Friday, August 29, 2008

RadControls for WPF and Silverlight Webcast follow-up

For those that missed it, we had a great webcast this past Thursday talking about the new RadControls for WPF and Silverlight. Over 200 people turned-out (thank you!) to hear about these new technologies and how Telerik is building tools to support them. If you missed the live event, though, don't fret. There are tons of on-demand resources now available for your enjoyment. First, I took the time today to answer all of the questions that were asked during the session. The questions (almost 70) and answers are available in a freshly minted 10-page PDF. Hopefully you find the answers helpful on your quest to understand WPF, Silverlight, and Telerik's plans for both. Next, the slides from the session are also available for immediate download. If you want to browse the PowerPoint content at your own pace, grab the slides and then find answers to your questions in the aforementioned PDF. Finally, the complete recorded, on-demand version of the webcast is also now available for your viewing pleasure (with audio, for those that missed the webcast dial-in number). To watch the on-demand webcast, simply visit the original registration link, fill-in your details, and then the recorded version will start. The player does require Real Media in your browser, so if you don't have (and don't want) that installed on your PC, we'll be making a Flash-based on-demand version available as soon as we can. Enjoy the on-demand resources and keep it locked-in here for more free webcasts in the coming weeks!

IE 8 beta 2 available for download

Looking to get your hands on the latest and greatest version of Internet Explorer? Then don't miss the just released update to Microsoft's new IE 8 browser. Now in its second beta, Microsoft unleashed the bits yesterday for general consumption, so you can download them now and start testing your sites in the version of the browser still set to launch officially in Q4 of this year.

There is not much "surprising" news with this release, but there are quite a few enhancements both in performance and features. The most notable new feature is the "InPrivate" browsing mode (similar to Safari's "Private Browsing"), which will probably damage Safari's reputation as the browser of choice for porn. Frankly, I'm surprised Firefox didn't add this feature to FF3, as they are now the outsiders when it comes to providing built-in private browsing.

Speaking of Firefox, it is clear that the IE team now has its sights squarely set on toppling the upstart that challenged its dominance on the web. The latest IE beta includes modern in-line Find (finally!), groupable, color-coded tabs (FF does this with a add-in), and vastly improved developer tools (a la FireBug). Add to this IE's big steps forward in performance and memory management and you start to have a compelling alternative to Firefox. Now, if only it were cross platform...

Either way, the sleeping giant has awakened and I think Mozilla has been put on notice with the latest IE8 beta. What do you think?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: Highly Optimized RadEditor Auto Save

In this week's longer than usual update (about 5 minutes total), I bring you some essential news updates and then show you quickly how to build a highly optimized auto save form with RadEditor and WCF. The form utilizes RadEditor's rich client-side API to implement a non-intrusive auto save feature that only saves content when an user stops typing. And WCF is used to persist data back to the server so that communication is light-weight and highly optimized (if we use "normal" ASP.NET AJAX UpdatePanels, a ton of unnecessary data would be included in our saves...specifically, ViewState).

I apologize for "streching" the TWM format a little longer than normal; hopefully the more complete demo will make it worth your time. You can download the files for the demo (including a trial version of the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX Q2 2008 SP1) below.

Download Auto Save demo project

RadControls for Silverlight beta 2 released

While Telerik has been busy releasing service packs for the "production" products this week, the Silverlight team has also been busy releasing an update of their own. On Tuesday, Telerik released a new beta for the Silverlight controls (that's RadControls for Silverlight 2 beta 2 for those keeping track). With the official release of the Silverlight 2 plug-in imminent, this will probably be the final beta release from Telerik before the RadControls for Silverlight get a v1 release. And this release is no slouch. Here are some highlights from the release notes:

  • New! RadTimePicker control for adding time picker functionality to Silverlight 
  • New! RadExpander control (this is essentially a sliding content panel control)
  • Significantly updated documentation
  • Tons of bug fixes and improvements across all existing controls
Check out the complete release notes for all of the nitty-gritty detail and then download the latest beta from your accounts. The Silverlight controls will be "official" soon enough, so keep sending us your feedback so we can have a solid v1 release!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Q2 2008 SP1 available for ASP.NET, WinForms, Reporting (update)

