# Sunday, February 23, 2014

I was invited to speak to some Imagine Cup contestants in Calgary and delighted to accept. I spoke to the teams informally for quite a while about judging and judges and general team tips. I was really happy to see some teams from previous years so I could hear what happened after they entered. If you're a student (undergrad or grad) and would like to enter, there is theoretically still time, but realistically it would have been better to start several months ago since you do have to build working software. Why not take a look at the contest (there are over a million dollars in prizes, and you can get a cool trip somewhere and meet some industry high flyers) and start pulling together a team for next year? There's a pretty good introduction for Canadians on the Microsoft Canada blog.

For those of you who were at the sessions, here are the slides I used in the afternoon. I talked about the new C++ features and why they matter, and demoed C++ AMP as a great motivator for using C++. (I wanted to upload the pptx files, but they're too big for the blog, so I've exported PDFs.)

Kate

GregoryCppAMP.pdf (1.65 MB)

Cpp11and14.pdf (556.51 KB)

Sunday, February 23, 2014 1:17:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3]
# Friday, January 04, 2013

Over the last few weeks, I've been accumulating links to appearances of mine, and it seems like a good idea to share these.

  • OReilly webcast: This is a reasonably horrible recording (sound quality and video size) of a webcast I did back in August. It shows why C++ AMP is so cool and why you might care about it. I recorded it to promote the book but I'm not very happy with how it turned out. You'll probably do better with the recording of my Tech Ed talk.
  • Pluralsight interview: This is specifically about my Using Visual Studio 2012 course. You can download the audio or read the transcript as you prefer.  My favourite quote from the conversation:
It’s not just like, oh, I saved five seconds. I can go home five seconds earlier today. It’s that you’re less likely to forget what you were doing because you don’t have to put so much time into the mechanics and you just stay in flow. And to me, that’s a ramping up of two or three times the amount of code I can produce when I use everything the tool has to offer.
  • Dot Net Rocks panel at DevIntersection: Here Scott Allen, Michele Leroux Bustamante, Woody Pewitt, and I discuss whatever we feel like, with occasional leading questions from Carl and Richard, and some Canadian whisky too.

Even though I haven't been blogging much, I have been doing a lot, and I hope these links will help you to discover some of it.

Kate

Friday, January 04, 2013 5:58:45 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, November 20, 2012

While I was in Nashville as part of the Dot Net Rocks Roadtrip, we recorded an episode of The Tablet Show. The recording is online now and I'll have to give it a listen myself to remember what we talked about - Hilo, for sure, and C++ AMP, and just generally why C++ can be a great choice for tablet development.

Kate

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 1:30:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, November 16, 2012

Don McCrady, who with Jim Radigan did an inspiring talk on performance at Build this year, has blogged about a proof-of-concept project that adds C++ AMP to CLANG and LLVM using OpenCL underneath instead of using DirectX the way Visual Studio does. This is super cool! As Don says:

When Microsoft announced C++ AMP back in June 2011, we told you that we would release the C++ AMP specification under the Microsoft Community Promise – essentially opening up the specification to allow any C++ compiler implementer to add C++ AMP to their compiler. Shevlin Park serves as an example of the platform portability potential intended by the Community Promise.

Do read Don's post and follow the links to learn more about Shevlin Park. The praise for C++ AMP as a programming model, and the likelihood that multiple compilers will support it, should make you feel all warm and fuzzy about learning it. You might even want to use my book to do so :-)

Kate


Friday, November 16, 2012 1:19:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Build this year is less focused on announcing things (though the Windows phone and native C++ material is brand new) and more on drilling down into topics that we've had a year to experiment with and want some deep study on. Most of the speakers are from product teams. What's fun for me is that most of the attendees are very motivated and here to learn.

I'm also enjoying how full the rooms are for C++ sessions. Here's Tarek's Day 1 session:



BTW, that was session 3-000 demonstrating that (a) the sessions are numbered using zero-based indexing and (b) the C++ sessions were first on the list.

And here's the C++ performance talk from right after the keynote this morning:



This room was standing room only. It's possible all the C++ talks were, I don't always sit at the back where I can see whether people are standing back there or not. And you may not be able to tell from the picture but there were plenty of young developers there too.

There was also a nice session on Project Austin which is a lovely reference app showing how to use DirectX in a Windows Store app. You can get the code from Codeplex and take a look at it yourself or just use it to take beautiful notes on a tablet.

Speaking of reference apps, Hilo (which I've written about before) is now an official sample in the SDK and on the Dev Center. There's a Hilo session here at Build too. Within a day or two these links should have recordings and slides for you to download.

Want to know more about C++ at Build? Here's less than two minutes on just that topic. If you can, please watch Herb's talk on Friday. It promises to be exciting!

Kate

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 7:45:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, October 27, 2012

I really enjoyed my evening in Nashville. It was fun answering the question: C++ - Why on earth? I think I even convinced a few of you.

Of course the biggest Nashville attraction for me is my friend Billy Hollis:

Look what a luxurious meeting room they have! Couches and tables and general comfort. And yes, I got to see the inside of the RV:

If I got you interested in C++, you might like some links:

Thanks for the visit, and I hope to be back!

Kate

Saturday, October 27, 2012 5:31:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, October 20, 2012

Is the C++ Renaissance real? Well I'll tell you one thing: conference organizers are way more receptive to all-day C++ sessions than they used to be :-). I'll be doing yet another one this year. This time it's in Las Vegas Dec 9th, as part of DevIntersection. Here's the abstract:

PRECON04: C++ in 2012: Modern, Readable, Safe, Fast (9:00 AM - 4:00 PM)
C++ is gaining momentum as a development language, so whether you've never used C++ or stopped using it a decade ago, it may be time to brush up on your skills. With a new standard release providing new keywords and capabilities, C++ is a featured language for many of the new Microsoft technologies and enables some amazing speed-ups of your application using libraries like PPL and C++ AMP. What's more, Visual Studio offers tools to native developers that have only been available for managed developers in earlier versions. This all-day workshop will show you what all the fuss is about and give you the skills you need to understand the advantages of C++ today and how to start applying those benefits to your application.

If you're an experienced and current C++ developer, you may not need to come to this session. But if you were thinking you needed a refresher, here's a great way to get one, and at the same time look at some of the cool new stuff that is available to you once you know C++. If you've never written a line of C++ code in your life, but you're solid in C# or Java so you know the basic syntax (if, while, etc) you should be able to follow this session, though it won't teach you all the fiddly bits of C++ syntax and make you a C++ developer from scratch. It should, however, give you the inspiration you might need to go and learn all that fiddly syntax, and understand why we have it.

The workshop costs an extra $399 for conference attendees and will cover a lot of ground: new language and library goodies in C++11, ALM Support for C++ developers in Visual Studio 2012, a quick taste of some PPL and C++ AMP power, and plenty of advice on best practices and modern C++ style.

I hope to see you there! Don't forget, if you register for the conference before Nov 1st, you'll get a tablet!

Kate

Saturday, October 20, 2012 8:01:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Here's an amazing grand finale to the Dot Net Rocks Roadtrip this year -a full on developer conference in Las Vegas, Dec 9th - 12th.

I love this answer to "What is DevIntersection?"

This three-day conference marks the final stop on the USA leg of the .NET Rocks! Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip! DevIntersection is a developer conference PLUS the recording venue for the last stop of the three-month road trip hosted by Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin. We're bringing together some of the best speakers (and our personal friends) for a conference that is relaxed and educational, plus forward looking as you and your company start to figure out what to do with Windows 8 and Visual Studio for the next few years. Our attendees tend to be .NET software developers plus other members of their teams. DevIntersection is an educational onsite conference for anyone who is attached to a .NET development programming project who is looking to use Visual Studio to develop apps for desktop, web and mobile platfoms.

I have two breakout sessions - one on C++ AMP and one on developing for the Windows Store in C++. No .NET in either one of them; this is a conference for expanding your horizons, after all.

For $1595 you get three full days of sessions. And if you register in October (hurry!) you will also get a new tablet. Build sold out in hours, so this is your chance to get access to deep and current information for developers across the Microsoft ecosystem. See you there!

Kate

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 1:52:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, October 15, 2012

Hilo is a reference project written in C++/CX for Windows 8 by the Patterns and Practices team. I was delighted to be part of this project and think it turned out very well. I use the Hilo codebase to remind myself how to do certain things when writing a Windows Store app in C++ (something I'm in the middle of doing for another project.) The accompanying document is rich in best practices for Windows 8 development, async work, modern C++, unit testing, and more. Now the latest version has been released, updated for Windows 8 RTM.

