Entering the Path of Software Developer - what you need to become one

by Dmitry Kirsanov 12. December 2011 21:37

Microsoft KidDuring my career as a Microsoft Certified Trainer, I’ve been training .NET software developers and Windows system administrators – usually they were well established professionals longing for more knowledge and ready to purchase a training course instead of a car.

But there were people, and they still appear regularly, who suddenly make a decision to become a software developer. Either it’s because they were ignited by the idea and believed in own capacity of writing new software, or out of curiosity or any other reason – be it money, prestige or worrying about own future.


So this post is for such people. If you are considering to become a .NET software developer and wondering what should be your first step – I will do my best to explain it right now. If you are seasoned .NET software developer, then perhaps you won’t find much useful information here, but you’ll have a link to give when someone will ask you that question – “I want to become a software developer, what should I do?”. More...

URL Rewriting and Routing in ASP.NET 4

by Dmitry Kirsanov 9. December 2011 21:37

How to make the URL of your page look more user-friendly or just make it self-explanatory? And anyway – look different from what it really is? In ASP.NET version 4 it’s easier than ever.

Why would we need that feature anyway?

It’s been quite popular trend in web development since the very beginning of dynamic Web – first, we didn’t want anyone to see the extension of our files, as this posed a security risk. Anyone, who could see that our page is actually an ASP page, would understand that you have Internet Information Server, which was considered “dangerous” at that time – not even because it was too bad, but because Windows NT 4 Server was user-friendly enough so people wouldn’t need to be MCSE in order to install and run web server. It wasn’t hard for Linux either, but Apache didn’t offer any dynamic contents out of the box. More...

Securing Corporate Identity - 3 Things You Shouldn’t Leave Behind

by Dmitry Kirsanov 5. December 2011 16:57

The new culture of making business “more social” brings so many new possibilities and chances, it’s hard to analyze the consequences of every step you take. We are doing so much in order to use the latest features of the web, that don’t recognize the jeopardy hidden in most innocent things we do.

In October of 2011 I took an experiment, which lasted for two months and gave me so interesting results, that I couldn’t resist to share. For some of you these findings could be shocking and reveal something new, but the reason for the experiment was purely to prove what seemed logical even without the experiments. More...

Team Foundation Server 2010 For Developers part 2 - Advanced Source Control

by Dmitry Kirsanov 4. December 2011 19:03

This is my second post about Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server for Software Developers. The previous one is here.

Now that you know how to submit your code to the source control, associate work items and use that information in your daily work, it’s time to learn the rest two things we skipped in the first part. The Branching and the Shelving.

Team Foundation Server is an Agile-oriented platform, and therefore many of it’s concepts supports the existing models of Agile Software Development. One of such models is Source Code Promotion Model, which basically means that your code moves through 3 stages – development, testing and production.

A word of warning: each model of Agile is a double bladed sword. It expects you to meet the conditions which will make this model effective, and if you fail to comply – you’ll get ineffective implementation, which could ruin your software development efforts. In case of Promotion Model, make sure you have a dedicated team of testers – not just developers from other project who came to rescue, but professional testers who are not doing any development. If you don’t have dedicated testers – forget about Promotion Model. More...

Search Engine Optimization in ASP.NET

by Dmitry Kirsanov 30. November 2011 17:19

ASP.NET engine is a wonderful thing. It does so much for you, that in the past could take ages and would earn you the title of demigod of Web Development. In some legacy languages, like PHP, it is still the case. For example, things like Localization and cross-browser support are very natural and automatic in ASP.NET, they don’t require any time or skills. You can add support of more languages, different output formats for date and numbers, add Ajax powered controls, caching, data access, perform various other high pilotage figures without thinking. I remember the time, when saving data between post-backs was an issue, and in ASP.NET it was solved by implementing the VIEWSTATE feature, which saves the state of page controls in one hidden field between submits - that feature alone worth a thousand words.

But ASP.NET comes to the rescue not only in obvious and direct ways - some features were introduced for one purpose, but perfectly helped in other areas. And one such area is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. More...

What’s new in ASP.NET 4.5 - Performance improvements

by Dmitry Kirsanov 29. November 2011 19:40

A long time ago, when dinosaurs were still operational,  we tried to improve performance of our HTML / CGI pages by various ways, but also having different goals for such improvements.

