About Me

My photo

Senior Technical Talent Advisor and Community Development - A.I, Machine Learning and Data Science.

Director & Co-Founder @ www.Abso-Fashion-Lutely.co.uk
Director & Founder of Data Science & Big Data Analytics IT Job Board http://datasciencebigdataanalytics.jobboard.io/

Roles:

Data Scientist, Statistician, Insight Analyst, Chief Data Scientists, Data Architect, Data Engineer, Data Analyst, Statistics Consultant, Research Engineer, Quantitative Analyst, Developer, Engineer, Pre-Sales / Post Sales engineer, Sales Engineer, Software Engineer, Systems Engineer, Technical Evangelist, Client Services Engineer, Architects (Cloud, Solutions & Enterprise), Cloud & Big data Analytics, Microsoft Azure and consulting roles.

The above is not an exclusive list and I work on a diverse range of roles and technologies. Contact me:  0044 788 135 1363

I am currently studying with Udacity to further my career in Data Science, Big Data Analytics, Programming, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Statistics, Physics, Psychology & Visualizing Algebra.

I specialise in the following:

• Talent Manager and also responsible for expanding our internal team; vetting, meeting & technically testing candidates
• Providing advice around legal, accounting and general recruitment to the community
• Utilising the latest social media strategies for recruitment Twitter,Github Etc ..
• Setting up interviews, negotiating extensions, offers & contracts
• Developing new relationships and bringing in new business
• Client & account management
• Attending and arranging technical conferences to better my understanding of the technologies and markets I specialise in

I own & run the following groups on LinkedIn:
• ASP.Net MVC 3, MVC 4 & MVC5 Ninjas
• Cloud & Big data
• Microsoft Azure Ninjas
• Data Scientist & Analytics UK
• HTML5 Ninjas
• Java Blackbelt
• Hadoop Experts UK & EMEA
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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Get your Windows 8 apps noticed

 

AppSwitch is designed to help people find Apple iOS and Google Android apps on Windows Phone and Windows 8. AppSwitch allows users to search the Windows Store first to see if the app they’re looking for is available under the same name. If the app isn’t available then the user can search for the app (by platform) and AppSwitch will display suitable replacement apps.

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When deciding which app to download, the user doesn’t have to switch to the Windows Store as AppSwitch displays the app description, screenshots, reviews etc.

How it works:

  • Developers list their app on www.appswitch.co.uk along with an app on iOS or Android that they think their app is similar to
  • They add credit to the match - $10 free per match (as many matches as they like)
  • The match is verified as a good match and then displayed in the relevant version of AppSwitch
  • Credit is deducted from the match every time the app is downloaded
  • No downloads = no credit deducted
  • Once created, anybody can top up a match, allowing an easy way for users to support the developer of an app (without PayPal charges!)

AppSwitch helps users coming from iOS and Android devices find replacement apps on Windows Phone and Windows 8. Everybody who uses AppSwitch is actively looking to download apps making it a great place to get apps noticed.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Steve Ballmer & UK developers talk beautiful apps on @Windows8

A bunch of developers and designers got up close and personal with Steve Ballmer (yep, Steve Ballmer!) earlier this month at Modern Jago, Microsoft’s new collaboration space in Shoreditch, East London. The event showcased some of the best examples of the Windows 8 design and user interface, aka “…the most personal experience ever…a UI that’s live with the activity that people care about” and the opportunity that “the single biggest operating system platform in the world” that’s available to devs and designers with Windows 8.

We filmed the whole shebang which also includes interviews with Johnny Westlake who built Music Info, Agris Belte and Glen Flexman who created the British Airways Inspiration app, Janksy creator AJ Grand-Scrutton and Cameron Fisher who published AppSwitch. If you’re ready to jump into Windows 8 design and development too then head over to www.windows-store.co.uk for all the resources under the sun. Have fun!  

 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Skills in Demand for Mobile development languages & Platforms covering iPhone, Android, Blackberry & Windows8

Why we believe these skill sets are demand

ABI research says that developers and other stakeholders generated $8.5 revenue from mobile apps last year are predicted to exceed $46m by 2016.


Google mobile business set for $8b this year, up from $2.5b the previous year.


Facebook, Google, and anybody else involved in advertising have their best brains working on how to monetise mobile, through apps.


Mobile payments & NFC offerings will face stiff competition from mobile payments apps which will mean the desire to develop these new apps instead of large scale wallets will be larger in the coming years


Mobile apps will expand past phones and tablets through to games consoles, TV's & even cars.


The MAIN downside to mobile and app development is that it involves a large investment in devices and testing because there are SO many different platforms, operating systems and types of hardware to test.


There are also issues with Android around scalability, and also the early OS version on Android devices was very clunky and updating to the latest version can take months to update the devices and applications. You need Windows Phone 7/8 and or a laptop that runs Windows RT and Windows 8 in order to develop the apps.

