Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Global Launch Wave starts today, "Dynamic IT" is the theme (update)

Did you forget? Today is the official beginning to the much hyped Microsoft Global Launch Wave designed to "introduce" the world to Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008. As I type this post, Mr. Ballmer is blaring on my laptop speakers via the live web cast coverage of his West Coast keynote, doing his best to put a good face on the "2008 brand" products. There is not really much new being shared- at least not yet- and even Ballmer acknowledged during his prepared remarks that the Internet has changed the nature of product launch keynotes since so much is known before products are "officially" introduced.

To be completely honest, it is a little hard to focus on writing this post with his presentation running in the background, so I apologize if the writing is a little disjoint. For now, I'll watch the remainder of the keynote and update this post if any new or exciting details are shared. If you hurry, you can catch the last 30 minutes of the live web cast, too, and enjoy some Ballmer antics today. Yay...

UPDATE: The keynote is over and, as expected, there is not much new to report. What I am excited to mention, though, is that Telerik's Silverlight controls were in the Ballmer keynote! I won't say where, for now, but after MIX next week I'll share the full story. Until then, you'll have to try to figure it out on your own...sorry.

Monday, February 25, 2008

RadControls for ASP.NET SP2 released today

Even though there is a lot to look forward to in the big Q1 2008 release in April, there is still plenty of work being done to deliver incremental improvements to your Q3 2007 controls. Along those lines comes today's announcement and immediate availability of the second service pack for the Q3 controls. This round of service packs for both the RadControls "classic" and the new RadControls "Prometheus" is actually full of new features and control improvements and something you'll probably want to download right away. Among the cool new features in SP2 (for "Prometheus") are:

  • New export settings in RadGrid that enable you to control CSV column and row delimiters.
  • New RadGrid RowHoverStyle that enables you to easily enable custom styling for your grid rows that is displayed when the mouse is over a row. All common skins now supply RowHover styles, too.
  • Reduced RadScheduler client-side init time helps your page load faster.
  • Web Services support in RadTooltip for easy web service data binding.
  • New Overlay and KeepInScreenBounds properties for RadWindow.
  • Significant script optimizations in RadEditor that greatly reduce the number of script links rendered to the page.
Even bigger than all of these improvements in "Prometheus" SP2, though, is a big change to how the control designers are distributed. As of this service pack, the RadControls "Prometheus" will no longer ship with a separate DLL for the control designers (Telerik.Web.Design.dll). Instead, all designers are now included in the single Telerik.Web.UI assembly.

This change was made to overcome insurmountable problems introduced by Microsoft in VS 2008 that caused the control designers to break when in a separate GAC'd assembly. The impact to you as a developer should be minimal, unless of course you were running in to the problems VS 2008 created, in which case the change should be a welcome improvement. The main point is that the RadControls "Prometheus" (and in turn the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX in Q1) will no longer require two assemblies. Everything will now exist in Telerik.Web.UI.dll.

Finally, for those of you that prefer to manage the loading of your UI component JavaScript files manually (versus relying on the automatic embedded resource approach), all RadControls "Prometheus" now support the EnableEmbeddedScripts property. By setting this property to false, you can turn-off the use of embedded resources and manage the loading of all RadControl script files however you like. Certainly not the most common scenario, but helpful for those that need it.

Check out the full release notes for more details and then download the new SP from your page. Enjoy the new bits!

Friday, February 22, 2008

In case you missed it: Part V

To wrap up this busy week of blogging and welcome the weekend, I've decided to bring you another fine blended edition of "ICYMI." It's been a few months since the last installment, so there's definitely a lot you've missed if you haven't been following the blogs, my "official" ASP.NET blog, or some of the other "big" .NET blogs out there. Fortunately, I've been following all of them for you and I have prepared a short list of links that represents the best of the best content for your weekend reading enjoyment. Usually, I only highlight things you may have missed from the blogs, but with today's big release of new Silverlight 2.0 details, I decided to throw a few extra sources in for fun. And without further delay, the links:

Enjoy the links and the weekend!

Q1 2008 RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX features revealed

Following-up quickly on yesterday's announcement that the RadControls "Prometheus" will become RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX in Q1, I have a handful of juicy details from the Q1 2008 ASP.NET road map to share with you today. As promised, there are some very cool new features coming in the Q1 2008 release and I'm very excited to get to share some of them with you today.

