TaskClerk - Beta Now Available

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The first public beta of TaskClerk, the time capture program, is now avilable for download from here.

Estimation; the Art Thereof

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Matt from Techn@gerial has written a wonderful article on estimation, where he verbalises what many of us have known for a while but either we could not articulate it as well as he has or we were never listened to. There is only one assumption within his whole piece that I think needs further consideration, but I can address that here and offer some simple advice on how to rectify the issue.

The problem for me is where Matt states (emphasis mine):

I am not saying that software developers and architects are not capable of estimating, certainly they will be, but it is "what" they are estimating that is easy to misunderstand

This is so often not the case, to the point where it is often embarrassing to try and deliver to – technical people who estimate software are generally not good at it. (more...)

Expression Web Surprise

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I hated Frontpage and for good reason - the issue for me was with the bloated HTML; it was never the code that you would have written yourself. The time that you spent cleaning up the code would have been better spent just writing it in the first place. What you really want from a tool, that does a job that you can do yourself, is to do it at least as well as you do. Frontpage: not even close.

Fortunately Frontpage is dead as Einstein and its replacement rocks! I never thought that I'd ever consider using a tool to generate HTML again - but I am; it's call Expression Web. From an ardent Frontpage hater I strongly recommend that you check this out this out today.

Expression Blend - RC Now Available

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Expression blend is now out of beta, the beta2 release was extremely stable and a joy to use, so I'm sure the release candidate will be no different. You can download it from here.

No REST for the Wiki'd

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This title just came to me and it's too good not post about, but what should the content be? Answers on a postcard (or in the comments)....

WCF Endpoint Configuration

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The next thing I want to talk about in relation to WCF is the topic of endpoints. I’m going to take the sample Echo application that we have already built (see here first if you have not seen this sample application) and first publish the service on a different type of endpoint, e.g. Named Pipes. This is new to WCF and could not be easily accomplished in managed code (without Interop) before WCF – either with ASMX, obviously, nor with .Net Remoting.

Once we have done that I’m going to publish the service on three endpoints and have the client connect to any one of them as it chooses. The main point of interest here is that we will not be writing any code to achieve all of this (well, nearly no code); it will be accomplished purely with configuration (more...)

Double Bubble

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My favorite podcast is now doing two shows a week! Carl says:
First of all, the announcement that affects all our fans. Starting this week we'll be publishing 2 .NET Rocks! shows every week. This week will be Tuesday and Thursday, and next week we'removing the first show to Monday making the publishing days Monday and Thursday. Woohoo!

WCF Quick Start Guide

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WCF has been my focus for a week or so now and I have not seen many "how to just get something up and running quickly" articles out there. So figured I'd write one. This is a step by step guide of how to get a self hosted WCF "Echo" application up and running in as few steps as possible. In terms of services, for me anyway, the "Echo" service has replaced the "Hello World" service in that it returns what you sent, a little more useful in a service that returning nothing to the caller.

I'll be doing this in C# 2.0, which is required by WCF, and I assume that you're using Visual Studio 2005 – however, this will work just as well using any of the express products and even just Notepad and a compiler. I also assume that you already have WinFx on your machine (installed by default on Vista and you can get it from here if you're working in XP).

On with the show, here's a 20 step guide which should take you about 10 minutes to get up a running. I'll also be using this as the base implementation for future articles (more...)

Outsourcing Continued

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Matt continues to give out the great advice on outsourcing over at Techn@gerial. The only comment, speaking from the developer perspective on this one, what Matt has to say is spot on.

More REST

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Great article on the realities of developing and living with REST based services.
http://www.mnot.net/blog/2007/02/27/rest_issues

Nice work Mark.

One Less Reason to use FireFox

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If, like me, you only use FireFox in limited circumstances, there could one less reason for you to use it too*. I use FireFox purely for:
  1. Exchange Web Mail in Vista (damn that red X!)
  2. JavaScript Testing for Compatibility Purposes
  3. Spell Checking in Textboxes on the Web

The 3rd reason is no longer a good one for me! Check out ieSpell. Judging by the interface this tool has been around a while but I have only just stumbled upon it. ieSpell also has some handy features like looking up words on any page in Wikipedia or Dictionary.com via a right mouse click, very nice.

One tip for Windows Vista users still putting up with UAC: When configuring ieSpell ensure that you launch the browser as an Administrator - if you don't it won't remember your preferences.

[*] Don't get me wrong; I don't dislike FireFox (or any browser for that matter) I just prefer IE and use it wherever I can.

WPF & Blend

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I have been working with the Microsoft Expression Blend product over the last week or so and I'm well and truly hooked. I have not yet seen the tooling for WPF in Visual Studio Orcas but I'm really hoping that the new tooling will be up to the Blend proposition - if it's not then I'm really hoping that Microsoft will be gracious enough to move the Expression suite into the MSDN subscription! (Come on chaps, you want people to use this stuff, right?)

If you want to get a real flavour of what I'm talking about download the trial version of Blend and then follow this series of videos from Channel9 - you too will be hooked, I'm sure of it.