Absent, Still Here - Pro Now Standard

Things have been a bit crazy. Actually, more like 32 bits of crazy. At least. I registered for the VS.NET 2005 product launch with excitement. They were giving away a free copy of VS.NET 2005 Pro and SQL Server 2005 Standard. I told all my friends and they signed up with the same excitement. Then the "we made a mistake" bait-n-switch email arrived.

"...there may have been an inaccurate reference on our website when you registered..."

Come on... Who wants a Standard version when you profess to be a pro and really need the Pro version? Sorry, "edition." And yet, I'm still going.

But for those of you who would rather have all the cool stuff but can't afford the MSDN Universal subscription price, there's always Empower. If you are starting a little company (your "on the side project business") and you need tools, the best way to get them, honestly, is through the Microsoft Empower for ISVs program.

Why two links? Because it's really the best deal out there. You get media. You get download access. You get managed support newsgroups and 10 hours of advisory service. Not bad for only $375.

ONLY $375

No. I haven't bought mine yet. But I plan to. Just as soon as the chairperson of the budget committee releases the funds. My wife's a reasonable person, so I expect that to happen soon. Before the launch event in my area anyway.

It was an honest mistake I'm sure. But would it have really hurt so bad to just give out what was originally promised? It's really not a bad idea. Get all the geeks in the neighborhood to use the latest and greatest at home, and when they all go work, they'll be begging for a corporate copy so they don't have to take a step back. Let's face it, there is some way cool things in .NET 2.0. and a hundred blogs or more for each of them.

But really, Bill, don't you think the mistake would have been fortuitous? But now you just kind of look like a stingy dork--"an inaccurate reference," yeah, right. Why don't you surprise all of us still willing to come out for a standard copy and give us a pro copy as a reward for our loyalty. Now that would be cool.

Contract First Web Services with Weyer's WSCF

Yesterday I received my copy of CODE magazine with an article by Christian Weyer covering contract first web service design and his free tool WSCF (web service contract first) for Visual Studio .NET. After a few bumpy stumbles because I was reading and following examples at 2am, I got a nice example up and running.

All I can say is: TOTALLY AWESOME!

This is the way web services, especially complex services that require complete platform independence, should be built. The common [WebMethod] asmx approach in VS .NET works for small projects and quick and dirty prototypes, but to build serious web services in a service oriented architecture (SOA), you should really consider taking Christian's advice and design by schema and contract first.

Anyone building web services owes it to themselves to try this free tool.

CSS Buttons

Some time ago I was working on a web site where we wanted to have a good rollover button control for ASP.NET in our projects that would eliminate the need for client-side script. Google search turned up a post that I've since lost that discussed using CSS for rollover of a button image with all states of the button in one image.

Using CSS and custom ASP.NET controls, this little project gives you a highly useful fixed width label control and a button control with three states and automatic rollovers without having to write a single line of javascript and without having to manage multiple image files for one button.

The FixedWidth label uses a CSS button and a little GDI+ to measure the length of the label text and truncate the text if necessary to fit it within the specified width. It then adds an elipsis button (you control the button as well) to which a javascript alert with the full string is hooked.

Download the source code and use these controls as you will. In it you'll find the control project and a test/example project to show you how to use it. If you find it useful and/or make changes/improvements to it, I'd love to hear from you and see what you've done with it.

CssWebControls.zip (45.1 KB)