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on Telerik Watch Minute (see, it pays to watch), today Telerik shipped the first round of service packs for three of the major products: RadControls ASP.NET, WinForms, and Telerik Reporting. If you've had any nagging issues with Q2 2008, odds are that they're addressed in this release. Plus, there's some fun new stuff in this release, too, so even if you aren't having trouble, there's good reason to upgrade. Here are some Q2 2008 SP1 highlights:

RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX
  • [New Feature] RadFormDecorator can now skin TEXTAREA, TEXTBOX, FIELDSET, LEGEND, LABEL, H4, H5, and H6 elements
  • [New Feature] New saveContent() client-side method in RadEditor
  • [New Feature] Many new client-side events in RadRotator
  • [New Feature] New view in RadScheduler: Multi-day
  • [Optimization] Improved client-side data binding support in RadGrid
  • [Optimization] Improved client-side initialization time in RadTreeView
  • [New Feature] Hierarchical databinding support in all navigation controls
RadControls for WinForms
  • [Optimization] Many improvements to Excel export in RadGridView
  • [Fixes] Over 20 fixes for RadGridView
  • [New Feature] AutoFilter now supported in RadMultiColumnCombobox
  • [Optimization] Slight performance improvements in base TPF
Telerik Reporting
  • [Optimization] Improved barcode rendering
  • [Fixes] Over 55 improvements and optimizations across the product
  • [Optimization] Reduced PDF rendering memory footprint
  • [Optimization] Web and Win report viewers improved
For complete details, feel free to review the release notes for each product (linked below).
Telerik Reporting Release Notes UPDATE: Telerik Reporting SP1 now available for download.

devLink 2008 wrap-up (update)

Another event, another wrap-up. And I'm happy to report that this was another great event. DevLink 2008 saw well over 400 .NET developers converge on speed-ticket happy Murfreesboro, Tenessee for two days of (as one attendee put it) "better than TechEd quality" sessions. For my part, I tried to bring as many updates from the conference as I could while running between sessions and conference parties. If you haven't seen the video updates, check out Live from devLink 2008, devLink 2008 Montage, and my Silverlight Intro Session Replay. Of course, nothing beats actually being at the event, so start making plans now to attend next year's festivities.

As far as sessions go, my two Silverlight sessions went very well. Well, actually, my "Intro" session went really well and my deep dive was okay. Not that the session was bad, but a day that started with a speeding ticket didn't get better when the original room's projector failed and I discovered I had 2.5 hours for a "3 hour deep dive." So apologies to those of you at the deep dive that didn't get to see as much as I had planned.

As promised, below are links to download the slides and code from both of my Silverlight sessions. They are great resources if you're trying to get started with Silverlight, and they're completely updated to reflect the latest changes in Silverlight 2 beta 2.

Enjoy the learning resources. I'm off to count 120,000 12,000 pennies to mail to the fine state of TN.

Intro to Silverlight 2
Silverlight 2 Deep Dive
[Slides] [Code] UPDATE: Josh caught my decimal point error: I only owe TN 12,000 pennies for driving 50 in (as far as my time on the road was concerned) an unmarked 40.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Join me for WPF, Silverlight webcast Thursday

Was my Session Replay on Silverlight not enough for you? Are you looking for even more info on Silverlight and WPF? Then don't miss my quickly upcoming webcast, this Thursday, August 28th starting at 2PM EST (11:00 AM PST). In this week's webcast, I'll be covering WPF and Silverlight basics in addition to showing-off Telerik's newest RadControls for WPF and RadControls Silverlight. So whether you're looking for just enough info to get started with these new technologies or you're just trying to understand how Telerik is building UI components for them, this week's session is for you.

The webcast should last about an hour (I'll stick around a little longer to try to answer some questions), so it should be easy to fit in to your afternoon/lunch schedule. And if you can't make the live event, an on-demand version will be available next week. Register now to save your spot and I'll see you Thursday afternoon!

