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It looks like the MSDN team has arranged some deep dives into Windows Phone development across the country.  I am sure that for Microsoft developers Windows Phone 7 represents a new opportunity to get out in the marketplace with your XAML skills and get recognized (paid) for your work!  It has been exciting to see a lot of interest from Silverlight developers in Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7

If you are one that hasn’t had the time to soak in the platform or simply haven’t been paying attention, you are in luck.  There are a series of launch events happening across the country, most of which involve a 2-day training (free) for Windows Phone 7.  Here’s what I could gather for the basic agenda for these 2-day workshops:

  • Day 1: Intro, sensors, application lifecycle, tiles, application bar, connecting to services, recording audio, capturing pictures, design guidelines, game development with Silverlight/XNA, etc. – all the fundamentals to get started
  • Day 2: turn your vision into an app, learn about (and submit your app) the Marketplace…or continue learning using a bunch of hands-on labs and the tools to write applications in Silverlight and XNA

It seems like a pretty good deal and you should check them out.  Bringing your own laptop is encouraged and the tools are free!  Check out these opportunities in a city near you – aside form the 2-day events there also looks to be some 1-day sessions as well in some areas.  Check out all the details at http://www.msdnevents.com/wp7 and register for a location near you!

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MSDN Radio imageThis morning I was on a weekly (new) radio show from MSDN, hosted by Mike Benkovich.  The show, MSDN Radio, features live call-in questions that you can ask.  It was a better format than the typical live meeting text-based QA I thought.  I think hearing questions gives you a better chance of articulating your inquiry more.  Thanks to all those who listened and asked questions.  I know it seemed short and there were a few more questions in the queue – feel free to send me questions you may have.

UPDATE: The audio from the show was just posted here.

There were a few that I wanted to follow-up on and get some more answers from other team members.  Here are 3 items I wanted to provide a bit more follow-up to (I’m paraphrasing the questions).

Vince asked a question around Prism and part of that was what are the plans for Prism moving forward?  I didn’t know a concrete answer, so I quickly asked around.  Take a look at the team’s post on Prism, A Look Ahead.  The team talks about the next release (v4) to be around the September 2010 timeframe.  They also comment on using Prism today with Silverlight 4.  As to what will be in Prism 4?  They offer some insight:

  • Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF)“In particular, we’ll be looking at leveraging MEF for Component Composition (for hooking up Views and ViewModels, and other types of components), for Modularity (for the discovery, download, and instantiation of functionality packaged in a module), and for UI Composition (for mapping Views to Regions).”
  • Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) Pattern – “…we’re looking to expand our current guidance and to include more re-usable code assets to support various MVVM scenarios. In particular, we’re looking to support common patterns for View/ViewModel interaction, hierarchical ViewModel composition, and ViewModel-based navigation. In addition, we’re also looking to provide more support for application-level structural patterns, layout management, the use of Ribbon/Popup/Dialog controls, and user state management.”
  • Data Access and Application Services (i.e., WCF RIA Services) – “…we are looking to provide guidance on using these technologies in the context of MVVM, and on patterns for data validation and caching. This area also includes the use of other services for user preferences, authentication and authorization. This latter aspect brings in the possibility of providing guidance for role-driven (or claims-driven) applications and user experience.”

I’d encourage you to subscribe to their blog and be a part of their conversation over there as well.

Scott asked a question about how to best define DomainServices (contexts) in your application – is it better to have 1:1 for entity:DomainService or other methods.  I asked the RIA Services team for some additional input to my answer. 

DomainService should be based on a set of related tasks that you expect the end-user to perform in [your application]. Typically such tasks involve a small group of closely related entities; e.g. in an Expense reporting app, Expense Report, Line Items and Details would be a good set of entities to cover in a single DomainService while covering accounts and payments in a separate DomainService type.

Additionally Jane asked about many-to-many relationships with regard to RIA Services.

