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  • Tip/Trick: Fix Common SEO Problems Using the URL Rewrite Extension

    - by ScottGu
    Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any publically facing web-site.  A large % of traffic to sites now comes directly from search engines, and improving your site’s search relevancy will lead to more users visiting your site from search engine queries.  This can directly or indirectly increase the money you make through your site. This blog post covers how you can use the free Microsoft URL Rewrite Extension to fix a bunch of common SEO problems that your site might have.  It takes less than 15 minutes (and no code changes) to apply 4 simple URL Rewrite rules to your site, and in doing so cause search engines to drive more visitors and traffic to your site.  The techniques below work equally well with both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC based sites.  They also works with all versions of ASP.NET (and even work with non-ASP.NET content). [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] Measuring the SEO of your website with the Microsoft SEO Toolkit A few months ago I blogged about the free SEO Toolkit that we’ve shipped.  This useful tool enables you to automatically crawl/scan your site for SEO correctness, and it then flags any SEO issues it finds.  I highly recommend downloading and using the tool against any public site you work on.  It makes it easy to spot SEO issues you might have in your site, and pinpoint ways to optimize it further. Below is a simple example of a report I ran against one of my sites (www.scottgu.com) prior to applying the URL Rewrite rules I’ll cover later in this blog post:   Search Relevancy and URL Splitting Two of the important things that search engines evaluate when assessing your site’s “search relevancy” are: How many other sites link to your content.  Search engines assume that if a lot of people around the web are linking to your content, then it is likely useful and so weight it higher in relevancy. The uniqueness of the content it finds on your site.  If search engines find that the content is duplicated in multiple places around the Internet (or on multiple URLs on your site) then it is likely to drop the relevancy of the content. One of the things you want to be very careful to avoid when building public facing sites is to not allow different URLs to retrieve the same content within your site.  Doing so will hurt with both of the situations above.  In particular, allowing external sites to link to the same content with multiple URLs will cause your link-count and page-ranking to be split up across those different URLs (and so give you a smaller page rank than what it would otherwise be if it was just one URL).  Not allowing external sites to link to you in different ways sounds easy in theory – but you might wonder what exactly this means in practice and how you avoid it. 4 Really Common SEO Problems Your Sites Might Have Below are 4 really common scenarios that can cause your site to inadvertently expose multiple URLs for the same content.  When this happens external sites linking to yours will end up splitting their page links across multiple URLs - and as a result cause you to have a lower page ranking with search engines than you deserve. SEO Problem #1: Default Document IIS (and other web servers) supports the concept of a “default document”.  This allows you to avoid having to explicitly specify the page you want to serve at either the root of the web-site/application, or within a sub-directory.  This is convenient – but means that by default this content is available via two different publically exposed URLs (which is bad).  For example: http://scottgu.com/ http://scottgu.com/default.aspx SEO Problem #2: Different URL Casings Web developers often don’t realize URLs are case sensitive to search engines on the web.  This means that search engines will treat the following links as two completely different URLs: http://scottgu.com/Albums.aspx http://scottgu.com/albums.aspx SEO Problem #3: Trailing Slashes Consider the below two URLs – they might look the same at first, but they are subtly different. The trailing slash creates yet another situation that causes search engines to treat the URLs as different and so split search rankings: http://scottgu.com http://scottgu.com/ SEO Problem #4: Canonical Host Names Sometimes sites support scenarios where they support a web-site with both a leading “www” hostname prefix as well as just the hostname itself.  This causes search engines to treat the URLs as different and split search rankling: http://scottgu.com/albums.aspx/ http://www.scottgu.com/albums.aspx/ How to Easily Fix these SEO Problems in 10 minutes (or less) using IIS Rewrite If you haven’t been careful when coding your sites, chances are you are suffering from one (or more) of the above SEO problems.  Addressing these issues will improve your search engine relevancy ranking and drive more traffic to your site. The “good news” is that fixing the above 4 issues is really easy using the URL Rewrite Extension.  This is a completely free Microsoft extension available for IIS 7.x (on Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7 and Windows Vista).  The great thing about using the IIS Rewrite extension is that it allows you to fix the above problems *without* having to change any code within your applications.  You can easily install the URL Rewrite Extension in under 3 minutes using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (a free tool we ship that automates setting up web servers and development machines).  Just click the green “Install Now” button on the URL Rewrite Spotlight page to install it on your Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 or Windows Vista machine: Once installed you’ll find that a new “URL Rewrite” icon is available within the IIS 7 Admin Tool: Double-clicking the icon will open up the URL Rewrite admin panel – which will display the list of URL Rewrite rules configured for a particular application or site: Notice that our rewrite rule list above is currently empty (which is the default when you first install the extension).  We can click the “Add Rule…” link button in the top-right of the panel to add and enable new URL Rewriting logic for our site.  Scenario 1: Handling Default Document Scenarios One of the SEO problems I discussed earlier in this post was the scenario where the “default document” feature of IIS causes you to inadvertently expose two URLs for the same content on your site.  For example: http://scottgu.com/ http://scottgu.com/default.aspx We can fix this by adding a new IIS Rewrite rule that automatically redirects anyone who navigates to the second URL to instead go to the first one.  We will setup the HTTP redirect to be a “permanent redirect” – which will indicate to search engines that they should follow the redirect and use the new URL they are redirected to as the identifier of the content they retrieve.  Let’s look at how we can create such a rule.  We’ll begin by clicking the “Add Rule” link in the screenshot above.  This will cause the below dialog to display: We’ll select the “Blank Rule” template within the “Inbound rules” section to create a new custom URL Rewriting rule.  This will display an empty pane like below: Don’t worry – setting up the above rule is easy.  The following 4 steps explain how to do so: Step 1: Name the Rule Our first step will be to name the rule we are creating.  Naming it with a descriptive name will make it easier to find and understand later.  Let’s name this rule our “Default Document URL Rewrite” rule: Step 2: Setup the Regular Expression that Matches this Rule Our second step will be to specify a regular expression filter that will cause this rule to execute when an incoming URL matches the regex pattern.   Don’t worry if you aren’t good with regular expressions - I suck at them too. The trick is to know someone who is good at them or copy/paste them from a web-site.  Below we are going to specify the following regular expression as our pattern rule: (.*?)/?Default\.aspx$ This pattern will match any URL string that ends with Default.aspx. The "(.*?)" matches any preceding character zero or more times. The "/?" part says to match the slash symbol zero or one times. The "$" symbol at the end will ensure that the pattern will only match strings that end with Default.aspx.  Combining all these regex elements allows this rule to work not only for the root of your web site (e.g. http://scottgu.com/default.aspx) but also for any application or subdirectory within the site (e.g. http://scottgu.com/photos/default.aspx.  Because the “ignore case” checkbox is selected it will match both “Default.aspx” as well as “default.aspx” within the URL.   One nice feature built-into the rule editor is a “Test pattern” button that you can click to bring up a dialog that allows you to test out a few URLs with the rule you are configuring: Above I've added a “products/default.aspx” URL and clicked the “Test” button.  This will give me immediate feedback on whether the rule will execute for it.  Step 3: Setup a Permanent Redirect Action We’ll then setup an action to occur when our regular expression pattern matches the incoming URL: In the dialog above I’ve changed the “Action Type” drop down to be a “Redirect” action.  The “Redirect Type” will be a HTTP 301 Permanent redirect – which means search engines will follow it. I’ve also set the “Redirect URL” property to be: {R:1}/ This indicates that we want to redirect the web client requesting the original URL to a new URL that has the originally requested URL path - minus the "Default.aspx" in it.  For example, requests for http://scottgu.com/default.aspx will be redirected to http://scottgu.com/, and requests for http://scottgu.com/photos/default.aspx will be redirected to http://scottgu.com/photos/ The "{R:N}" regex construct, where N >= 0, is called a back-reference and N is the back-reference index. In the case of our pattern "(.*?)/?Default\.aspx$", if the input URL is "products/Default.aspx" then {R:0} will contain "products/Default.aspx" and {R:1} will contain "products".  We are going to use this {R:1}/ value to be the URL we redirect users to.  Step 4: Apply and Save the Rule Our final step is to click the “Apply” button in the top right hand of the IIS admin tool – which will cause the tool to persist the URL Rewrite rule into our application’s root web.config file (under a <system.webServer/rewrite> configuration section): <configuration>     <system.webServer>         <rewrite>             <rules>                 <rule name="Default Document" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="(.*?)/?Default\.aspx$" />                     <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}/" />                 </rule>             </rules>         </rewrite>     </system.webServer> </configuration> Because IIS 7.x and ASP.NET share the same web.config files, you can actually just copy/paste the above code into your web.config files using Visual Studio and skip the need to run the admin tool entirely.  This also makes adding/deploying URL Rewrite rules with your ASP.NET applications really easy. Step 5: Try the Rule Out Now that we’ve saved the rule, let’s try it out on our site.  Try the following two URLs on my site: http://scottgu.com/ http://scottgu.com/default.aspx Notice that the second URL automatically redirects to the first one.  Because it is a permanent redirect, search engines will follow the URL and should update the page ranking of http://scottgu.com to include links to http://scottgu.com/default.aspx as well. Scenario 2: Different URL Casing Another common SEO problem I discussed earlier in this post is that URLs are case sensitive to search engines on the web.  This means that search engines will treat the following links as two completely different URLs: http://scottgu.com/Albums.aspx http://scottgu.com/albums.aspx We can fix this by adding a new IIS Rewrite rule that automatically redirects anyone who navigates to the first URL to instead go to the second (all lower-case) one.  Like before, we will setup the HTTP redirect to be a “permanent redirect” – which will indicate to search engines that they should follow the redirect and use the new URL they are redirected to as the identifier of the content they retrieve. To create such a rule we’ll click the “Add Rule” link in the URL Rewrite admin tool again.  This will cause the “Add Rule” dialog to appear again: Unlike the previous scenario (where we created a “Blank Rule”), with this scenario we can take advantage of a built-in “Enforce lowercase URLs” rule template.  