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1. Developer .NET Perspectives

  • The Shifting Sands of Technology
  • 2. Events and Resources

  • Reduce Downtime with Continuous Data Protection
  • SQL Server 2005 Security
  • Sort Through Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA Legislation and More – Quicker And Easier!
  • SQL Server 2005 Roadshow is Coming to a City Near You
  • Avoid the 5 Major Compliance Pitfalls
  • 3. Featured White Paper

  • Sort Through Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, GLBA and Basel II Legislation Quicker and Easier!
  • 4. Announcements

  • SQL Server Magazine Gives DBAs and Developers What They Need
  • Exclusive Content for VIP Subscribers!
  • 5. New and Improved

  • Book Helps Figure Out When and How to Upgrade to ASP.NET 2.0
  • Add Windows Explorer Shell-Browsing Functionality to Applications

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    1. Developer .NET Perspectives


    by Bill Sheldon, bills@interknowlogy.com

    The Shifting Sands of Technology
    Once again, the paradigm under which we design applications is changing. Almost 3 years ago, I wrote the article "Win Forms vs. Web Forms" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/articleid/26991/26991.html) in which I discussed how Windows .NET Framework 1.0 had shifted the playing field and how it would enable "thick client" (aka "smart client" in our current terminology) applications to again dominate the development horizon. I still stand by my statement that smart client applications are taking over the development landscape. However, as they take over this landscape, there are changes occurring in how we'll approach designing smart client applications.

    When I originally wrote "Win Forms vs. Web Forms," my expectation was that new applications would have a great deal in common with their COM-based predecessors, except for improvements in deployment technology and the use of XML Web Services. Thus, I foresaw that designers could use the .NET Framework to create a new version of an existing application that had been originally designed with Visual FoxPro or Visual Basic (VB) 6.0. If the .NET application was supposed to leverage a new UI, developers could go to sites such as the Microsoft .NET Framework Windows Forms Web site at http://www.windowsforms.com to download sample code that demonstrates how to leverage existing designs using the .NET technology.

    For example, a year ago I was part of a team that was using the "Outlook Look and Feel" sample code from the Windows Forms Web site as the baseline for a client's application design. This sample code not only showed how to implement certain UI features but also provided an early outline of the application's design concepts, which we presented to end users for their feedback during the design stage. By leveraging an existing design model, we sped both the design process and the end user training associated with the application's release. You might think of this as "reuse at the design level"--it's a very effective way to design an application's interface.

    When I was designing the client's application, another group of engineers at the company wanted to create reusable code for building applications (i.e., create a reusable application framework). In other words, instead of starting with a new Windows Form project in Microsoft Visual Studio for each new application, these engineers wanted to create a common UI code base that multiple applications could use.

    The reusable application framework is separate from standard service- oriented DLLs that you can use to encapsulate data access or handle error logging, for example. These engineers wanted to create UI elements that provided common application capabilities and thus sped development. In theory, this is an excellent idea. After all, if you can reuse the same code across projects, you can reduce not only development time but also the amount of code you need to maintain. However, implementing a reusable application framework is much more difficult than reusing design ideas.

    The company for which I work, InterKnowlogy, has worked with several clients to implement reusable application frameworks. Such projects tend to result in extremes--either complete success or limited success (corporate speak for failure). For example, one company hired us to work with its internal team of designers to architect, design, and implement a reusable application framework after the team's initial attempt failed. The now- complete framework lets the client successfully leverage a common code base and UI across several internal applications. Recently, another company asked us to help implement a reusable application framework. However, this framework had underlying design flaws that we were unable to address during implementation. Thus, the applications built on the framework have encountered several problems, resulting in more limited success.

    Regardless of the level of success, both companies made a significant investment in a reusable application framework that might or might not be their path to the future. Because of the shifting technology landscape, this investment might come back to haunt them. On the one hand, I could and should say that the trend in application development is to create reusable application frameworks. After all, my employer works with clients to implement such frameworks. On the other hand, each of these clients has created a one-off framework--that is, their framework is unique to their organization. This uniqueness can be unfavorable because it means that developers moving from one company to another must learn a new framework. It also means that end users moving from one company to another must learn how to use a new application.

    With the release of Visual Studio 2005, there's another option: Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System (VSTO). As I described in "Collaboration at the Office" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/articleid/42294/42294.html), this tool is an add-on to Visual Studio 2003. Under Visual Studio 2005, VSTO goes beyond letting you extend Microsoft Word and Excel applications. VSTO lets you build smart client applications that operate using Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Office products.

    Currently, I'm working with a client that wants to use Office in just this manner. The custom VSTO application will communicate with centrally hosted XML Web Services and provide the general public with access to the company's application business logic. Given that this application is going to the general public, the company wants to leverage a much smaller installation footprint and a UI with which people are already familiar. This client doesn't want to create and maintain a complex application infrastructure. Instead, it's using Office as that infrastructure and letting Microsoft keep that infrastructure updated.

    Of course, just noting that I'm using VSTO to build smart client applications isn't sufficient justification that this practice will become the wave of the future. However, consider the following: As I mentioned previously, a year ago I used the "Outlook Look and Feel" sample code for a client's application. However, the end users at the client site mainly worked with Excel in their daily activities. Thus, we spent a great deal of time adjusting the application features to fit the users' grid-based expectations while keeping the Outlook list-based UI. Had Visual Studio 2005's VSTO capabilities been clear over a year ago, I would have undoubtedly tried to convince the client to create this application as a VSTO application. Instead of all the development time spent creating and refining their generic application framework, the company could have focused on developing the business logic, thus reducing the project cost.