Hilo itself is a photo viewer. Before you roll your eyes, bear with me. I actually think it's better than the one that ships with Windows 8. It shows you some of your pictures as a sort of overview:

Click on one to interact with it. You can right-click to bring up both the app bar at the bottom and a nice strip-navigation control at the top:

If you want to see something cool, use Cartoon Effect. This leverages C++ AMP to cartoonize the picture. I've shopped this image a little to reduce the width (pulled the appbar in from the edges) but the cartoon work was done by Hilo - and super quickly.

If you have any thoughts of writing Windows Store apps, and C++ is a possibility for you, get over to Codeplex, download the Hilo code and the .chm file, and get reading!

Kate

Monday, October 15, 2012 1:17:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, September 28, 2012
I’ve been writing a book, though I swore I wouldn’t write any more books, and it’s finally done! You can buy a Kindle version from Amazon or an e-book directly from O’Reilly today. The paper copies will be ready in about a week and you can order them from O’Reilly or Amazon. The book is published by Microsoft Press, but O’Reilly handles the actual production of the books.


 I’ve got a page dedicated to the book with links for you to buy it, get the code, submit errata, and whatever else you might want. (If you think something’s missing, comment here and I’ll try to take care of it.)

Kate
Friday, September 28, 2012 2:50:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, June 26, 2012
As I am soon to discover first-hand, Australia is a very long way from North America. So when Adam Cogan makes the trip, he often extends his stay to see more people or places. Last September when we all gathered for //build/, Adam tacked a mini Canada tour onto his North American stay and we got together for a quick chat near my home. Part of it was filmed and (after a long delay to cope with the sound issues) is now available on the SSW TV site.

We talk about C++ and why it has advantages over managed code in some cases, about C++ AMP, and about tablets, leading to this moment:



It's just a 7 minute video, so give it a listen!

Kate
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 2:18:02 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I've been putting my schedule together for the talks I want to attend at Tech Ed North America and Tech Ed Europe this year. While I wasn't looking, a bunch more C++ content was added.

In Orlando:

Plus some language agnostic sessions that chose to put C++ in their session descriptions, which is a new thing these days.

Now as it happens, Tech Ed North America is sold out, so if you're not registered yet, you have three choices: join the waiting list, watch these sessions online, or get your boss to agree to a slightly larger T&E budget and head to Tech Ed Europe in Amsterdam just two weeks later. There we will have:

  • PRC08, my all day Monday precon: C++ in Visual Studio 11: Modern, Readable, Safe, Fast
  • DEV316, Tuesday at 4:30 pm: Application Lifecycle Management Tools for C++ in Visual Studio 11 by Rong Lu
  • DEV368, Wednesday at 2:45 pm: Visual C++ and the Native Renaissance by Steve Teixeira
  • DEV322, Thursday at 8:30 am: Building Windows 8 Metro style Apps with Visual C++ 11 by Rong Lu
  • DEV367, Thursday at 4:30: Building Windows 8 Metro Style Apps With C++ by Steve Teixeira
  • DEV334, Friday at 1:00 pm: C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism in Visual C++ 11 by me

(Europe doesn't have direct links to the sessions, but they do allow links to the search for C++.) I'll have to miss Steve's talk because Rong and I are going to Belgium, so that one I'll be watching online. 

One way or another, please attend or watch these sessions. There's a lot of new stuff happening!

Kate

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 5:31:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, May 27, 2012
Some people really go above and beyond for community. They have an idea, and then they make it happen. Take Marc Gregoire, for example. Our names are similar, and we both care about community, C++, and related topics, but we've never met. That didn't stop him from emailing me to see if I would do a user group talk while I was nearby for Tech Ed Europe. Of course I would! And then he arranged for Rong Lu from the C++ team to come and do one as well. Marc has done all the work of getting the room, the travel arrangements, you name it. All I have to do is take a short scenic train ride, and talk about a topic I'm excited about. That part is easy. The organizing part is hard.

It's going to be a very fun evening. I'm going to talk about C++ AMP, and Rong will cover what's new in VC++ 11. I've seen her speak before, and I know you're going to enjoy it. Be there, Wednesday June 27th at the Microsoft offices in Brussels. (I was kinda hoping for Tuesday, so I could make a joke, but Wednesday will be fine.) You need to register, so please do!

Kate


Sunday, May 27, 2012 8:49:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, April 13, 2012
The times for my sessions at Tech Ed North America and Tech Ed Europe have been announced.

  • PRC08 - C++ in Visual Studio 11: Modern, Readable, Safe, Fast is Sunday, June 10th in Orlando, 10am to 6pm. This is the session for those who've been ignoring C++ and are wondering why they keep hearing about it. Please encourage your friends to attend.
  • DEV334 - C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism in Visual C++ 11 is Tuesday, June 12th in Orlando, 10:15am - 11:30 am. This session will show you what C++ AMP is all about.
  • PRC08 - C++ in Visual Studio 11: Modern, Readable, Safe, Fast is Monday, June 25th in Amsterdam, 9am to 5pm. The same material as in Orlando, just saving some travel time and costs for attendees :-)
  • DEV334 - C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism in Visual C++ 11 is Friday , June 29th in Amsterdam, 1pm - 2:15 pm. Again, same material, different continent.

If you or those you influence are not yet registered for the conference in general, and the preconferences in particular (they cost extra and require you to arrive early, so plan ahead) please take care of that as soon as you can. Here are some helpful links:

North America


Europe

Hope to see you in one place or the other!

Kate
Friday, April 13, 2012 4:02:44 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, March 26, 2012

How's this for a renaissance? People are starting C++ user groups!

  • The Jerusalem .NET/C++ User Group will cover both topics. They've had their first meeting already.
  • The Central Ohio C++ User Group has also had its first meeting and will meet monthly.
  • In Austin Texas they're calling it the C++ Meetup and the description sounds a lot like a user group
  • The Belgian C++ User Group has its first meeting in April

It's so much fun to see this excitement springing up. There seem to be two popular topics for first meetings: either "What's new in C++ 11" or "Writing Windows 8 Apps". I think these two things arriving together - the huge language and library improvements (and the unexpected synergy of the language changes and the library changes) with the chance to write for Windows 8 in C++and XAML - is producing much more interest than there used to be.

And now the fun is spreading to Toronto! No, I'm not founding the group - I'm surely not the only C++ developer in Toronto after all. But I am honoured to be speaking at the first event on April 17th right downtown (pretty much Yonge and Bloor.) I'd love to dive deep into C++ AMP, or show how the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 is easier to code for, but I think I should begin at the beginning, so my talk is titled What happened in C++ 11 and why do I care? and has this abstract:

C++, both the language and the libraries that come with every compiler, is defined by an ISO standard. The latest version of the standard, generally known as C++ 11 after its approval last fall, was optimistically called C++0x throughout the multi-year process that led to its adoption. Many of the language changes (new keywords, new punctuation, new rules) and library changes (genuinely smart pointers, threading, and more) have already been implemented by vendors who were following the standards process closely.
In this session Kate will introduce and demonstrate many of the highlights of C++11 including lambdas, auto, shared_ptr, and unique_ptr. These are all supported in Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010. You can see how to make your code more readable and expressive, easier to update, more correct (less bugs and memory leaks) and faster, not by trading off among those possible constraints but by adopting modern C++ which gives you improvements in all four areas at once. If you’ve been ignoring the Standard Library, for example, you must see how lambdas make all the difference and open a world of productivity to you.
A sneak peek of the next version of Visual Studio will show you even more C++11 goodness.

If you've looked at my Pluralsight courses, you'll know that my biggest challenge is going to be fitting this into an hour plus Q&A. This will be an overview, an overture if you like, and should whet your appetite for the meetings to come!

Please register as soon as you can, please spread the word, and I hope to see you there!

Kate
Monday, March 26, 2012 8:29:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, March 23, 2012

My C++ precon, an all-day session about modern C++, has had a slight title change and is now called PRC08, C++ in Visual Studio 11: Modern, Readable, Safe, Fast. The content is still the same. My high level outline is:

  • Modern C++ with the Standard Library (demo of strings, shared pointers)
  • Application Lifecycle Management for Visual C++ 11
  • Leveraging Lambdas for the PPL and C++ AMP
  • Best practices for C++ developers today
This is all day the Sunday before Tech Ed Orlando starts, June 10th. You don't have to be registered for Tech Ed to attend a pre-con. It's a great way to get caught back up on what's been happening with C++ over the last decade or so. It's really not the language you remember. I plan to show you what's fun and amazing about it. Forget all that pointer-to-pointer-to-pointer and manual memory management stuff you may remember, and get ready to see how C++ can be simple, fast, and genuinely useful in some surprising ways.