When we click the “ok” button we’ll see the following dialog which asks us if we want to create a rule that enforces the use of lowercase letters in URLs: When we click the “Yes” button we’ll get a pre-written rule that automatically performs a permanent redirect if an incoming URL has upper-case characters in it – and automatically send users to a lower-case version of the URL: We can click the “Apply” button to use this rule “as-is” and have it apply to all incoming URLs to our site.  Because my www.scottgu.com site uses ASP.NET Web Forms, I’m going to make one small change to the rule we generated above – which is to add a condition that will ensure that URLs to ASP.NET’s built-in “WebResource.axd” handler are excluded from our case-sensitivity URL Rewrite logic.  URLs to the WebResource.axd handler will only come from server-controls emitted from my pages – and will never be linked to from external sites.  While my site will continue to function fine if we redirect these URLs to automatically be lower-case – doing so isn’t necessary and will add an extra HTTP redirect to many of my pages.  The good news is that adding a condition that prevents my URL Rewriting rule from happening with certain URLs is easy.  We simply need to expand the “Conditions” section of the form above We can then click the “Add” button to add a condition clause.  This will bring up the “Add Condition” dialog: Above I’ve entered {URL} as the Condition input – and said that this rule should only execute if the URL does not match a regex pattern which contains the string “WebResource.axd”.  This will ensure that WebResource.axd URLs to my site will be allowed to execute just fine without having the URL be re-written to be all lower-case. Note: If you have static resources (like references to .jpg, .css, and .js files) within your site that currently use upper-case characters you’ll probably want to add additional condition filter clauses so that URLs to them also don’t get redirected to be lower-case (just add rules for patterns like .jpg, .gif, .js, etc).  Your site will continue to work fine if these URLs get redirected to be lower case (meaning the site won’t break) – but it will cause an extra HTTP redirect to happen on your site for URLs that don’t need to be redirected for SEO reasons.  So setting up a condition clause makes sense to add. When I click the “ok” button above and apply our lower-case rewriting rule the admin tool will save the following additional rule to our web.config file: <configuration>     <system.webServer>         <rewrite>             <rules>                 <rule name="Default Document" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="(.*?)/?Default\.aspx$" />                     <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}/" />                 </rule>                 <rule name="Lower Case URLs" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="[A-Z]" ignoreCase="false" />                     <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">                         <add input="{URL}" pattern="WebResource.axd" negate="true" />                     </conditions>                     <action type="Redirect" url="{ToLower:{URL}}" />                 </rule>             </rules>         </rewrite>     </system.webServer> </configuration> Try the Rule Out Now that we’ve saved the rule, let’s try it out on our site.  Try the following two URLs on my site: http://scottgu.com/Albums.aspx http://scottgu.com/albums.aspx Notice that the first URL (which has a capital “A”) automatically does a redirect to a lower-case version of the URL.  Scenario 3: Trailing Slashes Another common SEO problem I discussed earlier in this post is the scenario of trailing slashes within URLs.  The trailing slash creates yet another situation that causes search engines to treat the URLs as different and so split search rankings: http://scottgu.com http://scottgu.com/ We can fix this by adding a new IIS Rewrite rule that automatically redirects anyone who navigates to the first URL (that does not have a trailing slash) to instead go to the second one that does.  Like before, we will setup the HTTP redirect to be a “permanent redirect” – which will indicate to search engines that they should follow the redirect and use the new URL they are redirected to as the identifier of the content they retrieve.  To create such a rule we’ll click the “Add Rule” link in the URL Rewrite admin tool again.  This will cause the “Add Rule” dialog to appear again: The URL Rewrite admin tool has a built-in “Append or remove the trailing slash symbol” rule template.  When we select it and click the “ok” button we’ll see the following dialog which asks us if we want to create a rule that automatically redirects users to a URL with a trailing slash if one isn’t present: Like within our previous lower-casing rewrite rule we’ll add one additional condition clause that will exclude WebResource.axd URLs from being processed by this rule.  This will avoid an unnecessary redirect for happening for those URLs. When we click the “OK” button we’ll get a pre-written rule that automatically performs a permanent redirect if the URL doesn’t have a trailing slash – and if the URL is not processed by either a directory or a file.  This will save the following additional rule to our web.config file: <configuration>     <system.webServer>         <rewrite>             <rules>                 <rule name="Default Document" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="(.*?)/?Default\.aspx$" />                     <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}/" />                 </rule>                 <rule name="Lower Case URLs" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="[A-Z]" ignoreCase="false" />                     <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">                         <add input="{URL}" pattern="WebResource.axd" negate="true" />                     </conditions>                     <action type="Redirect" url="{ToLower:{URL}}" />                 </rule>                 <rule name="Trailing Slash" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="(.*[^/])$" />                     <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">                         <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true" />                         <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true" />                         <add input="{URL}" pattern="WebResource.axd" negate="true" />                     </conditions>                     <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}/" />                 </rule>             </rules>         </rewrite>     </system.webServer> </configuration> Try the Rule Out Now that we’ve saved the rule, let’s try it out on our site.  Try the following two URLs on my site: http://scottgu.com http://scottgu.com/ Notice that the first URL (which has no trailing slash) automatically does a redirect to a URL with the trailing slash.  Because it is a permanent redirect, search engines will follow the URL and update the page ranking. Scenario 4: Canonical Host Names The final SEO problem I discussed earlier are scenarios where a site works with both a leading “www” hostname prefix as well as just the hostname itself.  This causes search engines to treat the URLs as different and split search rankling: http://www.scottgu.com/albums.aspx http://scottgu.com/albums.aspx We can fix this by adding a new IIS Rewrite rule that automatically redirects anyone who navigates to the first URL (that has a www prefix) to instead go to the second URL.  Like before, we will setup the HTTP redirect to be a “permanent redirect” – which will indicate to search engines that they should follow the redirect and use the new URL they are redirected to as the identifier of the content they retrieve.  To create such a rule we’ll click the “Add Rule” link in the URL Rewrite admin tool again.  This will cause the “Add Rule” dialog to appear again: The URL Rewrite admin tool has a built-in “Canonical domain name” rule template.  When we select it and click the “ok” button we’ll see the following dialog which asks us if we want to create a redirect rule that automatically redirects users to a primary host name URL: Above I’m entering the primary URL address I want to expose to the web: scottgu.com.  When we click the “OK” button we’ll get a pre-written rule that automatically performs a permanent redirect if the URL has another leading domain name prefix.  This will save the following additional rule to our web.config file: <configuration>     <system.webServer>         <rewrite>             <rules>                 <rule name="Cannonical Hostname">                     <match url="(.*)" />                     <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">                         <add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="^scottgu\.com$" negate="true" />                     </conditions>                     <action type="Redirect" url="http://scottgu.com/{R:1}" />                 </rule>                 <rule name="Default Document" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="(.*?)/?Default\.aspx$" />                     <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}/" />                 </rule>                 <rule name="Lower Case URLs" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="[A-Z]" ignoreCase="false" />                     <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">                         <add input="{URL}" pattern="WebResource.axd" negate="true" />                     </conditions>                     <action type="Redirect" url="{ToLower:{URL}}" />                 </rule>                 <rule name="Trailing Slash" stopProcessing="true">                     <match url="(.*[^/])$" />                     <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">                         <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true" />                         <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true" />                         <add input="{URL}" pattern="WebResource.axd" negate="true" />                     </conditions>                     <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}/" />                 </rule>             </rules>         </rewrite>     </system.webServer> </configuration> Try the Rule Out Now that we’ve saved the rule, let’s try it out on our site.  Try the following two URLs on my site: http://www.scottgu.com/albums.aspx http://scottgu.com/albums.aspx Notice that the first URL (which has the “www” prefix) now automatically does a redirect to the second URL which does not have the www prefix.  Because it is a permanent redirect, search engines will follow the URL and update the page ranking. 4 Simple Rules for Improved SEO The above 4 rules are pretty easy to setup and should take less than 15 minutes to configure on existing sites you already have.  The beauty of using a solution like the URL Rewrite Extension is that you can take advantage of it without having to change code within your web-site – and without having to break any existing links already pointing at your site.  Users who follow existing links will be automatically redirected to the new URLs you wish to publish.  And search engines will start to give your site a higher search relevancy ranking – which will list your site higher in search results and drive more traffic to it. Customizing your URL Rewriting rules further is easy to-do either by editing the web.config file directly, or alternatively, just double click the URL Rewrite icon within the IIS 7.x admin tool and it will list all the active rules for your web-site or application: Clicking any of the rules above will open the rules editor back up and allow you to tweak/customize/save them further. Summary Measuring and improving SEO is something every developer building a public-facing web-site needs to think about and focus on.  If you haven’t already, download and use the SEO Toolkit to analyze the SEO of your sites today. New URL Routing features in ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms 4 make it much easier to build applications that have more control over the URLs that are published.  Tools like the URL Rewrite Extension that I’ve talked about in this blog post make it much easier to improve the URLs that are published from sites you already have built today – without requiring you to change a lot of code. The URL Rewrite Extension provides a bunch of additional great capabilities – far beyond just SEO - as well.  I’ll be covering these additional capabilities more in future blog posts. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Watch the Silverlight 4 Launch event and LIVE QA with ScottGu and others