What rates to expect in the next 12 months?
£300-£500+ per day which is wildly variable because it will depend on your seniority / depth of experience. To get the highest daily rates you will need to demonstrate you have developed a hit app.


iPhone and Android command the highest rates at the moment but we believe Windows 8 developer rates will catch these up very soon (especially with the release of the Surface and Windows 8 phones a few weeks ago)


A lot of work in the mobile space is based on fixed priced projects which can mean these rates are significantly more (if you finish ahead of time) or less (if you overrun or you don't understand the brief fully)


We have contractors working on varying rates due to contract length, seniority, skills and number of hours expected

Jobs advertised

The number of iPhone & Android jobs is up on last year but still not at particularly high levels compared to the other technologies in the development world. This in my view is because a large majority of these roles are filled by recommendation and not through agencies.


iPhone developers are the MOST in demand in the UK at the moment, but with China demand seeing Android at 90% of the market share this may well change.


Blackberry and Windows8 jobs advertised are very low. Blackberry app development roles are at an all-time low and Windows 8 will increase dramatically in the near future with the recent release of Windows 8, The Surface and the new Windows8 compatible phones.

What skills should you be obtaining in order to get the best possible rates?

iPhone & Android command the highest rates but you MUST demonstrate a strong portfolio of apps either in the retail, spread betting or high transactional financial applications command the best rates and are MOST in demand.


Windows8 will be the rising star we believe, especially with the release of the Surface a few weeks ago.


Blackberry jobs advertised and requirements is at an all-time low


It seems developers are not interested in developing mobile apps with HTML5 although we are starting to see strong demand for this combination of skills.


Combined with strong HTML5 mobile app developers will achieve the best rates and will be in the highest demand.

Hope this was of use to you.

Follow me on twitter to find out more.
@adam_rab
@azure_ninjas

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Review: Microsoft Surface showcases Windows 8 era

 

Microsoft really is shaking things up with Windows 8. It's a remodel down to the foundation, a monumental effort to start a new era of personal computing.

The showcase of this work is the Surface tablet, the first computer made and sold by the company.

Simultaneously, Microsoft overhauled all of its major programs and services, from servers to spreadsheets to Skype.

Some may see this as a sharp turn by a lumbering aircraft carrier to avoid running aground. Others may see a superpower launching a new fleet, in tandem with allies around the world.

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Either way, it's an overwhelming show of force by Microsoft and the PC industry, a duo that's been less than dynamic in recent years and largely written off by Apple-loving media, investors and gadget aficionados.

The best way to see what's coming is through the 11-inch screen of the Surface tablet, the magnesium fighter jet in Microsoft's new arsenal.

With its minimalist design built around a set of online services, the device epitomizes the way we're using computers mostly as consoles to stay connected to our personal collections of people, programs and media.

You can do this on a PC or phone, but many prefer a slim tablet that starts right up and runs a full day without recharging. Until recently the best option was an Apple iPad, but most every major tech company offers models in different sizes.

After a few days with Microsoft's Surface, I think it's a decent alternative, especially for people who haven't yet added a tablet to their computing mix or have yet to strongly embrace the online realms of Apple, Google or Amazon.com.

The Surface is a refined and elegant combination of hardware and software with a distinctive style and feel that make it stand apart from any other tablet on the market. It feels fast and smooth and is simple enough for my kindergartner to navigate.

Starting at $499 for models with 32 gigabytes of storage and a bundled version of Office 2013, the Surface pricing compares favorably to the latest iPad, which costs $599 for a 32 gig model and doesn't come with Office.

Shoppers will have to do their own math to decide which is a better deal. More important, though, is feeling each device and trying out their very different software interfaces.

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The Surface's case feels sturdy and purposeful, almost Teutonic, with a metal kickstand that sharply snaps into place. The charging cord also snaps firmly into position, held by magnets, as do the accessory covers with built-in keyboards. It's slightly heavier than an iPad and feels more dense.

Those covers are pricey but dramatically boost the usability of the tablet, particularly the $130 "Type Cover" with a physical keyboard that's just a quarter-inch thick. The $120 "Touch Cover" is remarkable. Even with slightly raised keys, it's just an eighth-inch thick, but I couldn't type fast on it.

On a single charge, my Surface ran through a workday of heavy testing, including streaming part of a movie to my TV via an HDMI cable. It was still going the next morning when I used it as a platter to carry coffee to my wife, read the news on it in bed and then played music and checked my fantasy football team at breakfast. The battery held out through this brutal regimen until midmorning at work.

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Unlike the iPad, the Surface has a memory-card slot. It also has a USB port that worked fine with an ancient mouse, but not my Verizon LTE wireless stick, which isn't yet supported on the platform. Microsoft should have offered a Surface version with 4G wireless built in.

A big question for many tablet buyers is the selection of apps. Apple's numerical advantage is misleading. There are 275,000 apps specifically for the iPad, but many are duplicative and most people use only a handful.

That said, Microsoft's Windows 8 app store is still strikingly bare, even with some 10,000 apps at launch. This is a particular concern on the Surface and other new tablets running Windows RT, a special mobile version of Windows 8 that runs only new apps offered through Microsoft.

Not everything needs an app. Facebook and Twitter don't have Windows 8 apps yet but you can use them through the browser.

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But there are notable holes. Barnes & Noble has yet to release a Windows 8 Nook app, despite Microsoft's investing $605 million in the company last spring.

