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Azure, C#, .NET, Architecture & Related Tech News

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ASP.NET 4.5 – What To Expect

The next version (vNext) of ASP.NET which is currently referred to as ASP.NET 4.5 or ASP.NET vNext is “scheduled” for release in mid-late 2012. If you’re interested in getting hands-on right now the .NET 4.5 framework can be downloaded using the Web Installer.

As expected the official ASP.NET website lists all of the upcoming features (as well as new Visual Studio improvements) via it’s What’s New in ASP.NET 4.5 page and provides a decent set of videos, downloads, white papers etc. at the ASP.NET vNext page. Even if you’re busy I’d recommend skimming down the very long “What’s New” page and reading the paragraph or two dedicated to each feature that seems of relevance.

Further to this ScottGu’s has a series of blog posts focusing on ASP.NET 4.5 and although they don’t cover every feature that’s scheduled for release he provides a very clear, and well illustrated, description of a handful of features (as Scott usually does in all his articles). Two of the more useful ones I found were:



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Azure & Chart Controls: Step-By-Step Integration Guide

I recently integrated the ASP.NET 4 Chart Controls into a Windows Azure Web role. Integrating the charts was easy but getting it up and running in Azure required a few extra steps.

If you know much about the chart controls you know they create the chart image on the fly, and you can very easily configure the control to store the chart image to the server’s disk or to memory temporarily. With Azure the image may be generated by a different Web role instance than the one that has to serve it up so what you end up with, if you use the default setup, is a broken image placeholder instead of your fancy looking chart image. To accommodate this you have to create a custom handler for your Web role which stores, retrieves and deletes the chart image as a blob to your Azure storage container.

Below is a step-by-step guide on what you need to do to get the charts up and running in Azure. Continue reading

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Architecting .NET Solutions For Beginners

After a few years focusing on pure software development work, using primarily Microsoft technologies, I started to get an itch to seek something more challenging in a different are of IT.  Don’t get me wrong, I love programming, I just wanted to branch out a bit and broaden my skillset. Thankfully my employer at the time allowed me to spend time with our company’s Business Analysts, Team Leaders, Technical Trainers, Project Managers, Software Architects etc. so that I could learn from them and spend time applying this knowledge. Thankfully I found it quite enjoyable, and the exposure to different roles, all of which contributed in their own way to the software development lifecycle, was invaluable.  The most interesting by far for me was software architecture.

As with the other aforementioned roles I spent time with the seasoned software architects and learnt from their example. Not to say I agreed with everything they did but it was very informative and helped me develop my own opinions and methodologies. Continue reading

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Microsoft UK Tech Conferences, 2012

I spent some time today looking for what Microsoft tech conferences are on in 2012 within the UK. I did a bit of Googling, reading and reviewing and came up with the following list. The nice thing is if you can attend some of them in person you can always rely on Tech Days or Channel 9 to keep you appraised.

» Microsoft Tech Ed

Microsoft premier tech education event.

Where: Amsterdam
When: June 25-29
What’s on: Check out their session guide
What else: You can watch it all online via Channel 9 after the event if you can’t make it in person.
Continue reading

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What Is “Technical Debt”?

If you’ve ever had to maintain a piece of existing then you will have had some experience with technical debt. If not by name then you’ll certainly know of it if you’ve spent longer than you should refactoring or extending a system’s code base.

So what is technical debt? Well, imagine its Friday Afternoon, and it’s Check in Time. You cant go home until you’ve checked in your code, and you cant check it in until the last test passes. To get that test to pass you know you should re-architect the object hierarchy slightly, but you know that’s going to take a long time and there’s a cold beer waiting for you at home. So what do you do? You apply a quick fix, knowing you’re going to come back on Monday morning and fix it. We’ve all been there right? But how many of us remember to make that fix on the Monday morning? And that, dear reader, is technical debt. A little bit of code, just sitting there in the code base, gathering interest in the form of every subsequent piece of code that is build on top of it, or with which it has a dependency, just waiting for the day that debt has to be paid off.” – Gary Short, UK MSDN Flash eBook: Best Technical Articles # 2

Gary Short’s Blog does a great job of defining technical debt in his post:

Technical Debt – Don’t Let it Kill Your Projects
Gary’s Blog, Aug 2010
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What Is This “Cloud” Thing?

Over the last few months, since the “cloud” term started appearing in advertisements, the internet, iPhones, etc. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion; what is the “cloud” and why are people making such a big deal out of it?

Here is my quick and non-technical response to these two very good questions.

The simple answer is the internet and the cloud are the same thing. Continue reading

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Azure News Feeds (RSS/Atom)

I got started with Windows Azure back in when it was still in beta, which from memory was late 2009. Since then I’ve been collecting a number of RSS feeds to keep me on top of the most recent developments, common issues raised etc. Tracking the news distributed via these feeds over the course of a few weeks will demonstrate how rapidly Microsoft is expanding it’s cloud computing services.

I’ve grouped the feeds into two groups; “Great” and “Just Okay”. All of these feeds, except the “Cloud Cover Show”, are straight up news articles and posts. The noted exception, the “Cloud Cover Show”, has some incredibly useful hour or so long videos that Microsoft’s team push out on a weekly or fortnightly basis.


Just Okay

If you want a good reliable news aggregator then I’d recommend Google Reader. It’s great for organising your feeds and ties in well with a lot of other apps that you can run off your iPhone, iPad, etc. And best of all it’s free!