Everleap – A Nice Cloud Solution

May 16, 2014

I have been using DiscountASP.NET to support my web sites for many years. I started using them based on recommendations from several Microsoft MVPs and have been very satisfied with both their support and performance over the years.

The folks at DiscountASP.NET have now come up with a very exciting Cloud solution. They are calling this new cloud solution Everleap. They have two products,; Cloud Websites and Multi-Domain Cloud. I have been working with the Multi-Domain solution.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Everleap has provided me a complimentary Multi-Domain account because of my MVP status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Their technology is built on Microsoft’s latest Cloud O/S and utilizes Windows Azure Pack – the same technology that runs Microsoft Windows Azure. Everleap Cloud Websites give you the reliability and scalability of the cloud at predictable, down-to-earth prices. Cloud hosting services include SQL and MySQL databases, Reporting Services, SSL support, email, and DNS service.

When a traditional server is loaded with customers on unlimited multi-domain plans, something’s got to give. Typically the first thing to go out the window is reliability and quality of service, the very things you want for your websites! Everleap’s Multi-Domain Cloud puts an end to the disappointments that come along with old fashioned multi-domain hosting. I moved a website based on DotNetNuke to my Multi-Domain Cloud. DNN is notorious for its resource consumption. The performance on the Multi-Domain Cloud service was noticeably better after the move.

I also moved the MyVBProf.com site to the Multi-Domain Cloud service. Because Everleap is using the Azure Pack, publishing the site using Visual Studio was really easy.

The control panel is very intuitive and easy to use. Managing sites, databases, and services is very straight forward. I have had a need to use their support and, like DiscountASP.NET, Everleap’s support is awesome.

There is a growing number of Cloud solutions coming to the market. I am comfortable suggesting that you include Everleap in your search for a good solution.

Building Win Store 8.1 Apps with VB

April 15, 2014

This set of tutorials were recorded by the Microsoft Virtual Academy in March 2013. Anthony Green, a Microsoft PM in the Languages Division and I cover a number of topics dealing with building Windows Store 8.1 applications using Visual Basic.

We review the principles relating to “Modern Design” and show how to achieve “fast and fluid” applications using asynchronous programming in Visual Basic. We also cover the project and template structure of a Windows Store project.

We then build a small application that reads and presents data from a WCF Data Service using the AdventureWorks Lite database. We cover state management with a sample application and then apply the concepts to the AdventureWorks example.

The use of local storage options is covered as well as using the SQLite client database. Finally we cover the most commonly used GUI components including App Bars, Flyouts, and Message Dialogs.


Understanding the Web API

January 13, 2014

As you likely know, there is a growing trend in web development to build applications using what some might call “lower-level” tools. Instead of ASP.Net web forms, many developers are using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript (with its many helpful libraries). Part of this trend also includes lower-level web services using tools like Microsoft’s Web API.

How does one expand her or his knowledge in these growing areas? One source that I would like to talk about today is an e-book from Syncfusion. They have a series of free e-books in what they call their “Succinctly” series and today I would like to talk about their book ASP.NET Web API Succinctly.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Syncfusion provides me with a free, NFR license to their Essential Studio product because of my MVP status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The thing I like about the succinctly series is that the books are relatively short and concise. They are designed for developers working on the Microsoft platforms so they assume some background knowledge of the Microsoft ecosystem.

ASP.NET Web API Succinctly starts by providing a quick review of the REST architecture. For those who have been focusing on ASP.Net Web Forms, understanding the HTTP verbs and status codes is something foreign. I started with traditional asp back in the 1990’s and understanding GET, PUT, etc. was essential. It is interesting to see this coming back as something that was “abstracted” away by some a few years ago.

The book then provides an overview of the Web API by introducing controllers and routing. For someone familiar with Microsoft’s MVC there is a great deal of similarity. By the way, with Visual Studio 2013, a Web API can be added to either a Web Forms or an MVC project.

clip_image002

The next two chapters talk about the “life of a request” and the “routing system”. These two chapters provide additional background for those who are not familiar with the “plumbing” of the request/response cycle of an HTTP request.

The book then provides greater detail in four important areas: the controller, model validation, content navigation, and message handlers. These chapters include details and specific examples. For you VB folks out there, the code example are shown using C# but they are short and generally easy to understand. I created an MVC/Web API application using VB and was able to easily compare the VB and C# code.

The book then closes with four important chanters covering security, OData, hosting, and testing. The security chapter talks about various authentication approaches. The OData chapter covers the basic of OData queries.

The hosting chapter covers “self-hosting” as well as “in-memory hosting”. The testing chapter contrasts unit testing and integration tests. It also covers the basic concepts associated with using a controller and how that supports unit testing.

The book was written before Microsoft released Web API 2 so it does not cover the topics in the newer release. To see what has been added or changed, you might want to look at:

I hope this is helpful.

bill


Microsoft Project Siena (beta)

December 27, 2013

In December 2013, Microsoft released a new beta tool code-named “Project Siena.” Here is what Microsoft has to say about this tool.

“Microsoft Project Siena (code name) is the beta release of a new technology for business experts, business analysts, consultants, and other app imagineers. Now, without any programming, you can create powerful apps for the device-first and cloud-connected world, with the potential to transform today’s business processes.”