In the dawn of web, when U.S. Robotics 14.4kbps modem was a de-facto standard and traffic compression wasn’t widely implemented by ISP call centers, our biggest concern was the size of our files. I wouldn’t say “output”, as it was mainly static, but even when it was dynamic, like the output from CGI modules written in Visual Basic 4 or 5, it was paramount that users would not wait more than 2 seconds to get the HTML part of it.

Now even mobile phones are having unlimited data plans, home connections reach 100 Mbit/s heights and in order to decrease the size of the output we just have to tick a checkbox in IIS, so the output – be it static or dynamic, is compressed. So the era of “HTML optimizers” – tools that remove extra spaces and “unneeded” tags from your markup, is over.

Another thing that helped us to avoid traffic jams, was Ajax. It killed 2 rabbits with a single shot – decreased the traffic flow by only up/down loading the data our application needs at this time, and thus increased the response time. But this came at a cost.

Each small callback made by Ajax is no different than ordinary callback, except that it transfer smaller amount of data. But it’s a connection nevertheless. Even if keep-alive is used by browser, it still consumes a connection from server and still there are protocol issues involved. More...

Two words about employment

by Dmitry Kirsanov 28. November 2011 03:12

It appears like in some things Chinese have more sense than the rest of the world. According to the article, they are going to cancel majors (i.e. higher education programs) which don’t lead to employment. They are going to analyze the stats of employment for those, who finished their majors and how lucky they are to land a job. So, if you are teaching Turbo Pascal and call it “Computer Science”, your days are numbered. If you teach it in China, of course.

I wish the same would be implemented in EU. During my career I found out one thing – an IT specialist with higher education is less preferable than the one without it. The reason is simple – higher education in Eastern Europe works just like in “Profession” – novel by Isaac Asimov. Dumb memorizing of irrelevant data which won’t do any good for business. They are not taught creativity and open-mind behavior.

Besides, the situation with employment becomes so interesting for those mentally challenged IT administrators, that some of them become very… I almost said “creative”… In finding a new job opportunity.

According to Security Week, a 26 year-old Hungarian male called Attila Nemeth hacked into the network of American hotel network Marriot through some dumb social engineering technique, and then… Tried to extort the employment opportunity at that company, at his terms. And as if it wasn’t stupid enough, he sent them a copy of his passport, and used plane ticket paid by Marriot to come for his job interview. After he was “interviewed” by Secret Service “HR personnel”, he’s about to be employed by one of American prisons for next 15 years and during that time he will have to pay up to $ 1 million to Marriot.

This makes me think, that Hungary has problems with two things, and one of them is employment.

Talking about employment and HR, a new research shows, that there is a direct relation between intellect and the sense of humor. Apparently, the sense of mirth is a reward given by brain when you discover the logical error in statement. According to my own experience and opinion, research results looks valid and natural. Bad news for people with undeveloped sense of humor.

And one ring to rule them all

by Dmitry Kirsanov 27. November 2011 13:08

As discussed previously, there is a noticeable trend in casual IT these days – cut spending on IT infrastructure management as much as possible. Companies are using all chances to eliminate the “human factor” from systems administration, and while it’s scary for incompetent administrators, it adds to the innovation factor of modern IT management offering.

So it’s quite controversial trend. But trends of that kind are very natural for innovation. Let’s see what it’s all about.

There are two questions, depending from who you are – either CEO or IT professional. If you manage the company, any company, then the question is – how much your IT infrastructure costs, and how much – the IT department?

By IT infrastructure I mean all the computer devices you are using in your business, your internet connection and costs of ownership. The IT department, on the other hands, are people and servers used to make the rest of the company operational.

Depending from your personal qualities, chances are that as CEO you dream about getting rid of all the IT guys, as usually keeping own system administrator looks like having own telecommunications specialist just because you own a bunch of phones.

The trend these days is to fulfil that dream. To create service which would substitute your entire IT department without your employees noticing any change. Imagine, that you give up all your expensive servers, all your expensive IT administrators and their rooms, by simply signing up for online service for a fraction of previous monthly expenses of your IT department.