    There are other advantages to using VSTO, including an easy-to-follow deployment model and users' familiarity with Office products. Thus, not only have smart client applications become a wave of the future but the ability to leverage Office to act as a reusable framework for custom applications takes this one step further. I currently know of only one book that will truly address the capabilities of VSTO: "Visual Studio Tools for Office: Using C# with Excel, Word, Outlook, and InfoPath" (http://www.awprofessional.com/title/0321334884).

    Finally, I want to invite anyone who will be in the San Diego area around Labor Day to drop by the San Diego .NET Developer Group meeting on Tuesday September 6. The group invited me to speak about Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. You can find more information about this free event at http://www.sddotnetdg.org.

    2. Events and Resources


    (brought to you by SQL Server Magazine)

    Reduce Downtime with Continuous Data Protection
    Continuous or real-time backup systems help avoid the danger of losing data if your system fails after the point of backup by providing real-time protection. In this free Web seminar, learn how to integrate them with your existing backup infrastructure, how to apply continuous protection technologies to your Windows-based servers, and more. Sign up today and learn how you can quickly roll back data not just to the last snapshot or backup, but to any point in time!
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/continuousbackup/index.cfm?code=0817emailannc

    SQL Server 2005 Security
    As database administrators and developers begin to migrate their current SQL Server databases and applications over to SQL Server 2005, a solid understanding of the new security infrastructure will be important to ensure the security of your data. In this free Web seminar, you'll learn all about these new features to successfully secure your SQL Server environment, including password enhancements, data encryption, DDL triggers, code signing and more!
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/sqlserversecurity/index.cfm?code=0817emailannc

    Sort Through Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA Legislation and More - Quicker And Easier!
    In this free Web seminar, get the tips you've been looking for to save time and money in achieving IT security and regulatory compliance. Find out how you can simplify these manually intensive, compliance-related tasks that reduce IT efficiency. Plus, sign up today and you'll receive a free white paper by Charles Kolodgy of IDC on using security compliance software to improve business efficiency and reduce costs.
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/regulatorycompliance/index.cfm?code=0817emailannc

    SQL Server 2005 Roadshow is Coming to a City Near You
    Get the facts about migrating to SQL Server 2005. SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you implement a best-practices migration to SQL Server 2005 and improve your database computing environment. Attend and receive a 1-year membership to PASS and 1-year subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register now!
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/roadshows/sqlserverusa/index.cfm?code=0817emailannc

    Avoid the 5 Major Compliance Pitfalls
    Based on real-world examples, this Web seminar will help C-level executives, as well as IT directors and managers, avoid common mistakes and give their organization a head start in ensuring a successful compliance implementation. Register today and find out how you can avoid the mistakes of others, improve IT security, and reduce the cost of continually maintaining and demonstrating compliance.
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/seminars/compliance/index.cfm?code=0817emailannc

    3. Featured White Paper


    Sort Through Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, GLBA and Basel II Legislation Quicker and Easier!
    In this free white paper, get the tips you've been looking for to save time and money in achieving IT security and regulatory compliance. Find out how you can simplify these manually intensive, compliance-related tasks that reduce IT efficiency. Turn these mandates into automated and cost-effective solutions today!
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    2005 Watch: The new Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2005
    New from Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005 Beta is Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Beta, a powerful collection of the best tools for building Web applications using ASP.NET 2.0. It allows you to create exciting, dynamic Web sites faster and easier by automating common tasks and delivering streamlined access to information and services.

    Here are a few of the hottest features:

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    4. Announcements


    (brought to you by SQL Server Magazine)

    SQL Server Magazine Gives DBAs and Developers What They Need
    With SQL Server 2005 right around the corner, it's important to note that SQL Server Magazine is on target to deliver comprehensive coverage of all betas and the final release. If you aren't already a subscriber, now is the time to subscribe to gain exclusive access to the entire SQL Server Magazine online article database (over 2,300 articles) and save 44% off the cover price!
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    5. New and Improved


    (by Karen Bemowski, products@sqlmag.com)

    Book Helps Figure Out When and How to Upgrade to ASP.NET 2.0
    Mike Murach & Associates released Murach's ASP.NET 2.0 Upgrader's Guide: C# Edition, a book by Doug Lowe and Joel Murach. Experienced ASP.NET developers can easily get information about what's new in ASP.NET 2.0, but it's harder for them to figure out when and how to upgrade to the new features on the job. This 526-page book goes beyond describing the most significant new features and gives examples of how to apply them in real- world Web applications. To see how this works, you can download Chapter 3 of the book from the Murach Web site. This chapter is about master pages, an ASP.NET 2.0 feature that makes it easy to include banners, navigation menus, and other elements on all the pages in an application. After explaining the basic concept, this chapter shows sample pages that use this feature, then explains all the code that's needed to make these pages work. The book costs $39.50. For more information, contact Mike Murach & Associates at 800-221- 5528 or murachbooks@murach.com.
    http://www.murach.com

    Add Windows Explorer Shell-Browsing Functionality to Applications
    Sky Software released Shell MegaPack 7.0, a set of GUI controls that bring Windows Explorer shell-browsing functionality to .NET and ActiveX applications. Consisting of a folder tree control, file/folder list control, and drive-selection control, Shell MegaPack mimics every Windows Explorer feature, including offering Thumbnails, Details, and other types of views; drag-and-drop capability; context menus; infotips; and renaming capability. The software's powerful behavior control and customization functionality adds features that you won't find in Windows Explorer. Those features include item filtering, item check boxes, and customization of columns, context menus, and more. Shell MegaPack includes ShellObjects, a set of controls that bring various useful shell features to applications, including the ability to display multiple MSN/Office 2003-style pop-ups, animate tray icons, and create shortcuts. Shell MegaPack 7.0 starts at $295 for a single-user license. For more information, contact Sky Software at sales@ssware.com.
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