Collaboration in the IDE

Friday, January 30, 2004 by scott
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The ACM Queue has an interesting article on Building Collaboration into an IDE. The authors have been prototyping a version of Eclipse where IM, source control, screen sharing, and email augment the IDE. The goal is to give you more time to code while you spend less outside the IDE or away from the desk. Another goal is to provide additional context and traceability between code artifacts (source code files) and collaborative artifacts (IMs and emails).

I couldn’t stop thinking of questions and ideas while reading, particularly along the lines of how easy it might be to build this with Longhorn technologies.

This made me think of WinFS:

“For example, metadata that links source code with e-mail needs to be stored somewhere—perhaps with a special header field or with an URL. Where to store collaborative artifacts is another issue: You could try to juggle multiple stores (e.g., one for e-mail, one for source code, one for discussion forums, one for chat transcripts, one for bug tracking, etc.), or you could attempt to consolidate everything into a single store (e.g., the source-control repository).‘

This made me think of Indigo:

“An IDE augmented with collaboration requires some kind of supporting network infrastructure. Designing such an infrastructure raises the interoperability issues mentioned earlier (e.g., support for directory services, standards for messaging, etc.).”

Some things I read I just wish were already in VS.NET, like hovering over a checked-out file will tell you who has the file checked out, instead of just “another user”. It would be nice to put a watch on a file and have the IDE notify me when the other user checks the file in.

Being a Visual Source Safe user, it would also be great if the source control product didn’t feel 8 years old. I know MS is working on updating VSS, but I think there is a lot of catching up to do just to make it a solid and trustworthy product. Then I want all the all the bells and whistles and extensible plug-in support.

Reporting Services Launch

Tuesday, January 27, 2004 by scott
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Reporting Services has an online launch web cast tommorow (the 27th).

I’ve never, ever, ever, been excited about report writing software, nor about integrating report writing software into a product. It is one of those mundane tasks you have to get tough and do now and then, like going to your bi-annual dental checkup. However, there is something about a web service API and an XML based report definition language that makes me want to give it a go soon and replace the “other” reporting software in a current application I work on.

I’m not alone in thinking the “other” reporting software drives programmers to shout vulgarities. An informal poll shows if the “other” reporting software was a person, a majority of developers would want to “give it a sharp kick in the knee”.

I think some of backlash comes from the “it is so easy anyone can do it” hype. I once had to monitor a 2 day training class (subject for another story) where unsuspecting victims were trained to use the “other” reporting software. None of these four had ever seen a SQL statement before in their lives. The expectation was for the trainees to be able to start cranking out ad-hoc reports on a 100+ GB data warehouse immediately afterwards. Can you say stress test?

The beta looked pretty solid. I’m sure reporting services is going to make some big inroads by the end of the year.

.NET not Rocking on my Sony

Saturday, January 24, 2004 by scott
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I’ve just about had it with my Sony MiniDisc Walkman. It’s not the hardware – it’s the bundled OpenMG Software.

My latest disappointment comes when I try to listen to .NET Rocks! The Sony doesn’t actually play MP3 and WMA files - you need to use OpenMG to record the audio content to a MiniDisc which uses ATRAC encoding.

This is how it all works in theory.

.NET Rocks was the first chance I’ve had to record a WMA to the player. It turns out the OpenMG algorithm for WMA decoding looks something like this:

            DisableCancelButton();
            while(true)
            {
                  AllocateBigChunksOfMemory();
            }
 

It is both impressive and terrifying to watch the diagonal line in task manager’s graph of page file usage.

Even MP3s are a pain. I’ve installed a plethora of re-sampling software because OpenMG decodes MPEG1 44100 Hz Stereo only. I like to listen to audio books during my commute and most spoken word recordings are done at less than CD quality sampling, or in mono, or both. OpenMG designers were thinking music only. I just finished a Robert Heinlein novel (Starman Jones), and if I ever get this working the .NET Rocks! Rory Blyth interview is up next. Somehow mentioning these two in the same sentence doesn’t seem that odd.