Among the controls getting lots of attention in Q1 is RadGrid (for ASP.NET AJAX). Our developers have been churning out new features for the Grid at an incredible pace and I am certain many of you are going to like what you see. Some of the cooler features coming to RadGrid in Q1 are:

  • Calculated Columns: This cool new feature will make it very easy to add a column to your Grid that automatically displays calculated column values. For instance, a Grid with "Price" and "Qty" columns could have a CalculatedColumn that automatically displays the extend "Price * Qty" without requiring any custom coding. You simply define the DataFields and the Expression and the Grid does the rest. CalculatedColumns can also be sorted, grouped, and filtered just like any other BoundColumn!
  • Footer Aggregates: This is one I know you've been wanting for a while. The Grid will now support automatic footer aggregates that will provide summary values for all rows in a column. All you do is set the Aggregate type in the column definition (such as "Sum"), and the Grid will automatically do the math and display the value. And, by the way, CalculatedColumns support Aggregate definitions, too!
  • Group Footers: Have you ever wanted to display footer values that were specific to each Group in a Grid and not the entire Grid as a whole? GroupFooters are your solution. They work just like you'd expect and they support the new FooterAggregates feature (in other words, they support aggregates per group).
  • Detail Templates: Do you want more control over your DetailTableView formatting in RadGrid? With the new Detail Templates, you have complete control. If you define a new "NestedViewTemplate" in RadGrid, you have access to the detail table data and complete freedom to render the data however you like.
  • CardView: Similar to Detail Templates, CardView will give you complete control over the way data is rendered in RadGrid. Essentially, it gives you the rendering flexibility of a Repeater with the same great Grid support for filtering, sorting, grouping, etc.
  • Pop-up Edit: Looking for even more ways to customize your Grid's data editing behavior? With the new pop-up edit mode, you can set one property and automatically use a built-in pop-up mechanism to display a floating "window" your users can use to edit data.
And that, crazy as it sounds, is just scratching the surface of what's coming to RadGrid in Q1! There are more great features being worked on that you're going to love and a lot of work being done on the performance side of the equation with incredible early test results. But we'll save some of these Grid details for later; there are other controls getting updates in Q1!

One of the other controls getting big updates is RadScheduler. It will get a new, flexible advanced edit form that can be easily customized to handle whatever scheduling data you need to manage. It will also get a new Timeline View that makes it easy to see all events for multiple resources over a given time period.

RadEditor, which has already seen significant performance improvements in the transition to ASP.NET AJAX, will get a couple of new dialogs. One will make it very easy for end users to manage styles in the Editor- similar to VS 2008's new style management interfaces. The other dialog will bring the long awaited image editing capabilities to Editor. The full scope of features for the image editor is still under wraps, but rest assured it's coming in Q1.

As far as new controls go, the recently previewed Skinnable Form Controls will be introduced officially in Q1 2008. These "utility" controls make it very easy to stylize all of your form elements (like buttons, checkboxes, and radiobuttons) to match the beautiful skins of the RadControls. When the new controls ship in Q1, they will come with all 13 common skins for the RadControls and support custom skins that you create.

I know this is a longer than normal post, but clearly there is a lot of exciting work being done on the ASP.NET controls for Q1. Hopefully this little taste of what's to come has got you excited for the future; I know I can't wait to start working with some of these improved controls. For a few more details of what's coming, don't forget to check out the ASP.NET Road Map and then come back here for increasing Q1 coverage as April draws near.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

RadControls "Prometheus" becoming RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX in Q1

It's that time again to start talking about the Q1 release for the new year (though, admittedly, the year isn't very new anymore). But rather than talk about all of the cool new features and controls coming to the April Q1 release (and trust me, there are some cool features), I want to instead focus this post on a major milestone transition that will be taking place in Q1 2008. As I am sure you have gathered from this post's title, in Q1 2008 the RadControls for ASP.NET "Prometheus" suite will shed its codename and beta tag to officially become the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX.

This is a huge milestone that Telerik has been working very hard to reach over the last year. The RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX represent Telerik's next generation RadControls suite for ASP.NET built directly guessed it...ASP.NET AJAX. The new suite, as any of you who have been using Prometheus know, delivers some incredible new controls (such as RadScheduler, RadTooltip, RadColorPicker) and significantly improved performance across all controls (like the really fast RadEditor). The ASP.NET AJAX suite is also delivering exciting new client-side features that enable you to tune the performance of your web apps more precisely than ever.

We settled on the new "RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX" name after a good deal of internal conversation. We wanted to make sure the new name for our ASP.NET controls communicated clearly that the controls are built on an entirely new platform and not just another "Q upgrade" of the ASP.NET controls. In the future, the "old" ASP.NET controls will continue to be referred to as the "RadControls for ASP.NET," but the primary suite of ASP.NET controls that will get most of the attention will be the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX.