    Next week on 13-April at 8:00 AM PST Scott Guthrie will deliver a keynote address for the DevConnections conference being held in Las Vegas, NV. Scott will provide updates on the progress made in Silverlight 4 and will provide the details of availability of the developer tools, runtime and other news. Mark your calendars and return to the Silverlight community site to tune into the LIVE event. After the keynote, Channel 9 will be hosting interviews with Scott and other key members of the Silverlight...Did you know that DotNetSlackers also publishes .net articles written by top known .net Authors? We already have over 80 articles in several categories including Silverlight. Take a look: here.

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  • Windows Azure: Backup Services Release, Hyper-V Recovery Manager, VM Enhancements, Enhanced Enterprise Management Support

    - by ScottGu
    This morning we released a huge set of updates to Windows Azure.  These new capabilities include: Backup Services: General Availability of Windows Azure Backup Services Hyper-V Recovery Manager: Public preview of Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager Virtual Machines: Delete Attached Disks, Availability Set Warnings, SQL AlwaysOn Configuration Active Directory: Securely manage hundreds of SaaS applications Enterprise Management: Use Active Directory to Better Manage Windows Azure Windows Azure SDK 2.2: A massive update of our SDK + Visual Studio tooling support All of these improvements are now available to use immediately.  Below are more details about them. Backup Service: General Availability Release of Windows Azure Backup Today we are releasing Windows Azure Backup Service as a general availability service.  This release is now live in production, backed by an enterprise SLA, supported by Microsoft Support, and is ready to use for production scenarios. Windows Azure Backup is a cloud based backup solution for Windows Server which allows files and folders to be backed up and recovered from the cloud, and provides off-site protection against data loss. The service provides IT administrators and developers with the option to back up and protect critical data in an easily recoverable way from any location with no upfront hardware cost. Windows Azure Backup is built on the Windows Azure platform and uses Windows Azure blob storage for storing customer data. Windows Server uses the downloadable Windows Azure Backup Agent to transfer file and folder data securely and efficiently to the Windows Azure Backup Service. Along with providing cloud backup for Windows Server, Windows Azure Backup Service also provides capability to backup data from System Center Data Protection Manager and Windows Server Essentials, to the cloud. All data is encrypted onsite before it is sent to the cloud, and customers retain and manage the encryption key (meaning the data is stored entirely secured and can’t be decrypted by anyone but yourself). Getting Started To get started with the Windows Azure Backup Service, create a new Backup Vault within the Windows Azure Management Portal.  Click New->Data Services->Recovery Services->Backup Vault to do this: Once the backup vault is created you’ll be presented with a simple tutorial that will help guide you on how to register your Windows Servers with it: Once the servers you want to backup are registered, you can use the appropriate local management interface (such as the Microsoft Management Console snap-in, System Center Data Protection Manager Console, or Windows Server Essentials Dashboard) to configure the scheduled backups and to optionally initiate recoveries. You can follow these tutorials to learn more about how to do this: Tutorial: Schedule Backups Using the Windows Azure Backup Agent This tutorial helps you with setting up a backup schedule for your registered Windows Servers. Additionally, it also explains how to use Windows PowerShell cmdlets to set up a custom backup schedule. Tutorial: Recover Files and Folders Using the Windows Azure Backup Agent This tutorial helps you with recovering data from a backup. Additionally, it also explains how to use Windows PowerShell cmdlets to do the same tasks. Below are some of the key benefits the Windows Azure Backup Service provides: Simple configuration and management. Windows Azure Backup Service integrates with the familiar Windows Server Backup utility in Windows Server, the Data Protection Manager component in System Center and Windows Server Essentials, in order to provide a seamless backup and recovery experience to a local disk, or to the cloud. Block level incremental backups. The Windows Azure Backup Agent performs incremental backups by tracking file and block level changes and only transferring the changed blocks, hence reducing the storage and bandwidth utilization. Different point-in-time versions of the backups use storage efficiently by only storing the changes blocks between these versions. Data compression, encryption and throttling. The Windows Azure Backup Agent ensures that data is compressed and encrypted on the server before being sent to the Windows Azure Backup Service over the network. As a result, the Windows Azure Backup Service only stores encrypted data in the cloud storage. The encryption key is not available to the Windows Azure Backup Service, and as a result the data is never decrypted in the service. Also, users can setup throttling and configure how the Windows Azure Backup service utilizes the network bandwidth when backing up or restoring information. Data integrity is verified in the cloud. In addition to the secure backups, the backed up data is also automatically checked for integrity once the backup is done. As a result, any corruptions which may arise due to data transfer can be easily identified and are fixed automatically. Configurable retention policies for storing data in the cloud. The Windows Azure Backup Service accepts and implements retention policies to recycle backups that exceed the desired retention range, thereby meeting business policies and managing backup costs. Hyper-V Recovery Manager: Now Available in Public Preview I’m excited to also announce the public preview of a new Windows Azure Service – the Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM). Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager helps protect your business critical services by coordinating the replication and recovery of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 private clouds at a secondary location. With automated protection, asynchronous ongoing replication, and orderly recovery, the Hyper-V Recovery Manager service can help you implement Disaster Recovery and restore important services accurately, consistently, and with minimal downtime. Application data in an Hyper-V Recovery Manager scenarios always travels on your on-premise replication channel. Only metadata (such as names of logical clouds, virtual machines, networks etc.) that is needed for orchestration is sent to Azure. All traffic sent to/from Azure is encrypted. You can begin using Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery today by clicking New->Data Services->Recovery Services->Hyper-V Recovery Manager within the Windows Azure Management Portal.  You can read more about Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager in Brad Anderson’s 9-part series, Transform the datacenter. To learn more about setting up Hyper-V Recovery Manager follow our detailed step-by-step guide. Virtual Machines: Delete Attached Disks, Availability Set Warnings, SQL AlwaysOn Today’s Windows Azure release includes a number of nice updates to Windows Azure Virtual Machines.  These improvements include: Ability to Delete both VM Instances + Attached Disks in One Operation Prior to today’s release, when you deleted VMs within Windows Azure we would delete the VM instance – but not delete the drives attached to the VM.  You had to manually delete these yourself from the storage account.  With today’s update we’ve added a convenience option that now allows you to either retain or delete the attached disks when you delete the VM:   We’ve also added the ability to delete a cloud service, its deployments, and its role instances with a single action. This can either be a cloud service that has production and staging deployments with web and worker roles, or a cloud service that contains virtual machines.  To do this, simply select the Cloud Service within the Windows Azure Management Portal and click the “Delete” button: Warnings on Availability Sets with Only One Virtual Machine In Them One of the nice features that Windows Azure Virtual Machines supports is the concept of “Availability Sets”.  An “availability set” allows you to define a tier/role (e.g. webfrontends, databaseservers, etc) that you can map Virtual Machines into – and when you do this Windows Azure separates them across fault domains and ensures that at least one of them is always available during servicing operations.  This enables you to deploy applications in a high availability way. One issue we’ve seen some customers run into is where they define an availability set, but then forget to map more than one VM into it (which defeats the purpose of having an availability set).  With today’s release we now display a warning in the Windows Azure Management Portal if you have only one virtual machine deployed in an availability set to help highlight this: You can learn more about configuring the availability of your virtual machines here. Configuring SQL Server Always On SQL Server Always On is a great feature that you can use with Windows Azure to enable high availability and DR scenarios with SQL Server. Today’s Windows Azure release makes it even easier to configure SQL Server Always On by enabling “Direct Server Return” endpoints to be configured and managed within the Windows Azure Management Portal.  Previously, setting this up required using PowerShell to complete the endpoint configuration.  Starting today you can enable this simply by checking the “Direct Server Return” checkbox: You can learn more about how to use direct server return for SQL Server AlwaysOn availability groups here. Active Directory: Application Access Enhancements This summer we released our initial preview of our Application Access Enhancements for Windows Azure Active Directory.  This service enables you to securely implement single-sign-on (SSO) support against SaaS applications (including Office 365, SalesForce, Workday, Box, Google Apps, GitHub, etc) as well as LOB based applications (including ones built with the new Windows Azure AD support we shipped last week with ASP.NET and VS 2013). Since the initial preview we’ve enhanced our SAML federation capabilities, integrated our new password vaulting system, and shipped multi-factor authentication support. We've also turned on our outbound identity provisioning system and have it working with hundreds of additional SaaS Applications: Earlier this month we published an update on dates and pricing for when the service will be released in general availability form.  In this blog post we announced our intention to release the service in general availability form by the end of the year.  We also announced that the below features would be available in a free tier with it: SSO to every SaaS app we integrate with – Users can Single Sign On to any app we are integrated with at no charge. This includes all the top SAAS Apps and every app in our application gallery whether they use federation or password vaulting. Application access assignment and removal – IT Admins can assign access privileges to web applications to the users in their active directory assuring that every employee has access to the SAAS Apps they need. And when a user leaves the company or changes jobs, the admin can just as easily remove their access privileges assuring data security and minimizing IP loss User provisioning (and de-provisioning) – IT admins will be able to automatically provision users in 3rd party SaaS applications like Box, Salesforce.com, GoToMeeting, DropBox and others. We are working with key partners in the ecosystem to establish these connections, meaning you no longer have to continually update user records in multiple systems. Security and auditing reports – Security is a key priority for us. With the free version of these enhancements you'll get access to our standard set of access reports giving you visibility into which users are using which applications, when they were using them and where they are using them from. In addition, we'll alert you to un-usual usage patterns for instance when a user logs in from multiple locations at the same time. Our Application Access Panel – Users are logging in from every type of devices including Windows, iOS, & Android. Not all of these devices handle authentication in the same manner but the user doesn't care. They need to access their apps from the devices they love. Our Application Access Panel will support the ability for users to access access and launch their apps from any device and anywhere. You can learn more about our plans for application management with Windows Azure Active Directory here.  Try out the preview and start using it today. Enterprise Management: Use Active Directory to Better Manage Windows Azure Windows Azure Active Directory provides the ability to manage your organization in a directory which is hosted entirely in the cloud, or alternatively kept in sync with an on-premises Windows Server Active Directory solution (allowing you to seamlessly integrate with the directory you already have).  With today’s Windows Azure release we are integrating Windows Azure Active Directory even more within the core Windows Azure management experience, and enabling an even richer enterprise security offering.  Specifically: 1) All Windows Azure accounts now have a default Windows Azure Active Directory created for them.  You can create and map any users you want into this directory, and grant administrative rights to manage resources in Windows Azure to these users. 2) You can keep this directory entirely hosted in the cloud – or optionally sync it with your on-premises Windows Server Active Directory.  Both options are free.  The later approach is ideal for companies that wish to use their corporate user identities to sign-in and manage Windows Azure resources.  It also ensures that if an employee leaves an organization, his or her access control rights to the company’s Windows Azure resources are immediately revoked. 3) The Windows Azure Service Management APIs have been updated to support using Windows Azure Active Directory credentials to sign-in and perform management operations.  Prior to today’s release customers had to download and use management certificates (which were not scoped to individual users) to perform management operations.  We still support this management certificate approach (don’t worry – nothing will stop working).  But we think the new Windows Azure Active Directory authentication support enables an even easier and more secure way for customers to manage resources going forward.  4) The Windows Azure SDK 2.2 release (which is also shipping today) includes built-in support for the new Service Management APIs that authenticate with Windows Azure Active Directory, and now allow you to create and manage Windows Azure applications and resources directly within Visual Studio using your Active Directory credentials.  This, combined with updated PowerShell scripts that also support Active Directory, enables an end-to-end enterprise authentication story with Windows Azure. Below are some details on how all of this works: Subscriptions within a Directory As part of today’s update, we have associated all existing Window Azure accounts with a Windows Azure Active Directory (and created one for you if you don’t already have one). When you login to the Windows Azure Management Portal you’ll now see the directory name in the URI of the browser.  For example, in the screen-shot below you can see that I have a “scottgu” directory that my subscriptions are hosted within: Note that you can continue to use Microsoft Accounts (formerly known as Microsoft Live IDs) to sign-into Windows Azure.  These map just fine to a Windows Azure Active Directory – so there is no need to create new usernames that are specific to a directory if you don’t want to.  In the scenario above I’m actually logged in using my @hotmail.com based Microsoft ID which is now mapped to a “scottgu” active directory that was created for me.  By default everything will continue to work just like you used to before. Manage your Directory You can manage an Active Directory (including the one we now create for you by default) by clicking the “Active Directory” tab in the left-hand side of the portal.  This will list all of the directories in your account.  Clicking one the first time will display a getting started page that provides documentation and links to perform common tasks with it: You can use the built-in directory management support within the Windows Azure Management Portal to add/remove/manage users within the directory, enable multi-factor authentication, associate a custom domain (e.g. mycompanyname.com) with the directory, and/or rename the directory to whatever friendly name you want (just click the configure tab to do this).  You can also setup the directory to automatically sync with an on-premises Active Directory using the “Directory Integration” tab. Note that users within a directory by default do not have admin rights to login or manage Windows Azure based resources.  You still need to explicitly grant them co-admin permissions on a subscription for them to login or manage resources in Windows Azure.  You can do this by clicking the Settings tab on the left-hand side of the portal and then by clicking the administrators tab within it. Sign-In Integration within Visual Studio If you install the new Windows Azure SDK 2.2 release, you can now connect to Windows Azure from directly inside Visual Studio without having to download any management certificates.  You can now just right-click on the “Windows Azure” icon within the Server Explorer and choose the “Connect to Windows Azure” context menu option to do so: Doing this will prompt you to enter the email address of the username you wish to sign-in with (make sure this account is a user in your directory with co-admin rights on a subscription): You can use either a Microsoft Account (e.g. Windows Live ID) or an Active Directory based Organizational account as the email.  The dialog will update with an appropriate login prompt depending on which type of email address you enter: Once you sign-in you’ll see the Windows Azure resources that you have permissions to manage show up automatically within the Visual Studio server explorer and be available to start using: No downloading of management certificates required.  All of the authentication was handled using your Windows Azure Active Directory! Manage Subscriptions across Multiple Directories If you have already have multiple directories and multiple subscriptions within your Windows Azure account, we have done our best to create a good default mapping of your subscriptions->directories as part of today’s update.  If you don’t like the default subscription-to-directory mapping we have done you can click the Settings tab in the left-hand navigation of the Windows Azure Management Portal and browse to the Subscriptions tab within it: If you want to map a subscription under a different directory in your account, simply select the subscription from the list, and then click the “Edit Directory” button to choose which directory to map it to.  Mapping a subscription to a different directory takes only seconds and will not cause any of the resources within the subscription to recycle or stop working.  We’ve made the directory->subscription mapping process self-service so that you always have complete control and can map things however you want. Filtering By Directory and Subscription Within the Windows Azure Management Portal you can filter resources in the portal by subscription (allowing you to show/hide different subscriptions).  If you have subscriptions mapped to multiple directory tenants, we also now have a filter drop-down that allows you to filter the subscription list by directory tenant.  This filter is only available if you have multiple subscriptions mapped to multiple directories within your Windows Azure Account:   Windows Azure SDK 2.2 Today we are also releasing a major update of our Windows Azure SDK.  The Windows Azure SDK 2.2 release adds some great new features including: Visual Studio 2013 Support Integrated Windows Azure Sign-In support within Visual Studio Remote Debugging Cloud Services with Visual Studio Firewall Management support within Visual Studio for SQL Databases Visual Studio 2013 RTM VM Images for MSDN Subscribers Windows Azure Management Libraries for .NET Updated Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlets and ScriptCenter I’ll post a follow-up blog shortly with more details about all of the above. Additional Updates In addition to the above enhancements, today’s release also includes a number of additional improvements: AutoScale: Richer time and date based scheduling support (set different rules on different dates) AutoScale: Ability to Scale to Zero Virtual Machines (very useful for Dev/Test scenarios) AutoScale: Support for time-based scheduling of Mobile Service AutoScale rules Operation Logs: Auditing support for Service Bus management operations Today we also shipped a major update to the Windows Azure SDK – Windows Azure SDK 2.2.  It has so much goodness in it that I have a whole second blog post coming shortly on it! :-) Summary Today’s Windows Azure release enables a bunch of great new scenarios, and enables a much richer enterprise authentication offering. If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today.  Then visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • “Unplugged” LIDNUG online talk with me on Monday (April 16th)