Currently RIA Services require the “class in the middle” containing FK values in a many-to-many. In  a POCO model, you can add it yourself while in an EF-generated model, you would have to change the model (edmx) to add such a class in the middle.

Hopefully these provide some additional clarity on top of my opinions.  There sure seems to be a lot of interest in the RIA Services space!

Hope this helps!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

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Now that Windows 7 beta has been released, there are quite a few people using it and I’ve seen pretty positive feedback about it.  I’ve been running it for about a month now and am impressed with the performance over Vista mostly.  All my programs continue to run fine (only exception is MagicDisc ISO mounter, but found another option – why isn’t ISO mounting a part of Windows – vote here?!?!?!) and I was able to set up a perfect Windows Deployment Server image to quickly image my laptops with the latest build, a slipstreamed version of Office, etc.

NOTE ON CONNECT LINK: People have said they’ve received Page Not Found messages from Connect when clicking the link above.  To be honest, I’m not sure why.  I promise it is there :-).  One user (thanks Barry) noted the following: Register using your MSDN bound passport using the register link in your entry. After that the 404 vanished.  I hope this may work for others as well.

There were a couple of things I wanted to send feedback on regarding the product.  I’m trying to be a good beta user myself and provide feedback on the product just like any other customer.  The cool thing is that the beta team has provided 2 ways within Windows 7 for you to provide feedback.

UPDATE (May 2009): Please leave feedback for Windows 7 using the appropriate beta/release candidate program options.  This blog post is simply a pointer to those methods as they existed in the beta.  Leaving feedback in the comments section here is fine, but it is likely that it isn't being monitored by the Windows 7 team...I'm not on that team!

Send Feedback Link EVERYWHERE in Windows 7

The first is that in every window near the minimize/maximize buttons in the title bar (and a shortcut on the desktop until/unless you delete it) there is a Send Feedback link.  This launches the feedback session.  It asks you to log in with your Windows Live ID, which I did.  I was then greeted with this:

Windows 7 Feedback Dialog Window

It turns out that you first have to be a member of the Connect system (Microsoft’s official public feedback mechanism) program for the beta in order to give feedback.  Seemed strange I thought?  Others who are a part of the beta weren’t getting this message.  As it turns out if you got the download of Windows 7 from the Microsoft Windows site, you’re already a part of the Connect program for the beta.  Others like me who got their download from MSDN or TechNet, didn’t have to “register” the beta and thus are likely in this stage where I was at.  It seems that there was some missing instruction on the MSDN/TechNet sites on a step required in order to give feedback only if you got your beta through these channels.  The information is now back on the site:

Give us feedback on the Windows 7 Beta!

As an MSDN subscriber you have the ability to register with Microsoft Connect to track the status of bugs you report. You will also be able to search, view and vote on bugs other MSDN subscribers have filed.

To register on Connect, please click here. This will enroll you into the MSDN Bug Filing Program. Once you are enrolled in the program you may file bugs using any “send feedback” link in the product and access your feedback tracking page directly from this link.  Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions

Basically, you need to sign up for the Connect program for the Windows 7 beta and then your feedback link will work.

Record your Feedback

The second option for giving feedback is that you actually have the option to record the feedback.  Let’s say you ran into a problem and it was reproducable and you wanted to let the team know about it (please let them know about it).  The tool, called the Problem Steps Recorder, is a part of the Windows 7 beta experience.  To launch this tool, simply click the start menu and type “psr.exe” and start the program.  It will bring up a little recorder and walk you through the next steps.  The end result is an HTML report packaged as a zip file that you can send to someone (application vendor) or attach to your Connect report as indicated above.

You can view a walk through of this at Long Zheng’s site along with a sample report output.  It’s a great idea to add to a product.  Should provide better specifics to a problem.

So if you are a Windows 7 beta user, be sure to use these mechanisms to give feedback about the product and provide as much specifics as you can.

