Return of the Energized – MSY-ATL-YYZ

Last week I was in New Orleans, Louisiana with Sean Kearney, Mitch Garvis, John Bristowe, Damir Bersinic, Ruth Morton, Rick Claus and about 10,000 other Developers and IT Pros from across the World. We were all attending TechEd North America a four day Conference put on by Microsoft to train Developers, IT Pros and Managers about new Technologies and Best Practices while using Microsoft Software and Development Tools. I was Particularly interested in attending as many Windows Azure, Windows Phone 7, and Developer Fundamentals sessions as possible.

251 After watching so many keynote addresses of Microsoft Conferences online, it was quite amazing to finally be one of the live audience members on location. I didn’t get the best seat in the house, but it definitely will be an experience I will not soon forget. Outlined in the keynote were many enhancements to Windows Azure, Bing Maps, Office Communication Server, System Center as well as Power Pivot [a new feature in Excel 2010] and Pivot Viewer.


The pre-Keynote performance was by a local band which got the crowd Energized, which isn’t an easy task when your audience is full of Developers and IT Pros at 8:30am on a Monday morning.

The keynote, although not a very launch heavy address, was mind blowing.  Watching a keynote via a Browser and a Silverlight video player doesn’t do justice to everything that is going on.  Literally 10,000+ Developers and IT Pros mesmerized by the demos of the tools in which we use in our day to day lives.



I look forward to attending a future Microsoft Conference, as TechEd 2010 was my first large scale conference.


Some advice on attending conferences

Windows Azure Data ContainerFirst off, don’t schedule a block of three conferences over a span of three weeks, not only is it exhausting, but you really don’t get the chance to appreciate each conference, the somewhat blend together. Travelling between Montreal, Regina, and New Orleans was a crazy adventure, and I left little room for fault tolerance, luckily nothing went wrong.

Secondly, Make sure you leave a few hours for the Expo. The Expo is a great resource for swag and other possibly great connections. I didn’t spend nearly enough time collecting free T-shirts (I only got 7 or so), or getting demo software, but I did walk out of the Expo with some great stuff. I also managed to see a Windows Azure Data Center up close and personal, as well as getting to meet many people on the Windows Azure team [Watch for an upcoming blog post on an interview I did with David Robinson of the SQL Azure Team].

Last but not least, follow up! You’re spending a few days at a conference which is an information overload on it’s own. Be sure to note which sessions you liked, and where the resources will be posted so you are able to review the content again. Luckily Microsoft was kind enough to post the sessions publicly on the Microsoft TechEd Website.

One Last Thing

Cory Fowler in a Windows Azure Data Container

I’m in the Cloud, Everybody take a look at me!

Having Cassini Crash while using ASP.NET MVC

This will be a short entry, but I think that it might save some people some time when building out ASP.NET MVC websites.

If you find that Cassini is crashing when you are testing out your ASP.NET MVC Application here is one more thing to check. Look at your master page file, it is generally a good idea not to touch any of the code that gets generated by the Visual Studio Designer, but from time to time you may find yourself playing around with the code in order to minimize the amount of content is being pushed out to the client.

The Masterpage file still requires a <head> with the runat=”server” attribute. This is required to render the content in the Placeholders within it. With that said, if you are to remove the runat=”server” you will experience an error, in my case, the cassini web server would crash when ever I tried requesting a page with the invalid masterpage.

With any luck, this will help you out!

Happy Coding!

Doin’ TechEd – Speed Up in Visual Studio

Some of the neat hidden features in Visual Studio 2010 that not too many people know about. These tips were learnt during the #Dev315 Session at TechEd North America.

Zooming your Code in Visual Studio 2010

[Ctrl] + [Shift] + [<] or [>]

Love your Visual Studios 2010 Windows Layout?

You can save out your windows layout which is included in the Export Settings Dialog located under the Tools Menu. Take it home, Screw with your co-workers, or share it online.

Navigate hidden tabs from your keyboard

[Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Down]

Navigate To…

Instead of using the Solution Explorer you can use the Navigate to Menu to search through files in your solution. To open this use:

[Ctrl] + [,]

Writing Throw Away Code

A lot of Developers break complex code down to Console Applications, this is something that I practice when I’m running into issues. This can litter your hard drive with a whole lot of temporary projects. Avoid this by disabling Save new project when created feature in Options.

Visual Studio 2010 Options - Disabled Save New Project When Created

Smart Tag Shortcut

Opening the menu when you have “Background Squiggles” can be easily done with [Ctrl] + [.]