There will be a lot more information about this transition between now and the Q1 release, so don't worry if you have questions that aren't yet answered. Today, we just wanted to introduce you to the new "RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX" name so that you know where "Prometheus" is headed. Make sense? Watch for more news and an updated ASP.NET Road Map soon. Hopefully you're as excited to start using the next gen controls (if you're not already) as we are to get them to you in Q1!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sitefintiy, DiscountASP.NET partnership launched

This is some exciting news that we've been working hard to make happen for some time now. Starting today, DiscountASP.NET and Telerik have partnered to bring you a special deal for hosting your Sitefinity CMS sites. For a limited time (not sure how limited), you can get 6 free months of hosting at DiscountASP.NET to run your Sitefinity CMS site with the promo code "sitefinity2008." As with Discount's other "6 month free" deals, you'll need to sign-up for a year of service and you'll also need to buy the SQL Server add-on if you plan on having Discount host your SQL Server database for you.

If you've never used DiscountASP.NET before, I can attest first hand to the great, quality shared hosting they provide. They're not the cheapest hosting in town (especially when you add SQL to the mix), but they are extremely reliable, performant, and supportive. I always recommend Discount for people seeking shared hosting for sites that matter. The only reason I don't recommend Discount is for people that need more system access than shared hosting can provide and are ready for dedicated or VPS hosting.

That said, DiscountASP is a great place to host your Sitefinity CMS site. Sitefinity is easy to get setup and running on Discount's servers- we even have a KB article dedicated to the topic- so you'll be in business in no time. There are a few (less than 7) medium trust issues with Discount and Sitefinity, but they will all be resolved in the coming weeks and none of them are show stoppers. I've got multiple Sitefinity sites running on Discount right now without issue.

So enjoy the discount and take this opportunity to setup your own Sitefinity site, even if just for fun and experimentation. Trust me. You'll like it. Or don't trust me, and try it for yourself. Either get my point.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Telerik award winning communication recognized

Since there is little else to report on this Monday afternoon, let me take this opportunity to highlight some fun awards Telerik won in early January from the Society for Technical Communication. In this year's Technical Art Online Competition, Telerik won the Excellence Award in the Promotional Materials Design category for the Q2 2007 "hype" game and a couple of Merit Awards for the RadChart and Telerik Reporting development manuals. As a reminder, the documentation for Telerik's RadTreeview also won the Distinguished Award in the 2007 STC International Online Communication Category. These awards underscore the hard work that all teams at Telerik put in to making sure our communication- both technical and promotional- is among the best anywhere. Hopefully you've found that to be the case when you interact with Telerik documentation.

Even though we are good communicators, we are far from perfect. We are always on a quest to improve our documentation and make all of our published material as accessible as possible for developers of all skill levels. In fact, a key area of focus for the upcoming Q1 2008 release is improving documentation across all product lines, with an emphasis on RadControls for WinForms and the new "Prometheus" controls. With your help and feedback, we expect to build on our recognized communication success and solidly establish Telerik communication (documentation, demos, web casts, etc.) as the best in the UI component industry- if not in the broader software industry as a whole. If it makes your development life easier, we are going to do it better than anyone else.

Telerik supports successful C# Day 2 in Second Life

Building on the success of the first C# Day held back in December of 2007, the Second Life .NET User Group, Microsoft, and InnerWorkings organized another very successful C# Day this past Saturday. A C# Day is an interactive experience that challenges attendees to explore the C# language and teach each other how the language works. The events have been conducted in "real life" for some time, but Second Life is enabling a whole new audience from around the globe to participate.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event in person and instead spent the weekend moving heavy furniture (since our house has finally sold). But, all the reports are that a great time was had by all and that the Second Life environment is continually becoming a better learning and interaction tool for .NET developers. Telerik was also a proud sponsor of C# Day 2 and all attendees that completed the challenge received free Telerik t-shirts (in Second Life, of course). Videos of the event should be available soon on the SLDNUG website.

If you're still on the fence about the value Second Life offers to .NET developers, hopefully events like C# Day and presentations like mine are starting to change your mind. Telerik is dedicated to supporting .NET efforts in Second Life and we think it is a great new way for developers around the world to connect. So stop scoffing from the perimeter, create your crazy Second Life avatar, and join us at Visual Studio Island!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Silverlight excitement remains strong

In a recent poll run on this blog, I asked you to tell me which new Microsoft platform you're most eager to use in 2008: Silverlight 2.0, ASP.NET MVC, or no new platforms at all. The results are in and it is of little surprise that the majority of you (62% to be precise) are most interested in using Silverlight 2.0. ASP.NET MVC trailed a distant second at 36%, and a meager 2% of voters have decided that none of the new web development platforms from Microsoft are interesting enough to try in 2008. These results are consistent with another survey run on this blog back in September where most voters indicated they are eagerly waiting for Silverlight 1.1 (now 2.0) to begin their development on the platform.

