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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

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I was looking at the solution for a Windows Server AppFabric class (from this Microsoft download) and found a funny namespace used for the WCF contracts:

First thought, isn’t the domain owned by the DEMO conference? 

Uh, yup.

Not a good idea to use a “random” URI for namespaces.

The content for the class looks pretty good, but I’m surprised that neither Ron Jacobs nor Zoiner Tejada caught the problem namespace. 

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No contract-first in Workflow Services

I’ve been looking a bit at .NET 4 Workflow Services as a part of AppFabric.  I’m surprised to find no way to build these services from existing message contracts.  I can understand imposing limitations on doing so – even that there might be no reasonable tool support – but this is a real stumbling block.

Certainly contract-first is not the only way to build services, but it is if you are implementing a published standard.  Maybe there is some way to tinker around with the output of the tools sets to make a Workflow Service compatible with some existing WSDL, but would it be worth it?

One answer might be to put a pure WCF facade over the Workflow Services.  Kind of a headache, but maybe workable.

This makes me think that .NET 4 Workflow Services are really targeted to be internal to the enterprise or at least where contract definition is flexible and controlled by one entity.

This follows a standard Microsoft pattern: help the enterprise dev in V1 and then expand from there.  This strategy makes sense, I just want it all in VS 2010, not in

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Lack of Flash is all about Money

All this talk about Flash on the iPhone/iPad . . . Why does Apple freeze out Flash?  Here’s why:

  • 1% battery life.  If Apple is willing to cripple the phone with no background applications to save battery, then I can believe that disallowing Flash supports this same cause.
  • 1% of this is that Flash is “lame” or proprietary or any of that nonsense.
  • 98% of this about the App store.  Apps delivered through the browser can’t be monetized (and to a lesser extent controlled) through the App store.  If Flash was enabled on the iPhone anybody could write apps for the iPhone without Apple’s permission. 

That’s it.

The iPhone is as open as is useful to Apple.  I’ll bet that if they could get away with shutting off Javascript on the iPhone they would do that too.  Of course, that would also cause an enormous uproar, so they won’t.  Javascript in the browser is the leak in the App store.  Their only defense is to make their browser lame (or be slow to adopt new standards). 

One thing that backs up my point about the App store is that neither the Flash nor Silverlight runtime is actually banned from the iPhone.  You just have to build it into an iPhone application for the App store and you are in business.  Miguel de Icaza and his excellent team proved that last year (with Mono anyway) as has Adobe with Flash.

What do I think about this?  I find it irksome to say the least, but I didn’t buy the iPhone thinking it was anything but a closed platform, controlled by someone who thinks they know best.  I’m OK with that for now – the phone works pretty well.  Eventually something will work just as well without the restrictions. 

And then I’ll jump ship.

PDC 2009 Day #2: Silverlight 4

Lots of great new stuff in today’s beta.  A few things that stand out:

  • Hosting HTML
  • Context menus
  • WCF and REST enhancements
  • Support for RIA Services
  • Drag & Drop
  • Running out of sandbox for trusted apps
  • Sharing components between .NET 4 and SL 4

Lot of other things too.  I’m excited to start using this.  Also a shout out to Tim Heuer – he has helped me on a few things before and I got a chance to meet him today.

Those of you following NewsGang will know why I am very excited about these Silverlight developments.

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From PDC 2009 Day #2: Windows 7

Sinofsky talked about the new features of Windows 7 and some of the new hardware.  I didn’t think it belonged in the keynote, because there weren’t any announcements.

He did announce they are giving away laptops to all attendees, though, so I suppose it was worth it.  :)

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From PDC2009 Day 1: Entity Framework 4

Lots of improvements to EF for 4.0:

  • Model-first development.
  • Lazy loading through relationships (i.e., no longer have to call Load)
  • POCO (i.e., define your own data classes against a model).
  • POCO only (i.e., define the model fully in code).
  • Code Generation options using the new T4 facility of VS 2010.
  • Testability improvements through IObjectSet
  • Can override SaveChanges
  • Better disconnected workflow (both by writing a little code and a no-code option that uses a different code generator).
  • Much better SQL (more compact, more efficient)
  • Execute arbitrary SQL
  • Easier Stored Procedures
  • Functions (a little strange how this was implemented, but now they are available).
  • Foreign Keys in the entities (no more manual interpretation of the Reference!)
  • Better Binding for forms apps and WPF

Pandelis, what do you think?

