The VB.NET team has been on a world tour since April this year and this was their Delhi visit. There were two representatives from Microsoft, Redmond -
Alan Griver who is the Group Manager of the
Visual Studio Data Team, and Steven Lees who is the Group Program Manager of the
Visual Basic .NET Team.
The resonse was overwhelming. There were about 400 seats, all occupied in the Royal Ball Room on the first floor. We were greeted with a sumptous meal, which was followed by presentations starting at 2:30 PM.
Alan innaugurated the seminar with his presentation on the data aspect of Visual Studio 2003. He demonstrated to the audiences, a few new controls that were a part of the
VB Power Pack suite. The VB Power Pack is a set of seven custom controls created for .NET languages. The good thing about them is that they come with the source code, for free from the gotdotnet website. The goodness doesn't get over here. The other good
thing is that they are extensible, which means you and I can modify the source code and make them do more things than they already do. And they're fully licensed. What that means is that you and I can include them in our commercial apps and ship them. The
coolest thing about the VB Power Pack is that these controls are really cool. There are seven sexy controls in the power pack that will give every .NET programmer a hard-on, depending on how less prudish you are, of course:
· BlendPanel: This provides a background for a form where the color fades from one shade to another.
· UtilityToolbar: This is a toolbar whose look and feel is similar to the Internet Explorer toolbar.
· ImageButton: This is a button that displays a graphic over a transparent background.
· NotificationWindow: This displays text and graphics in a pop-up window (commonly known as “toast”).
· TaskPane: This is a container that provides collapsible frames for displaying additional information on a form.
· FolderViewer: This displays directories in a hierarchical format.
· FileViewer. This displays a list of the files in a specified directory.
Alan started by showing us how easy it was to use the Blend Panel control. This funky, pesky, nifty control gives you a layout that has a color-blend in it's background. If you have used Microsoft Power Point or Microsoft Word, you'd have noticed that you could
fill in the background of your document with a color-blend that has two colors that blend together in four or more orientations. This control looks pretty much like a textured fill on an MS Office document.
Alan also showed us what the TaskPane, the Utlity Toolbar and the Notification Window did. The
TaskPane, you'd have noticed in the search for files and folders window on Windows XP. The Notification Window is a control that pops up a message window that slides up at the
right bottom corner of your screen for a preset interval of time to alert you with a notification. It looks just like the MSN Messenger notification window. The fun part is that you can create these notifications without even writing a single line of code.
I'd once implemented an alert designer of the kind and it took me so much of thinking to come up with a window like that that had to manage a queue of messages to be notified to the user. There were a couple of objects in it - one of it read preset alerts
to notify the user, another one evaluated the messages that were due for notification, another one popped the notifications out of a stack object, yet another one managed the screen real-estate to see there was already a notification window taking up the screen
and so the new notification had either to wait or to place itself above the old one, yet another one was asynchornously reading the databse for new alerts, and another one was busy putting the notifications that had already been displayed back either to the
stack if the user wanted a later notification of the same message in the future or to a bin to be trashed. Phew! And now I can do all of that with the notification window without a single line of code. Well, not literally but quite.
Then, out of his kitty, Alan dug out a cool thing called the
TaskVision sample app.
TaskVision is a cool sample app available at the WindowsForms.NET website that has some cool databound controls for rapid application development. Once more, they are
available for free. Alan told us that we were going to get a CD containing the Visual Basic.NET/ASP.NET Resource kit that has fully licensed controls worth over $1,000 for FREE.
He also showed us some features of VS .NET 2005 concerning integration with MS Office. The coolest feature I liked about the talk was the InkOverlay object that braught ink awareness to controls, no matter who the vendor of the controls was. An InkOverlay control
helps you write with a touch-pen on your tablet PC or any such compatible device and converts that to text or appropriate directions. It's sexy. He also showed us the CaveMan game and talked about .NET CE for sometime.
After Alan wrapped up, it was Steve's turn. Steve just blew everyone down with the cool features of VS.NET 2005. I surmise he was apparently dismayed at the lukewarmness of the audiences. The Indian audience is apparently impregnable and not easily overwhelmed,
but that's only a cultural disparity. That is true especially when you see a Westerner play heavy metal to an Indian audience and wonder if they're on drugs, or something. But I can tell you there were enough whispers suggesting amazement.
Steve started his talk with the ClickOnce Test application that demonstrated the promises of ClickOnce deployment. He began by illustrating the symbol replacement feature of the IDE in VS 2005 of .NET that relied on the compiler to identify the symbol in case
you needed to replace an already existing object in your code. That reminded me of
Dan Ferdandes' video on Channel 9. [Dan Fernandez - Demo of C# Express (pull images from Google)] I'd asked just this very question on that thread. I really enjoyed the whole presentation thoroughly. I felt like I was at an advantage to the others
who did not know about Channel 9, and did not read blogs and stuff.
Then, he talked to us about the My namespace and demonstrated with code examples how you could use the Applications, Settings, Computer, Deployment namespaces within the My namespace. You could also seperate a lot of the stuff from the EXE and make it configurable
by putting it into an ApplicationConfig file. Things like ConnectionStrings etc. could be removed and put in there to make the app more portable.
