Saturday, December 20, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: RadDocking for Silverlight

Just in time for the holidays, I've got a brand new Telerik Watch Minute for your viewing pleasure. In this episode, I spend about 5 minutes introducing you to the new RadDocking for Silverlight CTP. RadDocking is the just introduced layout control from Telerik (available now on that enables you to build very interactive "pane-based" UIs without writing any "code" (just some XAML markup). I'll show you how to go from a brand new Silverlight application to running an app with the RadDocking for Silverlight control in this video, so it's a great primer for anyone getting ready to start Silverlight development with the RadControls. Enjoy the video and happy holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

ASP.NET MVC RC1 coming in January

So by now, you've probably heard of this thing called "ASP.NET MVC." A little more than a year ago I first mentioned it on this blog, and then about 6 months ago I introduced you to MVC Preview 3. Now we have official word from "The Gu" himself that the MVC release candidate will be shipping in 3 - 6 weeks time. When it does ship, we should be seeing bits that are feature complete with no known bugs, and pending a short "reality check" period, the final bits should be shipping shortly there after. There are a number of new (significant) things coming in the RC that weren't available in the Beta. Scott has (of course) detailed them in more detail than anyone else can, so for the "skimmers" out there, here's the Reader's Digest version:

  • Views (i.e. ASPX files) will now be created by default with no code behind file. This is designed to reinforce the MVC separation of concerns and reduce "file clutter."
  • You'll be able to access your strongly-typed model in Views via a new "Model" property (as in, Model.CustomerId) in addition to the old ViewData property (ViewData.Model.CustomerId).
  • HtmlHelper and AjaxHelper methods can now be "model aware," enabling powerful strongly-type, IntelliSense-assisted Helper syntax. The OTB (out of the box) helpers will NOT use this functionality in V1, though.
  • One of the coolest new features: MVC in Visual Studio will now support "auto scaffolding." In short, you'll be able to use wizards to automatically generate Views designed to view, edit, list, and create data. The wizards will interrogate your model and automatically add the necessary inputs and validation to your Views, too! Pretty cool time saver.
There's more, and if you're interested you should definitely read Scott's post. In case you missed it, Telerik is already supporting ASP.NET MVC (as of Q3), and you can be sure that we'll make sure our controls continue to work with the ASP.NET MVC RC. It's been a long time in the making, and it's definitely not a tech that is for everybody, but for the fans, it'll be here soon! In the mean time, what do you think of MVC now that it's (almost) fully baked? Is it enough to make you leave WebForms?

New SPs available for Telerik Silverlight and WPF controls

Listen-up all you XAML developers. There are two new service packs available from Telerik this week that are just for you. First, the RadControls for Silverlight suite has received its second service pack (making this Q3 2008 SP2, for the record) and a special "futures" build with some previews of controls coming in Q1 2009. The service pack is your "standard" bug-fix SP with the addition of some improvements to the Silverlight "Vista" theme and a brand new "Office Black" theme. The "futures" build includes two controls: RadDocking for Silverlight CTP and RadGridView for Silverlight Beta. When installing the latest bits, you should use the SP2 installer OR the Futures installer. You cannot install both. The SP2 release is just a subset of the Futures release (sans the new controls), so for most, installing the "Futures" build probably makes the most sense. For WPF, this week brings the Q3 2008 Service Pack 1. The WPF SP has got a little more happening than the Silverlight SP2, and the bulk of the fixes can be found in the RadScheduler for WPF. There you'll find improvements in the drag/drop experience, the templating support, and even a new demo showing you how to use XML data with the Scheduler. Other controls getting some attention in this SP are the RadGridView, RadCarousel, and RadChart for WPF. All controls, like Silverlight, also received the new Office Black theme, so now that theme can be used with any Silverlight or WPF RadControl. There's tons to talk about with these releases- especially with the new Silverlight Docking and GridView controls- so stay tuned for more detailed posts focusing on those controls. Until then, check out the release notes and download the SP bits today!

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Part VII

Has it really been since August that I last brought you an ICYMI update? If you haven't been following the Telerik Blogs in the mean time, you've missed a lot. The Telerik Blogs are really active now with many of the guys and gals on the RadControl product teams regularly posting very helpful and insightful technical blog posts. In fact, the blogs are so active nowadays that it can be difficult to keep-up with all of the information flowing across the lines! Fortunately, we've got a new blog layout coming soon and some new features that should make it easier to track the content relevant to your job. Until that goes live, here are some great posts from just the last few months that you should check out:

And that's just the tip of the iceburg...or tip of the great mountain of content as it may be on the Telerik Blogs. Remember that I post most of my technical posts on the Telerik Blogs (and not here), so be sure to add the Telerik Blogs to your feed readers and enjoy some great content during your daily blog reading!

