IIS 7.5 features lists

clock January 29, 2009 23:22 by author Galcho |
Internet Information Services 7.5 (IIS)

The great Internet Information Services (IIS) has it’s v7.5 with following features in Windows Server 2008 R2

  • PowerShell provider for IIS 7 has more than 50 new cmdlets
  • Administration Pack extensions: Database Manager (SQL Server management within IIS Manager), Configuration Editor (generate scripts with a GUI to automate administrative tasks), IIS Reports, Request Filtering (HTTP filtering, URL rewriting, etc.)
  • One-click publishing in Visual Studio 10
  • Web Deployment Tool (formerly MS Deploy): Deployment, management, and migration of Web applications, sites, and entire servers
  • Configuration Tracing: track configuration changes to IIS and applications
  • New performance counters
  • .NET support for Server Core
  • WebDav integration (was available before as a separate extension)
  • URLScan 3.0 integration: restricts the types of HTTP requests (was available before as a separate extension)
  • FTP server services: integrated in the IIS administration interface; new .NET XML-based *.config format; virtual host names for FTP sites; improved logging
  • Integrated extensions: new kind of extensions that appear to be an integral part of IIS

(via 4sysops.com article)



Time for reinstall… .NET Framework

clock January 28, 2009 08:48 by author Galcho |

I had interesting issue today: I was on urge to complete a task when I saw a strange exception – you know – the Murphy's law. It hit at the most inconvenient time. To be even more interesting I’ve deployed my work on two different servers and worked fine.

But on the most important one I got this exception when I tried to hit WCF service:

System.MissingMethodException: Method not found: 'Void System.ServiceModel.Diagnostics.EventLogger.UnsafeLogEvent(System.Diagnostics.TraceEventType, System.ServiceModel.Diagnostics.EventLogCategory, System.ServiceModel.Diagnostics.EventLogEventId, Boolean, System.String[])'.
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.RuntimeHelpers.PrepareDelegate(Delegate d)
   at System.AppDomain.add_UnhandledException(UnhandledExceptionEventHandler value)
   at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostingEnvironment.EnsureInitialized()
   at System.ServiceModel.PartialTrustHelpers.PartialTrustInvoke(ContextCallback callback, Object state)
   at System.ServiceModel.Activation.HttpModule.ProcessRequest(Object sender, EventArgs e)
   at System.Web.HttpApplication.SyncEventExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute()
   at System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously)

Very strange… and search engines doesn’t know much about the problem…

Luckily this was not used heavily and I could reinstall .NET Framework 3.5. And this solved the problem.. Now back to more productive things…



What’s going on lately…

clock January 26, 2009 08:35 by author Galcho |

Although I said I will keep blogging I went dark for a while. It’s not like I am not having what to blog about :) – just opposite – there are so many interesting things around so it is difficult to choose what to write about. I was digging into these interesting things lately:

  • TFS Continuous Integration
  • MSBuild
  • WCF
  • IIS7
  • WiX

As you might know each of these is ocean of knowledge, settings, tips&tricks that could make your life easier… or not :) especially when you hit them all at once. But definitely it worth the effort to employ them to produce better software product.

Next blog posts will be around these things so if you interested stay tuned. 



ASP.NET Adjust HTML Size, UX and AJAX

clock November 18, 2008 00:05 by author Galcho |

Problem Introduction

You come up with a great HTML layout for data-driven ASP.NET web page which makes perfect sense from business perspective and reveals key indicators while making possible to drilldown into details if needed. This page utilizes DHTML and AJAX calls to improve User eXperience (UX) and overall page looks great until… your database is not filled up and page load time is increasing due to generated HTML size, DHTML is slow due to big DOM tree and users starting to complain about it.

Possible Solutions

At that point there are several approaches that can be employed to help:

  1. Rework page layout so only part of data is loaded;
  2. Download data to the client in XML or JSON format and generate necessary HTML code on client
  3. Load only those portions that need to be immediately displayed and load others on demand (e.g. like paging)

Let’s explore these options:

Rework layout

Here is no technical challenge here – just business one: you have to sell new layout to existing users/customers and once they liked the initial one this can be really difficult. If you can do that – go ahead. There is nothing wrong with that approach.

Client-side bindings

Instead of downloading 10 MB HTML code to client’s browser you can generate pure JSON and having a template of HTML just to fill data in the HTML template with simple (or not-so-simple) loop. Good news here is that such feature is coming to ASP.NET AJAX in v4.0. It is called client templates and implements the idea. Here are some resources:

Partially Loading Page

This is also not new concept – load only  those parts that should be visible immediately to the user. Traditional paging explores that option although it is not that fancy. If you’re using Google Reader you probably noticed that it loads only visible part of the feed and as you scroll down it keeps loading from the RSS feed.