    - by ScottGu
    This coming Monday (April 16th) I’m doing another online LIDNUG session.  The talk will be from 10am to 11:30am (Pacific Time).  I do these talks a few times a year and they tend to be pretty fun.  Attendees can ask any questions they want to me, and listen to me answer them live via LiveMeeting.  We usually end up having some really good discussions on a wide variety of topics.  Any topic or question is fair game. You can learn more and register to attend the online event for free here. I’ll update this post with a download link to a recorded audio version of the talk after the event is over. Hope to get a chance to chat with some of you there! Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Box Selection and Multi-Line Editing with VS 2010

    - by ScottGu
    This is the twenty-second in a series of blog posts I’m doing on the VS 2010 and .NET 4 release. I’ve already covered some of the code editor improvements in the VS 2010 release.  In particular, I’ve blogged about the Code Intellisense Improvements, new Code Searching and Navigating Features, HTML, ASP.NET and JavaScript Snippet Support, and improved JavaScript Intellisense.  Today’s blog post covers a small, but nice, editor improvement with VS 2010 – the ability to use “Box Selection” when performing multi-line editing.  This can eliminate keystrokes and enables some slick editing scenarios. [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] Box Selection Box selection is a feature that has been in Visual Studio for awhile (although not many people knew about it).  It allows you to select a rectangular region of text within the code editor by holding down the Alt key while selecting the text region with the mouse.  With VS 2008 you could then copy or delete the selected text. VS 2010 now enables several more capabilities with box selection including: Text Insertion: Typing with box selection now allows you to insert new text into every selected line Paste/Replace: You can now paste the contents of one box selection into another and have the content flow correctly Zero-Length Boxes: You can now make a vertical selection zero characters wide to create a multi-line insert point for new or copied text These capabilities can be very useful in a variety of scenarios.  Some example scenarios: change access modifiers (private->public), adding comments to multiple lines, setting fields, or grouping multiple statements together. Great 3 Minute Box-Selection Video Demo Brittany Behrens from the Visual Studio Editor Team has an excellent 3 minute video that shows off a few cool VS 2010 multi-line code editing scenarios with box selection:   Watch it to learn a few ways you can use this new box selection capability to optimize your typing in VS 2010 even further: Hope this helps, Scott P.S. You can learn more about the VS Editor by following the Visual Studio Team Blog or by following @VSEditor on Twitter.

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  • Download and Share Visual Studio Color Schemes

    - by ScottGu
    As developers we often spend a large part of our day staring at code within Visual Studio.  If you are like me, after awhile the default VS text color scheme starts to get a little boring. The good news is that Visual Studio allows you to completely customize the editor background and text colors to whatever you want – allowing you to tweak them to create the experience that is “just right” for your eyes and personality.  You can then optionally export/import your color scheme preferences to an XML file via the Tools->Import and Export Settings menu command. [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] New website that makes it easy to download and share VS color schemes Luke Sampson launched the http://studiostyles.info/ site a week ago (built using ASP.NET MVC 2, ASP.NET 4 and VS 2010). Studiostyles.info enables you to easily browse and download Visual Studio color schemes that others have already created.  The color schemes work for both VS 2008 and VS 2010 (all versions – including the free VS express editions): Color schemes are sorted by popularity and voting (you can vote on whether you find each “hot or not”).  You can click any of the schemes to see screen-shots of it in use for common coding scenarios.  You can then download the color settings for either VS 2010 or VS 2008: You can also optionally upload color schemes of your own if you have a good one you want to share with others.  If you haven’t visited it yet – check it out: http://studiostyles.info/  And thank you Luke Sampson for building it! Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Fun Visual Studio 2010 Wallpapers

    - by ScottGu
    Two weeks ago I blogged about a cool new site that allows you to download and customize the Visual Studio code editor background and text colors (for both VS 2008 and VS 2010 version). The site also allows you to submit and share your own Visual Studio color schemes with others. Another new community site has recently launched that allows you to download Visual Studio 2010 themed images that you can use for your Windows desktop background.  You can visit the site here: http://vs2010wallpapers.com/  In addition to browsing and downloading Visual Studio themed wallpapers, you can also submit your own into the gallery to share with others. [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] Browsing Wallpaper Images The site has dozens of wallpaper images that you can browse through and choose from.  They range from the cool and abstract: To the fun and silly: Enabling the Wallpaper Images as your Windows Desktop You can zoom in on any image (hover over the image and then click the “zoom” button that appears over it) and then download it to be your Windows desktop image.  If you visit the site using Internet Explorer, you can also zoom in on the image, then right click on the image and choose the “Set as Background” context menu item to enable it as your Windows desktop. Note: you want to make sure you download the zoomed-in/high resolution version of the wallpaper to make sure it looks good as the wallpaper on your desktop. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Building a Windows Phone 7 Twitter Application using Silverlight