"Angry Birds" was missing at launch; the "Space" version has since been added though it's $4.99, versus 99 cents for the iPad version and there's no free, ad-supported version like there is on Apple's platform.

But the most shocking absence is Microsoft Solitaire, which doesn't run on Windows RT devices. Thus, buying a Surface requires a leap of faith that your favorite apps will come to the platform or that you'll be fine with what's there so far.

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I'm surprised so few companies have Windows 8 apps since it's a free opportunity to put dynamic billboards in front of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Companies used to spend a fortune for a piece of Windows desktop real estate and now they're mostly shrugging and pointing to the iPad.
It remains to be seen whether the quality and style of the Surface and Windows 8 can overcome this bias and restore Microsoft's reputation for bringing innovation to the masses.

Microsoft knew for years there was a huge market for handheld displays filling the gap between the phone and the PC. It pounced too early, though, with its Tablet PC software in 2002 and other projects in the twilight of Bill Gates' tenure as chief software architect. Then the company lost interest until Apple showed that the hardware and market for tablet computing had ripened.

Now the larger opportunity is beyond gadgets and in online services where people live their digital lives, connecting from whatever device is at hand.

Windows 8 is Microsoft's attempt to build a new interface not just for PCs, but for this kind of computing.

When you first set up a Windows 8 system, you're encouraged to sync it with online services such as email and Facebook. Windows 8 comes preloaded with Microsoft's online suite, including Skype and the SkyDrive online storage locker. Files are saved online, and accessible from other devices you log in to.

Once it's all connected, the big tiles on its home screen display constant updates, as well as news headlines, weather reports and other sources you select.

The idea is to be able to see at a glance what's happening, then easily choose which program or service to launch. It works especially well for email, weather and news. The steady flow of images from social networks doesn't provide usable information; it's more of a shiny lure, pulling you back to the services.
Reinforcing the personal feeling of the software is the conversational tone used in its messages. When you first open the music or photos applications, it says "it's lonely in here" and suggests you "open or play something."

The flip side of all this personalization, of course, is that Microsoft knows more about you and binds you tighter into online services that it may use for marketing products to you.

Windows 8 system controls fade into the background to maximize the display space, which is a nice concept, especially on devices with smaller screens like a tablet.

But it requires an extra step to activate the controls, and you have to learn how they work or you may get stranded.

With a Surface tablet, these controls feel more natural than on a Windows 8 desktop or laptop.

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A slight brush of your right thumb calls up the "Charms" controls, including search, settings and "Start," a button that takes you back to the home screen. Flicking the left thumb scrolls you through recently opened applications.

Sweeping a finger up from the bottom of the screen reveals additional controls. A downward swipe closes the open program.

You can do all this with just a mouse and keyboard, but it feels less intuitive.

The mandatory minimalism has its limits. Microsoft shouldn't have followed Apple in eliminating the physical "back" button. As a result, you end up going to the start screen often to "back up" or exit applications.

You frequently have to toggle to the software back to an "old fashioned" Windows 7-style PC desktop to get things done, such as configuring a tricky wireless connection.

Even the key Microsoft program on the Surface -- the new version of Office that comes with the device -- has to run in old-fashioned "desktop" mode. When you click the Word 2013 tile, it launches the program and switches the desktop back to circa 2009.

You can use the new "search" feature to find files or programs in the new interface.

But I prefer to use Windows Explorer, so I "pin" the trusty old app to the Windows 8 desktop.

Windows 8 is a fresh and fun new operating system, but it will take a while for people to fully embrace Microsoft's vision of the future. Ready or not, here it comes.

Here are the Surface specs as provided by Microsoft:

surface specs.jpg

Information provided by : Brier Dudley

Friday, 12 October 2012

eSynery Solutions Sales Floor

 

Check out the cool photo of eSynergy Solutions Sales floor using the Iphone 5

 

eSynergy Solutiosn Office

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Improvements to the Windows Azure Portal By Scott Guthrie

 

These new capabilities include:

  • Service Bus Management and Monitoring
  • Support for Managing Co-administrators
  • Import/Export support for SQL Databases
  • Virtual Machine Experience Enhancements
  • Improved Cloud Service Status Notifications
  • Media Services Monitoring Support
  • Storage Container Creation and Access Control Support

All of these improvements are now live in production and available to start using immediately.  Below are more details on them:

Service Bus Management and Monitoring

The new Windows Azure Management Portal now supports Service Bus management and monitoring. Service Bus provides rich messaging infrastructure that can sit between applications (or between cloud and on-premise environments) and allow them to communicate in a loosely coupled way for improved scale and resiliency. With the new Service Bus experience, you can now create and manage Service Bus Namespaces, Queues, Topics, Relays and Subscriptions. You can also get rich monitoring for Service Bus Queues, Topics and Subscriptions.