Session Replay: Intro to Silverlight 2

Welcome to yet another video format from Telerik: Session Replay. As the name implies, a Session Replay is a recorded version of live session delivered by one of Telerik's evangelists at some .NET event around the globe. We know not everyone has the time or ability to travel to .NET conferences, so we're trying to do the next best thing and bring them to you online. These are full session recordings, complete in HD with high quality audio, so it will literally be like you're sitting on the front row. For this first Replay, I bring you my "Intro to Silverlight 2" session delivered this past Friday at devLink 2008. Most of the session is recorded (run time is about 1 hour 4 minutes), but the last 10 minutes or so got cut-off because I ran out of tape (HD tapes only come 60 minute varieties)! You'll get most of the important info in what's recorded; for everything else, watch for tomorrow's follow-up post that will contain the slides and code from this session. NOTE: Sorry for the "squished" video. We're still working out the kinks with our new video system and it appears that our HD format didn't get processed correctly by Viddler this time around. Video quality is still high, though, so you should be able to read the slides in full-screen mode.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: devLink 2008 montage

DevLink 2008 day one is almost over, and so far the conference is off to a great start! Sessions are packed, lots of questions are being asked, and Open Space sessions are lively. If you didn't make the event this year, definitely make plans to be here next year. In the mean time, enjoy this short "video montage" of devLink 2008 day 1. NOTE: I know some of the video isn't well framed. Sorry. The camera was sitting on the only flat surface I could find. I'll do better next time. As if it matters...

Do I make you uncomfortable?

As a regular speaker on the ".NET circuit," I enjoy getting honest feedback from attendees. It's always fun to see what others think of your sessions and get ideas for improvement. And while I find that people generally enjoy my sessions, every now and again I get a gem like this recent feedback from my ASP.NET MVC session at Code Stock: "I found the presenter to be sort of insulting. He kept making the audience raise their hands to show who used what; if they weren't what he used then he would make a snide aside. Even though 90% of my tools were on his 'good list', I felt uncomforted for the rest of everyone. He was very opinionated and seemed to see black and white but no gray areas. The content was decent, which is why he didn't get a '1' from me. It has turned me on to a new way of doing my websites." First of all, to whoever submitted this feedback, I'm sorry for insulting you. I really have no desire to insult and if you talk to me "off stage" hopefully you'd find me more approachable. But I will admit that while on stage, I do adopt more of a "arrogant persona" that does deal in absolutes- not because I want to be arrogant, but because I find that making shocking statements tends to keep an audience involved (instead of sleeping). And for the most part, people enjoy it (or so I think). Which brings me to a reality check. If you've heard me speak before, and I've dished-out one of what are becoming my trademark "snarky" comments, did I offend or entertain? While I won't apologize for my snarky and sarcastic leanings, I also don't want to blindly offend the masses as I travel the globe speaking. I want to do it with both eyes open.

Survey Says: Video very popular learning tool

We are definitely in the age of Internet video, but that should really come as no surprise. YouTube made it clear a few years ago that video on the Interwebs was for the masses. What comes as a little more of surprise, as seen in the most recent survey poll run on this blog, is that video is almost as popular of a learning tool as traditional articles and help documentation. Specifically, 41% of respondents indicated that their favorite way to learn on the web was via video. That compares to 43% that prefer articles and help docs and the distant 3rd 14% that prefer blogs. These results suggest a couple of things to me:

  1. If you're going to write a detailed "how to," publish it as an article and don't burry it in a blog. It appears more people will seek out articles for learning than random information scattered in a blog's archives.
  2. Make more video content- at least as much as you are producing in writing. Pictures are worth 1,000 words, moving pictures (in theory) 30,000 per second. Many people learn better from video than text (apparently), so make sure you've got video content for them.
At Telerik, we're acting on this feedback. As you've noticed on my blog, I've started the new Telerik Watch Minute series, and Kevin Babcock is also doing short RadTips. And this is just the beginning. Watch for more great expanded video coverage to match Telerik's already expansive written content. Finally, to the few jokers out there that were surprised you can actually use the Internet for learning, your anthem: The Internet is for Porn (clean link, I promise).