It should be great news, then, that we're only weeks away from Mix08 and what is likely to be a deluge of new Silverlight 2.0 and MVC details. I will be in attendance with my Vegas blinders on, focusing intently on all the new details so I can bring you some great updates and presentations in the coming months. 'Til then, get your Silverlight fix by watching the recorded version of my recent Silverlight presentation in Second Life or by grabbing the slides and code from my Silverlight presentation in Florida. Also, be sure to vote in the new poll about .NET ORM tools.

Sitefinity 3.2 beta available for download

Ah, Sitefinity 3.2. The huge release that's suffered some delays is finally getting very close to becoming a reality with today's milestone beta release. The bits have just been published to the Sitefinity forums and are available for anyone willing to take the beta for a spin. For those that have forgotten or just not paid attention, the Sitefinity 3.2 release is going to deliver a lot of new functionality. Among the new features in 3.2 are:

  • New! Personalization Module
  • New! Newsletter Module
  • New! Events Module
  • New! Photos & Documents Module
  • CAPTCHA form protection
  • Integration with RadControls "Prometheus"
The beta is good way to start testing these features, but you should proceed with some caution. There is a healthy list of "known issues" with this beta release that you'll want to review before downloading. All of these issues will be addressed by the time the final 3.2 release drops in a couple of weeks, but in the mean time they could mean headaches for brave beta testers.

Warnings of issues aside, I do encourage you to download the beta, give it a try, and tell us what you think. As with all Telerik products, your feedback guides our progress, so speak now or forever hold your opinion 'til the 4.0 product cycle.

RadControls for WinForms SP1 finally available

This news is a little old, but for those that haven't seen the announcement, the first service pack for the RadControls for WinForms Q3 2007 is now available. This service pack is a little late by SP1 delivery standards (the ASP.NET SP1 beat WinForms by about 3 weeks), but the results are definitely worth the wait. The WinForms team has been feverishly working on improving the performance of all WinForms controls with the goal of making them the most performant and most visually appealing WinForms controls available. With this SP1 release, the RadControls get a lot closer to that goal.

In particular, the RadCombobox and RadListBox have been completely refactored for speed. And the results are pretty telling. With the new UI virtualization in place, a RadCombobox can load 5,000 items in about half a second. Without this support, the Combobox takes close to 15 seconds to perform the same action. If you download the new SP1 Demo Application, there is a great demo in the Combobox section that lets you run these tests yourself to see the difference.

Also new in SP1 is a brand new common theme for all controls called "Desert" (pictured in this post). The theme introduces earthy colors to the controls, drawing largely from an orangish color pallete. If you've been looking for a new skin for your application, feel free to give this one a spin. Otherwise, grab the SP1 bits from your accounts (as usual), browse the full release notes, and have fun with the improvements!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Skinnable Form Controls available from Telerik

Have you ever built a web application with all of Telerik's beautifully skinned controls only to cringe at that basic button in your application? Or, have you built an application with a distinctly Vista look-and-feel only to have it destroyed by your basic form element styling on Windows XP and OS X? Today is your lucky day because today (well, yesterday) Telerik introduced skinnable form controls. Now you can extend that beautiful site skin to all of your page's elements - including buttons, checkboxes, and radiobuttons.

The skinnable form controls are available as a Code Library project on Telerik's website, so you can download the bits today. At this stage, the controls are very basic. They have a few built-in skins- Mac, Vista, XP, Classic- and no built-in support for external skins (yet). The goal at this point is to gauge the interest in these controls and get some feedback from you so we know if the controls should become first class citizens in the RadControls for ASP.NET suite.

So if you want this project to be enhanced and escape from Telerik Labs, go play with the skinned controls today and then give us some feedback! (Please.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Code Converter makes Hanselman's Ultimate Tool List

I'm not sure how this one slipped under my radar, but renowned blogger, podcaster, and Microsoft Senior Program Manager Scott Hanselman bestowed a great honor on the Telerik Code Converter by adding it to his 2007 "Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List." The annual list collects the hundreds of little tools and utilities that Scott deems "super important" to any Developer's daily grind. It features everything from Reflector to Firebug to, now, the Code Converter.