Google Chrome is official, Today not April 1st

Some things just baffle the mind. Like how Google's brand new Chrome web browser can already be graduating from "beta" status to "official" version 1 status when Gmail has not managed to achieve the same feat during its 4 YEAR "beta" period. But Gmail still being in beta is not news; Chrome earning it's wings, is. Today Google announced- and released- the first "official" version of Chrome, boasting in a blog post from Sundar Pichai (VP Product Management) that in the last 100 days Chrome has garnered some 10 million active users from all 7 continents. Today's move underscores how aggresively Google is moving in the browser space, and anyone doubting Google's desire to become a big player in the browser world should take note.

I, for one, have been a Chrome fan since day one. The browser is far, far from perfect, but it's getting a lot of things right. Most importantly, it's "cold start" time is unbeatable. It is a reminder of how slow Firefox and IE take to get going and it raises the bar for how a modern Internet browser should perform.
Telerik began unofficially supporting Chrome during its early beta phase, and Telerik was one of the first vendors to provide full Chrome support for its ASP.NET AJAX controls. Now that the browser is official, Telerik will continue to improve its support for Chrome. In fact, Chrome is already an "officially" supported browser, so if you have users or customers actively using Chrome, you're covered if you're using the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX. And a quick search will verify that Telerik is currently the only major UI vendor for .NET that is offering support for Chrome!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

FREE products from Telerik (as in FREE, not trials)

If there is one word that everyone seems to love, it is probably Telerik. If there are two, the second would be FREE. I'm happy to announce that today Telerik is bringing those two words together and making some of its products 100% FREE! Some of these products have been free for a while, but we've done a poor job of making sure you know where to get them. Some products, like the RadFormDecorator for ASP.NET AJAX, we're making free for the first time today. So, here's the free stuff:

  • Telerik OpenAccess ORM Express - This is a 100% free version of Telerik's new OpenAccess ORM product. This is not a trial. The only limit of OA Express is that it only works with free databases (like MS SqlServer Express, Oracle Express, MySql, and Firebird). Other than that, all features are enabled and 100% free to use in any of your projects.
  • Sitefinity Community Edition - This is a 100% free version of Telerik's full-featured CMS/web development platform. This is also not a trial and it is not just for personal/non-commercial sites. You can use Sitefinity CE for any web project! And the only things you lose with CE (vs. Standard Edition) are version control, workflow, multi-lingual site support, and permissions management (plus a "Powered By Sitefinity" logo is rendered on your site).
  • RadEditor Lite for MOSS- Through a partnership with Microsoft, Telerik offers a 100% free "lite" version of the RadEditor for ASP.NET for anyone to use with SharePoint. If you are doing SharePoint development and you want a more full-featured editor that actually works cross-browser, what are you waiting for? Download RadEditor Lite for free today!
  • RadFormDecorator for ASP.NET AJAX- Just released today, the RadFormDecorator from the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX is now 100% free. If you're not using the RadControls and you want a fast, free way to style all of your form elements, you can now use Telerik's RadFormDecorator. Plus, we're including 14 skins with the free control and free trials of all the other RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX!
You can learn more about each of these free products (and any products we make free in the future) by visiting our new "Free Products" page. There you'll also find direct links to download these bits that you can start using them right away. Now, of course, the free products do not come with dedicated support from Telerik, but you do have access to all of Telerik's help resources, like the (very) active forums, the product documentation, and the online demos. We hope you enjoy the early holiday gifts! Share the news with your friends and stay tuned for even more free stuff in 2009.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

MSDN DevCon Houston Wrap-up (update)

So, I didn't have time to post one of my friendly "Join Me at xxxx" posts before today's MDC Houston event, but hopefully my reminder last month was enough for those of you that wanted to attend. As I type, MDC Houston is rapidly coming to a close, and all-in-all, I think it was a good start for Microsoft's fledgling community event. I don't have "official" numbers, but I think there were somewhere between 300 and 400 people in attendance for today's "mini-PDC." I'll post some pictures when I get to a stronger Internet connection. Check out pictures on Flickr.