Kate


Friday, March 23, 2012 11:12:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 08, 2012
I've been excited about C++ AMP since it was first announced back in June. What's C++ AMP? It stands for Accelerated Massive Parallelism and it's about harnessing thousands of cores on accelerators like GPUs. You can speed up some applications by a factor of 10 or more. Not 10%, 10x. And you don't have to learn some C-like language, you get to work in C++. It's done almost entirely with libraries, which means you can use C++ AMP from a variety of applications, including Metro apps for Windows 8.

If you check my Concurrency category you'll see I've been writing code (and words) for months now. I just haven't been putting those words here on my blog. Instead, they're going into a book, for Microsoft Press! Soon, I will have some chapter drafts available for review. If you're interested, I've set up a page with some details, and some links for those who want to learn more.

There's increasing media coverage, including Peter Bright at ars technica and Darryl Taft at eWeek, and last week the spec was released to the public under the Microsoft Community Promise license. This means other compiler vendors can implement C++ AMP in their own compilers, allowing even more developers access to heterogeneous hardware and massive speedups for data parallel calculations. Herb Sutter mentioned it in the Day 2 keynote at GoingNative, the Visual C++ Blog included a link, and Soma blogged about it too.

Dive in! There's a lot to learn. And plenty of samples to play with. I'll post updates here as I go.

Kate

Wednesday, February 08, 2012 8:48:48 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, January 12, 2012
Perhaps not a great surprise, but today the precons for Tech Ed North America were announced and mine is there too. It's well described in the previous blog post and I'll be doing the same material at both events. So if Orlando, June 10th works better for you than Amsterdam, June 25th, terrific and I'll see you there! Registration is now open.

Kate

Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:57:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, January 09, 2012
Yay! Today I got news that registration is open for Tech Ed 2012 in Amsterdam, and with it confirmation that my preconference has been accepted! This is great news for anyone who loves C++, because it's a C++ all day preconference! The title is C++ in 2012: Modern, Readable, Safe, Fast and here's the abstract:

C++ is gaining momentum as a development language, so whether you’ve never used C++ or stopped using it a decade ago, it may be time to brush up on your skills. With a new standard release providing new keywords and capabilities, C++ is a  featured language for many of the new Microsoft technologies and enables some amazing speed-ups of your application using libraries like PPL and C++ AMP. What’s more, Visual Studio offers tools to native developers that have only been available for managed developers in earlier versions. This all-day session will show you what all the fuss is about and give you the skills you need to understand the advantages of C++ today and how to start applying those benefits to your application.

Now, if you're an experienced and current C++ developer, you may not need to come to this session. But if you were thinking you needed a refresher, here's a great way to get one, and at the same time look at some of the cool new stuff that is available to you once you know C++. If you've never written a line of C++ code in your life, but you're solid in C# or Java so you know the basic syntax (if, while, etc) you should be able to follow this session, though it won't teach you all the fiddly bits of C++ syntax and make you a C++ developer from scratch. It should, however, give you the inspiration you might need to go and learn all that fiddly syntax, and understand why we have it. I am also hoping there will be a number of relevant breakout sessions you'll want to attend after getting a taste of what C++ developers can do, though we have to wait a little longer to find out about those.




I'm still working on the exact content, but my first draft outline looks something like this:
  • Modern C++ with the Standard Library (demo of strings, shared pointers)
  • Application Lifecycle Management for Visual C++ 11
  • Leveraging Lambdas for the PPL and C++ AMP
  • Best practices for C++ developers today

This is 9am - 5pm (all day) the Monday before Tech Ed Europe starts, June 25th. You can register for the precon and Tech Ed now. And tell your friends! I would love to see a TON of registrations to ensure continued C++ content at Tech Eds around the world.

Kate

PS: Yes, I know that Tech Ed US is a few weeks before Tech Ed Europe. You didn't miss the US announcement; you shouldn't have to wait much longer for it though.

Monday, January 09, 2012 8:29:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oh my goodness. What a week that was!

Here's how I thought I would do my first summary. Links to videos, discussions of sessions I either went to or tried to go to (more on that in a moment) along with my tweets from the ground, as it were.

My first real tweet Tuesday morning (8:37 California time) was announcing that my PluralSight C++ Fundamentals course had gone live. Then the keynote started. Here are my tweets and retweets along with the time into the keynote I said them:

  • 6 minutes: #bldwin totally dominating my stream SS doing a good intro to lean back computing
  • 37 minutes: RT @dseven WinRT API'S are natively built into Windows and built to reflect in different languages - C/C++ and .NET. #bldwin
  • 42 minutes: Starting at 8PM today, Seattle time, you can download all of the code that attendees at BUILD received. t.co/nuTuwga
  • 43 minutes: RT @wkrwk Did anyone notice the UI during the VSE 11 demo is the classic Windows UI? #bldwin
  • 48 minutes: #bldwin VS vNext demo is breaking twitter = no hope of following it all
  • 50 minutes: RT @andrewbrust Expression Blend is still Grey on Black. It could use a little "fast and fluid," frankly. #bldwin
  • 51 minutes: Store menu in VS?? #bldwin #wholenewworld
  • 58 minutes: RT @rhundhausen Desktop (#x86) apps can be listed in the #windows8 store as well #bldwin
  • 61 minutes: RT @ayus :))) RT @timheuer The Red Shirt is dominant even when not present. #bldwin @scottgu
  • 79 minutes, @EdgarSanchez retweeted @rickasaurus asking "I'm interested in hearing more about this new GPU offloading API. Any links? #bldwin" and I answered "Check my blog as the week goes on for GPU stuff"
  • 80 minutes: RT @marypcbuk Sinofsky: that gaming PC looks like ice. Angiulo: more like lava, it converts 700w of power to 4.7 teraflops like 3,500 Cray XMPs #bldwinPlatform for Metro style apps
  • 87 minutes: RT @Pete_Brown Dude just cracked open a laptop on stage and showed the electronics. Can't beat that #bldwin #geek
  • 100 minutes: RT @andrewbrust When will we admit Sinofsky's doing a great job? He's working hard, not just presiding. #bldwin
  • 120 minutes: RT @ronnipedersen If you have an iPad, don't watch the build keynote… It'll make you feel like you have bought a C64 #bldwin
  • 127 minutes: RT @jonbrasted It is a great day to be a Windows developer. #bldwin #trbbuild

The download surprised me, I didn't think it would be ready for people to try on any old hardware. And the hardware demo was very very good. And sure, I was on instant messenger back to the office saying "it's official" when the rumour was finally confirmed that we were getting tablets. But mostly, I really liked what I saw and wanted to know more, which is what keynotes are all about.

After eating something completely unmemorable, I found my way to the overflow room, always a little more casual and a good place to find "the cool kids". I had already met a number of old friends in the huge keynote session and before it, but here were more. I'll just give you the links to the Big Picture sessions. They are all very good.

  • 8 traits of great Metro style apps - a truly excellent session by a presenter who cares deeply about the topic. I tweeted a lot less during this one because it required more active listening.
  • Platform for Metro style apps - another very good session during which I just retweeted some other people's "Hey, this stuff is C++" reactions and a link to the session planner app for the phone, which I used heavily.
By this time people were starting to "get it" (including me) and the excitement level was rising. Here's just what I retweeted:
  • @coridrew #bldWin is really, really, really making me want to //BUILD/ Windows apps #BestConferenceNameEver #WhoKnew
  • @briannoyes Add ref from js project to C++ library - really empasizes this is running native #bldwin
  • +@fignewtron iPad limited in many ways to consumption - Windows 8 is production and consumption on many devices. Sales numbers decide winner. #bldwin
  • @mcakins Wow, the silence from Apple's camp is deafening! Windows rocks once more! Its 1995 all over again! #bldwin

One more session: Tools for building Metro style apps - I was getting tired at this point. It was a lot to take in. People were lined up the length of the convention centre for tablets. I knew there were enough for all of us, so I went back to my room to edit my pointers module for the PluralSight course so it could "tack on" to the end of the published course. While videos rendered, I had a little back and forth on Twitter with people who had noticed how much fun I was having, and others who were playing with their tablets already. I slipped out to pickup the tablet about 7:30 but didn't open it till the module was done. Then:

  • 10:48 pm: got major piece of work done ... yielding to temptation ... tablet here i come #bldwin
  • 10:57 pm: How's that for fast setup? Everything's installed.... Trying visual studio next
  • 11:11 pm: Just wrote a Win8 C++ app on the tablet with touch keyboard. Built and ran first time. #winning
That's right, I didn't even set up the bluetooth keyboard. People cite Visual Studio as an app you couldn't possibly use with touch. I wouldn't want to do it all day, but I did it! Then I played a bit more.