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From PDC2009 Day 1: Azure & AppFabric

At last year’s PDC, I posted

It is the openness of this platform, the ability of developers to mix and match the different components, and to do it between the cloud and in-premises solutions that makes this such a winner. 

This last point is an important one.  Microsoft is in a unique position to help enterprise IT bridge to the cloud.  While I don’t think Amazon and Google will cede that market to Microsoft, their current offerings aren’t a natural fit. 

The offering was rich then, but since then Microsoft has continued to push these offerings forward dramatically. 

At the time, my biggest concerns were the one-size-fits-all approach to their provisioning model and their lack of full trust (two things that could make it harder to deploy the Digipede Network onto Azure).  Today those issues have been taken off the table and help support many more use cases, opening up Azure even more to non-Microsoft technologies and fortifying the extremely important IT bridge.

So what are the improvements in openness?

Allowing full trust opens up the door to, well anything.  Unmanaged code,  PHP, MySQL, Java, TomCat, etc. can all run on Azure.  Matt Mullenweg of Automattic demonstrated a WordPress instance running that way.  Kind of anti-climactic, because it would have been a big deal if was moving to Azure.  Simply running a WordPress instance isn’t really that interesting.

Custom VM images are also coming to Azure which will make it much easier to put whatever you want on a VM and deploy it efficiently.

For IT?

Too many items here to enumerate.  SQL Azure integrating into SSMS; Azure integrating into MOM; SQL synchronizing with cloud instances; (this list really does go on and on . . .).

Another important part of this IT bridge?  Not Microsoft’s new App Server, AppFabric.  Though I am excited about this – it is something that has been missing from the Microsoft stack – the key point here is that it runs on premises and in Azure.


These new features in Azure push Microsoft out even further than the other cloud vendors.  No one else has the depth and breadth in tool support and service offerings.  No one else is innovating so quickly on so many parallel fronts. 

Will Amazon and Google cede the space?  Of course not, but I think they’ll need  to reposition their cloud brands.

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Going to PDC 2009

PDC09Bling_General_ThreadsConnected_136I’m going to PDC 2009 November 17th – 19th. 

Aside from releasing Azure, I expect it will be mostly about VS 2010.  I’m sure there will be a “reveal” or two to get excited about too.  At least I hope so.

The best part of conferences is meeting new people and catching up with friends and colleagues.

If you are going too and want to meet up, let me know. 

email me: robert at rwandering dot net.

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Gillmor Gang Returns at 1PM today

It will (likely) be here  While I won’t be on the show, something I have been working on should surface there. 

That is as much of a pre-announcement as I can make . . . vague and conditional as it is.

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Resolver One on Digipede Sample

As I noted recently, I have been working with Giles Thomas and Glenn Jones at Resolver Systems on a sample mixing distributed IronPython objects with Resolver One spreadsheets. 

I like those guys.  They are smart and do excellent work.

Anyway, they released the sample earlier today.  From their site:

As of version 1.5 (which is currently in beta), the world’s coolest spreadsheet can use Digipede Network grid computing to distribute and execute workbooks in parallel. The example on the Exchange is based on the excellent IronPython sample created by Robert W. Anderson of Digipede. The Digipede Network is a brilliant way to get distributed, parallel computation on Windows. It only took a few minor changes to convert Resolver One to run on the Digipede Network and to get the IronPython sample to execute Resolver One workbooks.

Giles gives some more background to the path that got us here on his recent post, Resolver One and Digipede.

The combination of our two products offers a pretty elegant solution.  Like I said before,

Try doing that with a spreadsheet or grid that isn’t based on .NET . . .

. . . like Excel and Windows HPC Server.  No, don’t. Trust me.  It is really hard, complex, and brittle.

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