If you are system administrator, on the other hands, then perhaps you think that it’s hard to replace you and your knowledge, so the question for you is simple – what do you know?

What if that service will care about antivirus, updates, backups, software deployment, license management, asset management, various policies and would provide users with answers to all their questions and arrange local company to fix hardware problems at the best price and speed? What would you do against the power of totally automated workflow system, backed up by top IT professionals somewhere in the middle of nowhere?

One of the first birds of the trend is system called Microsoft Intune. You probably know their Windows Small Business Server (SBS) – the Windows Server for poor, available since 2003 and now it’s Small Business Server 2008. The difference between normal Windows Server and SBS is that you don’t have to be a professional Windows System Administrator to operate it. Wizards replaced the command line tools (literally, replaced – some tools are simply not available), you can do anything using your mouse. Also, it comes together with Exchange, which is installed and managed automatically. If you have a decent server hardware – it will everything you need to power a company with up to 500 workstations. Still, you would need to have an IT guy who would take care about stuff.

Well, the reason why I mentioned SBS is that Microsoft Intune is a natural enhancement to SBS offer, but now you can go to the web page and manage your environment without all that Computer Science – everything through one nice looking Silverlight powered web page. And it allows you to do most of the stuff I mentioned before, allowing your CEO to fire half of your IT department.

But you know how it works – someone should provide a platform, and others will build their offers on it. That’s true for just about every product of Microsoft – the network of partners doesn’t fail. So expect Intune to become a platform to something more dramatic, as well as inspiration for copycats. Most likely we’ll see similar solutions from Citrix, VMWare or whoever else. And this will end the system administrator career as we know it.

So, CEOs should enjoy the new offering and take a waiting stance, while still employed system administrators should plan their training – if what you do can be covered by some cloud offering, your next and last assignment will be to implement it in your company.

I will publish video presentation of Windows Intune soon, so you will see what I am talking about.

Updating currency exchange rates in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

by Dmitry Kirsanov 22. November 2011 08:36

As promised earlier, I’ve created a small utility which updates currency exchange rates for currencies used by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 server. It’s fast, reliable and can be run in unattended mode, so you can set it once and forget about it.

A bit about Microsoft Dynamics CRM first

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the most advanced CRM system created so far. It allows you to keep track on your customers, partners and rivals and monitor relations in real time. So you can create marketing campaign for all your customers in Denmark with turnover higher than 200 000 euro and who’s main industry is Finance. And send them personalized proposal. And each of that customers will reply to manager, assigned to that customer. And you will track the success of that action in real time, being able to test your genius as CEO. Well, not only that. More...

Team Foundation Server 2010 for Developers - part 1

by Dmitry Kirsanov 21. November 2011 02:50

As I finished the series of presentations for Quality Assurance specialists on Team Foundation Server 2010 Test Manager, it was obvious to continue with TFS and now do it for the biggest audience of it’s users – for .NET developers.

Microsoft Visual Studio is the most advanced RAD platform made so far. We could argue about the languages and platforms, like .NET vs. J2EE or ASP.NET vs. Ruby, but one thing is for sure – when you are software developer, no matter what language you are using, the Visual Studio is the most advanced and friendly platform  for any level.

Saying that, Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 (that’s the official name of the product) is a very advanced and sophisticated part of Visual Studio, arguably the most advanced product Microsoft created, apart from operating systems.

Systems administrators having hard hours installing it, developers spend hours learning it’s concepts, but then it starts working and software development becomes a pleasant and highly productive process.

Once you’ve started working with TFS, you can’t imagine working without it on any more or less complex team project. It takes the burden of source and version control, the whole agile workflow, sophisticated automated testing, control over policies and a lot more.  That’s definitely a product which costs every penny of it’s price.

All right, enough praises. You should make your own conclusions and for that you should see it in action. While the previous demonstration for QA specialists was convincing enough to use TFS as the platform for automated testing and main environment for testers, now we are going to talk about the main, biggest and greatest part of Team Foundation Server 2010 – the one meant for software developers.

In this first demonstration we are exploring the source control, but as everything is linked in TFS, we also touch working with code and some best practices. In the next part we will explore the source control deeper, before moving further to more complex and wonderful parts of Team Foundation Server 2010.

Team Foundation Server for Software Developers part 1

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