Telerik Watch Minute: Live from devLink 2008 (Part 1)

Tonight I bring you the first of what is hopefully a series of "live-ish" updates from devLink 2008. These "special edition" episodes are a little different than the normal news, updates, and quick tips, but hopefully they'll become the norm as I travel the globe speaking at events and interacting with the .NET community. Watch for more updates as devLink continues through the weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: CSS Loading Tip

In this week's episode. I show you a quick tip for fixing CSS "timing" issues. Specifically, as you may have noticed with this blog's new theme, when the page initially loads, you cannot view blog post text. That's because the background being set on my BODY tag (which is dark) is rendered by the browser before the white background for the page's text. While not a big deal, this loading "problem" means visitors must wait on the page to fully load before it's usable. To fix the problem, you need to use a little JavaScript, and that's exactly what I show you how to do in this episode. There are other ways to fix CSS rendering problems, but given my lack of control over the blog's HTML (or lack of desire to change it), this JavaScript tweak is a great, cross-browser solution. If you have pages with similar visual problems, hopefully this tip will help you improve your site's usability. Enjoy the episode and enjoy the improved Telerik Watch theme! NOTE: If you're having trouble reading the text in the video, switch to full-screen mode for easy reading.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Join me at devLink 2008 this weekend

It's hard to believe summer is almost over. It seems like just yesterday we were having fun at TechEd 2008 and talking about brand new Telerik suites. But time has once again flown by and now the busy season of Fall events is almost upon us. Before the summer is over, though, you've got one more chance to come hang out with a bunch of fun .NETers at devLink 2008. This year's two-day event kicks-off Friday, August 22nd and it will be featuring a host of Telerik friends, including Microsoft RD Tim Huckaby, Strangeloop's Richard Campbell, and Carl Franklin of .NET Rocks fame. For my part, I'll be doing two sessions: one an intro to Silverlight 2 and one a 3-hour "deep dive" on Silverlight 2. Both sessions have been updated for Silverlight 2 Beta 2 and the deep dive includes some new content and demos that weren't part of my original session in India. If you're coming to devLink, come visit my sessions, even if just to say hi. If you don't stay, I won't say anything bad about you until you leave the room. (I kid...or do I?....I do.) As usual, I'll make slides and code available after my presentation on this blog for those not in Nashville (or not able to attend the sold out event). Also, devLink is planning on having Open Spaces, and based on my great experience at Code Stock, I expect to spend a lot of time there. If you don't make my sessions, come add to the Open Spaces discussion. See you on Friday!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: Weekend Edition

It was a busy week with a lot of travel, so this Telerik Watch Minute comes to you a little late. Consider this the first "Weekend Edition" of TWM. This episode sticks to the format and delivers a few quick updates regarding Telerik and my recent speaking trips. You'll also notice that this episode is widescreen formatted. We're in the process on transitioning to HD video, so soon all (new) content will be easy watch, especially if it has screen capture text that you need to see. Enjoy the quick update and watch for more high quality episodes soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

FREE RadWebinar on advanced RadGrid topics

So far, the RadWebinars by Falafel have been very successful training tools, but Telerik was concerned that too many people were not getting to benefit from the training because of the $99 price tag. We want everyone to benefit from the live, instructor-lead training on Telerik's tools. So, we're very excited and pleased to announce that RadWebinars are now a FREE resource! That's right. You can now get the same live, instructor-lead training from Falafel gratis. You're welcome. And as if that news weren't enough, the next RadWebinar, which is covering advanced topics for RadGrid, will be taught none other than the brilliant and always entertaining Lino Tadros (Founder & CEO of Falafel). In this new session, Lino will cover topics like grid calculations, client-side grid operations, and improving performance with LINQ. Consider this a 301 session for RadGrid. So let's recap:

  • New RadWebinar on RadGrid, September 2nd at 9:30 AM (PST)
  • MS MVP Lino Tadros teaching the session
  • Registration is FREE!
Can you ask for anything more? Register now because this one is going to fill-up fast.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Part VI

My how time flies. I haven't delivered an ICYMI post in nearly five months, so if you haven't been actively following the blogs or my other various blogs, you've missed a ton of very good information. Obviously, there's too much to cover if I go all the way back to March and start highlighting important posts, so instead I'll highlight some of the better posts you may have missed in the last couple of months. With a big Q release and two new product lines recently coming from Telerik, there's been plenty of very interesting posts. The highlights:

There are so many more great posts I could highlight, but that should be enough for now. Enjoy the new reading and add these blogs to your RSS lists so you don't miss important news in the future!