To create a Service Bus namespace, you can now select the “Service Bus” tab in the Windows Azure portal and then simply select the CREATE command:

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Doing so will bring up a new “Create a Namespace” dialog that allows you to name and create a new Service Bus Namespace:

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Once created, you can obtain security credentials associated with the Namespace via the ACCESS KEY command. This gives you the ability to obtain the connection string associated with the service namespace. You can copy and paste these values into any application that requires these credentials:

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It is also now easy to create Service Bus Queues and Topics via the NEW experience in the portal drawer.  Simply click the NEW command and navigate to the “App Services” category to create a new Service Bus entity:

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Once you provision a new Queue or Topic it can be managed in the portal.  Clicking on a namespace will display all queues and topics within it:

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Clicking on an item in the list will allow you to drill down into a dashboard view that allows you to monitor the activity and traffic within it, as well as perform operations on it. For example, below is a view of an “orders” queue – note how we now surface both the incoming and outgoing message flow rate, as well as the total queue length and queue size:

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To monitor pub/sub subscriptions you can use the ADD METRICS command within a topic and select a specific subscription to monitor.

Support for Managing Co-Administrators

You can now add co-administrators for your Windows Azure subscription using the new Windows Azure Portal. This allows you to share management of your Windows Azure services with other users. Subscription co-administrators share the same administrative rights and permissions that service administrator have - except a co-administrator cannot change or view billing details about the account, nor remove the service administrator from a subscription.

In the SETTINGS section, click on the ADMINISTRATORS tab, and select the ADD button to add a co-administrator to your subscription:

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To add a co-administrator, you specify the email address for a Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID) or an organizational account, and choose the subscription you want to add them to:

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You can later update the subscriptions that the co-administrator has access to by clicking on the EDIT button, and then select or deselect the subscriptions to which they belong.

Import/Export Support for SQL Databases

The Windows Azure administration portal now supports importing and exporting SQL Databases to/from Blob Storage.  Databases can be imported/exported to blob storage using the same BACPAC file format that is supported with SQL Server 2012.  Among other benefits, this makes it easy to copy and migrate databases between on-premise and cloud environments.

SQL Databases now have an EXPORT command in the bottom drawer that when pressed will prompt you to save your database to a Windows Azure storage container:

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The UI allows you to choose an existing storage account or create a new one, as well as the name of the BACPAC file to persist in blob storage:

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You can also now import and create a new SQL Database by using the NEW command.  This will prompt you to select the storage container and file to import the database from:

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The Windows Azure Portal enables you to monitor the progress of import and export operations. If you choose to log out of the portal, you can come back later and check on the status of all of the operations in the new history tab of the SQL Database server – this shows your entire import and export history and the status (success/fail) of each:

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Enhancements to the Virtual Machine Experience

One of the common pain-points we have heard from customers using the preview of our new Virtual Machine support has been the inability to delete the associated VHDs when a VM instance (or VM drive) gets deleted. Prior to today’s release the VHDs would continue to be in your storage account and accumulate storage charges.

You can now navigate to the Disks tab within the Virtual Machine extension, select a VM disk to delete, and click the DELETE DISK command:

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When you click the DELETE DISK button you have the option to delete the disk + associated .VHD file (completely clearing it from storage).  Alternatively you can delete the disk but still retain a .VHD copy of it in storage.

Improved Cloud Service Status Notifications

The Windows Azure portal now exposes more information of the health status of role instances.  If any of the instances are in a non-running state, the status at the top of the dashboard will summarize the status (and update automatically as the role health changes):

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Clicking the instance hyperlink within this status summary view will navigate you to a detailed role instance view, and allow you to get more detailed health status of each of the instances.  The portal has been updated to provide more specific status information within this detailed view – giving you better visibility into the health of your app:

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Monitoring Support for Media Services

Windows Azure Media Services allows you to create media processing jobs (for example: encoding media files) in your Windows Azure Media Services account. In the Windows Azure Portal, you can now monitor the number of encoding jobs that are queued up for processing as well as active, failed and queued tasks for encoding jobs. On your media services account dashboard, you can visualize the monitoring data for last 6 hours, 24 hours or 7 days.

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Storage Container Creation and Access Control Support

You can now create Windows Azure Storage storage containers from within the Windows Azure Portal.  After selecting a storage account, you can navigate to the CONTAINERS tab and click the ADD CONTAINER command:

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This will display a dialog that lets you name the new container and control access to it:

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You can also update the access setting as well as container metadata of existing containers by selecting one and then using the new EDIT CONTAINER command:

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This will then bring up the edit container dialog that allows you to change and save its settings:

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In addition to creating and editing containers, you can click on them within the portal to drill-in and view blobs within them. 

Summary

The above features are all now live in production and available to use immediately.  If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using them today.  Visit the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it.

We’ll have even more new features and enhancements coming later this month – including support for the recent Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5 releases (we will enable new web and worker role images with Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5, and support .NET 4.5 with Websites).  Keep an eye out on my blog for details as these new features become available.

Hope this helps,

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Less Framework 4 - How It Works

 

Every layout in Less Framework is based on a single grid, composed of 68 px columns with 24 px gutters. The only measures that change from layout to layout are the amount of columns and the width of the outer margins.

The three sets of typography pre­sets are aligned to a 24 px baseline grid; one is based on 16 px body text, one on 17 px, and one on 18 px. Both sets contain several harmonious type sizes calculated using the Golden Ratio.

Technically

The idea is to first code the Default Layout (992 px), and then use CSS3 media queries to code seve­ral child layouts: 768, 480, and 320 px. The Default Layout will be served to any browsers that do not support media queries, whereas the child layouts will be served, as appropriate, to browsers that do. They will also inherit all styles given to the Default Layout, so coding them is very fast.