Day 2 started with another whole keynote. C++ was front and centre here. Some tweets:
  • 17 minutes: RT @seesharp 3D graphics debugging at the pixel level in DirectX. Unreal. #bldwin
  • 33 minutes: RT @bgervin killer strategy for MS to help developers make HTML apps for iOS and Android #bldwin
  • 34 minutes: RT @tpdorsey RT @EisenbergEffect […] in C++, you can write your own WinRT library, which when built, can be used by C++, C#, VB and JS.
  • 34 minutes: RT @jmorrill This new COM and C++ version is not _anything_ like what you think it is. From what I can tell so far...effing amazing!!!!
  • 49 minutes: Loved it RT @MichaelDesmond Zander shows off the new image editor in VS11 as he works on a C++ DirectX game.
  • 54 minutes: RT @shycohen Moving a VHD while the machine is running is cool. Moving a live VHD is even cooler! :) Will enable amazing things in the future. #bldwin
  • 82 minutes: most tattoos ever in an MS keynote
  • 95 minutes: RT @seesharp WOAH. Did not expect Steve Ballmer today. Everyone was starting to leave already. Woah! #bldwin
  • 97 minutes: RT @carafone 500,000 downloads of #win8 already! #bldwin
  • 98 minutes: RT @LACanuck And #Win8 was downloaded 500K times in 12 hrs RT @mashable: RIM Has Sold Just 490,000 PlayBooks - on.mash.to/nEu0dU #bldwin
  • 102 minutes: That's what these keynotes were missing! Turns out it's a great time to be a developer. I was worrying, no-one had told me yet #bldwin
  • 105 minutes: I've been paid to program since 1979. Keynotes tell me at least once a year it's a great time to be a developer. And they're right. #bldwin
Then it was time for simultaneous breakouts, and that meant choices. You can search the sessions list as well as I can. The C++ ones are not to be missed. These are happy people who are delighted to tell us what's been going on, and they're proud of it, too. At 3:13 I tweeted "Went quiet because i am massively engaged with C++ content in packed rooms. Small break between sessions to say "wow!" #bldwin #happycamper". The remainder of the afternoon was super confusing. People were jumping to conclusions, correcting each other, having opinions about the death of this that and the other. Because C++/Cx (the language extension you use to call WinRT) looks a lot like C++/CLI, people thought it was managed, but it's not, it's all native code and C++ Metro apps get a perf boost from that. The understanding that something amazing and powerful still has COM at the core began to grow. People were reporting trying to use Windows 8 gestures on their iPads and on nontouch screens, showing that the team has made some very intuitive choices. One tweet of mine I want to repeat: "Big props to Aleš Holeček for joining in the Q&A in the last C++ talk of the day when the questions got really Windows-y. Impressed. #bldwin". Even if you're not a C++ developer, download that session and watch the Q & A.

Day 3 started with being turned away from a C++ session, and so going to a different C++ session that was on at the same time. Several people from the C++ team made the trip with me, giving me a chance to tell them how impressive all this was. Meanwhile on mailing lists, people who weren't onsite and were 12 - 24 hours behind as they waited for session videos to go live were echoing the confusion and dismay of yesterday. It was hard to be patient with them. It's going to make sense, I wanted to tell them. Just hang in there! I took a small break from sessions to watch (and help with) the C++ part of Channel 9 Live (I am still waiting for links to the recording, because I couldn't hear everything they said and I want to) and then to Herb's second talk - again the room jammed full and dozens turned away, Don Box (who had earlier reminded us COM is still love) blurting out his admiration for Herb as a speaker and the great content, and the terrific line, "We protect against Murphy, not Machiavelli". What a time to be a C++ developer!

Day 4 kicked off with kind words from Daniel and a chance to hand out paper copies of the whitepaper I recently blogged. I got some quiet time with various smart people who told me their thoughts on all this. I'm still synthesizing it all. I also was downloading videos like a mad thing. I came home with 22 hours of video to watch and since then have grabbed another 15 or so. Some people began to realize they had over-reacted. Some excellent blogs began to appear - Doug Seven, for example, had several sensible things to say.

And then it was time to go. Glenn Ferrie tweeted "Writing C++ in the airport #bldwin #WinRT" and that summed up the week for me. I have a lot of watching, coding, thinking, reading and talking to do so I can establish what all this means. But hey, why not join me? It's a great time to be a developer!

Kate
Saturday, September 17, 2011 4:42:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, September 15, 2011
Word is starting to get out about C++ AMP, which appeared out of nowhere at a conference remarkably few Microsoft developers were paying attention to, because it was a hardware conference. There was information available in June, enough to get some of us excited:

I got into this right away and have been playing with code and doing a little writing. This is the kind of technology that changes things more than you might think. By leveraging the GPU, your code might run 10x faster, 50x faster, or even 100x faster. And for you to be able to do that from C++, using familiar C++ constructs, and a debugger and profiler in Visual Studio? That means everyone can do it.

Well, not quite everyone. You do have to learn how to parallelize your algorithms. The syntax of using the GPU (or some other heterogeneous computing resource) is not hard at all. The computer science of knowing your work is data parallel can be hard. But let me show you "not hard". Consider this code to add a pair of one-dimensional array:

void AddArrays(int n, int* pA, int* pB, int* pC)
{
    for (int i=0; i<n; i++) 
    {
            pC[i] = pA[i] + pB[i];
    }
}

Compare that to this:

#include <amp.h>
using namespace concurrency;
 
void AddArrays(int n, int * pA, int * pB, int * pC)
{
    array_view<int,1> a(n, pA);
    array_view<int,1> b(n, pB);
    array_view<int,1> c(n, pC);
 
    parallel_for_each(
        c.grid, 
        [=](index<1> idx) restrict(direct3d)
        {
            c[idx] = a[idx] + b[idx];
        }
     );
}

It's all C++ and it's all pretty readable. And this code runs on the GPU and can be WAY faster (and use less power, meaning your data centre is cheaper or your battery lasts longer) just like that.

Recently Daniel Moth has published ten blog posts drilling into some details. They will help if you've decided to start using AMP and want to know how. But before you do that, you might like to read a little background on why heterogeneous computing matters, what other options you might have for doing it, and why C++ AMP is what you want to use. I've done a small whitepaper on just that and would love you to read it and let me know what you think.

Kate



Thursday, September 15, 2011 9:15:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Here's an article in a pretty mainstream publication - the Economist - that explains why concurrency matters. I used to say "the future is concurrent" but that was then; this is now and it's the present that's concurrent. As the article says,

What was once an obscure academic problem—finding ways to make it easy to write software that can take full advantage of the power of parallel processing—is rapidly becoming a problem for the whole industry. Unless it is solved, notes David Smith of Gartner, a market-research firm, there will be a growing divide between computers’ theoretical and actual performance.

I'll have some more concurrency material over the next little while in this space. Things continue to change pretty rapidly. If you haven't been thinking about concurrency, now's a pretty good time to start.

Kate


Wednesday, August 03, 2011 12:12:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, July 29, 2011

Since Tech Ed came and went during my blogging hiatus, I didn't get around to providing links to some of the sessions you might want to see. It's time to correct that omission:

There were other sessions I attended, including a great interactive session that was not recorded called "C++ Renaissance at Microsoft: How the C++ Developers Can Get Involved" with plenty of conversation between Microsoft people and native developers. You might want to do a little searching on the main Tech Ed Video site to see what interests you.

Kate

Friday, July 29, 2011 5:51:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, March 05, 2011

The pace of C++-relevant video releases on Channel 9 sure feels like it's increased. I watched a few recently (I download them and then watch them in my copious free time) and they happen to fit well with some links I've been carrying around for a while, meaning to share.

Let's start with Herb Sutter talking with Erik Meijer about C++ and whatever else they felt like talking about. The resulting Channel 9 video is a must-watch, and for once I didn't crank it to 1.5x or 2x speed as I usually do with video interviews. When they get into the part about deriving future<T> from T, you might want to pause it and go read Thomas Petchel's post on automatic type deduction. And during the lambdas-and-closures part, let me recommend a quite old post by Eric Lippert and a followup to it that discusses how these things work for C# and how it's a little different in C++.

Then another two-smart-people talk, with Mohsen Agsen and Craig Symonds. It's great to get the high-level perspective of the value of C++ to any software firm. I love that phrase, dark matter, and you may have heard it from me before. After you've watched that one, you need to go immediately to Tony Goodhew's interview where he puts some numbers out that will drop your jaw.