So here is the idea: having small piece of HTML loaded would ease the browser in rendering HTML DOM tree and you gain performance. As user keeps using the page you keep adding HTML to existing DOM tree by loading it dynamically using AJAX.

Tricky part could be rendering ASP.NET User Control within Web Service so pure HTML can be returned by AJAX. Here are some useful tips:

Summary

Utilizing these techniques could improve download time for your web apps and also speed them up because the browser doesn’t need to process whole DOM before give the control to the user. All these can be used together or in any combination as long as it makes sense from business perspective.

Hope this helps!



Playing Poker - Planning Poker

clock November 17, 2008 06:44 by author Galcho |

Imaging the following situation: your team is having a meeting in which you have to decide which features, components to build for next product or service release. Or by having a specification from system analyst you have to decide how long it would take to build the desired product so appropriate offer can be made to the client.

Either way it is very important what you will decide because all future changes will be around this very first decision. You are setting the expectations and this is very important for the project outcome.

One very popular technique is asking the developers for their estimation. Once the team leader has this number it multiplies x2 and gives it to PM. PM also multiplies it x2.5 so there will be good buffer zones. This approach, funny or not, somewhere works. And there are happy customers and ISV.

Yesterday I attended Seattle code camp and  a very interesting session was “Agile Estimation Techniques” presented by David Starr.

crispdeck (image by old.crisp.se)
The idea is simple: everyone from the team has a deck of cards. Having once already solved problem/built feature by the team is set as base one at well-known cost (in man-days, man-hours, ). Then another upcoming tasks is put on the table and after initial discussion everyone of the team lay the card of choice representing their thinking of the cost.
If there are big difference if some team members’ choice let them discuss their choice and repeat until everyone pick closer costs.

Look interesting, doesn’t it?! Read more here:



Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

clock November 17, 2008 06:08 by author Galcho |
ManagingHumans  "What you're holding in your hands in by far the most brilliant book about managing software teams you're ever going to find. If you’re in a bookstore, buy it immediately, take it home, and read it right now. If you’ve found this book on a friend bookshelf, steal it immediately. You don’t have time to get to a bookstore, and you can always make new friends later."
Joel Spolsky, cofounder and CEO of Fog Creek Software

Fortunately I didn’t have to spoil any friendship and I was able to borrow the book from corporate library. With a series of tales Michael Lopp introduces the reader into the world of the tech manager. Whether manager or just wannabe this book describes very interesting situations and cases which can benefit you in so many ways. If you haven’t been in such situation yet you can mentally prepare for it and have an idea of good action in the back of your head when one occurs.

Ability to be in someone’s shoes is so rare and combined with good writing skills creates a wonderful must-have book.

This book is really so interesting so I am going to read it in just two days…



VS2008 Web Setup Project and Win2008

clock November 12, 2008 01:01 by author Galcho |

I had interesting experience today. I tried to create a web setup project for one of my recent projects. As you know it is pretty straightforward: From Visual Studio 2008 File –> Add –> New Project –> Select Setup wizard.

image  

and just add output from existing project.
Then press Ctrl+Shift+B (Build ) and you’re ready… But not in Windows Server 2008. When I decided to test this newly made installation package I hit the ground with single dialog showing this message:

"The installer was interrupted before ApplicationName could be installed. You need to restart the installer to try again.

Click "Close" to exit."

 

Being experienced installer package developer I knew what I had to do: run the installer with verbose logging.

by executing this line:

   1: msiexec /i Installer.msi /lv detail.log

And I had nice 57 KB  file to read in wonderful notepad. And the problem action quickly appeared:

   1: Action start 16:22:53: WEBCA_SetTARGETSITE.
   2: MSI (c) (B4:4C) [16:22:53:082]: Note: 1: 2235 2:  3: ExtendedType 4: SELECT `Action`,`Type`,`Source`,`Target`, NULL, `ExtendedType` FROM `CustomAction` WHERE `Action` = 'WEBCA_SetTARGETSITE' 
   3: MSI (c) (B4:48) [16:22:53:082]: Invoking remote custom action. DLL: C:\Users\ADMINI~1\AppData\Local\Temp\MSIFB61.tmp, Entrypoint: SetTARGETSITE
   4: INFO   : [11/11/2008 16:22:53:097] [SetTARGETSITE                           ]: Custom Action is starting...
   5: INFO   : [11/11/2008 16:22:53:097] [SetTARGETSITE                           ]: CoInitializeEx - COM initialization Apartment Threaded...
   6: ERROR  : [11/11/2008 16:22:53:097] [SetTARGETSITE                           ]: FAILED:    -2147221164
   7: ERROR  : [11/11/2008 16:22:53:097] [SetTARGETSITE                           ]: Custom Action failed with code: '340'
   8: INFO   : [11/11/2008 16:22:53:097] [SetTARGETSITE                           ]: Custom Action completed with return code: '340'
   9: Action ended 16:22:53: WEBCA_SetTARGETSITE. Return value 3.
  10: MSI (c) (B4:4C) [16:22:53:097]: Doing action: FatalErrorForm
  11: Action start 16:22:53: FatalErrorForm.