If you think of Mobile First as progressive enhancement, Less Framework will feel more like graceful degradation; old desktop and mobile browsers will only use the default 992 px layout. While not being ideal for accessibility, this also means you will not have to IE-proof any of the child lay­outs, and can freely use modern CSS in them.

To break it down, recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Nokia Webkit, WebOS, Blackberry OS, as well as Internet Explorer 9, Android Webkit, and Mobile Safari (all iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches) will use the layout most appropriate to them. Internet Ex­plorer 6–8 and most old mobile devices will only use the Default Layout.

Philosophically

The goal of Less Framework is to make building websites with mul­tiple layouts efficient, and to make the layouts feel consistent. Since every layout is based on the same grid, elements used in one layout can often be reused in the others without changing them much at all. For example, simply adjusting the width or font-size of an element in one layout is often enough to make it work in another. And even if more changes are re­quired, the common baseline grid and type presets will make the element fit in.

Less Framework is simple. It does not contain any pre­defined column classes, pre-compilers, or other wizardry. The point of it is to let everyone keep writing HTML and CSS as they always have, because everyone does it differently.

 

Getting Started

Less Framework is licensed under the MIT license. This means you are free to use and modify it in any way you want, as long as you keep the license comment at the top of the CSS intact, or alternatively link back to this site somewhere on your site.

Solid knowledge of HTML and CSS is recommended. Start by customizing and copying the code below, or get Less Framework on GitHub. You will find the dimen­sions for each layout noted down in CSS comments.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Kendo UI–The Art of web Development

 
Everything you need in one place, Not hundreds of plug-ins

Kendo UI has all the tools you need in a unified, tested, and supported framework. It lets you focus on building your app, not on building (and supporting) a “framework” out of hundreds of unsupported plug-ins and libraries. Kendo UI Web includes a simple and consistent programming interface, a rock-solid datasource, polished and innovative UI widgets, a MVVM framework, themes, templates and much more. All that’s left to do is to develop modern, interactive, HTML5 and JavaScript applications with Kendo UI Web at the base.

KendoUI - all the tools you need

Ready for Touch

Out-of-the-box, Kendo UI Web is ready for touch. All Kendo UI Web widgets provide full support for touchscreen devices, such as the iPad, iPhone, and Android, so that your web apps can be used on a wide array of devices with varying input options. Even Kendo UI’s drag-and-drop framework is touch-enabled, eliminating the need for you to duplicate code just to handle mouse and touchscreen inputs.

For even more native-like UI widgets and experiences on mobile devices, check-out Kendo UI Mobile.

Ready for Touch

Really fast JavaScript for unmatched performance

Every aspect of Kendo UI has been built from the ground-up to deliver maximum JavaScript app performance. Kendo UI is not another jQuery UI clone, and every decision made in Kendo UI optimizes for performance first. From a lightweight, built-in templating library that performs significantly faster than jQuery Templates, to optimized animations that leverage CSS3 hardware acceleration (when available), and advanced UI virtualization, Kendo UI leaves no stone unturned to deliver client-side UI with top performance.

KendoUI Grid

Manage rich views and models the MVVM way

Kendo UI provides a high-performance Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) framework, which allows you to manage complex HTML and JavaScript UI with declarative bindings and two-way syncing between applications views and models. MVVM keeps the view and the model in synch without you having to manually do both. It’s not required, and you can always use your favorite libraries- like BackboneJS- with Kendo UI, but Kendo UI MVVM provides a high-performance, supported binding option right out-of-the-box.

Pixel-perfect themes to make your applications look amazing

Widgets in Kendo UI support themes and styling, via CSS. Kendo UI includes the following 5 out-of-the-box themes: Default, Metro, Black, Blue Opal and Silver. Professional designers create all themes so your apps look amazing even if you don’t have a designer on your team. Paired with the rich functionality in all Kendo UI widgets, themes are the fastest way to build professional, usable interfaces without the need for CSS wizard skills.

Kendo UI themes can also help you style normal HTML elements, like buttons and inputs, so all elements on your page look consistent. Simply use the basic CSS classes provided by Kendo UI and apply a professional CSS theme to your entire page.

Customize themes to match the look & feel of your site and app

When the out-of-the-box themes are not enough, you can use the ThemeBuilder tool to quickly customize the base styles to perfectly match your site. The simple and intuitive point-and-click configuration wizard makes it a breeze to transform Kendo UI themes, providing you with the CSS or LESS output for use in your site. You can also use ThemeBuilder to modify the styles of Kendo UI widgets as they exist on your site and apps with an easy to use bookmarklet.

Try the ThemeBuilder now to see how easy it is to customize themes.

ThemeBuilder

 

Server Wrappers for easy programmability

We get it. Sometimes it's easier to program on the server. Kendo UI server wrappers deliver maximum productivity by giving you server-side programming convenience for the Kendo UI JavaScript UI widgets. Server wrappers automatically generate the necessary HTML and JavaScript to configure, render, and initialize your Kendo UI widgets and charts.

Available now for ASP.NET MVC. Other server platforms coming soon!

