# Friday, 25 March 2011
Charles was busy during MVP summit! In addition to interviewing me, he sat a number of MVPs down to talk about C++, being an MVP, and the like. They're from all over the world and they have widely different jobs, but you can see how much they love this stuff. And please notice -- they span a wide age range, too. The stereotype of C++ as the language for the grey haired developers is just a myth. If you wonder why anyone still uses C++, and why it's going to be very good for this industry that there are still C++ experts around, watching these videos will be an eyeopener.

By the way, Alon is also an RD.

Kate

Friday, 25 March 2011 07:15:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 23 March 2011
As you may have noticed the C++ team is really stepping up the communication lately. There have been hours of Channel 9 videos (I pointed you to some good ones) and Diego has been blogging a lot. Recently he did a long post (with references!) on Intellisense in C++/CLI - why it wasn't in Visual Studio 2010, why it didn't sneak in with SP1, and so on. Here's a level of transparency you just don't see these days:

...we simply underestimated the amount of work it would take to implement C++/CLI in this codebase, and we couldn’t change our plans by the time we realized it. ... In the end it was one of those hard cuts you have to make when dealing with the real world resource and schedule constraints. It turned out that the work was also too much work to fit into SP1. As soon as we wrapped up VS 2010, we started work on C++/CLI IntelliSense, but it wasn’t ready in time for SP1. We realize this wasn’t what you wanted to happen and an explanation doesn’t help you get your work done if you are affected by this, but we want you to know the truth.

Wow. Makes perfect sense and is actually a nicer reason than "we think you don't matter". Yet so few teams will hold their hands up and say this. It happens. It happens to every one of us pretty darn regularly. Kudos to the C++ team for not pretending it was all part of a plan from the beginning to leave it out. And do read the blog to understand just how much they were taking on.

Kate


Wednesday, 23 March 2011 07:04:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 21 March 2011
If you listen to .NET-related podcasts, you've probably come across the Pluralcast before. David Starr talks to a wide variety of people and the passion shows, along with the skills. Last year I appeared on the 'cast myself, talking about Visual Studio extensions. Now I'll be doing a small appearance regularly - still talking about Visual Studio and some helpful extensions or whatever else I want to share. There have been three of these so far:

  • #36 - main guest is Scott Allen
  • #37 - main guest is Craig Shoemaker
  • #38 - main guest is Liam McLennan
I hope you enjoy the whole episodes, and learn a little something from them.

Kate

Monday, 21 March 2011 15:31:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 19 March 2011
I'm on Channel 9 a lot right now - partly because some things are getting published that were done a long time ago, and partly because being on campus for the MVP Summit makes it convenient to be interviewed. I love talking to Charles because he really cares about the answers to the questions he asks. So we talked for half an hour about what it means to be an MVP, what C++ is useful for, what I like about C++0x, and that sort of thing. Since Charles started things off by mentioning previous conversations, let me toss in some links to those too - here's the Barcelona conversation (backstory here)and on the couch with the C++ guys (shorter backstory.) You can watch my hair change colour if you watch those oldest-to-newest. Diego was also nice enough to blog about this interview, too, as was John Bristowe of Microsoft Canada.

Thanks for the chat, Charles!

Kate

Saturday, 19 March 2011 19:51:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 17 March 2011

Here's another pair of screencasts to simplify your Windows 7 development. Both cover Restart and Recovery - one is for native developers and the other for managed. As the screencast intros say:

Application Recovery and Restart (ARR) technologies enable developers to customize an application's behavior when Windows Error Reporting(WER) terminates the application due to an unrecoverable error. For example, it enables an application to perform data recovery and cleanup operations such as capturing application state and releasing resources before termination. It also allows developers to specify that WER should automatically restart an application that it has terminated.

I hope they help you do the right thing when your application blows up or the machine reboots.

Kate

Thursday, 17 March 2011 19:38:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 15 March 2011

You know I blog here a lot about Windows 7 goodies including taskbar integration. One of the questions I get pretty often is how to use tasks to communicate with the running app, such as changing your status, sending a new email, that sort of thing. I mentioned in an aside on another post that this requires launching some other application that communicates with the first instance.

If you'd like to do that, it just got a little easier with the release of a "recipe" from Microsoft that packages up this concept and lets you use it with very little extra code. As it says on the Code Gallery page for the recipe:

This Taskbar Single Instance Recipe allows developers to easily develop applications that use "Messenger Like" tasks that change the state of the currently running instance, allowing it to react to incoming state-change notifications and act accordingly.

This Recipe includes:

  • Native (C++) and managed (.NET) Source code for the Single Instance library
  • Well documented native (C++) and managed (.NET) samples
  • Documentation

To compile and run the recipe and samples the following items are required:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
  • Windows 7 – Note that only the samples require Windows 7. 

Yes, this recipe is actually two recipes - one native and one managed, and comes with whitepapers explaining how it's done. I mentioned this in my Tech Ed Europe talk on Advanced Windows 7 development and it's finally released for you to use! Enjoy!

Kate

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 19:18:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 13 March 2011

Whenever new stuff appears in the Microsoft universe, native C++ developers can get to it first. That's because they can easily call Windows APIs or COM interfaces or however it's implemented. Managed developers need to wait until the new stuff gets added to the .NET Framework or to a particular managed technology, like WPF. Take taskbar integration, for example: adding tasks and destinations, getting a progress bar or icon overlay on your taskbar icon, and so on. From the very beginning you could interact with the taskbar from native code by making Windows API calls. The Code Pack is a popular managed wrapper from Microsoft that enables those interactions from managed code such as Windows Forms applications. In the early days of Windows 7, WPF developers also used the Code Pack - but now those capabilities are in WPF itself.

Does that mean that native developers get nothing new? On release day they gain the ability to call those APIs and that's that? Of course not. Native developers use frameworks and libraries to build their applications, and those frameworks and libraries in many cases are wrappers for Windows functionality. One of those is MFC and you should know that MFC has support for Windows 7 functionality.

If that's news to you, then watch my screencast on Channel 9 in which I cover jumplists and overlays with lots of demos. It's just one or two lines of code for each of these. Users expect their apps to behave like this. MFC makes it simple.

Kate

Sunday, 13 March 2011 18:58:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 11 March 2011

Writing samples and demos is tough. You want them to do more than say "Hello World" or draw a red square, but you want them to be simple enough that people can see the "new stuff" you're demoing (WPF, or Windows 7 taskbar integration) or multi-touch) in amongst the real business logic. It would be neat if they did something actually useful, because then you might keep it around on your machine and use it, but most things that are useful are too big to be demos.

Well here's a sample that lands in the sweet spot: Tasks.Show. You put in your tasks, things from your ToDo list, along with time estimates, and it keeps track of them and shows them to you. I like this view:

It uses touch to let you flick tasks into categories, and has taskbar integration to let you open a specific category, add a task, and so on. All the source code is available so you can see how it's done - it is a demo, after all. You can get more details and screen shots on the Windows Team Blog. Check it out!

Kate

Friday, 11 March 2011 10:31:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]