I know, I'm asking for like 2 hours of your life. Even if you don't develop in C++ any more, you should watch these three videos. You really should. Call it industry research if you like. And if you wish you knew a C++ developer, you do :-)

Kate

Saturday, March 05, 2011 11:49:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 09, 2011
At the end of January, the busy bees at All-in-One (OK, they're not bees, they're Microsoft engineers) released even more samples including Azure, setting a hotkey that Windows will route to your app even if it doesn't have focus, detecting if the machine has been locked (with Windows+L) or unlocked, downloading multiple files with ftp, and many more. As always these are in VB, C#, and almost all of them are also in native C++.

In fact, there are just so darn many samples right now that it's getting harder to find the one you want. What a great problem to have! So they've released a sample browser to help you search and browse and generally get your hands on the code that will solve your problem and move you on to the next part of your day.

What are you waiting for? Go get it!

Kate

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 11:41:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, February 05, 2011
Adding concurrency to an existing application can be remarkably simple. I have a demo where I change a for loop to a parallel for and -poof!- the app gets faster. The hard part of that demo is knowing that a given loop is ok to parallelize, that it doesn't matter what order things are done in as long as they all get done once. And, of course, knowing that the loop in question is responsible for your execution time. Making the right decision is the hard part - typing the code is easy.

With that in mind, you need advice about choosing your structures and algorithms. Here are some handy things that may help you. On the native parallel programming blog they will help you choose your parallel sort. And on the VC++ blog, it's all about the parallel containers. If you're going to write parallel code (and let's face it, eventually you will) you need to read this sort of thing.

Kate

Saturday, February 05, 2011 10:42:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, December 05, 2010
I finally caught up some of my PDC-watching and really enjoyed this Herb Sutter talk on C++0x lambdas. I'm well known to be a huge lambda fan. Herb made this talk enjoyable for me by bringing his personality to the table. He showed aspects of C++ that are not exactly elegant, and how using lambdas can make some much neater code possible. Sure, lambdas are "just" syntactic sugar, but they add up to a new way of thinking about writing applications in C++. Well worth watching.

One warning though - I generally download videos and watch them at 1.5 or double speed. I highly doubt you want to do that with this talk - it's dense!

Kate

Sunday, December 05, 2010 11:59:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, September 10, 2010

Intel and Microsoft are offering free training:

Learn directly from Intel and Microsoft when you attend this free one-day course on parallelism and threading. This is a great opportunity learn about threading your applications for multi-core platforms. This course is targeted for Windows* C++ developers using Microsoft Visual Studio*.

The performance benefits of application parallelism on modern computing platforms will come from threading software. Learn how to develop software that utilizes many cores! Familiarity with threads is helpful, but not required (target is beginning- to intermediate-experience with threads, experts would not benefit as much from this course). 

They are going to cover concepts of parallelism plus instructor-led demos of Intel Parallel Advisor, Microsoft PPL, and Visual Studio 2010.

Sound good? The dates are coming up soon:

  • 20-Sept-2010 Montreal
  • 22-Sept-2010 Chicago
  • 28-Sept-2010 San Francisco
  • 29-Sept-2010 Seattle / Bellevue
Register as soon as you can!

Kate
Friday, September 10, 2010 9:29:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, August 10, 2009



Of course the most important sessions at PDC couldn't possibly be announced yet. The best are the ones that are TBD in the session list and schedule right up until the keynote. That's how you know something big is going to be announced. Imagine something where just hearing its code name, just knowing who was going to give the sessions, or even a single sentence of description would spoil the whole announcement. Those are the sessions you go to PDC for, so it's a bit like a Christmas present ... you can't know in advance what it will be.

But it's a four day conference with a lot of sessions and some of them can be announced in advance. I can see that this year some folks have decided to have slightly more interesting session titles (along with the more traditional titles):
  • Zero to Awesome in Nothing Flat: The Microsoft Web Platform and You
  • Windows Workflow Foundation 4 from the Inside Out
  • Windows Identity Foundation Overview
  • Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Kernel Changes
  • Using Classification for Data Security and Data Management
  • Under the Hood with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Programmability
  • The State of Parallel Programming
  • The DirectX 11 Compute Shader
  • Simplifying Application Packaging and Deployment with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Petabytes for Peanuts! Making Sense Out of “Ambient” Data.
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2010: The "Accelerated" Way of Building Applications
  • Microsoft Unified Communications: Developer Platform Futures
  • Microsoft Silverlight Roadmap and Futures
  • Microsoft Silverlight 3 Advanced Performance and Profiling Techniques
  • Manycore and the Microsoft .NET Framework 4: A Match Made in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
  • Development Best Practices and Patterns for Using Microsoft SQL Azure Databases
  • Developing xRM Solutions Using Windows Azure
  • Developing .NET Managed Applications Using the Office 2010 Developer Platform
  • Developer Patterns to Integrate Microsoft Silverlight 3.0 with Microsoft SharePoint 2010
  • Data Programming and Modeling for the Microsoft .NET Developer
  • Building Applications for the Windows Azure Platform
  • Automating “Done Done” in the Dev-to-Test Workflow with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2010
  • Accelerating Applications Using Windows HPC Server 2008

My favourite title in there is definitely "Manycore and the Microsoft .NET Framework 4: A Match Made in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010" but there are other contenders for sure. As for the topics themselves, I think many of us have still not given concurrency/parallelism/manycore the attention it deserves, and all of us are guilty of compartmentalizing what we learn about so I bet you have probably ignored something (Silverlight, or SharePoint, or Azure, or the full power of VSTS). That means these sessions alone will make us better devs. If these titles are enough to get you signed up, do it now while you can get a $500 (US) discount - from $2095 for the whole conference (except workshops) down to $1595 until Sept 15th. Wait till Labour Day to start bugging your boss about it and the discount will be gone, plus the plane tickets will be more expensive. (Oh, if you're a student or teacher, you pay only $595, which gives you an astonishing way to get head and shoulders above those around you.)

There are also some seriously intelligent workshops scheduled:
  • Getting the most out of Silverlight 3
  • Patterns of Parallel Programming
  • Developing Quality Software using Visual Studio Team System 2010
  • Architecting and Developing for Windows Azure
  • Microsoft Technology Roadmap
  • Software in the Energy Economy
  • Developing Microsoft BI Applications - The How and The Why
Four of those seven workshops are being given by RDs, meaning you'll get real world experience along with the technical product knowledge. What a way to get caught up on something you weren't paying attention to!

Going to conferences is getting harder and harder to justify in this climate. But that doesn't mean you stop going to conferences - it means you only go to those that are relevant to your work and offer amazing value (content, people, atmosphere, and otherwise-unavailable bits) in return for your registration fee, travel, and time away from work. The PDC offers just that for devs on the Microsoft stack. It's the only conference I've ever paid my own money to get to. Be there!

Kate
Monday, August 10, 2009 11:49:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, February 13, 2009

You know the blog, now watch the Channel 9 video featuring Damien Watkins, Rick Molloy, and Don McCrady. I like this one because they talk about how they ended up changing their minds over the course of development, moving from a language-based approach to a libraries-based one. They get into why that's better and what C++ 0x features they needed to make it possible. A nice way to spend a little under an hour.

Kate

Friday, February 13, 2009 4:20:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, February 01, 2009

While I was in Redmond I met Alon Fliess, who like me is a C++ MVP and is exploring Windows 7 (and Vista before it) from a native point of view as well as a managed one. About two months ago he mused about the "rebirth" of C++ in these times, not just because some of those operating system APIs are easier to get to from native code, but also because of new native capabilities (the continued MFC updates, the native Web Services library, the concurrency services) that just keep being added to the arsenal available to C++ programmers. (He has some helpful links in the blog post - you could also search through here if you like.)

I think it's a good point. If you know C++, now's a good time to use it. If you don't, then hang around (at least virtually) with those who do - we can point out some cool things. And thanks to the magic of interop, wrappers, and C++/CLI, perhaps we can make some of those cool things a little easier to get to from managed code.

Kate

Sunday, February 01, 2009 9:12:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, January 26, 2009

You know the deal when you demo beta (or worse, pre-beta) software. That stuff has audience detectors in it! Sure, it works on the plane, but just wait until you get in front of people. I’ve had my share of demo deaths, but I don’t think I’ve managed to look this cool about it:

Steve Teixeira tells the story in this blog entry.