Some other good (but getting old) technical audio content is available at Dr. Dobb’s Technetcast. DDJ seems to not be updating the content anymore, but some of my favorites are Scott Guthrie’s Why We Built ASP.NET, a pre-Microsoft Don Box talk about shifting to .NET, and the Shared Source vs Open Source Panel Debate where David Stuz and Craig Mundie of Microsoft face a pro-GPL, anti-patent, anti-Microsoft crowd and manage to escape without physical harm. Mundie did a remarkable job handling some tough questions in front of a tough crowd. Very eloquent answer to a question about “what is the Microsoft Community?”

Of course there are also talks like “Getting to Grips With Secure DNS”. Fortunately, fellow commuters in the Baltimore/DC metro area are quick on the horn when they sense a driver asleep at the wheel.

In Synch With Sells

Thursday, January 22, 2004 by scott
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In my last post I was wondering how to set the MappingName property of a DataGridTableStyle object with some generic code. This morning I fire up my aggregator only to find Chris Sells was thinking along the same lines, and being Chris Sells – he also provides the answer I needed.

 I love blogs - especially the ones from inside Microsoft.

Once again I updated the Auto Resizing Columns In A Windows Form DataGrid article with the new found information.

Auto resize DataGrid columns

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 by scott
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I just updated an article on OdeToCode which resizes the columns in a Winforms DataGrid to match the longest content. Although I'm fairly happy with the reflection method - I'm still wondering how to determine the MappingName property without an ugly switch statement. This feature was in the early beta of VS.NET - I wonder why it dropped?

Uptime

Sunday, January 18, 2004 by scott
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I know people who will laugh at me but I am positive Windows gets a really bad rap on uptime. I was in crunch mode recently and hammering on my 2000 Server desktop at the office. I’d actually terminal service into the machine on my desk (while at my desk) so when I had to leave I could just disconnect the session. Later I’d terminal service from home over a VPN and pick up right where I left off.

At one point I began thinking it had been a long time since I logged out of this terminal service session, much less rebooted the computer. I grabbed an UPTIME utility and saw it was 89 days since the last reboot.

Around day 98 my co-workers began to become annoyed with me talking about hitting “the big 1 – zero – zero”. One person threatened to come into the office some night and power the machine down.

The real problem started around 110 days of uptime. I received an internal CD writer drive for the machine. I wanted to see how long I could keep the machine up, so I hid the drive under my desk.

Around day 120 I was getting very nervous. A co-worker started asking if I was ever going to use the drive. When working at a startup you can’t just leave unused resources laying around. People will scavenge any piece of extra equipment that isn’t tied down, bolted, duct taped, and labeled clearly with your name in permanent ink. You can’t even leave a spare CAT5 cable laying around much less a CD burner. After some ceremony, I powered down, opened the case, and installed the drive.

I’ll never know how long the machine could have gone – but I do know current uptime is 32 days, 10 hours, 55 minutes, and 16 seconds. Still a long way to go to catch up to the servers with the longest uptime on the net.

Nifty New Downloads

Thursday, January 15, 2004 by scott
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I found a few interesting downloads over the last couple days.

The Open Watcom C/C++ compiler 1.2 Get the binaries and source code here. I have not used a Watcom compiler for 10 years but I am curious to peek around the source code. (via Slashdot).

Microsoft has a 45 day trial download for Virtual PC. If you are a dev and not running a VPC of some sort, you probably should be.

For those of you into OLAP:

Creating Large-Scale, Highly Available OLAP Sites is a must read if you are rolling out a mission critical solution with Analysis Services. Many good pratical answers on how to cluster, stage and setup a solid enviornment.

The OLAP Scribe is a Word macro that uses DSO to dump OLAP database metadata into a nicely formatted Word document.

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