    - by ScottGu
    On Monday I had the opportunity to present the MIX 2010 Day 1 Keynote in Las Vegas (you can watch a video of it here).  In the keynote I announced the release of the Silverlight 4 Release Candidate (we’ll ship the final release of it next month) and the VS 2010 RC tools for Silverlight 4.  I also had the chance to talk for the first time about how Silverlight and XNA can now be used to build Windows Phone 7 applications. During my talk I did two quick Windows Phone 7 coding demos using Silverlight – a quick “Hello World” application and a “Twitter” data-snacking application.  Both applications were easy to build and only took a few minutes to create on stage.  Below are the steps you can follow yourself to build them on your own machines as well. [Note: In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] Building a “Hello World” Windows Phone 7 Application First make sure you’ve installed the Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP – this includes the Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone development tool (which will be free forever and is the only thing you need to develop and build Windows Phone 7 applications) as well as an add-on to the VS 2010 RC that enables phone development within the full VS 2010 as well. After you’ve downloaded and installed the Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP, launch the Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone that it installs or launch the VS 2010 RC (if you have it already installed), and then choose “File”->”New Project.”  Here, you’ll find the usual list of project template types along with a new category: “Silverlight for Windows Phone”. The first CTP offers two application project templates. The first is the “Windows Phone Application” template - this is what we’ll use for this example. The second is the “Windows Phone List Application” template - which provides the basic layout for a master-details phone application: After creating a new project, you’ll get a view of the design surface and markup. Notice that the design surface shows the phone UI, letting you easily see how your application will look while you develop. For those familiar with Visual Studio, you’ll also find the familiar ToolBox, Solution Explorer and Properties pane. For our HelloWorld application, we’ll start out by adding a TextBox and a Button from the Toolbox. Notice that you get the same design experience as you do for Silverlight on the web or desktop. You can easily resize, position and align your controls on the design surface. Changing properties is easy with the Properties pane. We’ll change the name of the TextBox that we added to username and change the page title text to “Hello world.” We’ll then write some code by double-clicking on the button and create an event handler in the code-behind file (MainPage.xaml.cs). We’ll start out by changing the title text of the application. The project template included this title as a TextBlock with the name textBlockListTitle (note that the current name incorrectly includes the word “list”; that will be fixed for the final release.)  As we write code against it we get intellisense showing the members available.  Below we’ll set the Text property of the title TextBlock to “Hello “ + the Text property of the TextBox username: We now have all the code necessary for a Hello World application.  We have two choices when it comes to deploying and running the application. We can either deploy to an actual device itself or use the built-in phone emulator: Because the phone emulator is actually the phone operating system running in a virtual machine, we’ll get the same experience developing in the emulator as on the device. For this sample, we’ll just press F5 to start the application with debugging using the emulator.  Once the phone operating system loads, the emulator will run the new “Hello world” application exactly as it would on the device: Notice that we can change several settings of the emulator experience with the emulator toolbar – which is a floating toolbar on the top right.  This includes the ability to re-size/zoom the emulator and two rotate buttons.  Zoom lets us zoom into even the smallest detail of the application: The orientation buttons allow us easily see what the application looks like in landscape mode (orientation change support is just built into the default template): Note that the emulator can be reused across F5 debug sessions - that means that we don’t have to start the emulator for every deployment. We’ve added a dialog that will help you from accidentally shutting down the emulator if you want to reuse it.  Launching an application on an already running emulator should only take ~3 seconds to deploy and run. Within our Hello World application we’ll click the “username” textbox to give it focus.  This will cause the software input panel (SIP) to open up automatically.  We can either type a message or – since we are using the emulator – just type in text.  Note that the emulator works with Windows 7 multi-touch so, if you have a touchscreen, you can see how interaction will feel on a device just by pressing the screen. We’ll enter “MIX 10” in the textbox and then click the button – this will cause the title to update to be “Hello MIX 10”: We provide the same Visual Studio experience when developing for the phone as other .NET applications. This means that we can set a breakpoint within the button event handler, press the button again and have it break within the debugger: Building a “Twitter” Windows Phone 7 Application using Silverlight Rather than just stop with “Hello World” let’s keep going and evolve it to be a basic Twitter client application. We’ll return to the design surface and add a ListBox, using the snaplines within the designer to fit it to the device screen and make the best use of phone screen real estate.  We’ll also rename the Button “Lookup”: We’ll then return to the Button event handler in Main.xaml.cs, and remove the original “Hello World” line of code and take advantage of the WebClient networking class to asynchronously download a Twitter feed. This takes three lines of code in total: (1) declaring and creating the WebClient, (2) attaching an event handler and then (3) calling the asynchronous DownloadStringAsync method. In the DownloadStringAsync call, we’ll pass a Twitter Uri plus a query string which pulls the text from the “username” TextBox. This feed will pull down the respective user’s most frequent posts in an XML format. When the call completes, the DownloadStringCompleted event is fired and our generated event handler twitter_DownloadStringCompleted will be called: The result returned from the Twitter call will come back in an XML based format.  To parse this we’ll use LINQ to XML. LINQ to XML lets us create simple queries for accessing data in an xml feed. To use this library, we’ll first need to add a reference to the assembly (right click on the References folder in the solution explorer and choose “Add Reference): We’ll then add a “using System.Xml.Linq” namespace reference at the top of the code-behind file at the top of Main.xaml.cs file: We’ll then add a simple helper class called TwitterItem to our project. TwitterItem has three string members – UserName, Message and ImageSource: We’ll then implement the twitter_DownloadStringCompleted event handler and use LINQ to XML to parse the returned XML string from Twitter.  What the query is doing is pulling out the three key pieces of information for each Twitter post from the username we passed as the query string. These are the ImageSource for their profile image, the Message of their tweet and their UserName. For each Tweet in the XML, we are creating a new TwitterItem in the IEnumerable<XElement> returned by the Linq query.  We then assign the generated TwitterItem sequence to the ListBox’s ItemsSource property: We’ll then do one more step to complete the application. In the Main.xaml file, we’ll add an ItemTemplate to the ListBox. For the demo, I used a simple template that uses databinding to show the user’s profile image, their tweet and their username. <ListBox Height="521" HorizonalAlignment="Left" Margin="0,131,0,0" Name="listBox1" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="476"> <ListBox.ItemTemplate> <DataTemplate> <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Height="132"> <Image Source="{Binding ImageSource}" Height="73" Width="73" VerticalAlignment="Top" Margin="0,10,8,0"/> <StackPanel Width="370"> <TextBlock Text="{Binding UserName}" Foreground="#FFC8AB14" FontSize="28" /> <TextBlock Text="{Binding Message}" TextWrapping="Wrap" FontSize="24" /> </StackPanel> </StackPanel> </DataTemplate> </ListBox.ItemTemplate> </ListBox> Now, pressing F5 again, we are able to reuse the emulator and re-run the application. Once the application has launched, we can type in a Twitter username and press the  Button to see the results. Try my Twitter user name (scottgu) and you’ll get back a result of TwitterItems in the Listbox: Try using the mouse (or if you have a touchscreen device your finger) to scroll the items in the Listbox – you should find that they move very fast within the emulator.  This is because the emulator is hardware accelerated – and so gives you the same fast performance that you get on the actual phone hardware. Summary Silverlight and the VS 2010 Tools for Windows Phone (and the corresponding Expression Blend Tools for Windows Phone) make building Windows Phone applications both really easy and fun.  At MIX this week a number of great partners (including Netflix, FourSquare, Seesmic, Shazaam, Major League Soccer, Graphic.ly, Associated Press, Jackson Fish and more) showed off some killer application prototypes they’ve built over the last few weeks.  You can watch my full day 1 keynote to see them in action. I think they start to show some of the promise and potential of using Silverlight with Windows Phone 7.  I’ll be doing more blog posts in the weeks and months ahead that cover that more. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Update on ASP.NET MVC 3 RC2 (and a workaround for a bug in it)

    - by ScottGu
    Last week we published the RC2 build of ASP.NET MVC 3.  I blogged a bunch of details about it here. One of the reasons we publish release candidates is to help find those last “hard to find” bugs. So far we haven’t seen many issues reported with the RC2 release (which is good) - although we have seen a few reports of a metadata caching bug that manifests itself in at least two scenarios: Nullable parameters in action methods have problems: When you have a controller action method with a nullable parameter (like int? – or a complex type that has a nullable sub-property), the nullable parameter might always end up being null - even when the request contains a valid value for the parameter. [AllowHtml] doesn’t allow HTML in model binding: When you decorate a model property with an [AllowHtml] attribute (to turn off HTML injection protection), the model binding still fails when HTML content is posted to it. Both of these issues are caused by an over-eager caching optimization we introduced very late in the RC2 milestone.  This issue will be fixed for the final ASP.NET MVC 3 release.  Below is a workaround step you can implement to fix it today. Workaround You Can Use Today You can fix the above issues with the current ASP.NT MVC 3 RC2 release by adding one line of code to the Application_Start() event handler within the Global.asax class of your application: The above code sets the ModelMetaDataProviders.Current property to use the DataAnnotationsModelMetadataProvider.  This causes ASP.NET MVC 3 to use a meta-data provider implementation that doesn’t have the more aggressive caching logic we introduced late in the RC2 release, and prevents the caching issues that cause the above issues to occur.  You don’t need to change any other code within your application.  Once you make this change the above issues are fixed.  You won’t need to have this line of code within your applications once the final ASP.NET MVC 3 release ships (although keeping it in also won’t cause any problems). Hope this helps – and please keep any reports of issues coming our way, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • NuGet 1.1 Released

    - by ScottGu
    This past weekend the ASP.NET team released NuGet 1.1.  Phil Haack recently blogged a bunch of details on the enhancements it brings, as well as how to update to it if you already have NuGet 1.0 installed.  It is definitely a nice update (my favorite improvement is that it no longer blocks the UI when downloading packages). Read Phil’s blog post about the NuGet 1.1 update and how it install it here.  NuGet is Not just for Web Projects NuGet is not just for ASP.NET projects – it supports any .NET project type.  Pete Brown recently did a nice blog post where he talked about using NuGet for WPF and Silverlight Development as well.  You can read Pete’s blog post about NuGet for WPF and Silverlight here. How to Install NuGet if you Don't Already have it Installed If you don’t already have NuGet installed, you can download and install it (as well as browse the 700+ OSS packages now available with it) from the http://NuGet.org website. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • ASP.NET mvcConf Videos Available

    - by ScottGu
    Earlier this month the ASP.NET MVC developer community held the 2nd annual mvcConf event.  This was a free, online conference focused on ASP.NET MVC – with more than 27 talks that covered a wide variety of ASP.NET MVC topics.  Almost all of the talks were presented by developers within the community, and the quality and topic diversity of the talks was fantastic. Below are links to free recordings of the talks that you can watch (and optionally download): Scott Guthrie Keynote The NuGet-y Goodness of Delivering Packages (Phil Haack) Industrial Strenght NuGet (Andy Wahrenberger) Intro to MVC 3 (John Petersen) Advanced MVC 3 (Brad Wilson) Evolving Practices in Using jQuery and Ajax in ASP.NET MVC Applications (Eric Sowell) Web Matrix (Rob Conery) Improving ASP.NET MVC Application Performance (Steven Smith) Intro to Building Twilio Apps with ASP.NET MVC (John Sheehan) The Big Comparison of ASP.NET MVC View Engines (Shay Friedman) Writing BDD-style Tests for ASP.NET MVC using MSTestContrib (Mitch Denny) BDD in ASP.NET MVC using SpecFlow, WatiN and WatiN Test Helpers (Brandon Satrom) Going Postal - Generating email with View Engines (Andrew Davey) Take some REST with WCF (Glenn Block) MVC Q&A (Jeffrey Palermo) Deploy ASP.NET MVC with No Effort (Troels Thomsen) IIS Express (Vaidy Gopalakrishnan) Putting the V in MVC (Chris Bannon) CQRS and Event Sourcing with MVC 3 (Ashic Mahtab) MVC 3 Extensibility (Roberto Hernandez) MvcScaffolding (Steve Sanderson) Real World Application Development with Mvc3 NHibernate, FluentNHibernate and Castle Windsor (Chris Canal) Building composite web applications with Open frameworks (Sebastien Lambla) Quality Driven Web Acceptance Testing (Amir Barylko) ModelBinding derived types using the DerivedTypeModelBinder in MvcContrib (Steve Hebert) Entity Framework "Code First": Domain Driven CRUD (Chris Zavaleta) Wrap Up with Jon Galloway & Javier Lozano I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the speakers who presented, and to Javier Lozano, Eric Hexter and Jon Galloway for all their hard work in organizing the event and making it happen. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Applications are now open for the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure - 2013

    - by ScottGu
    In October, I introduced the finalists for the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by TechStars. Over the past couple of months, these startups have been mentored by business and technology leaders, met with investors, learned from each other, and, most importantly, been building great products. You can learn more about the startups in the first class and how they’re using Windows Azure here. As the first class approaches Demo Day on January 17th, I’m happy to announce that today we are opening applications for the second class of the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure. The second class will begin on April 1,, 2013 and conclude with Demo Day on June 26, 2013. If you are currently working at a startup or considering founding your own company, I encourage you to apply. We’re accepting applications through February 1st, 2013. You can find more information about the Accelerator and the application process here. It’s been truly inspiring to work with the current class of startups. This inaugural class has brought with them incredible energy and innovation and I look forward to reviewing the applications for this next class. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • .NET 4.5 now supported with Windows Azure Web Sites