Kate

Monday, January 26, 2009 10:31:17 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, November 22, 2008

Soma is blogging about C++ again. I liked this quote:

Over the years, we have heard a lot of C++ developers refer to the old days of Visual C++ 6.0 as the glory days of Visual C++ tools.  Many of the comments reminisce about the snappy and productive IDE.  With Visual C++ 2010, we strive to create a new benchmark for Visual C++ IDE productivity.  We will couple this IDE with our superior support for the C++ language and significant improvements to the libraries.

He talks about Intellisense, the build system, tools for exploring a large codebase, the native Parallel Patterns Library (PPL), lambdas, and MFC updates. There really is a ton going on in Dev10. A lot of it was covered at PDC so if you haven't watched those videos yet:

https://sessions.microsoftpdc.com/public/timeline.aspx search for "C++", "MFC", and "native". Enjoy!

Kate

Saturday, November 22, 2008 9:05:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rico, who like me wonders from time to time "am I old?", muses about how things tend to come on around again. Is C++ too old to bother learning now? Rico says no. But he also says:

...the real need facing C++ programmers is somewhat the same as what faced COBOL programmers say 25 years ago.  It's not that the language is out of joint -- it isn't.  I mean, ok maybe you like or don't like COBOL syntax but that doesn't doom a language and surely C++ syntax is not the zenith of wonderfulness.  But that isn't what's holding C++ programmers back.  The biggest problem, at least in my opinion, is one of accessing new/modern runtime features that may have a different programming environment from the context of an existing environment.

Now, what does that translate to in terms of action items for you? Good question.

Kate

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 7:01:38 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, October 18, 2008

Some schedules I have flagged with "must attend" in my calendar:

TL13 Microsoft Visual C++: 10 Is the New 6
Boris Jabes

Get more done. The next version of Visual C++ is all about improving developer productivity for large-scale applications. Learn about the IntelliSense and browsing experiences, changes to the project and build system, project-less browsing, collaboration through remote symbol indexing, and custom visualization of symbolic information.

Tags: Advanced, Languages

PC26 Microsoft Visual Studio: Building Applications with MFC
Damien Watkins

The next release of MFC will provide encapsulations around a number of new Windows platform features. With this functionality you can easily build applications that integrate into features such as desktop search, application restart and recovery functionality, leverage the new Windows UI metaphors such as Live Icons and Rich Preview. These features represent one of the most significant updates to MFC in years. Come learn the details on all these new classes so you can rapidly build Windows applications that stand out from the crowd.

Tags: Advanced, Visual Studio

TL25 Parallel Programming for C++ Developers in the Next Version of Microsoft Visual Studio
Rick Molloy

Build more responsive C++ programs that take full advantage of multicore hardware. We demonstrate how the new Parallel Pattern Library (PPL) enables you to express parallelism in your code and how the asynchronous messaging APIs can be used to separate shared state and increase your application's resilience and robustness. Finally, we take a look at some of the new capabilities of C++0x and Visual Studio to help you efficiently code and debug your multi-threaded applications.

Tags: Advanced, Parallelism, Visual Studio

Kate

Saturday, October 18, 2008 2:32:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, October 17, 2008

The concept of "a whole bunch of thingies" is a vital one in just about every programming language. Some languages support it right in the language itself. For example in C++ you can have an array of integers, or Employee objects, or Customer pointers. And when you use an array, you know that it's a continuous block of memory, and it's possible to interact either with just one element of the array or with the entire array. VB has arrays, and so does C#, and while the syntax is different between them, the essential concepts are not.

The thing is, an array is only the simplest and most accessible way to say "a whole bunch of thingies". It's important that you learn other ways to express that concept - typically by using a class of some sort that someone has written to represent it. There are a ton of these depending on whether order matters to you, does insertion speed matter more than traversing/iterating speed, and so on. Some folks, having learned one way to say "a whole bunch of thingies", look at all the other options, roll their eyes up into their heads, and stick with the one way they know.

This is bad. Not just because your code could be faster, neater, and easier to write, but also because arrays are really poorly suited for certain tasks. They especially hamper parallel programming - and you know that the future is concurrent, right?

Eric Lippert has written a cogent and compelling explanation of why arrays are rarely the right choice, and what you should do instead. It's written, naturally, from a C# perspective, but it's applicable to C++ and VB too. It boils down to this: Object Oriented Programming is the norm. Start trusting object writers. Use a class that someone else wrote and provided with your compiler, and you'll be a happier developer. And if you don't have some neurons fire over the phrase "considered harmful", here is a history lesson on that.

Kate

Friday, October 17, 2008 2:07:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tim Stall wrote an interesting post about test harness code that exposes your possible multithreading bugs, and the performance costs of preventing those bugs with the C# lock keyword. And he linked to quite an old article by Mike Stall (don't ask me if there's a connection between the two, I've never met either of them) that I really liked. It buckets threading bugs according to how difficult they are to reproduce, understand, and fix. My favourite entry in the list is the last one:

10) Stuff that's provably unsolvable, but for which customers demand a solution anyways.

Been there, done that, alas no Tshirt.

Kate

Saturday, September 27, 2008 9:21:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 25, 2008

Steve, a former C++ guy and current PCP guy, tells stories very well... just three of the reasons I like him. He blogs very infrequently, but when he has an update it's worth reading. This one is funny and informative. Plus, it features links to videos of presentations about the Parallel Computing Initiative. I've linked in the past to videos in English that are hosted on a page in French, so I know you can all handle it. Consider it Canadian Content even though the videos are from Paris. Go, read, watch, you'll enjoy it.

Kate

Thursday, September 25, 2008 8:47:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 03, 2008

In case you were worried that Microsoft efforts like the Parallel Framework (PFX) would be aimed only at managed developers, leaving native developers sitting at the little kids table again, take a look at the Parallel Programming in Native Code blog. It hasn’t been updated terribly often, but perhaps some feedback would encourage them (or is it just Rick?) to keep it current :-). The one downer: "this is technology we're currently exploring and I don't have any ship or CTP dates to announce." Stay tuned, I suppose.

Kate

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 9:52:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 05, 2008

How many C++ talks are there at Tech Ed this year? Well if you just run your eye down the titles, you'll see these:

MBL202 Maximizing the Usability and Compatibility of Your Mobile Microsoft Visual C++ Application

This session is targeted towards native (C++) developers. The next version of Windows Mobile will have a radical new look, with lots of new common controls and UI capabilities. This session helps you understand what you can do today to minimize backward compatibility issues. We also share many tips and best practices for improving the usability and overall quality of your mobile applications.

TLA327 Parallelize Your Microsoft Visual C++ Applications with the Concurrency Runtime

Introducing concurrency into native Visual C++ applications has long been the domain of true experts and gurus. Yet, as the hardware industry shifts toward multi-core and manycore processors, all developers will need to be able to write robust and scalable parallel applications. As part of its work on Visual C++ and Visual Studio, the Parallel Computing Platform team is building a key set of technologies that will enable the development of such applications. In this talk, we explore libraries for expressing concurrency, a set of messaging APIs that allow developers to consistently build parallel applications that are robust and resilient, and a shared user mode runtime for scheduling and for coordinating system resources. Come learn about these exciting new technologies that will help bring concurrency to the masses.

TLA403 Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 for Unrepentant C++ Developers

Visual C++ 2008 is packed full of changes for those who prefer the C++ language syntax and power. This session covers STL/CLR, the new extensible marshalling library, and changes coming in the C++ standard, specifically TR1. If templates don’t scare you, Boost has intrigued you, and you’re the one everyone turns to for mixing managed and native code, this session is for you.

But there are others, they just don't have C++ in the session title.

TLA321 Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 IDE Tips and Tricks

Harness the power of the 2008 IDE using new tips and tricks used by top Microsoft MVP developers and Microsoft employees. We look at new keyboard shortcuts, new options, the powerful "Quick Command" system, macros, tweaking IDE performance, and more that will make any developer using Visual Studio instantly more productive. The entire session is hands-on inside the IDE and applicable to any language, including Microsoft Visual Basic, Visual C#, and Visual C++. If you've been using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 or have never touched Visual Studio, you're guaranteed to walk away a VS power user.

WIN312 Windows Presentation Foundation and Legacy Code

Yes, legacy (MFC/Win32) applications can interoperate with a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) user interface. Companies that have large Microsoft Visual C++ codebases can modernize their legacy applications by giving them a contemporary user interface. They can do this without having to rewrite the core of their codebase. This talk presents "best practices" for how to modify an application so that the native code operates correctly with a new WPF-based managed user interface. The talk covers such questions as "Can MFC applications move to use WPF," "Does it make more sense to rewrite or upgrade the UI," and "How do you design an interop solution between MFC/Win32 and WPF?” As the talk unfolds, it includes a number of "do's" as well as "don'ts."