Monday, August 11, 2008

VS 2008 SP1, .NET 3.5 SP1 ready for prime time

What a piece of news for a Monday! Shipping a little earlier that anticipated, Microsoft announced this morning the general availability of Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET 3.5 SP1. These major updates to the .NET developer tools are already available for download from Microsoft's website, so I encourage you to grab them now. If you've been paying attention, you know that the SP1 beta shipped almost three months ago, and at the time I warned early adopters to beware. In theory, Microsoft has used the time since then to respond to all of the beta feedback and problems, so today's release should make it possible for everyone to start enjoying the new stuff in SP1 (which I also detailed when the beta dropped). And since I know many of you wont take the time to go back and review what's in SP1, here are just a few highlights:

  • New ASP.NET URL Routing Engine (from MVC)
  • New ASP.NET Dynamic Data framework
  • ADO.NET Entity Framework (yay?)
  • ADO.NET Data Services
  • SQL Server 2008 support
  • Real-time C# error checking
If you want a more complete list, you've got to review my old post. The point, though, is this: this is way more than a typical SP release, so don't miss out on all of the new tools at your finger tips. And if you hit any problems, let us know! Download VS 2008 SP1 Download VS 2008 Express Editions w/ SP1 Download .NET 3.5 SP1 NOTE: Credit to Kevin for beating me to the punch!

Code Stock 2008 or Open Spaces done right

Code Stock 2008 is in the history books and I think it can claim resounding success for it's inaugural year. A great crew of speakers and over 200 .NET developers converged on Knoxville this Saturday to conduct a day of learning on everything from ASP.NET MVC to the Castle ActiveRecord pattern. I had a great time interacting with the regional .NET crowd and had a couple of very good sessions. Thanks again to everyone that came to my sessions! One thing that Code Stock did exceptionally well- better than any .NET event I've seen to date- was stimulate very large and lively Open Spaces sessions. I've seen Open Spaces attempted at other events, but none managed to generate the level of deep conversation that emerged at Code Stock. The Open Spaces I participated in covered everything from the impact of ORM tools to the challenges of independent consulting to (at one point) the merrits of subscription based music vs. pay as you go (I'm a pay as you go fan). Open Space sessions at Code Strock truly lived-up to their foundation's ideal of stimulating a better exchange of ideas outside of the "formal sessions" than in them. Why were Code Stock's Open Space sessions so good? Two reasons:

  • Alan Stevens. He really drove the energy of getting sessions started and made sure people understood the (anti) rules of the Open Spaces concept.
  • No speakers green room. As a speaker, I won't lie, I enjoy a green room. It's a place to relax and recoup after a session. But it does nothing to enhance the value of the event. Speakers are notoriously absent from an event when they're not speaking, and the green room is usually the cave where you find them. Code Stock proved that if you remove the cave and encourage Open Space conversations, speakers can add a lot more value to an event outside of their scheduled sessions.
I hope more conferences look at the success of Code Stock's Open Spaces and try to adopt the format. The Spaces conversations are some of the best I've had at a .NET event (and I've been to a few) and I give huge props to Alan and Michael for making it work. Finally, as promised, you can find the slides from my sessions below. I'll be making the code available soon, too, but since I used the larger NHibernate demo structure, it'll take a little more time package the code in to a easily distributable archive. Enjoy! Work Smart, Not Hard: Telerik RadControls [Slides] [Code - comming soon] Intro to ASP.NET MVC (Preview 4) [Slides] [Code]

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: Getting started with RadControls for Silverlight