    - by ScottGu
    This week we finished rolling out .NET 4.5 to all of our Windows Azure Web Site clusters.  This means that you can now publish and run ASP.NET 4.5 based apps, and use  .NET 4.5 libraries and features (for example: async and the new spatial data-type support in EF), with Windows Azure Web Sites.  This enables a ton of really great capabilities - check out Scott Hanselman’s great post of videos that highlight a few of them. Visual Studio 2012 includes built-in publishing support to Windows Azure, which makes it really easy to publish and deploy .NET 4.5 based sites within Visual Studio (you can deploy both apps + databases).  With the Migrations feature of EF Code First you can also do incremental database schema updates as part of publishing (which enables a really slick automated deployment workflow). Each Windows Azure account is eligible to host 10 free web-sites using our free-tier.  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using them today. In the next few days we’ll also be releasing support for .NET 4.5 and Windows Server 2012 with Windows Azure Cloud Services (Web and Worker Roles) – together with some great new Azure SDK enhancements.  Keep an eye out on my blog for details about these soon. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Great Free Courses on Building HTML5 apps using ASP.NET Web API, Knockout.js and jQuery

    - by ScottGu
    Pluralsight has developed some great training courses on the new .NET 4.5 and VS 2012 release, including two fantastic courses from John Papa that cover how to build HTML5 web apps using ASP.NET Web API, Knockout and jQuery: Single Page Apps with HTML5, Web API, Knockout and jQuery Building HTML5 and JavaScript Apps with MVVM and Knockout Free 1-Month Subscription to the Courses Pluralsight is offering a special promotion that allows you to get a free 1-month subscription to watch the above courses at no cost.  There is no obligation to buy anything at the end of the offer and you don’t need to supply a credit card in order to take part in it. To get access to the course you simply follow @pluralsight and @john_papa on Twitter and then visit this page and enter your Twitter name using the form on it.  Pluralsight will then send you a private twitter message containing the access code that you can use to subscribe to the courses (and download the course exercise files).  Once you are subscribed to the course you have one month to watch the course (and you can watch it as many times as you want during the month). Pluralsight is running the promotion through Sept 18th – so sign-up now to get access.  Once you are signed up you then have a month to watch the course. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. And if you are new to Twitter you can also optionally follow me: @scottgu

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  • 36 Hour Free Offer: jQuery Fundamentals Training

    - by ScottGu
    Pluralsight (a great .NET training company) is offering the opportunity to watch their jQuery Fundamentals course for free for the next 36 hours. The course is presented by the most excellent Dan Wahlin and contains 5 hours of great end to end content.  Pluralsight will be offering this jQuery Fundamentals course for free until Thursday evening (9pm PST). Pluralsight has about 100 other great training courses available similar to this one.  They recently launched a new subscription plan that allows you to watch all of their courses online starting from $29 a month.  They also offer a 10 day free trial option that you can use to try it out.  You can learn more about it here. Free jQuery 1.5 Visual Cheat Sheet While on the topic of jQuery, I wanted to link to one other useful resource to download if you are using jQuery – which is a free jQuery PDF “cheat sheet” for the jQuery 1.5 APIs. You can download it for free here. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • SharePoint Apps and Windows Azure

    - by ScottGu
    Last Monday I had an opportunity to present as part of the keynote of this year’s SharePoint Conference.  My segment of the keynote covered the new SharePoint Cloud App Model we are introducing as part of the upcoming SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 releases.  This new app model for SharePoint is additive to the full trust solutions developers write today, and is built around three core tenants: Simplifying the development model and making it consistent between the on-premises version of SharePoint and SharePoint Online provided with Office 365. Making the execution model loosely coupled – and enabling developers to build apps and write code that can run outside of the core SharePoint service. This makes it easy to deploy SharePoint apps using Windows Azure, and avoid having to worry about breaking SharePoint and the apps within it when something is upgraded.  This new loosely coupled model also enables developers to write SharePoint applications that can leverage the full capabilities of the .NET Framework – including ASP.NET Web Forms 4.5, ASP.NET MVC 4, ASP.NET Web API, EF 5, Async, and more. Implementing this loosely coupled model using standard web protocols – like OAuth, JSON, and REST APIs – that enable developers to re-use skills and tools, and easily integrate SharePoint with Web and Mobile application architectures. A video of my talk + demos is now available to watch online: In the talk I walked through building an app from scratch – it showed off how easy it is to build solutions using new SharePoint application, and highlighted a web + workflow + mobile scenario that integrates SharePoint with code hosted on Windows Azure (all built using Visual Studio 2012 and ASP.NET 4.5 – including MVC and Web API). The new SharePoint Cloud App Model is something that I think is pretty exciting, and it is going to make it a lot easier to build SharePoint apps using the full power of both Windows Azure and the .NET Framework.  Using Windows Azure to easily extend SaaS based solutions like Office 365 is also a really natural fit and one that is going to offer a bunch of great developer opportunities.  Hope this helps, Scott  P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Pinning Projects and Solutions with Visual Studio 2010

    - by ScottGu
    This is the twenty-fourth in a series of blog posts I’m doing on the VS 2010 and .NET 4 release. Today’s blog post covers a very small, but still useful, feature of VS 2010 – the ability to “pin” projects and solutions to both the Windows 7 taskbar as well VS 2010 Start Page.  This makes it easier to quickly find and open projects in the IDE. [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] VS 2010 Jump List on Windows 7 Taskbar Windows 7 added support for customizing the taskbar at the bottom of your screen.  You can “pin” and re-arrange your application icons on it however you want. Most developers using Visual Studio 2010 on Windows 7 probably already know that they can “pin” the Visual Studio icon to the Windows 7 taskbar – making it always present.  What you might not yet have discovered, though, is that Visual Studio 2010 also exposes a Taskbar “jump list” that you can use to quickly find and load your most recently used projects as well. To activate this, simply right-click on the VS 2010 icon in the task bar and you’ll see a list of your most recent projects.  Clicking one will load it within Visual Studio 2010: Pinning Projects on the VS 2010 Jump List with Windows 7 One nice feature also supported by VS 2010 is the ability to optionally “pin” projects to the jump-list as well – which makes them always listed at the top.  To enable this, simply hover over the project you want to pin and then click the “pin” icon that appears on the right of it: When you click the pin the project will be added to a new “Pinned” list at the top of the jumplist: This enables you to always display your own list of projects at the top of the list.  You can optionally click and drag them to display in any order you want. VS 2010 Start Page and Project Pinning VS 2010 has a new “start page” that displays by default each time you launch a new instance of Visual Studio.  In addition to displaying learning and help resources, it also includes a “Recent Projects” section that you can use to quickly load previous projects that you have recently worked on: The “Recent Projects” section of the start page also supports the concept of “pinning” a link to projects you want to always keep in the list – regardless of how recently they’ve been accessed. To “pin” a project to the list you simply select the “pin” icon that appears when you hover over an item within the list: Once you’ve pinned a project to the start page list it will always show up in it (at least until you “unpin” it). Summary This project pinning support is a small but nice usability improvement with VS 2010 and can make it easier to quickly find and load projects/solutions.  If you work with a lot of projects at the same time it offers a nice shortcut to load them. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • My VS 2010 and ASP.NET 4 Talks Online

    - by ScottGu
    The past 7 years I’ve done an annual all day event in Arizona – organized by the most excellent Scott Cate (who always does a phenomenal job organizing the event and making it a great one). Earlier this month I visited and presented 4+ hours of content covering VS 2010, ASP.NET 4 and ASP.NET MVC 2.  NextSlide.com – a great .NET shop local to Arizona who has a great product for sharing presentations – volunteered to record the talks and publish them for free using their online presentation tool.  The recordings they did turned out really, really great – and their online player (which combines slides + camera of me + demos in one experience) is awesome.  Below you can watch the first two segments of my event – which cover VS 2010 and ASP.NET 4 – for free online using the NextSlide.com player experience.  I’ll post a link to my ASP.NET MVC 2 segment a little later in a separate blog post.  If you’ve never seen my present these talks before and are interested in the content then I’d recommend checking them out – as these recordings do a really good job capturing them. Part 1 - VS 2010 This is a 49 minute segment that starts the event and covers a bunch of the new improvements in VS 2010.  You can launch the presentation directly here or watch it inline below.  You can download powerpoint versions of my slides here. Part 2- ASP.NET 4 This 61 minute segment comes next and drills into some of the framework improvements with ASP.NET 4.  It also goes further on some of the web specific tooling improvements in VS 2010 – and towards the end demonstrates some of the great new end-to-end web deployment features provided with VS 2010 (which work for both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC applications). You can launch the presentation directly here or watch it inline below: Learning More about VS 2010 and ASP.NET 4 I’ve been working on a series of blog post about VS 2010 and .NET 4.  Many of the features I covered in my two talks above are described in more detail in posts within the series.  You can read all of them here. I’ll be continuing adding to the series via my blog, so stay tuned for more in-depth posts about a bunch more new features. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. People often ask whether they can re-use the slides+demos I use in my talks for talks of their own.  The answer to this is always absolutely! No need to ask permission.  Feel free to re-use all of my slides for talks of your own. P.P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • Finalists for the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure

    - by ScottGu
    Today, I am pleased to announce the ten finalists for the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure powered by TechStars. These startups are about to launch into a three-month program where they will develop new products and businesses using Windows Azure. The response to the program has been fantastic - we received nearly 600 applications from entrepreneurs in 69 countries around the world, spanning a host of industries including retail, travel, entertainment, banking, real estate and more.  There were so many innovative ideas and amazing teams that it really made the selection process hard.  We finally landed on 10 finalists, based on their experience, qualifications, and innovative business ideas built on the cloud. This fall’s Windows Azure class includes: Advertory – Berlin, Germany. Advertory helps local businesses increase revenue and build customer loyalty. Appetas – Seattle, WA. Appetas' mission is to make restaurants look as beautiful online as they do on the plate! BagsUp – Sydney, Australia. Find great places from people you trust. Embarke – San Diego, CA. Embarke allows developers and companies the ability to integrate with any human communication channel (Facebook, Email, Text Message, Twitter) without having to learn the specifics, write code, or spend time on any of them. Fanzo – Seattle, WA. Fanzo puts sports fans in the spotlight. Find other fans, show off your fanswagger and get rewarded for your passion. MetricsHub – Bellevue, WA. A service providing cloud monitoring with incident detection and prebuilt workflows for remedying common problems. Mobilligy – Bellevue, WA. Mobilligy revolutionizes how people pay their bills by bringing convenient, secure, and instant bill payment support to mobile devices. Realty Mogul – Los Angeles, CA. Realty Mogul is a crowdfunding platform for real estate where accredited investors pool capital and invest in properties that are acquired, managed and eventually resold by professional private real estate companies and their management teams. Staq – San Francisco, CA. Back-end as a service for APIs. Socedo – Bellevue, WA. A simple and effective web application for lead generation and relationship management on Twitter. Each startup will be hosted in Seattle and mentored by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as well as leaders from Windows Azure and other Microsoft organizations. The teams will spend the first month ideating and refining their business concepts with input and advice from their mentors as well as Microsoft customers, followed by two months of design and development. They will present their results to investors and Microsoft partners at an event in mid-January. We are really looking forward to seeing how their businesses evolve.  These teams have demonstrated incredible energy, passion, and innovative capabilities – and they are ready to show the world what’s possible with Windows Azure. Thanks, Scott P.S. And if you are new to Twitter you can also optionally follow me: @scottgu

