracking as a feature to SonicAgile which is our free Agile Project Management tool. We were heavily influenced by Jeff Sutherland (one of the founders of Scrum) in the way that we implemented time-tracking (see his article http://scrum.jeffsutherland.com/2007/03/time-tracking-is-anti-scrum-what-do-you.html). In SonicAgile, time-tracking is disabled by default. If you want to use this feature then the project owner must enable time-tracking in Project Settings. You can choose to estimate using either days or hours. If you are estimating at the level of stories then it makes more sense to choose days. Otherwise, if you are estimating at the level of tasks then it makes more sense to use hours. After you enable time-tracking then you can assign three estimates to a story: Original Estimate – This is the estimate that you enter when you first create a story. You don’t change this estimate. Time Spent – This is the amount of time that you have already devoted to the story. You update the time spent on each story during your daily standup meeting. Time Left – This is the amount of time remaining to complete the story. Again, you update the time left during your daily standup meeting. So when you first create a story, you enter an original estimate that becomes the time left. During each daily standup meeting, you update the time spent and time left for each story on the Kanban. If you had perfect predicative power, then the original estimate would always be the same as the sum of the time spent and the time left. For example, if you predict that a story will take 5 days to complete then on day 3, the story should have 3 days spent and 2 days left. Unfortunately, never in the history of mankind has anyone accurately predicted the exact amount of time that it takes to complete a story. For this reason, SonicAgile does not update the time spent and time left automatically. Each day, during the daily standup, your team should update the time spent and time left for each story. For example, the following table shows the history of the time estimates for a story that was originally estimated to take 3 days but, eventually, takes 5 days to complete: Day Original Estimate Time Spent Time Left Day 1 3 days 0 days 3 days Day 2 3 days 1 day 2 days Day 3 3 days 2 days 2 days Day 4 3 days 3 days 2 days Day 5 3 days 4 days 0 days In the table above, everything goes as predicted until you reach day 3. On day 3, the team realizes that the work will require an additional two days. The situation does not improve on day 4. All of the sudden, on day 5, all of the remaining work gets done. Real work often follows this pattern. There are long periods when nothing gets done punctuated by occasional and unpredictable bursts of progress. We designed SonicAgile to make it as easy as possible to track the time spent and time left on a story. Detecting when a Story Goes Over the Original Estimate Sometimes, stories take much longer than originally estimated. There’s a surprise. For example, you discover that a new software component is incompatible with existing software components. Or, you discover that you have to go through a month-long certification process to finish a story. In those cases, the Product Owner has a legitimate reason to halt work on a story and re-evaluate the business value of the story. For example, the Product Owner discovers that a story will require weeks to implement instead of days, then the story might not be worth the expense. SonicAgile displays a warning on both the Backlog and the Kanban when the time spent on a story goes over the original estimate. An icon of a clock is displayed. Time-Tracking and Tasks Another optional feature of SonicAgile is tasks. If you enable Tasks in Project Settings then you can break stories into one or more tasks. You can perform time-tracking at the level of a story or at the level of a task. If you don’t break a story into tasks then you can enter the time left and time spent for the story. As soon as you break a story into tasks, then you can no longer enter the time left and time spent at the level of the story. Instead, the time left and time spent for a story is rolled up from its tasks. On the Kanban, you can see how the time left and time spent for each task gets rolled up into each story. The progress bar for the story is rolled up from the progress bars for each task. The original estimate is never rolled up – even when you break a story into tasks. A story’s original estimate is entered separately from the original estimates of each of the story’s tasks. Summary Not every Agile team can avoid time-tracking. You might be forced to track time to get paid, to detect when you are spending too much time on a particular story, or to track the amount of time that you are devoting to different types of tasks. We designed time-tracking in SonicAgile to require the least amount of work to track the information that you need. Time-tracking is an optional feature. If you enable time-tracking then you can track the original estimate, time left, and time spent for each story and task. You can use time-tracking with SonicAgile for free. Register at http://SonicAgile.com.

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  • Good Book for Learning Meteor: Discover Meteor

    - by Stephen.Walther
    A week or so ago, Sacha Greif asked me whether I would be willing to write a review of his new book on Meteor (published today) entitled Discover Meteor. Sacha wrote the book with Tom Coleman. Both Sacha and Tom are very active in the Meteor community – they are responsible for several well-known Meteor packages and projects including Atmosphere, Meteorite, meteor-router and Telescope — so I suspected that their book would be good. If you have not heard of Meteor, Meteor is a new framework for building web applications which is built on top of Node.js. Meteor excels at building a new category of constantly-connected, real-time web applications. It has some jaw-dropping features which I described in a previous blog entry: http://stephenwalther.com/archive/2013/03/18/an-introduction-to-meteor.aspx So, I am super excited about Meteor. Unfortunately, because it is evolving so quickly, learning how to write Meteor applications can be challenging. The official documentation at Meteor.com is good, but it is too basic. I’m happy to report that Discovering Meteor is a really good book: · The book is a fun read. The writing is smooth and I read through the book from cover to cover in a single Saturday afternoon with pleasure. · The book is well organized. It contains a walk-through of building a social media app (Microscope). Interleaved through the app building chapters, it contains tutorial chapters on Meteor features such as deployment and reactivity. · The book covers several advanced topics which I have not seen covered anywhere else. The chapters on publications and subscriptions, routing, and animation are especially good. I came away from the book with a deeper understanding of all of these topics. I wish that I had read Discover Meteor a couple of months ago and it would have saved me several weeks of reading Stack Overflow posts and struggling with the Meteor documentation If you want to buy Discover Meteor, the authors gave me the following link which provides you with a 20% discount: http://discovermeteor.com/orionids

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