ASP.NET MVC server wrappers for Kendo UI Web are available only with the purchase of Kendo UI Complete for ASP.NET MVC. For evaluation-only purposes you can find the server wrappers included in the Kendo UI Free Trial.

Server Wrappers

Automate tests like a Pro

Test the reliability of your rich JavaScript apps with just a few clicks. Telerik Test Studio has built-in translators for Kendo UI web widgets that abstract control specifics to help you quickly build automated functional tests. We’ve got translators for the Kendo UI Calendar, Grid, Menu, Treeview, Panelbar, Tabstrip, Menu, Listview, and more.

Find out more about Telerik Test Studio and Kendo UI testing.

Quick Tasks KendoPanel

 

Great UX across devices and browsers (even the old ones)

A world with only HTML5-enabled browsers can't come soon enough. Until then, you need tools that minimize the pain of supporting outdated browsers and maximize the performance. Kendo UI uses a mix of techniques to enable some HTML5 features in older browsers, and fine-tuned graceful degradation for others. Kendo UI is designed to support all major browsers, including: Internet Explorer 7+, Firefox ESR, Chrome, Safari 4+, and Opera 10+.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Top 10 Windows 8 Features #3: Shared Media

 

If Windows 8 succeeds, it will be because its users come to embrace three of its exclusive elements as critical to the way they work and the things they do. Here we address the first of those elements:   Windows 8’s approach to sharing media.

Unlike almost any other mass-produced product, the success of technology gadgets today is gauged by the eagerness of consumers to get rid of them and replace them with the newest version.  Witness the early reviews of iPhone 5.  Technology thrives on our innate ability to be simultaneously enthusiastic and transient.

There’s an obvious reason, of course: Business models nowadays are based on subscriptions whose payoffs only take place at the beginning, during customers’ initial commitment phase.  We may make a two-year commitment, but the hope is that we’ll last for no longer than one.  While Microsoft Windows is moving – albeit in phases – to a subscription model of sorts, for now, the success of Windows 8 depends on customers’ willingness to perceive Windows 7 as outmoded and undesirable. That perception will occur only if Windows 8 can demonstrate it has an understanding of how people work today, in the modern age of multiple devices, mobility and synchronicity, that Windows 7 fundamentally lacks.

Last year, Microsoft’s early preview of Windows 8 showed much promise in this regard.  But the final product lacks the succinctness and clarity of its original value proposition.

It Looked Better In Rehearsal

Most of the tools that desktop computer users use today to synchronize their media across devices are add-ons.  Worse, from Microsoft’s perspective, they’re not Microsoft add-ons.  Dropbox and Box (formerly Box.net) command the lion’s share of the general-purpose syncing market, although Google Drive has recently made inroads. In business, companies are finding new and more convenient means of leveraging Amazon’s S3 storage.  In the last three years, Microsoft has tried cracking this market with SkyDrive. Yet during the Windows 7 era, its usually successful tactic of leveraging one platform against has not succeeded. Tying SkyDrive to Windows Live and then to Office Web Apps made it seem subservient to them; successful syncing services are the ones that appear ubiquitous, useful to everything and everyone.

In fact, most consumers-on-the-street would define “the cloud” as the ubiquitous place where you store all your media and the documents you want to take home.  That’s not at all how cloud service providers define it, and it’s this disparity between the “tech news” definition of the cloud and the real-world definition, that Microsoft would very much like to exploit with Windows 8.

One of Windows 8’s slight-of-hand tricks is intended to take your attention away from the Desktop and relocate it to this new, tiled, more nebulous, less-defined place whose final name has still yet to be determined (formerly known as "Metro").  Here, it isn’t so obvious where the cloud begins and ends, and the add-ons upon which you’ve come to depend don’t seem so ubiquitously accessible. Dropbox isn’t king here.

It’s here where you’ll find something Windows 8 calls Photos. When Microsoft first introduced its Windows 8 concept to the public one year ago, Microsoft Senior Vice President for Windows Live Chris Jones pitched the concept to convention attendees as the beginning of a great transition for the company as a whole.

The concept Jones demonstrated was indeed a series of self-synchronizing panels adorned with just the things Jones imported to his tablet, synced through his phone, and shared through his networks. It was, far and away, Microsoft’s most impressive public Windows 8 Consumer Preview demonstration. This feature could have been, I wrote at the time, the sole reason for upgrading. 

Jones’ pitch boiled down to this: When you look at your computer or your tablet, you don’t want to see Microsoft. You want to see the people you love, like your family, and the things you do in your life. You want Microsoft to step back and stay out of the way.

Orchestrated Schizophrenia

At some time between Build 2011 and now, Microsoft stepped back into the picture, whittling down Jones’ original concept visibly into a leveraging vehicle for SkyDrive.  For the release version of the Photos app, in place of the people you love, well, there’s the London Ferris wheel.  Which isn’t all bad, but not quite the same.  To change things, you need to do things; and almost anything you do with Photos warns you in vivid language – as though you touched the wrong button and almost started the self-destruct sequence ­­– that you really need SkyDrive.