TLA326 MFC Updates for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Beyond

This session demonstrates the new features added to MFC in Visual Studio 2008, including support for Windows Vista Common Dialogs, Vista Common Controls, the 2007 Microsoft Office system look and feel (including support for an Office Ribbon-style interface), Office and Visual Studio-style Docking Toolbars and Tabbed Documents.


If you're here and you missed one of these, grab the slides on CommNet and see if you can find the speakers on site. If you didn't come to Tech Ed this year, consider ordering the DVD of all the sessions.

Kate

(note to self: add "C++" to abstract of any future MFC talk I deliver :-).)

 

 

 

Thursday, June 05, 2008 9:05:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 31, 2008

The keynotes for SD West have been announced. Can you guess which title got the biggest reaction from me?

  • Agility at Scale: Applying Agile Software Development Techniques on Real-World Projects
  • Beautiful Code
  • Is Agile Really Working for You?
  • Object-Oriented Programming and Generic Programming and What Else?
  • Parallel or Perish!! - Are you Ready?

The abstract for the last one starts, "A software revolution is underway, triggered by the shift to multi-core hardware architectures. " It sure is!

Kate

 

Thursday, January 31, 2008 4:20:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [4]
# Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Well, if not gone at least transformed into a concurrency blogger. Steve Teixeira, who speaks and blogs on C++ topics and has a wicked sense of humour, has joined the Parallel Computing Platform team. On the one hand, this is great news, because concurrency is hugely important to me and having Steve there will be good for it. But on the other hand, who is blogging C++ things now? Sigh.

Kate

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 11:36:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Monday, January 21, 2008

I decided to add a Concurrency Category, and to go back in time and add things to it. I hope it helps you find my posts on this increasingly important topic. I enjoyed reading some of what I've been writing about concurrency for the last two years.

Kate

Monday, January 21, 2008 11:34:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, December 23, 2007

You know something is mainstream when it starts to get named. I've been talking about concurrency matters for over two years now. And now it seems almost every day somebody comes out with something you just have to read or watch on this matter. An attendee at Tech Ed Developers in Barcelona asked me "isn't it confusing and wrong that people are doing such different things in this space?" I don't think it is. Some folks are trying things with libraries, with compiler directives, with new language keywords, with whole new languages, with frameworks, with the operating system, with the hardware, ... with everything you can think of. And I don't know which things will work out and how the various things will work with each other. None of us do! But it sure is fun to watch it happen, and it's probably the only way to do it.

So, some links for you, accumulated over the fall:

Herb's advice is good. He says "Expect at least dozens of major product announcements and releases across the industry, before the toolset expansion phase is fully underway and approaching some maturity. We the industry have undertaken to bring concurrency to the mainstream, and as with OO and GUIs it will take multiple years, and multiple major releases, across the industry on all platforms." Bring it on!

Kate

Sunday, December 23, 2007 7:33:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, November 29, 2007

I’m a big Larry O’Brien fan, and a big DotNetRocks fan, so when you put the two together, I’m in! Then tell me they talked concurrency – one of my fave topics for a number of years now and I’m sure for a number of years yet to come. That makes this one a don’t miss for sure!

Kate

Thursday, November 29, 2007 3:41:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, July 27, 2007

You know this is one of my hobbyhorses. But I didn't write this quote, and neither did Herb Sutter or Larry O'Brien:

And so the world is going to move more and more away from one CPU that is multiplexed to do everything to many CPUs, and perhaps specialty CPUs. This is not the world that the programmers target today. This kind of complexity was historically reserved only for the wizards who wrote the core operating system; or, in the world of supercomputing in science and engineering, people who had the ultimate requirement for computational performance built big machines like this and have used them to solve some of the world's tough computational problems. That was always a niche part of the industry.

This presages a change where the industry at large, the whole concept of applications, will ultimately have to be restructured in order to think about how to take advantage of these machines, because they won't just get faster every year. They'll get more powerful, but in fact only if you're able to master these problems of concurrency and complexity.

The concurrency is a real challenge, because the way the industry has grown up writing software - the languages that we chose, the model of synchronization and orchestration, are actually not things that lend themselves toward either exposing parallelism or allowing large-scale composition of big systems and it's in part why we and everybody else, as the software grows in scale, you know, deal to a greater and greater degree with the difficulty of perfecting the software, making it absolutely secure, being able to predict every aspect of its operation. And so today we face the dual challenge of having the prospect of meeting even bigger, more sophisticated pieces of software to do the powerful things that we want, and to do it in an environment where to get that performance at the client on an individual application will require the mastery of parallelism.

This is Microsoft's Chief Research & Strategy Officer, folks. And he says what I say: concurrency is hard, and the future is concurrent. I know we all get by in this crazy churning world of constant new releases by ignoring stuff, but you can't ignore this.

Kate

Friday, July 27, 2007 10:40:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, July 21, 2007

I should have pointed this out before, but I wasn't blogging at the start of the month. Herb Sutter has a new column at DDJ on, of course, concurrency. In his first outing, he talks about all the different words and concepts that show up in a concurrency conversation, and presents an organization of those concepts that can give you a framework for deciding what you're going to do about the future.

Words like blocking, coupling, background, asynchronous, responsive, isolated, scalability, threads, locks, race, mutable shared objects, transactions, and so on are actually applicable to different parts of the concurrency space. If you try to think about all of it at once, it's too hard. And make no mistake, concurrency is hard today. Anything that makes it easier is welcome, and in this case it's rearranging your head a bit.

http://www.ddj.com/dept/cpp/200001985

Kate

Saturday, July 21, 2007 8:08:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I have such a good time when I do .NET Rocks with Carl and Richard! I'm sitting around chatting with my buds, doing a little shop talk, sharing horror stories -- the time flies by. I hope one or two of you enjoy listening to it, too. Some things I heard myself say that sound pretty funny now:

  • you're out of feet, i'm taking over
  • it's the speed of light -- we're screwed

That first one is the CLR talking to people who messed up constantly on memory management. The second is of course the concurrency story. Along the way we talked about Vista (a lot) and covered plenty of ground. Why not give it a listen?

Kate

 

C++ | Concurrency | RD | Speaking | Vista
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:39:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 08, 2007

Herb updates us on the next C++ standard:

I'm happy to report that work on "C++0x", the much-anticipated Version 2.0 of the ISO C++ standard, has dramatically picked up steam over the past few months. The ISO C++ committee has now published the first partial draft of C++0x and plans to publish a complete public draft before the end of 2007.

As part of the push to get this done, the committee is having extra meetings, including one in Toronto in July. Hmmmm.....

You need to read Herb's blog post yourself for the details on what's in C++ 0x (Concepts, Garbage Collection, Memory Model for Concurrency, Concurrency Libraries) and what's not (Modules, Dynamic Libraries) with helpful links to even more details. This is our future -- and you can be sure, C++ has a future.  

Kate

Thursday, February 08, 2007 10:46:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 01, 2007

[Sorry about the blogging gap - nothing dramatic, just a little case of overworked and underslept. Good excuse to start up again though.]

Imagine a room with a table, no computers, and four really smart people who care tremendously about helping people write software, and who tackle questions like "what keywords should be in this language" every day -- and whose decisions actually will get implemented. A full hour of amazing conversation appeared recently on Channel 9.

How will imperative programming languages evolve to suit the needs of developers in the age of Concurrency and Composability? What role can programming languages play in enabling true composability? What are the implications of LINQ on the furture of managed (CLS-based) and unmanaged(C++) languages? How will our imperative languages (static) become more functional (dynamic) in nature while preserving their static "experience" for developers? 

Answers to these questions and much more are to be found in this interview with some of Microsoft's leading language designers and programming thought leaders: Anders Hejlsberg, Technical Fellow and Chief Architect of C#, Herb Sutter, Architect in the C++ language design group, Erik Meijer, Architect in both VB.Net and C# language design and programming language guru, and Brian Beckman, physicist and programming language architect working on VB.Net.

This is a great conversation with some of the industry's most influential programming language designers. Tune in. You may be surprised by what you learn...

Some quotes and paraphrases that caught my attention:

  • "No language can ignore concurrency and stay successful for mainstream programming over the next five, ten years."
  • our entire industry is based on composable software and we manage to do composable software with the languages, libraries and frameworks we have now. it's rather amazing that we can do it.
  • "all you can do as a language designer is slow down the accrual of new features that will eventually lead to cave in."

