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Archive for September, 2009

Web Application Toolkits – V1.0 September 30th, 2009

Vinod Kumar

I think we maybe a bit late to talk about these, nevertheless it is worth mentioning. Recently a week back MS launched the WebsiteSpark initiative and this surely has brought all the buzz in the web world and it surely is catching some spark in a number of forums … I personally feel there is tons of reasons to be excited about. If you want the specifics, feel free to check ScottGu’s blog which has the specifics.

Along with release has also come a number of Web Application Toolkits. The goal for the Web Application Toolkits is to provide Web Developers with resources such as project templates, controls, and code samples along with simplified documentation all in a consistent packaged format that is easy to download and run in a very short period of time. One of the key criteria around the Web Application Toolkits is to enable Web Developers to get to an F5 (Run) experience very quickly to ensure that this is the right solution for their problem; How many times have you heard developers trying for hours to get a sample to work only to find it does not do what they expected. The expectation is that with the correct prerequisites installed using the Web Platform Installer, a Web Developer can have a Web Application Toolkit sample application installed and running in 5mins.

This release gets out 7 Web Application Toolkits based on the various feedbacks from the community. Do try to take a look at each of them when time permits -

1. Web Application Toolkit for Internet Explorer 8 Extensibility

Today users can access rich information and services while they are browsing a site; it’s not a trivial task to expose this content to the same users when they are not on that site. The goal of this Web Application Toolkit is to leverage the new features in Internet Explorer 8 (Web Slices, Accelerators and Visual Search Providers) to extend the reach of your web site and services also to those users that are not on your site. The Web Application Toolkit includes a set of ASP.NET Web Controls that you can use to take advantage of these IE new features in your own Web application.

Check out the accompanying screencast.

2. Web Application Toolkit for Bing Search

Bing is a powerful new Decision Engine designed to help consumers accomplish tasks and make faster, more informed decisions. The Bing Application Programming Interface (API) provides developers programmatic access to Bing, offering flexible options for building or enhancing your site or applications. This Web Application Toolkit shows how to take advantage of the Bing API to add search capabilities to your Web site by leveraging the various search results that the Bing API provides, including Web content, images, news and videos, among others. Through this Web Application Toolkit you will also discover how to use ASP.NET AJAX and jQuery to provide an enhanced and more interactive end user experience when using the Bing API.

3. Web Application Toolkit for REST Services

Many Web applications today are starting to expose data as REST service interfaces, so it can be accessed through APIs by other tiers of the application or even by other applications. A RESTful web service is a simple Web service implemented using HTTP and the principles of REST. REST Services focus on resources; each one is represented by a unique URI, and users interact with them via their URI using the HTTP uniform interface. This Web Application Toolkit shows how to easily add REST service interfaces for an existing Web application. The Web Application Toolkit includes a sample REST service, two sample client applications that access the REST services, one using simple ASP.NET Web Forms and a second Web application using AJAX to asynchronously invoke the REST service and finally a custom project template for Visual Studio to make it very easy to build new REST Services.

Check out the accompanying screencast.

4. Web Application Toolkit for Mobile Web Applications

This Web Application Toolkit is designed to demonstrate how to extend an existing ASP.NET MVC Web application to provide access from mobile devices. To enable mobile access, the Web application should have views targeting each of the mobile devices to be supported. The MVC pattern helps you create applications that separate the different aspects of the application (input logic, business logic, and UI logic), while providing a loose coupling between these elements.  This Web Application Toolkit provides a component called MobileCapableViewEngine that enables the Web application to show the appropriate view depending on the device’s browser that is performing the request.   It also includes a sample site that provides different views for Windows Mobile, IPhone, and Blackberry devices.  

Check out the accompanying screencast.

5. Web Application Toolkit for Template-Driven Email

This Web Application Toolkit is designed to demonstrate how to generate and send dynamic, template-based emails from a web application. There are many common scenarios where notification emails need to be sent to end users. Examples of these common scenarios may involve notifying a user of their newly created account, sending a new password in respond to a forgotten password request, or emailing an alert under specific business circumstances, such as the creation of a order. Typically the E-mails sent from a Web application scenario are formatted as HTML, include CSS stylesheets, and images and need to be generated dynamically with custom or user-specific data.  This Web Application Toolkit includes samples that show how to use templates to generate these dynamic email bodies. 

