Browsing Posts published in November, 2005

I’ve been playing with SQL Server 2005 and like what I see so far. It’s especially nice for developers as everything now resides in VS 2005, whether you know it or not. (SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio and SQL Server Management Studio are really just the VS 2005 shell hosting the appropriate widgets.) One thing that I do miss from SQL Server 2000 is Service Manager for starting and stopping the various parts of SQL Server. (I don’t like to clutter my RAM with all the SQL Server bits when I’m not doing DB-related development.) You can start and stop SQL Server from the other tools, but I run as a non-admin and non-admins can’t start/stop services. (You could run SQL Server Management Studio as a local admin, but that’s rather heavyweight since all I want to do is start/stop the services.) The other option that I’ve been using is shelling out to an admin command prompt and typing “net start MsSqlServer” or “net stop MSSQL$SQLExpress” or similar.

Seems that Jasper Smith had the same problem and implemented a very nice Service Manager replacement called appropriately SQL 2005 Service Manager. It does everything the original did and a whole lot more that it should have. It supports all SQL Server 2000 and 2005 editions, including SQL Express instances. The list of services that you can manage includes SQL Server, SQL Agent, Analysis Services, Full Text Search, MSDTC, and Reporting Services. (My favourite is start/stopping Reporting Services, which the original never did.)

I even configured it to prompt for alternate credentials so I can run it as the local admin. (You can configure any shortcut to prompt you for credentials by Right-clicking the shortcut… Shortcut tab… Advanced… “Run with different credentials”.)

Very cool tool and highly recommended if you’re doing SQL Server 2005 development!

Last week, I presented another talk on acquiring your MCAD/MCSD for the Calgary .NET User Group. This time around I covered ASP.NET in Tips & Tricks for 70-305/70-315: Developing Web Applications. Thanks to everyone who attended. You can grab the slidedeck from here.

Good news from Charlie Poole and the NUnit team… NUnit is Ready to Rock. NUnit Iteration Relase 2.2.3 is out and is compatible with .NET 2.0 and VS 2005! You no longer have to download latest and compile it yourself to run with .NET 2.0. Go check out the release notes for what they’ve added in addition to .NET 2.0 support. You’ll have to go grab it directly from here as the NUnit download page hasn’t been updated yet with a link to the 2.2.3 release.

For those of who prefer an integrated unit testing experience, I’ve been successfully using TestDriven.NET 2.0 Beta for running NUnit tests inside VS 2005. You can grab it from Jamie Cansdale’s FolderShare.

When I’m writing blog entries that need a pic, writing user docs, or entering bugs, all I really want is a screenshot of a particular window. I then busily find myself trying all combinations of ???-PrtSc trying to figure out which combination gives me the active window rather than the entire desktop. I’ve been using Cropper for awhile, which is great when you need part of a screen region, but most of the time, I need the whole window. So I end up resizing the clipping window until I grab the correct region. Then haul in Paint.NET to tidy things up.

Well no more! Window Clippings 1.0 by Kenny Kerr grabs whatever window region you want. It sits quietly in the system tray until you double-click its icon. Then the entire screen dims. You click on the window you want and it lights up. A double-click then sends it to the clipboard, a configurable folder (with an intelligent filename based on the window title), and/or OneNote. It can output BMP, PNG, or JPG. Even better, it grabs the window region, not the window rectangle. So if you’ve got a non-rectangular window such as Windows Media Player or WinAmp, it stencils out the non-application portions. Even with rectangular windows in Windows XP, it takes care of the rounded upper corners and eliminates the background. With BMP or JPG, it fills it with a configurable colour. With PNG, it uses an alpha channel and makes it transparent! Here is a PNG of the Windows Media Player QuickSilver skin. (IE6 and earlier don’t handle the alpha channel in PNGs correctly. So you’ll see a light blue background around the image below. If you Right-click… Save As… and view it in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, Paint.NET, or similar program, you’ll see that it in fact has an alpha channel. FireFox renders the alpha channel properly and I hear that IE7 does too, though I haven’t tried it personally.)

Window Clippings is just plain awesome. I’ll keep Cropper around for when I need parts of a window, but Window Clippings is my new favourite screen capture tool. Props to Scott Hanselman for pointing me to both of these great tools.

Now that VS 2005 and .NET 2.0 has been released, the torrential flow of tool updates to .NET 2.0 has started. Some of my favourite .NET tools have been updated to .NET 2.0:

I’m anxiously awaiting the next version TestDriven.NET, too. A beta of v2.0 is available for those who want to try it.
An interesting add-in for .NET Reflector is SQL 2005 Assembly Browser by Denis Bauer. It allows you to browse .NET assemblies stored in SQL Server 2005. This is something I’m definitely going to investigate more thoroughly.
In related news, WSE 3.0 just RTMed!!! This is great news because WSE 3.0 will be wire-compatible with Indigo — uhm, I mean Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). This gives us a good migration story to Microsoft’s next generation distributed communication platform.
And somehow I also missed the fact that the coding superhero, Lutz Roeder, has a blog for a number of years, even if it is rather sparse. Subscribed.

I’m going to be one of the Cabana Experts at the MSDN Launch Tour 2005 in Calgary on November 24, 2005. So come to the Cabana and geek out with me as we discuss how Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and BizTalk Server 2006 are going to change the face of development. Lots of knowledgeable folks will be rotating through the Cabana all day including Microsofties, speakers, and MVPs. For those of you not familiar with the Cabana format, the idea started at TechEd as an informal area where you can sit down and talk tech with the experts. Although the Calgary Launch is now full, Microsoft is putting people on a waiting list. So sign up and keep your fingers crossed. :-)

After months of preparation and much secrecy, Plumbers @ Work has been released into the wild by the .NET Plumbers. The regular podcast is part of MSDN Canada Radio and will be featuring John Bristowe, Dan Sellers, Bil Simser and myself. We’ll be talking about current and upcoming developments in .NET and Microsoft technologies. Our inaugaural episode will discuss hot topics like:

  • Introducing the podcast
  • VS 2005/SQL 2005/BizTalk 2006 - Here they come!
  • SharePoint vNow and vNext
  • Drinking from the .NET 2.0 firehose
  • Half-time show
  • Security – It’s a process not a technology
  • Developing as a non-admin
  • Microsoft hardware
  • A walk down memory lane with Microsoft Bob
  • Xbox 360 – Should I get one?

Without further ado, I present to you:

Plumbers @ Work – Episode 1 – Mostly Harmless

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