Hope you enjoy this new, fine-blended episode of Telerik Watch Minute. In this installment, I take a little more time (about 3 minutes) to quickly show you how to get started with the new RadControls for Silverlight (beta). I de-emphasize "beta" because we're really just waiting on Microsoft to go-ahead and published the "official" Silverlight 2 plug-in, which if I were a betting man would guess is coming out shorting after the Olympics (which is running in Beta 2). Once the plug-in is final, we'll release v1 of our controls. In any event, this episode shows you how to take the Silverlight controls you've downloaded and unzipped (there is no installer yet- that will come in a pending SP1 release) and start using them in a new Visual Studio Silverlight 2 beta 2 project. A quick word of caution to those of you that have been developing with Silverlight 2 beta 1: the new Silverlight 2 beta 2 installers don't do a great job of getting your system cleaned-up and ready for Beta 2 development. I strongly encourage you to spend a few minutes cleaning your system of Beta 1 and then installing Beta 2 before starting development with Telerik's tools. If you have problems, leave a comment and I'll try to help as I just learned the hard way a lot of the tricks to upgrading. Enjoy the "Minute" and stay tuned for more!

Join me at Code Stock 2008 this Saturday

Will you be near Knoxville, Tennessee this Saturday? No? That's too bad. You're going to miss the first ever Code Stock (like Woodstock...crazy....)! For those of you in the Knoxville area, you don't have an excuse. Don't miss your chance to come mingle with some fellow .NETers, pack-in a fun day of .NET learning, and visit my always entertaining sessions. I'll be flying up to the event to do a couple of sessions this year- one on all of the new stuff Telerik is doing (like RadControls for Silverlight and client-side binding in RadGrid) and one an updated session on ASP.NET MVC. The sessions should be a lot of fun, but as usual I'll make the slides and code available on this blog for the many of you I know can't hop on a plane to visit this weekend. Telerik is also proud to be a Platinum sponsor of this new event, so you can bet we'll have plenty of fun giveaways. I'll be giving away two Telerik Bundles in one of my sessions and I think additional bundles will be up for grabs as event prizes. So whether you come for the prizes or come for the learning, I hope to see you Saturday!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

IntelliSense for Blend from Telerik

If you've spent much time developing applications on Microsoft's latest and greatest UI platforms (that'd be Silverlight and WPF for anyone wondering), you know that one of their weakest points is tool support. VisualStudio provides a great XAML coding environment complete with IntelliSense, but it has a designer that is little more that a preview image- you can't interact with it at all. Expression Blend has a great visual designer for XAML, but try to modify the markup and you'll quickly remember what coding was like before IntelliSense <shudder />. Together, these tools form a pretty complete environment for development, but sometimes it would be nice reduce the number of times you have to bounce between Blend and Visual Studio.

Enter a very cool Blend add-in from Telerik's own Stefan Dobrev. Building on the KAXAML project, Stefan has built a simple add-in that finally adds "IntelliSense-like" support to Blend's XAML editor. The IntelliSense add-in has some limits (such as not being super accurate with Silverlight 2, yet), but it's much, much better than nothing. And best of all, the add-in is free, open source, and available for immediate download. Now if only Microsoft would build this feature in to Blend...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Introducing: RadTips by Kevin Babcock

Telerik Watch Minute too short for your tastes? Then first, let me know, and then check-out our own Kevin Babcock's new video series called RadTips! In this series, Kevin will be creating 5 to 10 minute screencasts showing you how to accomplish specific tasks with the RadControls. The format is simple and condensed so that you see the essential steps required to use some of the cool RadControl features.

For his first episode, Kevin shows you exactly what you need to do to use the RadGrid's new client-side data binding functionality (something I introduced you to in a recent TWM). In about 5 minutes, Kevin takes you from a blank page to working solution that is bound completely client-side. Future episodes will build on this example and show you how to add paging, filtering, and sorting your client-side operations. You can catch the video on Kevin's Telerik blog now.

Hopefully you enjoy this new format. It's longer than a Telerik Watch Minute, it's shorter than a full-on Telerik Trainer episode, and hopefully just right for those looking for quick RadControl tips. Let us know what you think and enjoy the new video series!

NOTE: Apologies in advance for the video quality. Not Kevin's fault at all. We're quickly working on bringing a very robust video CDN online so that we can deliver high quality videos around the world at incredible speeds. Stay tuned!