Now if you aren't sure you know what a lambda expression is, or what makes a language functional as opposed to imperative, or what LINQ would have to do with that, or what composability is, then you may think you don't want to watch this video. But you'd be wrong! Spend this hour with these gentlemen and not only will you learn all those things, you'll learn why it affects you and why you should be following, at least a little bit, the current work in this area.

Watch it!

Kate

Thursday, February 01, 2007 8:05:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, January 06, 2007

Joe Duffy has moved from the CLR team to Parallel LINQ. How do you like this offer:

We're looking for supersmart technical people to join the team and help change the face of programming for anybody writing code on the CLR or VC++. PLINQ isn't the only project. Solid CS skills are a must, but you don't necessarily have to be a concurrency guru (right away).

Help change the face of programming? Sounds (almost) irresistible to me!

Kate

Saturday, January 06, 2007 1:41:16 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I've been dying to announce this one. I'm leaving Tech Ed Developers one day early to go to Copenhagen and do a C++ day November 10th. There's an announcement in Danish on the msevents site now. Here's the agenda:

Agenda 

Kl. 9.00-10.15:                   Visual C++: Højere produktivitet med Visual Studio 2005

Visual Studio 2005 indeholder en lang række produktivitets-forbedringer for C++ udvikleren. I denne session ser Kate Gregory nærmere på de mange nye features og forbedringer Visual Studio 2005 tilbyder. Endeligt viser hun en række tips og tricks, som ingen C++ udvikler bør være foruden.

Kl. 10.15-10.45:             Pause

Kl. 10.45-12.45:             Sådan flytter man C++ applikationer til .NET

Se hvordan man flytter C++ projekter til .NET og CLR’en uden at skulle porte eller genskrive hele koden. Lær hvordan man nemt kan migrere eksisterende native C++ kode – inklusiv MFC applikationer – til at køre under .NET. Kate Gregory vil også gennemgå strategier til at vælge hvilke dele af applikationen, der skal forblive i native kode og hvilke der skal flyttes til managed kode (.NET). Og endelig viser Kate hvordan du kan bruge .NET’s klassebibliotek og du kan bygge managed ”Wrappers”, som muliggør genbrug af eksisterende C++ klassebiblioteker.

Kl. 12.45-13.30:             Frokost

Kl. 13.30- 14.30:            Fremtiden er nu

Så længe, der har været software, har der været pc’er med stadigt stigende clockfrekvenser. Nu lader det til at den tendens er stoppet – i dag bliver maskinerne hurtigere ikke fordi clockfrekvens stiger, men forbi de får stadigt flere CPU’er. Det betyder at selv enkeltbruger-applikationer bliver nødt til at være multi threaded. Det skræmmende ved dét, er at de fleste udviklere ikke kan skrive thread safe kode. Kom og se, hvad det kan få af betydning for fremtidens software udvikling!

Kl. 14.30-15.00:             Q&A

Kl. 15.00:                      Tak for i dag

I will be speaking entirely in English. (I'm not sure what "Sprog: Dansk" means but I hope it doesn't mean Language: Danish.) So far I have learned the word "Tak" and hope to use it extensively. I believe "Tak for i dag" means "thanks for the day" and that is going to be my motto this fall. Should you happen to live in Denmark, or near enough to it that you could attend this, and yet not know enough Danish to muddle through this agenda, I will tell you the titles of the sessions as I submitted them:

  • IDE Features for Visual Studio 2005
  • Moving C++ Applications to the Common Language Runtime
  • The Future is Concurrent

See you there, I hope!

Kate

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 2:19:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 14, 2006

Larry blogs that improving your app's performance means concurrent programming. Not just OpenMP, which is very cool, as he points out elsewhere, but all the hard stuff: "disk contention, memory locks, cache corruption, etc". Still, here's a tempting paragraph from that DevX article:

It's perhaps surprising that C++, with its reputation for difficulty, actually provides one of the easiest ways to exploit multi-core and multiprocessor systems. OpenMP, a multiplatform API for C++ and Fortran, uses compiler instructions to automatically generate all of the support code needed to parallelize code sections. In the simplest case, which is what we're going to focus on for this article, simply wrapping a processor-intensive loop in a #pragma block can lead to about a 70 percent performance increase on a dual-core or dual-processor system and enjoy a similar "free lunch" on the quad-core systems that you build in the future.

That's right. Concurrency is vital, and C++ takes care of one kind of concurrency astonishingly easily. It's true. Later in the article he plops a #pragma just before each of two loops, and his app runs 70% faster. How's that for fun? Go on, read the article, try it yourself.

Kate

Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:26:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In my concurrency talk today I had a total brain freeze and could not remember the last name of the author of the concurrency book I wanted everyone to read. The title is Concurrent Programming in Java: Design Principles and Patterns and the author is Doug Lea. Don't let the word Java in the title fool you: this is a book that explains the concepts of concurrency no matter what language you're going to use in the end.

Kate

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:45:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 23, 2006

It looks like I never added an entry about speaking at Devteach. I just made my travel plans to get there. I love taking the train to Montreal -- I'll end up within walking distance of the conference hotel, save time compared to flying, and travel in comfort the whole way.

Devteach is a delightful conference with a friendly atmosphere. I count 8 RDs among the speakers list, plus a whole pile of MVPs, Julie, and some of my favourite Microsoft people... DEs mostly. There is one track in French and the rest of the talks (about a hundred) are all in English.

My talks are:

  • Moving C++ applications to the CLR
  • The Future is Concurrent

There's plenty for everyone: web, smart client, data, security, patterns and practices, testing, Team Systems, architecture -- if it's a development topic, someone is speaking on it. On top of that the conference hosts the Canadian User Group Leader Summit (and gives user group members a discount on attendance - contact your user group leader for a code) and the Canadian Regional Director Summit. It's a great place to meet the stars of the Canadian developer community, and a number of folks from the American northeast who love to come up to Montreal. See you there!

Kate

Thursday, March 23, 2006 7:25:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The word is starting to spread about the concurrency skills we are all going to need sooner rather than later. And work is underway at dev-tool-makers to offload some of that work to the "system" -- maybe the language, the compiler, a library, the framework, the operating system -- anything other than the programmer because most of us are even worse at threads-and-locks than we were at malloc-and-free or new-and-delete or any other kind of memory management.

If you were wondering about Microsoft's committment to this (and the PDC talks on the topic weren't enough to convince you) then read Kang Su's latest blog entry about the new Bay Area Office they are establishing for this sort of progress... and wait till you see who's going to be working there...

Kate

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 12:42:33 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3]
# Sunday, January 08, 2006

The December lull is past, for sure. Here's where I'm headed in the next month or so:

  • January 11th, CNY .NET Users Group, Syracuse NY, Windows Forms: Deploying Applications with ClickOnce: Advanced Topics
  • January 14th, Toronto Code Camp, Yonge and Bloor, The Future is Concurrent
  • January 17th, Regina .NET Users Group, Regina Saskatchewan, Managing the Software Lifecycle with Visual Studio 2005 Team System
  • January 18th, Saskatoon .NET Users Group, Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Managing the Software Lifecycle with Visual Studio 2005 Team System
  • February 7th, SouthColorado .NET, Colorado Springs CO, TBD but probably the ClickOnce talk
  • February 8th, TRINUG, Cary NC, TBD but probably the ClickOnce talk 

That should keep me from being bored, eh?

Kate

Sunday, January 08, 2006 11:12:37 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, November 07, 2005

I love being "in the loop" on new software. It can get kind of surreal, though, when you are at a conference and find a technology kind of boring and everyday, and skip the sessions on it since it's "old stuff" ... and then realize it isn't even shipping yet! I spend time in betas, alphas, SDRs and the like, so it's often years between the time I start working with a technology and the time it releases. When I speak at Tech Ed I tend to hang at the cabanas where I can hear real stories of how people are using the tools and the problems they need help with.

The PDC though, that's a different story. Well, it should be anyway. The PDC is all about the future, right? The workflow announcement was a big deal, but the material wasn't new to me. I began to worry if I would ever attend a session that sparked my interest in something new and important. Then I found it. I've waited to blog it until the sessions were available online.

What Jan Gray had to say in FUN302 and Herb Sutter introduced in TLN309 totally grabbed me. Because clock speed cannot go up any more we all have to write concurrent code even if it's single user:

And since most people can't write good concurrent code (see Herb's Singleton example which still doesn't work even with the double checking and the volatile keyword, at least not all the time) then the OS or the framework or the language needs to do it for them. Herb and Jan are proposing different approaches, but these two guys are among the smartest I know (I've known Jan almost 30 years) and if they are both into this, then I need to learn more about it. You probably do too.

Kate

Monday, November 07, 2005 10:19:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]