Doin’ TechEd – You’re App is so MEF

If you’ve heard anything about the new feature set of Visual Studio 2010 one of the game changing features for any developer is the Built in Extension Manager, this functionally is using MEF. What exactly is MEF? The Managed Extensibility Framework is as Framework for creating loosely-coupled, extensible applications. I am blogging this from the TechEd North America Session, When and Where to use MEF: Too much is never enough.

Where can I find MEF?

No MEF isn’t found in your local dark alley, and you  don’t need to know a guy that knows a guy in order to use MEF. MEF is baked into the .NET framework comes out of the System.ComponentModel.Composition ( for Silverlight, 4.0 for .NET 4.0) assembly.

Parts of MEF


A Catalog in terms of MEF is a class that contains metadata about your particular application so that it is able to pull in the particular Imports and Exports.


Exports in MEF are a way of exposing contracts to the framework when a particular class type is needed to be implemented into your application.  This is useful when you need to use multiple implementations of an Interface to cover a particular task, like logging.

public class RedGreenLogger
	// Implement Class here


Imports in MEF is a way of stating that a concrete implementation is needed within the application. You will attribute a method with a particular importer when you would like MEF to fill in the blanks with an export or many exports for that particular task.

public List<ILogger>() Executors
	// Add Implementation here


A container is a wrapper used to collect the Catalogs at a hi

public void Init(Executor e)
	var container = new CompositionContainer(new DirectoryCatalog(Environment.CurrentDirectory));


Composition is the piece of MEF that pulls all the parts of together. This is a call that you need to do explicitly, however depending on the implementation composition can be extremely easy or increasingly more difficult. When using Silverlight you can do this very simply by calling a method and passing the main page into the application and MEF runs automagically.


I can make a Living Application?

Due to the fact that you’re creating an abstracted [loosely-coupled] application, and how MEF can be used to create dynamically loaded components, you have the ability to use MEF to add new features to your application, or add additional functionality to your application without recompiling your application.

Doin’ TechEd – Developer Fundamentals Session

New Capabilities for Visual Studio 2010

Even though Microsoft just Launched Visual Studio 2010, they are constantly going back to create new features. Just launched today is a new set of features for workflow in Visual Studio. You can Download the new Visual Studio Pro Power Tools from Visual Studio Gallery

Some examples of the new Features

  • Hold ctrl – Click : Urls to Code
  • Triple Click : Place Cursor far left
  • Pin Tabs in IDE with Project Based Tab Coloring
  • Search on Add Reference Window (Finally!)

Going Agile in Visual Studio

Scrum Process Templates are available for TFS 2010 so you can start bringing the power of Agile Methodologies into your IDE. This tool gives you ability to outline and organize your projects in a way that works for you. This tool also gives you the ability to get reports on how your project is coming along. To give this tool a test drive, head over to the Visual Studio Gallery and download the TFS Scrum v1.0 beta.

Expression 4 is Available

Released today is the new version of Expression, Expression Studio 4. If you have a MSDN Subscription you are able to download these tools today!

There are a number of new Behaviors available from within the Assets tool menu. These behaviors allow you to enable some additional features in sketch flow without writing any code, like creating more intelligent prototypes.

The Trek to TechEd North America, Part 1

The Journey has begun, Sean Kearney and I are off to New Orleans for TechEd North America 2010.  Starting the evening off in Good Humor, on the way to my first Coffee stop at Starbucks on Clair and Gordon in Guelph, Ontario, there was a young man streaking down the main arterial road. After my quick stop in Starbucks, I again witnessed the streaking gentlemen try to enter the Shoppers Drug Mart.

The Quest for the Holy Grail Crazy Sean

First stop on the tour was the Milton GO station to pick up Sean from his tour from Oshawa. It was a Dark and Stormy Saturday night, we settled into my pickup truck looked at each other, and screamed at the top of our lungs “WE’RE GOING TO TECHED!”  Our Quest continued to the QEW to Buffalo.  We make it down to the border, we allocated for a 2 hour wait at the border, assuming some traffic at the border.  Our actual border time was approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds, landing us at the airport with 4 hours before our flight.

Early AM at the Airport

the_borgInstead of paying for the Boingo, Sean plugs in his AirCard and configures it to allow multiple connections. Out of my backpack I pull out one of the two CAT5 Cables I keep on hand for such an occasion and connect between our two laptops creating a Pseudo-LAN [We are the Borg].

Waiting patiently for our flight, we crack open our first (of 2 Red Bulls each) and chow down on some Corn nuts.  We’re pumped and ready to get on our flight, and just about to head up to cross security post. Look forward to more updates on our trek to New Orleans!