Syncing with devices requires the Photos app to know what “devices” are.  A sensible first-time Windows 8 user may assume it has something to do with the Devices “charm” on the new right-side Start menu panel. Clicking here (as with clicking on “Devices” almost anywhere else in Windows 8) reminds you that “Devices” in the context of the right side of the screen is different from “Devices” everywhere else on the screen.  Windows 8 speaks different languages at different times, and you’re supposed to be able to sort all that out.

In the context of the Photos app, “Devices” refers to the places where you have installed the SkyDrive Desktop app. You read this correctly – I’m not referring to the SkyDrive Windows 8 Metro/Modern/whatever-style app that ships with Windows 8 itself, which apparently does not render a device a “Device.”  You see, this app has to run in the background… and the WinRT-centered world of the Start Screen has no “background” for programs to run, not even its own SkyDrive app. So for the Photos app to distinguish between SkyDrive and the devices which have the SkyDrive Desktop app (an absolute necessity if the selections on the bottom are ever to make sense), you must download and install the SkyDrive Desktop app.  And if you don’t, you’ll be warned.

You wonder what Chris Jones would have said last year if a screenshot from 2012 were to have been beamed one year into the past, and if he had been asked, “Instead of seeing the people you love and the things you like to do, what would you think if the user saw this instead?”

This particular leveraging scheme isn’t really being honest with you.  You can connect two or three or twelve Windows devices together in a network, and one device will see the other one’s files, including its photos.  You don’t need SkyDrive to sync them.  But this Photos app does – or rather, it pretends it does, with messages like this one:

Once you’ve downloaded the SkyDrive app onto the device whose photos you want to bring into the Photos app, all of the device’s shared photos folders magically become visible to the Photos app, even though you weren’t technically sharing them through SkyDrive in the first place.

Windows 7 veterans will have already picked up on the presence of the Pictures library, which technically can include any shared folder in the network.  In fact, that’s the whole point of libraries in the homegroup scheme ­­– to make several locations with the same categories of media content, appear as one location.  But not here, because if it were that easy, of course there’d be no leverage point for installing SkyDrive, would there?  So the Photos app artificially limits your capability to see photos in your Photos library stored on other devices.  It may acknowledge the presence of folders within shared network folders in that library, but it presents their names as though they were empty… or somehow in “error.”  The File Explorer on the Windows 8 Desktop does not have this false limitation.

So to recap, even if you merged photos from several network locations together (for a reason), the Photos app has you distinguish between local, SkyDrive, and “Devices” photos (for a different reason). Here is where Microsoft’s irrepressible impulse to tie one platform to another, like a toddler with building blocks, knocks the whole tower down: In the current incarnation of the Photos app (which admittedly, through Microsoft’s new distribution system, could be fixed at any time), the moment you’ve used the SkyDrive app to sync with a second device, that device becomes “Devices” for the sake of the Photos app.

Function and Functionality

It isn’t obvious from the instructions (what instructions?), but once you use SkyDrive Desktop to introduce devices in your network to the Photos app, tiles for each device appear there.  Your next obvious question may be, “So what does that actually accomplish?”

The original idea was for the Photos app to serve as a kind of hub, so the photos from your phone, from Facebook, from Flickr, and from your local network could all be accessed from one outlet without all those photos having to be relocated there.  That’s a laudable goal, even if Microsoft were to make automatic photo sharing exclusive to Windows Phone.  You’d think it’s why this cloud thing was invented in the first place.

But in the time between concept and execution, it’s obvious that each of the various “chefs” at Microsoft took her turn at mixing her pet ingredients into the pot, with the result being less of a blend and more of a mud pie.  Not only is the flavor of this app completely lost, but also its purpose.  There’s nothing you actually do with photos in the Photos app except view them.  You can’t edit them, or trigger them to be edited by some outside process.  You can select them, if selecting is a thing you like to do in your spare time, and you can view a slideshow. You can replace the London Ferris wheel with one of them, if you consider that a feature.

Or, if you’re like me and you still have one of those digital camera things that was hot in the 2000s, and that you connect to the PC using a USB cable, you might try to import some more photos.  Once you find the Import function on the menu (it’s the only one there, you can’t miss it), instead of the wizard-like process that Windows 7 veterans have come to expect, you get this error message:

There are no devices, evidently.  Now obviously, there are “Devices” devices, because here you can clearly see two.  But we’re not talking about the kind of “Devices” that the new Start panel refers to.  This is a third connotation of devices, meaning a serial cable-connected storage medium.  Now, Windows 8 could have said, “First, hook up your digital camera or your memory card reader, and we’ll start the import process right away.”  But no, someone apparently concluded that an error message was more appropriate for Step 1.

SkyDrive Dependency vs. SkyDrive

All this having been said, there is still a path for sharing media on Windows 8 to succeed.  It depends on the extent of the user’s patience, which we can assume should be shorter than anyone’s ability to put up with the Photos app.

It may also depend on the user’s acceptance of schizophrenia as a design virtue.  Because the Desktop co-exists with the Start Screen, there may be many elements of Windows 8 with dual personalities.  SkyDrive has three: namely, the “full” SkyDrive app that runs in Internet Explorer in the “Metro” world; the SkyDrive app that runs from the Start Screen in the “Metro” world (yes, that’s a different app); and the SkyDrive Desktop app which we have just learned you can’t ignore.