Hope this helps!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

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Remember DreamSpark, the program for students in higher education to get access to the developer tools and platforms from Microsoft at no charge?  How about some love for individuals in startup organizations trying to create the next great innovation in technology as a service, an application, some Silverlight love perhaps :-)?


A new program has just launched for startups.  From the site it is described as:

Microsoft® BizSpark™ is a global program designed to help accelerate the success of early stage startups by providing key resources when they need it the most:

  • Software. Receive fast and easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products for immediate use in developing and bringing to market innovative and interoperable solutions. There is no upfront cost to enroll.
  • Support. Get connected to Network Partners around the world — incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters — that are equally involved and vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship who will provide a wide range of support resources.
  • Visibility. Achieve global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners
    As a Microsoft BizSpark member, you’ll be tapping into a rich, vibrant ecosystem of peers, partners and support resources around the globe, helping you grow and succeed. Microsoft BizSpark is the quickest way to get your Startup fired up.

Source: http://www.microsoftstartupzone.com/BizSpark/Pages/At_a_Glance.aspx

So what do you get as benefits in the program?

    • All the software included in the Microsoft® Visual Studio® Team System Team Suite (VSTS) with MSDN® Premium subscription
    • Expression® Studio Version 2
    • VSTS Team Foundation Server (standard edition)
    • Production use rights to host a “software as a service” solution (developed during participation in the BizSpark Program, on any platform) over the Internet, with regard to products including:
      • Microsoft Windows Server® (all versions up to and including Enterprise)
      • Microsoft SQL Server® (all versions)
      • Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server
      • Microsoft System Center
      • Microsoft BizTalk® Server

There are key requirements for qualifying, so be sure to read about them.

To qualify for BizSpark, your startup must be:

  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business[1],
  • Privately held,
  • In business for less than 3 years[2], and
  • Generating less than USD $1 million in annual revenue[3].

To be eligible to use the software for production and deployment of hosted solutions, startups must also be developing a new "software as a service" solution (on any platform) to be delivered over the Internet. Source: http://www.microsoftstartupzone.com/BizSpark/Pages/Do_I_Qualify.aspx

You can read all about the program details on the BizSpark information site.  So if you are a startup and looking to accelerate, take a look at this program.  It looks like the BizSpark team is also creating BizSparkDB, a center for startups to be profiled and visible.

What are you waiting for?  See if you qualify and then enroll!

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I suspect we’ll be seeing more of these efforts for Silverlight and I love it.  In fact, INETA will be sponsoring the 2008 INETA Silverlight Challenge soon, so you should sign up for more information about that as well.  But until then…

But until then, check out what some of the community MVPs and leaders are doing on their own!  They’ve started the Silverlight Control Builder Contest ‘08.  Two main organizers (Page Brooks and Dave Campbell) have put some time and thought into how they can get the community excited about developing solutions for the community and alas this idea came out of that!  These two have done some research, sought guidance, solicited some sponsors and did this on their own.  They built the contest site which is very detailed providing all the rules, prizes, and an FAQ.  Please be sure to read the rules.  One key thing is that this contest is open to US residents (over 18) only.  Please note that Pete/Dave answer why in their FAQ and please also realize this is completely a community-driven effort from these two guys.  I applaud them for their efforts and can tell you that they indeed researched the effort to make it an internationally available contest, but simply didn’t have the resources to do so…but hey, there is nothing preventing you in your local community from using this same idea :-).

Additionally, there are some additional tidbits in the rules, so read them carefully…I picked out some highlights only:

    • Silverlight 2 Beta 2 or higher
    • Control must have a default and 1 additional template
    • No use of third-party controls
    • Source code must be open
    • Entries cannot be commercial/shareware

The prizes are pretty great as well, including a 1-year MSDN Premium subscription provided by the organizers of the contest!

So get your mind working and submit your entry by 11 AUG 2008.  Since only 1 entry allowed per contestant, make sure you put some good thought into it!