My session, "Building Business Applications with Silverlight," went very well (I think...people in attendance can correct me if I'm lying). The session I did was originally presented by Jamie Cool, a Microsoft PM, at PDC. It was definitely a tough act to follow, but fortunately the Silverlight "futures" bits (code named "Alexandria") are fun to show-off and are really very impressive. I hope to have download links for both the demos and slides on my blog very soon (just as soon as I can get clearance from MS). Stay tuned.
Thanks again to everyone that stopped by the Telerik "micro booth" today and for those of you that attended my session. I hope you were able to learn something about Telerik, Silverlight, or both. And with this event in the rear view mirror, that about ends the Fall Speaking Tour. Enjoy your time with family this holiday season and stay tuned for our Winter and Spring events schedule soon!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Real Lessons from Real End Users

As many of you know, before joining Telerik, I was a customer (and a MVP). I met Telerik while developing a hosted web application (or SaaS, if you will) for managing career fairs, and I picked Telerik's tools for my UI development since they were (and still are) the easiest to use on the market. When I joined Telerik, the application lived on, and from time to time I like to visit with my customers and participate in end user training sessions. I did just that this evening with one of our bigger customers, and to my surprise I was reminded of two very important "end user rules"- two rules I think we as developers all forget too often:

  1. Rule 1: Training and Re-Training is critical- Whenever you develop an application that has "features," innevatibly some of them get overlooked or forgotten. While talking with "real end users" tonight, I asked them to describe some of the problems they've faced running career fairs in the last 6 months. At least half of the problems they described were already addressed by features in the software system that were either A) overlooked, or B) misunderstood. Now, I understand that some features get burried and I could have guessed some of the features they'd miss. But some of the features seemed obvious to me. "You mean you didn't notice the big button that says "Solve My Problem" when you logged-in?" I thought. As developers, we tend to overlook the "obvious," especially in systems we build ourselves. It doesn't come natrually to us that users might not be aware a feature exists, especially if we think the feature is very cool. Simple "reality checks" with your "real end users" (or REUs going forward) can save you support time and the users lots of manual work (because they will finish their task, they just won't use your "helpful" feature).
  2. Rule 2: Just because you don't get complaints, doesn't mean it's not broken - Later in the training tonight, while still asking users to list their problems from the past 6 months, one user said, "Oh yeah, and I get these error messages all of the time." What? We had never received any angry emails from this user. "You have?" I asked. "Yes," she replied, "I just figured I was doing something wrong." In the developer community, I think it's really easy to forget this fact about REUs. If they hit an error in your application, they are very likely to think it's their fault and not report the problem (often out of fear of sounding dumb). As developers, this concept is foreign since we are accustomed to firing-off bug report emails whenever we hit any problems (real or percieved) in the applications we use. REUs are different. This rule highlights the importance of having good, uncluttered error reports that you review proactively for problems and the value of occassionaly asking your users what problems they're having. Not only will that improve your customer service reputation, it will help you fix problems before they start costing you business.
And while these rules are derrived from application development, I think they are also true for the RadControls (though Rule 2 probably doesn't apply as strongly to you helpful developers). Since our product teams see the controls everyday, and since I've worked with them for so long, things to us often seem "obvious." Of course RadGrid can bind to web services! Of course you can use the RadEditor image editing classes outside of the Editor! Of course RadCombobox works when JavaScript is disabled! Obvious to me. New to you? As we approach 2009, I want to make sure everyone knows about all of the features in the RadControls that are designed to make your developer life as easy as 1-2-3. Unfortunately, I can't gather you all in a room and get your feedback, but I'd love to hear it! What have you had trouble doing with the RadControls in the last 6 months? Send an email to todd.anglin@[the company I work for].com and help me make the misunderstood or overlooked features of the RadControls obvious! Maybe I'll post a follow-up, "Real Lessons from Real Developers"...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Telerik Watch Minute: Back from Vegas with News

Wow! It has been a long time since I've managed to just bring you some news announcements from Telerik. Hopefully you've enjoyed the updates from the last couple months on the road- from DevReach in Bulgaria, PDC in LA, and most recently DevConnections in Las Vegas. To help close-out the Fall Travel, I've compiled a short video montage of some time in Vegas to open this Telerik Watch Minute. For more "helpful" Vegas video, don't miss the interviews I did with Miroslav from the Telerik Silverlight Team and Lini from the Telerik ASP.NET Team. Also in this video, I cover a few highilghts from the last month, inlcuding Telerik's big Q3 2008 release, the introduction of a new Learning Guide, and the availability of our RadGridView for Silverlight CTP (and soon to be beta). Enjoy!