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  • June 26th Links: ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, .NET and NuGet

    - by ScottGu
    Here is the latest in my link-listing series.  Also check out my Best of 2010 Summary for links to 100+ other posts I’ve done in the last year. [I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] ASP.NET Introducing new ASP.NET Universal Providers: Great post from Scott Hanselman on the new System.Web.Providers we are working on.  This release delivers new ASP.NET Membership, Role Management, Session, Profile providers that work with SQL Server, SQL CE and SQL Azure. CSS Sprites and the ASP.NET Sprite and Image Optimization Library: Great post from Scott Mitchell that talks about a free library for ASP.NET that you can use to optimize your CSS and images to reduce HTTP requests and speed up your site. Better HTML5 Support for the VS 2010 Editor: Another great post from Scott Hanselman on an update several people on my team did that enables richer HTML5 editing support within Visual Studio 2010. Install the Ajax Control Toolkit from NuGet: Nice post by Stephen Walther on how you can now use NuGet to install the Ajax Control Toolkit within your applications.  This makes it much easier to reference and use. May 2011 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit: Another great post from Stephen Walther that talks about the May release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. It includes a bunch of nice enhancements and fixes. SassAndCoffee 0.9 Released: Paul Betts blogs about the latest release of his SassAndCoffee extension (available via NuGet). It enables you to easily use Sass and Coffeescript within your ASP.NET applications (both MVC and Webforms). ASP.NET MVC ASP.NET MVC Mini-Profiler: The folks at StackOverflow.com (a great site built with ASP.NET MVC) have released a nice (free) profiler they’ve built that enables you to easily profile your ASP.NET MVC 3 sites and tune them for performance.  Globalization, Internationalization and Localization in ASP.NET MVC 3: Great post from Scott Hanselman on how to enable internationalization, globalization and localization support within your ASP.NET MVC 3 and jQuery solutions. Precompile your MVC Razor Views: Great post from David Ebbo that discusses a new Razor Generator tool that enables you to pre-compile your razor view templates as assemblies – which enables a bunch of cool scenarios. Unit Testing Razor Views: Nice post from David Ebbo that shows how to use his new Razor Generator to enable unit testing of razor view templates with ASP.NET MVC. Bin Deploying ASP.NET MVC 3: Nice post by Phil Haack that covers a cool feature added to VS 2010 SP1 that makes it really easy to \bin deploy ASP.NET MVC and Razor within your application. This enables you to easily deploy the app to servers that don’t have ASP.NET MVC 3 installed. .NET Table Splitting with EF 4.1 Code First: Great post from Morteza Manavi that discusses how to split up a single database table across multiple EF entity classes.  This shows off some of the power behind EF 4.1 and is very useful when working with legacy database schemas. Choosing the Right Collection Class: Nice post from James Michael Hare that talks about the different collection class options available within .NET.  A nice overview for people who haven’t looked at all of the support now built into the framework. Little Wonders: Empty(), DefaultIfEmpty() and Count() helper methods: Another in James Michael Hare’s excellent series on .NET/C# “Little Wonders”.  This post covers some of the great helper methods now built-into .NET that make coding even easier. NuGet NuGet 1.4 Released: Learn all about the latest release of NuGet – which includes a bunch of cool new capabilities.  It takes only seconds to update to it – go for it! NuGet in Depth: Nice presentation from Scott Hanselman all about NuGet and some of the investments we are making to enable a better open source ecosystem within .NET. NuGet for the Enterprise – NuGet in a Continuous Integration Automated Build System: Great post from Scott Hanselman on how to integrate NuGet within enterprise build environments and enable it with CI solutions. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Links to my “Best of 2010” Posts

    - by ScottGu
    I hope everyone is having a Happy New Years! 2010 has been a busy blogging year for me (this is the 100th blog post I’ve done in 2010).  Several people this week suggested I put together a summary post listing/organizing my favorite posts from the year.  Below is a quick listing of some of my favorite posts organized by topic area: VS 2010 and .NET 4 Below is a series of posts I wrote (some in late 2009) about the VS 2010 and .NET 4 (including ASP.NET 4 and WPF 4) release we shipped in April: Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 Released Clean Web.Config Files Starter Project Templates Multi-targeting Multiple Monitor Support New Code Focused Web Profile Option HTML / ASP.NET / JavaScript Code Snippets Auto-Start ASP.NET Applications URL Routing with ASP.NET 4 Web Forms Searching and Navigating Code in VS 2010 VS 2010 Code Intellisense Improvements WPF 4 Add Reference Dialog Improvements SEO Improvements with ASP.NET 4 Output Cache Extensibility with ASP.NET 4 Built-in Charting Controls for ASP.NET and Windows Forms Cleaner HTML Markup with ASP.NET 4 - Client IDs Optional Parameters and Named Arguments in C# 4 - and a cool scenarios with ASP.NET MVC 2 Automatic Properties, Collection Initializers and Implicit Line Continuation Support with VB 2010 New <%: %> Syntax for HTML Encoding Output using ASP.NET 4 JavaScript Intellisense Improvements with VS 2010 VS 2010 Debugger Improvements (DataTips, BreakPoints, Import/Export) Box Selection and Multi-line Editing Support with VS 2010 VS 2010 Extension Manager (and the cool new PowerCommands Extension) Pinning Projects and Solutions VS 2010 Web Deployment Debugging Tips/Tricks with Visual Studio Search and Navigation Tips/Tricks with Visual Studio Visual Studio Below are some additional Visual Studio posts I’ve done (not in the first series above) that I thought were nice: Download and Share Visual Studio Color Schemes Visual Studio 2010 Keyboard Shortcuts VS 2010 Productivity Power Tools Fun Visual Studio 2010 Wallpapers Silverlight We shipped Silverlight 4 in April, and announced Silverlight 5 the beginning of December: Silverlight 4 Released Silverlight 4 Tools for VS 2010 and WCF RIA Services Released Silverlight 4 Training Kit Silverlight PivotViewer Now Available Silverlight Questions Announcing Silverlight 5 Silverlight for Windows Phone 7 We shipped Windows Phone 7 this fall and shipped free Visual Studio development tools with great Silverlight and XNA support in September: Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools Released Building a Windows Phone 7 Twitter Application using Silverlight ASP.NET MVC We shipped ASP.NET MVC 2 in March, and started previewing ASP.NET MVC 3 this summer.  ASP.NET MVC 3 will RTM in less than 2 weeks from today: ASP.NET MVC 2: Strongly Typed Html Helpers ASP.NET MVC 2: Model Validation Introducing ASP.NET MVC 3 (Preview 1) Announcing ASP.NET MVC 3 Beta and NuGet (nee NuPack) Announcing ASP.NET MVC 3 Release Candidate 1  Announcing ASP.NET MVC 3 Release Candidate 2 Introducing Razor – A New View Engine for ASP.NET ASP.NET MVC 3: Layouts with Razor ASP.NET MVC 3: New @model keyword in Razor ASP.NET MVC 3: Server-Side Comments with Razor ASP.NET MVC 3: Razor’s @: and <text> syntax ASP.NET MVC 3: Implicit and Explicit code nuggets with Razor ASP.NET MVC 3: Layouts and Sections with Razor IIS and Web Server Stack The IIS and Web Stack teams have made a bunch of great improvements to the core web server this year: Fix Common SEO Problems using the URL Rewrite Extension Introducing the Microsoft Web Farm Framework Automating Deployment with Microsoft Web Deploy Introducing IIS Express SQL CE 4 (New Embedded Database Support with ASP.NET) Introducing Web Matrix EF Code First EF Code First is a really nice new data option that enables a very clean code-oriented data workflow: Announcing Entity Framework Code-First CTP5 Release Class-Level Model Validation with EF Code First and ASP.NET MVC 3 Code-First Development with Entity Framework 4 EF 4 Code First: Custom Database Schema Mapping Using EF Code First with an Existing Database jQuery and AJAX Contributions My team began making some significant source code contributions to the jQuery project this year: jQuery Templates, Data Link and Globalization Accepted as Official jQuery Plugins jQuery Templates and Data Linking (and Microsoft contributing to jQuery) jQuery Globalization Plugin from Microsoft Patches and Hot Fixes Some useful fixes you can download prior to VS 2010 SP1: Patch for Cut/Copy “Insufficient Memory” issue with VS 2010 Patch for VS 2010 Find and Replace Dialog Growing Patch for VS 2010 Scrolling Context Menu Videos of My Talks Some recordings of technical talks I’ve done this year: ASP.NET 4, ASP.NET MVC, and Silverlight 4 Talks I did in Europe VS 2010 and ASP.NET 4 Web Forms Talk in Arizona Other About Technical Debates (and ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC debates in particular) ASP.NET Security Fix Now on Windows Update Upcoming Web Camps I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who follows my blog – I really appreciate you reading it (the comments you post help encourage me to write it).  See you in the New Year! Scott P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

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  • April 30th Links: ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, Visual Studio 2010