For those of you that are not aware of the Telerik Code Converter, it is a site that I created about a year ago to help developers convert code snippets from C# to VB and vice versa. The goal of the site is simple: create the easiest to use and most useful C#/VB code converter on the web. The site use's Telerik's controls throughout, of course, and utilizes Ajax to make the conversions quick and painless. It also features things like optional syntax highlighting, line numbering, and a cool batch mode that converts multiple zipped files at once!

Since it launched, the Converter has grown in popularity and now sees thousands of visitors each month. It is a real honor to make Scott's list, though, so thanks to everyone that helped improve the site and make it one of the best!

Reminder: Sitefinity Challenge

Did you forget to enter the Sitefinity Challenge? Well, this is your lucky day because the Sitefinity Challenge deadline has been extended beyond the original January 31st cut-off. You now have more time to head over to the Sitefinity Challenge site, answer the short 15 question survey/quiz, and enter your name in the hat for great prizes like a Zune 2 or a full commercial license for Sitefinity (worth 900 bucks). There really isn't an easier way to win prizes this cool without selling your friends' email addresses down the river to some spam marketing site.

Plus, there is a great new version of Sitefinity just around the corner. Sitefinity 3.2, which has suffered some delays of late, will be hitting the streets as a beta next week and then as the real deal late this month. It's packing a ton of new and cool features for your CMS enjoyment, including things like Document and Image galleries and Personalization modules. Get a jump on the new release by downloading Sitefinity 3.1 now and start learning the ropes. That will prepare you for the upcoming release and help you ace the Challenge with ease. And if you're that productive on a Thursday, I think you can tell your boss you deserve an early weekend!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

RadChart gets ajaxified for Q1

Usually we save big product update news 'til we're closer to a big release. We like to use it to drum up excitement and hold you on the edge of your seat just waiting to get the latest bits. This news, though, is too exciting to contain for another couple of months. The RadChart Team has just revealed that the Q1 version of Chart for ASP.NET will have built-in Ajax support for scroll and zoom operations! This is a very cool development and it brings a whole new level of interactivity to your Telerik charts. The use of the new features is pretty simple. To zoom, you use the mouse to draw a box over the area of the chart you want to zoom in on, and upon release the chart is zoomed using Ajax. Likewise with scrolling. If data extends beyond the visible region of either axis, scrollbars are displayed so you can access all of the data. As you scroll, data is loaded on-demand from the server. Check out the short video below of the Team's current progress to see where things are headed. Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Telerik blogs updated, now running on Sitefinity

If you haven't visited the blogs recently, you're in for a treat. They have been completely redesigned and overhauled. If this were "Pimp My Ride," the old blogs running on an ancient version of Community Server would have been some beat-up old Datsun, floor boards rusted through, windshield missing, all held together by duct tape. Beyond repair, this car blog needed a replacement. Stepping up to the plate is Telerik's very own Sitefinity, which now powers the blogs, and has moved us from our junky Datsun to a hot new Audi R8. Okay, enough with the car analogies.

The important news here is that Telerik is helping prove Sitefinity's power by running the blogs on the platform's built-in blogging tools. The Telerik blogs receive thousands of visitors a day, and I think you'll find that they perform very well under the load. The other good news is that to blogging tools are much easier to use than the old tools we were using, so expect to see posts on the blogs to improve in quantity and quality. Enjoy the update!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Future of Web Development Slides and Code

Any .NET event that gives speakers "Coders Cabernet" has to be good, right? That was certainly the case for the 2008 South Florida .NET Code Camp, an outstanding .NET community event I had the privilege of speaking at today. With over 600 people in attendance, the event was an energetic gathering of .NET developers from around the state of Florida.

For my part, I delivered a fun presentation on "ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight, and the Future of Web Development" to a standing room only crowd. Before I go any further, I want to extend a big thank you to those of you that came to today's presentation (especially those that had to sit on the floor). For everyone else, I'm making all of the slides and the demo code from the presentation available online. You can download your own copy of my materials (sans my witty presentation humor) at the bottom of this post. It's a great set of slides and code if you're interested in learning more about ASP.NET AJAX, basic Silverlight, or future web browser versions.

If I learned anything this weekend, it's that Florida has one incredibly active .NET community. I can't believe how many great .NET speakers are here in Florida and how many events like the SF Code Camp occur around the state. I had a great time speaking here and I look forward to coming back in the future! Now on to Mix, DevConnections, TechEd, and beyond...

Download slides
Download code