Check out the accompanying screencast.

6. Web Application Toolkit for making Your Web Site Social

Adding social capabilities to your Web site allows you to attract new users, keep them on your Web site for longer and get them to come back more often. This Web Application Toolkit shows how, using a few lines of code with the Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit, it is possible to add social capabilities to a Web site with instant messaging from a website to various client endpoints like Windows, Windows Mobile, Xbox 360 and Mac.  Behind the scenes is a powerful set of UI Controls and a JavaScript library that connect your website to the Messenger Service which is used by 330 million users around the world. 

Check out the accompanying screencast.

7. Web Application Toolkit for FAQs

The majority of web sites have the need to display a list of frequently asked questions to their users. Although it’s not difficult to create a simple set of FAQ pages, creating a great user experience that supports searching for FAQs, filtering, and paging, can become more difficult. Furthermore, this is often common functionality that has to be implemented repeatedly in multiple Web sites. This Web Application Toolkit is designed to provide a starting set of code including ASP.NET pages, data access logic, and database schemas, for integrating Frequently Asked Questions into your own ASP.NET MVC Web application.

Check out the accompanying screencast.

You can find the complete list of Web Application Toolkits here. Feel free to subscribe to the Web Application Platform Team Blog and twitter account.

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MapPoint Add-in for SQL Server 2008 September 23rd, 2009

Vinod Kumar

It has been close to a month of the release and I have been wanting to drop a line on this. The MapPoint 2009 Add-in for SQL Server 2008 capitalized on the spatial data that come out-of-box with SQL Server and integrates with the maps. More about it is over the homepage I have shared.

You can get various views of its integration and get amazing views like a heat-map or button locate or analyze environment data etc. An intro video of this integration of MapPoint and SQL Server is available. For folks who are yet to get an idea of MapPoint, do visit the MapPoint HomePage for some details. Fundamentally it integrates maps, demographics and geographical data into your business solutions. This add-in is just an entry level mapping solution and you will see a lot more work happening here in the future too. BTW, it works with MapPoint North America or MapPoint Europe only for now. Some of the salient features for me are:

1. Can use the local store of MapPoint hence network is not an mandate.

2. Seamlessly integrates with SQL Server 2008 spatial datatype – natively.

3. Support for ESRI and MIF file imports available

You can download the add-in from Downloads site. I also recommend reading the Spatial Storage topic on SQL Server 2008 BOL to efficiently and effectively use these capabilities.

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Estimated Vs Actual rows September 22nd, 2009

Vinod Kumar

I have seen this as a constant struggle to understand even when people come to the performance labs in our environments. Today I got a chance to read this post from Gail Shaw on Estimated rows, actual rows and execution count which are all a common areas of confusion. Gives a very good indicator to what to lookout for …

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Visual Web Developer Express Videos September 20th, 2009

Vinod Kumar

Using Express edition is something I recommend a lot in my sessions. But a number of times people ask do we really have easy to learn videos … Well, with all the web-technologies hype here are a number of too good video’s that you can use from the ASP.NET site.

Intro to Visual Web Developer
IntelliSense
Intro to Web Forms
Page Layout
Page Lifecycle Events
Intro to ASP.NET Controls
Submit and Postback
Application Level Objects
Session Level Objects
Debugging
CSS
MasterPages
An Introduction to SOAP Based Web Services with Visual Web Developer 2008
AJAX Style Services with Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008
Validation
Login Controls

Have fun and do feel free to comment if you like the same.

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Sizing Tools with SQL Server? September 17th, 2009

Vinod Kumar

I have seen a number of people ask me if there are tools and easy way to do sizing esp when working with SQL Server. I was browsing through the HP site and bumped into these cool resources which I felt is worth sharing. You might find a similar set of resources with other Hardware vendors too … But here is the starter links:

Business Intelligence Sizer for Microsoft SQL Server

Best practices for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 for Very Large Database (VLDB) BI solutions

OLTP Sizer for Microsoft SQL Server 2005/2008

These were some of the bookmarks I made and sharing. There are tons of others which can also help our readers and I request you folks to write a comment and your experiences.

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