    - by ScottGu
    Here is the latest in my link-listing series. [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] ASP.NET Data Web Control Enhancements in ASP.NET 4.0: Scott Mitchell has a good article that summarizes some of the nice improvements coming to the ASP.NET 4 data controls. Refreshing an ASP.NET AJAX UpdatePanel with JavaScript: Scott Mitchell has another nice article in his series on using ASP.NET AJAX that demonstrates how to programmatically trigger an UpdatePanel refresh using JavaScript on the client. ASP.NET MVC ASP.NET MVC 2: Basics and Introduction: Scott Hanselman delivers an awesome introductory talk on ASP.NET MVC.  Great for people looking to understand and learn ASP.NET MVC. ASP.NET MVC 2: Ninja Black Belt Tips: Another great talk by Scott Hanselman about how to make the most of several features of ASP.NET MVC 2. ASP.NET MVC 2 Html.Editor/Display Templates: A great blog post detailing the new Html.EditorFor() and Html.DisplayFor() helpers within ASP.NET MVC 2. MVCContrib Grid: Jeremy Skinner’s video presentation about the new Html.Grid() helper component within the (most awesome) MvcContrib project for ASP.NET MVC. Code Snippets for ASP.NET MVC 2 in VS 2010: Raj Kaimal documents some of the new code snippets for ASP.NET MVC 2 that are now built-into Visual Studio 2010.  Read this article to learn how to do common scenarios with fewer keystrokes. Turn on Compile-time View Checking for ASP.NET MVC Projects in TFS 2010 Build: Jim Lamb has a nice post that describes how to enable compile-time view checking as part of automated builds done with a TFS Build Server.  This will ensure any errors in your view templates raise build-errors (allowing you to catch them at build-time instead of runtime). Visual Studio 2010 VS 2010 Keyboard Shortcut Posters for VB, C#, F# and C++: Keyboard shortcut posters that you can download and then printout. Ideal to provide a quick reference on your desk for common keystroke actions inside VS 2010. My Favorite New Features in VS 2010: Scott Mitchell has a nice article that summarizes some of his favorite new features in VS 2010.  Check out my VS 2010 and .NET 4 blog series for more details on some of them. 6 Cool VS 2010 Quick Tips and Features: Anoop has a nice blog post describing 6 cool features of VS 2010 that you can take advantage of. SharePoint Development with VS 2010: Beth Massi links to a bunch of nice “How do I?” videos that that demonstrate how to use the SharePoint development support built-into VS 2010. How to Pin a Project to the Recent Projects List in VS 2010: A useful tip/trick that demonstrates how to “pin” a project to always show up on the “Recent Projects” list within Visual Studio 2010. Using the WPF Tree Visualizer in VS 2010: Zain blogs about the new WPF Tree Visualizer supported by the VS 2010 debugger.  This makes it easier to visualize WPF control hierarchies within the debugger. TFS 2010 Power Tools Released: Brian Harry blogs about the cool new TFS 2010 extensions released with this week’s TFS 2010 Power Tools release. What is New with T4 in VS 2010: T4 is the name of Visual Studio’s template-based code generation technology.  Lots of scenarios within VS 2010 now use T4 for code generation customization. Two examples are ASP.NET MVC Views and EF4 Model Generation.  This post describes some of the many T4 infrastructure improvements in VS 2010. Hope this helps, Scott P.S. If you haven’t already, check out this month’s "Find a Hoster” page on the www.asp.net website to learn about great (and very inexpensive) ASP.NET hosting offers.

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  • Some VS 2010 RC Updates (including patches for Intellisense and Web Designer fixes)

    - by ScottGu
    [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] We are continuing to make progress on shipping Visual Studio 2010.  I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has downloaded and tried out the VS 2010 Release Candidate, and especially to those who have sent us feedback or reported issues with it. This data has been invaluable in helping us find and fix remaining bugs before we ship the final release. Last month I blogged about a patch we released for the VS 2010 RC that fixed a bad intellisense crash issue.  This past week we released two additional patches that you can download and apply to the VS 2010 RC to immediately fix two other common issues we’ve seen people run into: Patch that fixes crashes with Tooltip invocation and when hovering over identifiers The Visual Studio team recently released a second patch that fixes some crashes we’ve seen when tooltips are displayed – most commonly when hovering over an identifier to view a QuickInfo tooltip. You can learn more about this issue from this blog post, and download and apply the patch here. Patch that fixes issues with the Web Forms designer not correctly adding controls to the auto-generated designer files The Visual Web Developer team recently released a patch that fixes issues where web controls are not correctly added to the .designer.cs file associated with the .aspx file – which means they can’t be programmed against in the code-behind file.  This issue is most commonly described as “controls are not being recognized in the code-behind” or “editing existing .aspx files regenerates the .aspx.designer.(vb or cs) file and controls are now missing” or “I can’t embed controls within the Ajax Control Toolkit TabContainer or the <asp:createuserwizard> control”. You can learn more about the issue here, and download the patch that fixes it here. Common Cause of Intellisense and IDE sluggishness on Windows XP, Vista, Win Server 2003/2008 systems Over the last few months we’ve occasionally seen reports of people seeing tremendous slowness when typing and using intellisense within VS 2010 despite running on decent machines.  It took us awhile to track down the cause – but we have found that the common culprit seems to be that these machines don’t have the latest versions of the UIA (Windows Automation) component installed. UIA 3 ships with Windows 7, and is a recommended Windows Update patch on XP and Vista (which is why we didn’t see the problem in our tests – since our machines are patched with all recommended updates).  Many systems (especially on XP) don’t automatically install recommended updates, though, and are running with older versions of UIA. This can cause significant performance slow-downs within the VS 2010 editor when large lists are displayed (for example: with intellisense). If you are running on Windows XP, Vista, or Windows Server 2003 or 2008 and are seeing any performance issues with the editor or IDE, please install the free UIA 3 update that can be downloaded from this page.  If you scroll down the page you’ll find direct links to versions for each OS. Note that we are making improvements to the final release of VS 2010 so that we don’t have big perf issues when UIA 3 isn’t installed – and we are also adding a message within the IDE that will warn you if you don’t have UIA 3 installed and accessibility is activated. Improved Text Rendering with WPF 4 and VS 2010 We recently made some nice changes to WPF 4 which improve the text clarity and text crispness over what was in the VS 2010/.NET 4 Release Candidate.  In particular these changes improve scenarios where you have a dark background with light text. You can learn more about these improvements in this WPF Team blog post.  These changes will be in the final release of VS 2010 and .NET 4. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Feb 2nd Links: Visual Studio, ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, JQuery, Windows Phone

    - by ScottGu
    Here is the latest in my link-listing series.  Also check out my Best of 2010 Summary for links to 100+ other posts I’ve done in the last year. [I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] Community News MVCConf Conference Next Wednesday: Attend the free, online ASP.NET MVC Conference being organized by the community next Wednesday.  Here is a list of some of the talks you can watch live. Visual Studio HTML5 and CSS3 in VS 2010 SP1: Good post from the Visual Studio web tools team that talks about the new support coming in VS 2010 SP1 for HTML5 and CSS3. Database Deployment with the VS 2010 Package/Publish Database Tool: Rachel Appel has a nice post that covers how to enable database deployment using the built-in VS 2010 web deployment support.  Also check out her ASP.NET web deployment post from last month. VsVim Update Released: Jared posts about the latest update of his VsVim extension for Visual Studio 2010.  This free extension enables VIM based key-bindings within VS. ASP.NET How to Add Mobile Pages to your ASP.NET Web Forms / MVC Apps: Great whitepaper by Steve Sanderson that covers how to mobile-enable your ASP.NET and ASP.NET MVC based applications. New Entity Framework Tutorials for ASP.NET Developers: The ASP.NET and EF teams have put together a bunch of nice tutorials on using the Entity Framework data library with ASP.NET Web Forms. Using ASP.NET Dynamic Data with EF Code First (via NuGet): Nice post from David Ebbo that talks about how to use the new EF Code First Library with ASP.NET Dynamic Data. Common Performance Issues with ASP.NET Web Sites: Good post with lots of performance tuning suggestions (mostly deployment settings) for ASP.NET apps. ASP.NET MVC Razor View Converter: Free, automated tool from Terlik that can convert existing .aspx view templates to Razor view templates. ASP.NET MVC 3 Internationalization: Nadeem has a great post that talks about a variety of techniques you can use to enable Globalization and Localization within your ASP.NET MVC 3 applications. ASP.NET MVC 3 Tutorials by David Hayden: Great set of tutorials and posts by David Hayden on some of the new ASP.NET MVC 3 features. EF Fixed Concurrency Mode and MVC: Chris Sells has a nice post that talks about how to handle concurrency with updates done with EF using ASP.NET MVC. ASP.NET and jQuery jQuery Performance Tips and Tricks: A free 30 minute video that covers some great tips and tricks to keep in mind when using jQuery. jQuery 1.5’s AJAX rewrite and ASP.NET services - All is well: Nice post by Dave Ward that talks about using the new jQuery 1.5 to call ASP.NET ASMX Services. Good news according to Dave is that all is well :-) jQuery UI Modal Dialogs for ASP.NET MVC: Nice post by Rob Regan that talks about a few approaches you can use to implement dialogs with jQuery UI and ASP.NET MVC.  Windows Phone 7 Free PDF eBook on Building Windows Phone 7 Applications with Silverlight: Free book that walksthrough how to use Silverlight and Visual Studio to build Windows Phone 7 applications. Hope this helps, Scott

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  • Automatic Properties, Collection Initializers, and Implicit Line Continuation support with VB 2010

    - by ScottGu
    [In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu] This is the eighteenth in a series of blog posts I’m doing on the upcoming VS 2010 and .NET 4 release. A few days ago I blogged about two new language features coming with C# 4.0: optional parameters and named arguments.  Today I’m going to post about a few of my favorite new features being added to VB with VS 2010: Auto-Implemented Properties, Collection Initializers, and Implicit Line Continuation support. Auto-Implemented Properties Prior to VB 2010, implementing properties within a class using VB required you to explicitly declare the property as well as implement a backing field variable to store its value.  For example, the code below demonstrates how to implement a “Person” class using VB 2008 that exposes two public properties - “Name” and “Age”:   While explicitly declaring properties like above provides maximum flexibility, I’ve always found writing this type of boiler-plate get/set code tedious when you are simply storing/retrieving the value from a field.  You can use VS code snippets to help automate the generation of it – but it still generates a lot of code that feels redundant.  C# 2008 introduced a cool new feature called automatic properties that helps cut down the code quite a bit for the common case where properties are simply backed by a field.  VB 2010 also now supports this same feature.  Using the auto-implemented properties feature of VB 2010 we can now implement our Person class using just the code below: When you declare an auto-implemented property, the VB compiler automatically creates a private field to store the property value as well as generates the associated Get/Set methods for you.  As you can see above – the code is much more concise and easier to read. The syntax supports optionally initializing the properties with default values as well if you want to: You can learn more about VB 2010’s automatic property support from this MSDN page. Collection Initializers VB 2010 also now supports using collection initializers to easily create a collection and populate it with an initial set of values.  You identify a collection initializer by declaring a collection variable and then use the From keyword followed by braces { } that contain the list of initial values to add to the collection.  Below is a code example where I am using the new collection initializer feature to populate a “Friends” list of Person objects with two people, and then bind it to a GridView control to display on a page: You can learn more about VB 2010’s collection initializer support from this MSDN page. Implicit Line Continuation Support Traditionally, when a statement in VB has been split up across multiple lines, you had to use a line-continuation underscore character (_) to indicate that the statement wasn’t complete.  For example, with VB 2008 the below LINQ query needs to append a “_” at the end of each line to indicate that the query is not complete yet: The VB 2010 compiler and code editor now adds support for what is called “implicit line continuation support” – which means that it is smarter about auto-detecting line continuation scenarios, and as a result no longer needs you to explicitly indicate that the statement continues in many, many scenarios.  This means that with VB 2010 we can now write the above code with no “_” at all: The implicit line continuation feature also works well when editing XML Literals within VB (which is pretty cool). You can learn more about VB 2010’s Implicit Line Continuation support and many of the scenarios it supports from this MSDN page (scroll down to the “Implicit Line Continuation” section to find details). Summary The above three VB language features are but a few of the new language and code editor features coming with VB 2010.  Visit this site to learn more about some of the other VB language features coming with the release.  Also subscribe to the VB team’s blog to learn more and stay up-to-date with the posts they the team regularly publishes. Hope this helps, Scott

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