Fixing WinHEC – Part 2

  In my last posting, I presented how to fix WinHEC from the attendee’s point of view.  This post will look at why it is critical for Microsoft to get it right.  For the last 10 years, the Windows group has been waging a war to improve driver quality.  In that time, many great tools and initiatives have aided the development of better drivers.   But there are still a lot missing items, and unfortunately, Redmond seems disconnected from some of the problems of the driver community.   Yes, a number of us try to call this out, but even the most … Continue reading Fixing WinHEC – Part 2

Fixing WinHEC

As anyone who has been to WinHEC over the years knows, its content swings between being a heavy technical conference and being a marketing conference.   This year’s WinHEC is scheduled for November 4-7, 2008, again in Los Angeles, California.  I do not expect much from this venue, since neither of the two WinHEC’s previously in LA had a strong technical presence.   Going to LA requires putting engineers on airplanes and into hotel rooms and not just for a few hours in a Seattle conference center.      So what makes a great techie WinHEC?    1.      Lots of technical presentations – Some of … Continue reading Fixing WinHEC

Improving the documentation

 If you haven’t heard, Microsoft is now updating the WDK documentation monthly and is now providing a way to download these updated docs to your computer.  This update, just for documentation, can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/DevTools/WDK/WDKdocs.mspx   Microsoft should be congratulated for this effort to improve the documentation in a timely manner.  Currently there are some flaws to be aware of.  First the install process does not take into account that many of us would just like to update the documentation we got with the WDK with the new docs.  In fact, the installer does not even know about the WDK … Continue reading Improving the documentation

Coding Guidelines

When I get a new client, I ask for a copy of their driver coding guidelines.   Typically I get one of several responses. ·         We trust our developers to do the right thing. ·         The last time we brought this up there was almost open revolt. ·         They hand me a corporate standard for coding applications, most of which is worthless for drivers. Whether companies recognize it or not, they need a set of coding guidelines for drivers.  There are a lot of ways of doing things in drivers that can cause problems, and a good set of guidelines can … Continue reading Coding Guidelines

Tag, you’re it

I’ve been spending the last couple of days tracking down a bug in a driver I am writing. The effort reminded me of how great tags on memory allocations and frees can be. Also, the work reminded me that there are at least a couple of features Microsoft does not promote and I rarely see. For the uninitiated, tags are a four character value that is passed as an argument in memory allocation calls. The tag gives you a way to identify what the memory was allocated for by having a different tag for each common structure allocated. Here is … Continue reading Tag, you’re it

Document explorer versus useful data

There is a trend in the tools coming out of Microsoft that is driving me nuts and in my opinion significantly hurting productivity.  This trend is the shrinking of the amount of data that appears on the display and requiring more mouse clicks to get there. For driver writers this trend is most obvious in Document Explorer 8 which is used to display the Vista WDK documentation.   Comparing it to HTML Help Control 5 that was used for Windows Server 2003 SP1 DDK the previous version will show you what I mean.  On opening the DDK documentation you have two … Continue reading Document explorer versus useful data

Crossing the Undocumented Line

As a consultant who has more than once taken on projects Microsoft has said are impossible, many people assume I often use undocumented calls in Windows in my work.  In fact, I try to avoid them if at all possible, and am extremely careful in crossing the undocumented line. A developer should ask a set of questions when considering using an undocumented technique; these are: Is it really needed?  Before anything else, ask yourself if there is any other way to do this.  Be sure to not constrain your design when you ask this question.  For instance, requiring something be … Continue reading Crossing the Undocumented Line

Bleeding edge and far from it

I am just back from WinHEC and while there I realized that many people including a number from Microsoft don’t distinguish developing for the leading edge from living there. I am known as a guy who has done a number of things that Redmond had said “Windows is not capable of doing” and technologies that Microsoft was later proud to show off once they were working.  When it comes to my tools, I am far from the bleeding edge.  For instance, though I recently started using the latest Visual Studio, most of my work is still done with VS6.   I … Continue reading Bleeding edge and far from it

Never stop learning

One thing I always recommend to my customers is to keep their developers up to speed on the latest Windows driver technologies.  I’m thinking about this right now, since last week saw the release of Developing Drivers with Windows Driver Foundation and we are less than two weeks away from the start of this year’s WinHEC.  It is scary how many managers and developers believe that they don’t need to know this new stuff.  Even if you are still required to do drivers for NT 4.0 (hopefully not), learning the new stuff can improve your code.  Just seeing where Microsoft … Continue reading Never stop learning