Unlike LightSwitch, Siena does not support any traditional code-behind programming. Instead, it supports Excel-like expressions and functions. Behind the scenes it builds Windows 8 applications using HTML5 and JavaScript.

Data sources currently include:

  • Excel
  • Azure Mobile Services
  • REST services
  • RSS Feeds
  • SharePoint.

I suspect that this list will expand as the product evolves.

It is important to emphasize that Project Siena is currently in beta. Things will change as the product evolves and it is also possible that the product will never see a public final release.

image     image

In this tutorial we look at creating two applications. One uses the myVFBProf.com RSS feed to make a very rudimentary blog reader. The second creates an application that presents manufacturing instructions for the hypothetical AdventureWorks company. Data from an OData service is imported into Excel and then the Excel workbook is used as the data source for the application.

bill


Windows 8.1

October 5, 2013

I have been using Windows 8.1 on all my machines since the RTM version was released to MSDN subscribers in September. I must say that I am very impressed and really like the changes to the UX that Microsoft has provided.

To help folks who are still using Windows 7 and those who found Windows 8.0 too radical a change for their desktop experience, I have recorded a video introducing the new Windows 8.1 UX offered in Windows 8.1.

Because of the applicability of this video to the general Windows user, I have posted it on YouTube

Enjoy … bill


Async and the UI Thread

September 4, 2013

An asynchronous method provides a convenient way to do potentially long-running work without blocking the caller’s thread. The caller of an async method can resume its work without waiting for the async method to finish. Asynchrony proves especially valuable for applications that access the UI thread because all UI-related activity usually shares one thread. If any process is blocked in a synchronous application, all are blocked. Your application stops responding, and you might conclude that it has failed when instead it’s just waiting. Asynchrony can be used to prevent this blocking of the UI thread resulting in a much better user experience.

In this short tutorial we look at some underlying concepts (and misconceptions) relating to the use of the Async and Await keywords in VB to implement asynchronous functions. In addition, a small demonstration program is presented and analyzed showing the specific implications of downloading a string of characters from a web service using both a synchronous and an asynchronous function.

Enjoy … bill


Windows Store Applications

February 17, 2013

This tutorial brings together most of the main concepts needed to create a Windows Store application. Using the “Golf Tutorial” example that I have used for other technologies, this sample application is “almost” ready for the Store.

The application stores and manages data on the local machine using SQLite. It provides the user with the ability to store information about golf courses and rounds of golfed played on the courses. It also calculates the golfer’s handicap index as well as the handicap for a specific course.

image

WinRT concepts used in the application include state management, navigation with multiple pages, “app” bars, and view management such as the “Snapped” view.

To introduce all the functionality and technology, the tutorial includes 18 videos. Hopefully when you complete the tutorial, you will have the skills needed to build your own Windows Store application.

Enjoy … bill


Tutorial – Windows 8 for a Windows 7 User

February 3, 2013

Unlike most of my tutorials, this tutorial is not intended for the developer world. I have been contacted by a number of “normal” people who have been using Windows 7 for some time but are now a bit puzzled by their initial experience with Windows 8. Given the experience of these folks, I decided to put together a short tutorial designed to give some guidance to Windows 7 users who are new to Windows 8. This tutorial focuses on using Windows 8 in a “non-touch” environment such most desktops and many laptops.

In this tutorial, we first focus on the Start Page that is the first page you see after logging into Windows 8. I would guess that this is the most confusing thing that former Windows 7 folks encounter when they move to Windows 8. We talk about organizing the tiles on the Start Page, the “charms”, and changing settings.

The next video focuses on the more familiar desktop. There are some changes here for a Windows 7 user but most Windows 7 folks know what is going on here and wish they had landed here after logging in.

Finally, we look at Windows 8 applications, explain how they differ from traditional desktop applications and explain some of the reasons why Microsoft adopted the Windows 8 application design concepts.

Enjoy … bill


WinRT and SQLite Tutorial

December 10, 2012

Some WinRT applications can benefit from having access to the storage system on the client. While there are useful APIs that access the local file system (under some constraints), sometimes working with a data management system is desirable.

SQLite provides such data management features with a small footprint. With the proper helper tools, access to the data can be handled through Linq and some very useful extensions to SQLite can be used to manage the tables.

This tutorial has two parts. The first part shows you how to set up a Windows Store application with the necessary references to SQLite and some helper methods. While there are some nice blogs available that demonstrate this, the blogs use C# and this tutorial focuses on Visual Basic (there are some differences).

The second part demonstrates the use of a SQLite database. It creates a table, populates the table with some sample data, and then demonstrates a Linq query to access the records in the table.


WinRT Split App Template Tutorial

November 2, 2012

There are two templates available for Windows Store applications that include all the features of a complete application. These are the Split Application and the Grid Application.

Each application includes a “sample data model” that is thoroughly linked to the pages as well as the CSS created by the template. The idea is that developers will substitute their own data model for the sample one. However, this is not necessarily an easy task.

simulator

In this tutorial, we look at the Split App template and its included sample data model. We use the OData AdventureWorks data service and show how it can be linked to the sample data model.