CodersBarn Roadmap

by agrace 2. May 2009 07:53

Microphone CodersBarn launched in June 2007 and as you can see from the title, the original goal was to establish an "ASP.NET Community Blog". That is still the goal, side projects apart! But what does that mean? Despite the fact that the blog gets 7,000/8,000 hits a month, many from regular readers, I feel the need to explain the original purpose and provide some more detail on where it's headed.

We have seen much change in the industry in the last two years as the catch words of the day move from mash-ups and AJAX to RIA and Silverlight. The onslaught of new software and tools from Redmond has been unrelenting. This month I hope to be taking in the TechEd event in LA in attempt to familiarize myself with much needed SharePoint skills and to get a look at where we are headed with ASP.NET 4.0, C# 4.0 and VS 2010. The data access options are getting more confusing by the day, not to mention the introduction of the "cloud"...

Blogs are personal by nature and this one is no different in the sense that the articles posted are a reflection of the skills I am trying to develop and the hurdles encountered along the way. The "mission statement", for want of a better term, was not just to share working code samples, but also to incorporate good Web design and CSS into the everyday world of the ASP.NET Web developer.

Moleskin With the introduction of Silverlight and the Expression suite of tools from Microsoft, the writing should be on the wall that if a developer (and I'm speaking of myself first and foremost) does not have client-side development skills in the shape of JavaScript/JQuery, then that developer will be unemployable in the RIA (Rich Internet Applications) era we are entering. But the biggest wake-up call of all is that developers are now expected to have basic design skills. Most developers I know can't draw a straight line so this is going to be interesting to watch. One thing is for sure, technological trends that have gained a certain momentum are unstoppable. RIA is one such seismic shift. If graphics, media and other things visual are a source of discomfort for you as a Web developer, then now would be a good time to re-skill in a different area of development.

Going forward, my personal skills acquisition list for the coming year involve some further study of the following, in no particular order:

   * JavScript/JQuery

   * Silverlight/AJAX

   * CSS

   * C# 3.0/4.0

   * Photoshop/Expression

Design Banner

 

A provisional to-do list for the CodersBarn blog currently includes:

   * New, wider layout

   * Creation and incorporation of my own design site

   * Use of video tutorials (like design a site in 15 mins flat)

   * Use graphics tablet to create sketches

   * A community forum

I may have to consider the use of subtitles with video tutorials for those who can't make out the Irish accent! Seriously, sometimes it's easier to actually do something than try and write about it, so Camtasia (check out Jing) is being added to the shopping list. You can expect more posts on ASP.NET and SharePoint, along with working code samples. However, more than anything else, the future direction of this blog will focus on the marriage of good CSS design and ASP.NET.

Resources:

  * Building ASP.NET 2.0 Web Sites Using Web Standards

  * Microsoft Design Center

  * Microsoft Expresssion

  * Microsoft Labs

  * MIX Online

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I really like the developer toolbar in IE8 although I'm still getting familiar with it. I am in the process of putting the finishing touches to a new site for a client and was validating the CSS and the XHTML. The CSS passed on the first try, but the markup took a while. Initially it barked because of an ampersand in the footer credits, but changing this to the corresponding "&" special character entity number did the trick.

IE8 Developer Toolbar

 

Then I got the following error: "No Character encoding declared at document level..." I am using XHTML 1.0 Transitional:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

 

After much ado, the solution was to add the following to the head section in the master page:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />

 

Up to now I have been using the Firefox developer toolbar and I would be lost without it, especially when working with CSS. The "CSS -> View Style Information" menu option has to be the best thing since sliced bread. Top of my to-do list this summer is to improve my JavaScript skills. I anticipate that the exercise will bring me into closer contact with Firebug which has a great reputation as a Javascript debugging tool. It will be interesting for me personally as a JavaScript novice to do a side-by-side comparison of the development/debugging experience with Firebug and the new JavaScript-friendly VS 2008. Has anyone got any takes on this?

Resources

* VS 2008 JavaScript Debugging

* VS 2008 JavaScript Intellisense

kick it on DotNetKicks.com



CAT.NET New Build

by agrace 21. March 2009 11:57

CAT.NET The Microsoft Connected Information Security Group (CIGS) has released an updated build of the CAT.NET tool.

There are some bug fixes and the ability to export results to Excel included in this release and users are advised to upgrade:

http://bit.ly/bV8Lh


Note that this is the 32-bit version.