Thursday, April 28, 2005
It's time again to open up your developer's toolbox and make room for the new must-have tool, virtual machines. As a software consultant, I find myself traveling from customer to customer and constantly working in new development environments. As interesting as that is, a new environment means installing and configuring new tools. Inevitably, a tool install or uninstall fails, I remove a piece of software that I end up needing again later, different versions of tools conflict, or I just plain screw things up. Since my development laptop is my only laptop, wiping out and reinstalling the drive is not a fun task.
Enter virtual machines. Virtualization technology has come a long way in the past few years, and hardware is now fast enough to make a virtual machine feasible for interactive development. Virtualization software, such as Microsoft Virtual PC or VMWare Workstation, allows you to run another complete operating system—a virtual machine (VM)—in your current operating system. Although virtual machines have been gaining popularity on the server side recently, their growth on the client side has been limited—especially in a development environment.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Checkout Bill's Keynote from WinHec. In his keynote presentation, Microsoft Chairman and prepagos Chief Software Architect Bill Gates reflects upon the hardware industry over the last 20 years and how the introduction of 64-bit and multicore computing will create a wave of industry innovation. Gates also provides a view into the foundation being laid for the release of Microsoft Windows "Longhorn."
Microsoft finally told Web developers what they've wanted to hear for years, promising support for graphics and style sheet standards.
In a blog entry posted Friday, a member of Microsoft's Internet Explorer development team said the company plans to support key elements of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations Portable Network Graphics (PNG), an image format, and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), a Web page styling standard.
"We have certainly heard the clear feedback from the Web design community," Chris Wilson, lead program manager for the Web platform in IE, said in reference to support for the PNG standard. "Our first and most important goal with our Cascading Style Sheet support is to remove the major inconsistencies so that Web developers have a consistent set of functionality on which they can rely."
Glitches in IE's standards support mean that developers have to code separately for IE and for browsers that hew more closely to the standards. IE enjoys about 90 percent browser market share despite losing some points to the Mozilla Foundation's open-source Firefox browser.
Other improvements said to be on tap for IE 7, currently code-named Rincon, include tabbed browsing and support for IDN (Internationalized Domain Names).
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Refactor! for Visual Basic 2005 Beta 2 is a free plug-in from Developer Express Inc., in partnership with Microsoft, that enables Visual Basic developers to simplify and re-structure source code inside of Visual Studio 2005, making it easier to read and less costly to maintain. Refactor! supports more than 15 individual refactoring features, including operations like Reorder Parameters, Extract Method, Encapsulate Field and Create Overload.
Simplify Your Visual Basic Code
More and more developers are recognizing that simple, easy-to-read code is the key to application flexibility and easy maintenance. Managers are realizing that easy maintenance means low cost maintenance. If you know in your heart that parts of your code base could be better, but uncertainty about maintenance cost or concerns over breaking code have kept you from cleaning up your house, then Refactor! is for you. Refactor vaporizes barriers to code simplification, dramatically reducing the cost traditionally associated with improving, simplifying, and refactoring existing code.
Declarative programming by way of custom controls has always been a part of Windows (WinForms) development. But it wasn't until the release of ASP.NET that developers got a chance to apply these principles and techniques to Web development.
OK, time to pick a fight. What is declarative programming? Well, as I stated above, I've seen many definitions of that term lately; but most of them pretty much break down into similar descriptions. It is a style of programming whereas at one level you define, in detail, how a variety of things are done, and from another level you instruct as to what needs to be done. Let me explain with a couple of examples in the context of languages I'm sure you already know.