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Brian Holmgård Kristensen

Hi, I'm Brian. I'm a Danish guy primarily working with ASP.NET e-commerce solutions using Microsoft Commerce Server.

I'm co-founder and core-member of Aarhus .NET Usergroup (ANUG), which is a offline community for .NET developers in Denmark.

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 Tuesday, 06 November 2007

I attended this session to get an overview on some of the new features in Visual Studio 2008 and hopefully learn some tips and tricks from that. And I did :-)

The speaker of this session was Omar Khan, Group Program Manager of Visual Studio, who did a convincing and stable speech on his part one of two presentations of "Building Complete Web Application using ASP.NET 3.5 & Visual Studio 2008".

Omar started out by showing the new Multi-targeting feature of Visual Studio 2008, allowing the development of any .NET 2.0, 3.0 or 3.5 application in Visual Studio 2008. It is possible to specify which .NET Framework version the application targets which automatically gets reflected in the IDE by switching features on/off. An example of this is that the available list of controls in the toolbox gets extended when targeting an ASP.NET 3.5 web application rather than an ASP.NET 2.0 version. It is a pretty useful feature that makes it a no-breeze to continuously develop our .NET 2.0 solutions in .NET 2.0 but then use the newest IDE available and leverage from its new features and benefits. And all this without having to upgrade the complete solution to the newest version of the .NET Framework as we had to when Visual Studio 2005 was shipped. Omar actually showed us how an ASP.NET 2.0 application was easily upgraded to ASP.NET 3.5, where Visual Studio goes and updates the web.config and adds some new assembly references including LINQ. Sadly I did not manage to found out whether it is possible to upgrade applications from .NET 1.x.

Moving on Omar showed us some more new features of Visual Studio 2008 with focusing on the HTML Designer. This has been improved and it uses the same WYSIWYG designer engine as in Expression Web, meaning that you don't have to worry about pasting any HTML delivered by your designer working in Expression Web causing Visual Studio to change the markup of this and vice versa. They have also done some work on improving the performance between View Switching, and they have now included support for nested MasterPages. In Visual Studio 2005 having nested MasterPages is not completely useful as the IDE do not support to render this, so now having this in Visual Studio 2008 is really exciting. With Visual Studio 2008 they have introduced a common feature called Split View, that is splitting the view between the markup that you write and the design that it produces. A feature seen for ages in many other products but until now not supported by Visual Studio. I should have asked Omar whether it is possible to dock the design-view on another physical screen having the full benefit of two monitors - but I didn't  - so I just need to check it out for myself (I don't think you can actually).

Another thing that Omar used a lot of time talking about was the new enhanced support of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in Visual Studio 2008. They have really put a lot of effort in providing a confident and fine grain control over the markup. From what I saw from his presentation, it really looks as they have succeeded in that. I have always been avoiding using the designer view because this typically meant that Visual Studio went ahead and created all kinds of inline CSS on my elements, which lead me to do all the work on that. I don't see however how this supports ASP.NET Themes, as they can be changed and applied runtime for your web-site, leading the IDE without any knowledge of the actually applied style - but I think that goes for all scenarios where the runtime can change the behavior that the designer in Visual Studio has no clue about. I need to dig a little more into this to fully understand it, but I really welcome the enhanced support of CSS in Visual Studio 2008.

The final topic on this part 1 of the session was how to work with data. Omar went, not surprisingly, into the world of LINQ, showing a demo of LINQ To SQL as an ORM provider for his Web Application. He generated the DataContext class by dragging tables from the NorthWind database to his web-site project - unfortunately all his LINQ code was placed in a inline code block of his ASP.NET WebForm leaving me a bit disappointed as the topic for the session was to build a "complete web application" having to think that we would see at least semi-structured code and not this kind of spaghettish-code. Luckily enough Omar pointed that out himself saying that he would refactor this in the part two of the session implementing an actual data access layer. With that said I could again relax and enjoy the show!

Omar showed some features of LINQ, including aggregating, Lambda Expressions, server-side paging and the use of partial classes to implement validation logic to the generated LINQ classes.

I'm looking forward to part two of his session where Omar hopefully, as promised, will structure his code in a more architectural right way and to learn more about new controls introduced in ASP.NET 3.5.

Below are some photos from the session with Omar Khan:

IMG_1396IMG_1398

Posted on Tuesday, 06 November 2007 08:15:39 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)
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