Seeing WEBCA_SetTARGETSITE means that the installer was trying to set the destination. Having a web setup this means IIS was asked for “Default Web Site” and this call must be the one that fails. But why!? I have Web Server Role installed on the machine:

image

I and remembered from my MS DevDays 2008 IIS talk  – you still can use old (pre v7) IIS management tools with IIS7 as long as you have “IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility” role service installed.

image

I installed this role and … Voila!!! it works!!!



.NET Has A New Logo

clock October 27, 2008 16:36 by author Galcho |

Our favorite and very wide spread development framework has new logo. It’s cool and it is already used on Microsoft PDC 2008 slide decks

newdotnetlogo_2

(via Scott Hanselman’s blog)



.NET External Configuration & Build Process

clock October 24, 2008 19:57 by author Galcho |

It is very good practice to have several environments when creating a software solution - typical environments are Development -> Integration -> Staging -> Production environments. Also having Automated Continuous Integration server like CruiseControl.NET can greatly improve teamwork and quality of developed solution. Of course having a solution build (by CruiseControl.NET) you might want to have the installation project also build... and you will need a deployment procedure so the steps would look like these:

  1. Check-in source code changes
  2. Trigger a build on CI build server for the solution
  3. Trigger a build on CI build server for the build package
  4. Execute publish script which will deploy binaries to certain environment/servers and will change app settings, connection strings etc.

Example project setup can be seen on Omar Al Zabir's blog post ASP.NET website Continuous Integration+Deployment using CruiseControl.NET, Subversion, MSBuild and Robocopy.

 

Of course having all changes for different environments in publish script would make it big and difficult to maintain. This is why it is better to keep all environment/servers specific settings outside of the project. One option is machine.config. And storing it in source control, of course.

 

Another option is having all those settings in separate folder. I wasn’t aware of this option of .NET Configuration API and I was disappointed  when I found that XInclude is not supported. Fortunately there configSource section attribute which allows to achieve same functionality. For some ( more here ) this might be well known but I found this recently and AFAIK it is not widely used.

 

So you can specify web.config/app.config file like this:

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
   2: <configuration>
   3:   <connectionStrings configSource="ConnectionStrings.config" ></connectionStrings>
   4:   <appSettings configSource="settings.config"></appSettings>
   5: </configuration>

and then specify actual configuration in external files. Here are my examples for ConnectionStrings.config

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
   2: <connectionStrings>
   3:   <add name="cs1" connectionString="Data Source=myServerAddress;Failover Partner=myMirrorServer;Initial Catalog=myDataBase;Integrated Security=True;"/>
   4: </connectionStrings>

and Settings.config

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
   2: <appSettings>
   3:   <add key="s1" value="Some very important setting"/>
   4: </appSettings>

 

As you can see from example the only important thing is to have root element of external file named same as referenced section in the core config file.

and after that you can simply get the values as usual:

   1: class Program
   2: {
   3:     static void Main(string[] args)
   4:     {
   5:         Console.WriteLine("cs1: {0}", ConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings["cs1"].ConnectionString);
   6:         Console.WriteLine("s1: {0}", ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["s1"]);
   7:         Console.ReadLine();
   8:     }
   9: }

 

This means you can refactor configuration of existing .NET applications without having to touch the code or even recompile. Just be careful :)

Happy XML/Config refactoring :) !



MVP or Blue badge

clock October 15, 2008 20:46 by author Galcho |

Which one is better?! No doubt both are very excellent in the world of software development with Microsoft tools. So I feel very lucky because last month I touched both in one or another way:

  • In the beginning of September I got a request for more detailed contact information regarding a upcoming nomination for MVP Award. Although very pleased I couldn't accept such nomination as I already had accepted an offer from Microsoft for fulltime employment.
  • In the beginning of October 2008 I've started working for Microsoft as fulltime employee(or as a blue badge in local slang :) ). I am working as SDE in AdCenter and I will be creating solutions with favorite .NET Framework. No need to say that I am very excited and impatient to get into deep details in organization processes inside the biggest and most successful software company.
    I also relocated from Bulgaria to Seattle with my wife and we had the longest journey so far. The international relocation package is excellent and several teams work with us to facilitate the relocation and to make it as painless as possible. The friends here helped us a lot for getting acknowledged with the area and the lifestyle.
What does this mean for the blog?!

Well... I will keep it for sure!!! Microsoft supports such initiatives but definitely you won't read news here prior officially announced :) so Scott Guthrie will remain your preferred source of fresh news regarding development tools. There were some suggestions to move the blog on blogs.msdn.com but I think I will keep it on http://www.galcho.com/blog/.

 

The photo album is also updated with various photos from our area exploration tours in Seattle/Redmond/Bellevue .