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When developing Virtual Earth applications I find myself always having the SDK documents open in the background for reference.  While this isn't a bad practice, I've historically only used them for parameter reference, etc.  I longed for the time that I could get cheater help intellisense for the Virtual Earth API. 

When Visual Studio 2008 came out with Javascript intellisense, I figured the day has come.  But unfortunately, the Javascript intellisense isn't enabled for external (external==not-the-same-app-domain) files.  The thing about the implementation of the Javascript intellisense in VS2008 is that you can just make a reference to a file for the intellisense and it doesn't have to actually be the implemented file.  Make sense?  Probably not. 

My colleague Marc has created a Codeplex project for enabling Virtual Earth intellisense.  Basically he's created a helper Javascript file that you can reference in your project to enable the intellisense.  Note that this does not actually get referenced in your project (meaning, the Javascript file isn't downloaded to your users), but rather just leveraging the VS2008 Javascript intellisense reference scheme to 'trick' the IDE into giving you intellisense for your referenced Virtual Earth API.  This is accomplished because the Javascript reference of the helper file is a design-time only helper...not affecting any true reference to the Virtual Earth control.

Once you do that, you'll get something like this:

Marc did a great job getting a lot up and running with this helper file.  He's recorded a short screencast on how it works to help you understand it a little better.  And if you are interested in helping contribute to the project, please watch the screencast for more information.

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just found out about a great feature on windows live maps.  how many times have you needed to provide directions to someone (or a group of people) that you may not know where they are coming from?  you could give them the address and have them map it out themselves, which is usually what most people do.

on your web site you might even enable them to see a map and enter an address for specific location directions, after all, that person might know better shortcuts than the mapping services right?  well, windows live maps has a feature which can give you (a website owner or just a party planner) both worlds.  it is implemented as '1 click directions' and here's how it works.

first go to windows live maps and enter an address to plot.  i'll use the scottsdale center for the arts, the location of where the azgroups.com team has arranged for scott guthrie and others from the silverlight team to come to phoenix for an event.  i typed in 'scottsdale center for the arts, scottsdale, az' and it gives me back some options.  i click on 1 click directions:

and it now gives me a map of the location with 4 different directional instructions from the north, south, east and west:

perfect little added value to this typical scenario.  now i can email someone that link, print it out for a party, or put the link on a website.  and it still gives the user control to start from a specific location:

so the end user gets the best of all worlds in their online direction searching!  thanks live maps!

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there is an important announcement from the silverlight streaming team.  looks like they are moving to some newer/better hardware infrastructure.  please see the full announcement.

here's the gist as well:

Tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 8th) we’ll move the Microsoft Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live service from its current hardware in Sandbox to a more permanent home on new hardware in the Production environment. Note that this doesn’t change anything to the fact that it is still provided as an Alpha version with no associated SLA.

At 9:00 pm PST the admin site front door (Silverlight.live.com) will be set to read-only. This means that your existing apps will still be able to function normally, whether hosted in SLS or hosted locally and fetching video content only from SLS. However you will not be able to provision new accounts and you will not be able to delete/change/upload content to the service, whether via the admin site or the API.

At 10:00 pm PST the DNS change will come into effect and all the traffic will be redirected to the new boxes in Production. There is a one-hour TTL on the old DNS so you may see some funkiness if you try to access some apps between 10:00 pm PST and 11:00 pm PST depending on what piece of the overall path (origin server, cached content in the CDN, etc.) to delivering your app and its content is still from the old config or already swapped to the new one.

At 11:00 pm PST everything should be back to normal. The old DNS will be inactive. The new hardware and new DNS will be the only one in operation in the Production environment. If you see any issues with your apps after that time, please report it to the dev forum on Silverlight.net or reply to this post.

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miss the days of devdays?  me too.  my team is trying to bring a little of that spark back!  on my team has organized a full-day of developer and architect goodness.  we'll be hosting two events, one in the phoenix, arizona metro area and one in the denver, colorado metro area.  here's the gist:

keynote: microsoft patterns and practices is being shipped in to talk about what they've produced and the logic behind it!

developer track:

    • exposing and consuming data using the microsoft stack (): take a look at the ado.net entity framework, linq and the ado.net data services (project 'astoria').
    • office as a developer platform (tim heuer): didn't know you could easily write office applications using managed code?  let me show you how easy it is and what visual studio 2008 has done to enable this and make it even easier.
    • what is new in visual basic 9 (): that's right.  beth massi -- if you are a vb'er, you've no doubt heard the name from the vb team.  we convinced her that she needed to be a part of this and she agreed!  come learn from beth all the new goodness that is VB9: xml literals, object initializers, anonymous types, extension methods, lambda expressions and some wicked intellisense improvements!

architect track:

    • why user experience matters: face it, developers are not good at defining user interfaces and thus it is often an aspect that is left out.  let's discuss the reason this needs to change and how attention to the user experience affects application adoption.
    • agile development at microsoft: the team from patterns and practices will discuss how they have fully adopted agile methods in their development team and their learnings over the years.
    • the Windows Live platform: think windows live is just virtual earth?  think again!  come hear about the services available to you as service-based building blocks that microsoft has exposed for your use!

this is going to be a great day and a must-see event.  it is completely free to attend.  come hang out with us.  we will also have a couple of surprises throughout the day and some fun stuff to show as well.

register for your event today:

PHOENIX 29 JAN REGISTER HERE

DENVER 31 JAN REGISTER HERE

do not miss out on this opportunity to hear from some locals as well as some people we are dragging out from redmond and the product teams!

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remember the site?  want to know how they did that tree visualization in ?  now you can.

the tafiti search site is now a windows live quick app -- and uploaded to codeplex.  you can download, view source, mess around and learn.  from the lie team:

Today we are releasing the Tafiti Search Visualization source code to CodePlex, which means any developer can download, modify, and resell the code (see MS-PL License for all the details).

very, very cool.  go to the codeplex site and check it out and check out the overview on LiveSide!