Steve introduced generics by taking an example of a collection that could take only objects of the Product Type. Steve demod to us how the My namespace made life easier by calling the framework inside it so you could just do away with the framework for sometime
and rely on this nify way to do things that you'd otherwise call the API for. True! When he demoed a file copy operation with the My.Computer.FileIO.CopyFile function, which had a Boolean param to show the UI for the copy operation, it aroused painful memories
of SHFileOperation in my mind and of byte ordering/alignment. Because I am a little depraved, I also chuckled to myself thinking there should have been a namespace called * inside the My namespace so we could all say one day. My.*.Is.Great! Ok, bad joke.
Some of his presentation co-incided with the Robert Green videos.
Everyone was just ooh'ed and aah'ed when he mentioned the Insert Snippet feature. Fortunately for me, I'd installed the Beta edition of VB Lite Express 2005 when it was out this June, so I really enjoyed the whole presentation. Thanks for Channel
Steve then spoke of TableDataAdapters, if I remember that name correctly, and some new data features in the new edition. Alan came by and added to the discussion because it was about data. Steve said Alan used an app while he was driving in his car that hooked
to a Web Service to get the traffic info in Seattle so Alan could know what route to take to avoid jams.
One more cool thing Steve informed us in his presentation about was the VS .NET Team System effort and showed us the Class Builder creating visualizations for the XSD of a dataset. That was cool.
Steve also talked about logging and trace logs and how simple it was to implement them in .NET because of the my namespace. Finally, he showed us that the Application object was extensible and you could really make a MyApplication class and add props there.
Towards the fag-end of the presentation, there was a round of Q&A. One of my questions, on a rather comic note was, "When's Microsoft going to come up with Intellisense for the whiteboard?" Another question I asked was, "Microsoft has been moving into so many
directions. There's a whole new bunch of cool things being churned out every week. While everything is becoming task-oriented and easy to perform with .NET, the framework is itself behemoth sized. I've been dabbling with .NET for over an year and yet I am
a _poor_piss_third_rate_dev, speaking of .NET. How do you think an average developer with a day job could handle the pressures of learning a new platform. I usually find myself lost because I open up the Object Browser and MSDN and I just don't know where
to star. I mean...where do I begin? What's your generic advise to an average developer with a day job to catch up with this cool new thing? What is Microsoft doing to straighten the learning curve?" Alan said that that was a very good question and I felt like
I was the king of pop at that.
At the end, everyone dispersed and there were a few inquisitive kinds who circled themselves around both Alan and Steve. I joined the congregation of devouts. I got to speak to Alan on a one-to-one basis. I also spoke to Steve. Both Alan and Steve are very
down-to-earth and approachable. Alan told me he read about 1100 blogs and was a workaholic and that he loved his work and had a great team who he left alone so they could do their work. That reminded me of
Joel Spolsky's article where he said the same thing about managers at Microsoft; how
the managers at Microsoft were busy moving furniture so the coders could do their work in peace. Alan also mentioned he's authored a book on Design Patterns with VB6. I reckon I have that
book in my collection. He also said that Zoe and Gretchen were like the superstars in limelight at the recent MVP summit. Steve was a pleasure to look at; a very handsome, fair, slender,intelligent and tall guy. He had all the chicks surrounding him with questions,
and I guess requests for his email address too. I thanked Steve and Allan and then walked out of the conference hall. It was 5:30 PM then.
On exit, we did get a cool white t-shirt with VB.NET printed on it, and a FREE CD containig the ASP.NET Resource Kit that features controls from Infragistics (formerly Sheriddan), Component One (formerly Videosoft), SAX et al. There was also chocolate cake
with walnut, vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate fudge, fish fingers, white-butter sandwiches, sweetmeats, veggie-pastries and cups of steaming coffee.
Thank you Alan and Steve. Today was one of the best days of my life.
Yag, I followed your link and registered myself. I booked a seat for the 9th December seminar at the Park Royal Intercontinental. But your video says you're visiting on 29th November. So you'd be touring Delhi around the 9th of December then?
I have tried the careers website. I also have a Job Agent at the careers website, one at Monster and also Google Alerts for Microsoft Jobs.
I am talking about in-person interviews that Microsoft is to be conducting this weekend in Delhi. The problem I have is that intermediate hiring agencies or consultants that Microsoft Hyderabad hires do not forward the resumes of those candidates (like myself)
who are not either an MCA or a BTech or a BE.
Nice video. It's nice to see videos featuring exclusive interview with the regular developers and the people who are into
Getting Things Done. We've seen managers, now we want to see developers as well. This video was refreshing.
She knows precisely how many words, how many topics, the process and stuff. She's very focussed you can tell. This is interesting for us, people outside Microsoft, to see because this is information for us. All relevant questions asked and very well answered
by Constanze. More videos of this kind from people who actually do the work.
She looked like she was engrossed, in the zone, and was a very hard worker. She's nice looking too.
PS: One question comes to mind. Does one person write all the 32,000 pages?