Yet all of these, for inexplicable reasons, contain better photo browsing and file management functions than the Photos app (stand-alone “Metro” app shown above).  All the photos that you mean to share with not only your own network but with other networks in the world, would appear here by virtue of your dragging and dropping them into the SkyDrive folder on your Desktop.  Your Facebook and Flickr photos won’t appear here, but there may very well be a separate Facebook app for that before too long.

And you remember music, don’t you?  If I recall correctly, those other guys with the really popular phone built their entire platform on the backbone of a music service.  (The Metro Internet Explorer-based version is pictured above.)  It’s easy enough to play MP3 files directly from SkyDrive; and because files appearing in the SkyDrive folder may be treated as files, then any music player program that expects files will automatically accept entries appearing in this folder as entries in a playlist.

No better evidence exists of Windows 8 having been cooked by a plethora of chefs, none of them sharing the same kitchen, than the fact that its Music app doesn’t even try to leverage SkyDrive for its ability to sync music across devices.  The functionality that was so critical to the Photos app that it makes you use it even when you don’t need it, is inexplicably omitted in its entirety from the Music app.  Instead, Music opens up all the contents of your Music library for playback through a separate player.

It also tries to sell you new music through something called the Xbox Music Store.  Xbox, you ask?  I thought this was Windows.  And here is where we discover the identity of the chef responsible for the music part of our program.  While Photos wants to sell you a SkyDrive, Music wants to sell you an Xbox.  Hmm, maybe Xbox is the future of Microsoft.

In the end, perhaps it’s unfair to have me be the one judging the viability of any technology for the everyday user.  I’m the fellow with a fully working 26-year-old Atari ST, yet for whom most smartphones literally give out, if not explode, after a few months being in my vicinity.

But the following remains the truth regardless of who says it:  One of the actual causes of the mobility revolution is users being able to break free from being bound to the restrictive platforms that have come to define desktop computing.  People aren’t just moving from place to place, they’re moving from context to context.  Windows 8’s relative capability to share media between devices (with an upper- or lower-case “d”) will be a top feature simply due to the importance users place on that feature.

Microsoft cannot afford to stake its future on its ability to reconstruct what its users have so skillfully torn down.  Every once in a while, one of its people hits upon the right idea:  Give people a hub with which they can share whatever it is they share, on whatever networks they use to share it.  If someone else besides Microsoft provides people with that hub, then they probably will not need to upgrade to Windows 8 to use it.  That’s the knife’s edge on which the success of this product, and maybe its producer, now rests.

Will These Windows 8 Features Be Tops With You?

No. 10: Refresh and Reset

No. 9: File History

No. 8: Storage Spaces

No. 7: Client-side Hyper-V

No. 6: Secure Boot

No. 5: Live Performance and Reliability Charts

No. 4: Windows To Go

Thursday, 13 September 2012

What's New in the .NET Framework 4.5

 

This topic contains a summary of key new features and improvements in the following areas of the .NET Framework 4.5. This topic does not provide comprehensive information and is subject to change. For general information about the .NET Framework, including guidance for installing or uninstalling the .NET Framework

.NET for Windows Store apps


Windows Store apps are designed for specific form factors and leverage the power of the Windows operating system. A subset of the .NET Framework 4.5 is available for building Windows Store apps for Windows by using C# or Visual Basic. This subset is called .NET for Windows Store apps and is discussed in an overview in the Windows Dev Center.

Portable Class Libraries


The Portable Class Library project in Visual Studio 2012 enables you to write and build managed assemblies that work on multiple .NET Framework platforms. Using a Portable Class Library project, you choose the platforms (such as Windows Phone and .NET for Windows Store apps) to target. The available types and members in your project are automatically restricted to the common types and members across these platforms.

For more information, see Cross-Platform Development with the .NET Framework.

Core New Features and Improvements


The following features and improvements were added to the common language runtime and to .NET Framework classes:

  • Ability to reduce system restarts by detecting and closing .NET Framework 4 applications during deployment. See Reducing System Restarts During .NET Framework 4.5 Installations.

  • Support for arrays that are larger than 2 gigabytes (GB) on 64-bit platforms. This feature can be enabled in the application configuration file. See the <gcAllowVeryLargeObjects> element, which also lists other restrictions on object size and array size.

  • Better performance through background garbage collection for servers. When you use server garbage collection in the .NET Framework 4.5, background garbage collection is automatically enabled. See the Background Server Garbage Collection section of the Fundamentals of Garbage Collection topic.

  • Background just-in-time (JIT) compilation, which is optionally available on multi-core processors to improve application performance. See ProfileOptimization.

  • Ability to limit how long the regular expression engine will attempt to resolve a regular expression before it times out. See the Regex.MatchTimeout property.

  • Ability to define the default culture for an application domain. See the CultureInfo class.

  • Console support for Unicode (UTF-16) encoding. See the Console class.

  • Support for versioning of cultural string ordering and comparison data. See the SortVersion class.

  • Better performance when retrieving resources. See Packaging and Deploying Resources in Desktop Apps.

  • Zip compression improvements to reduce the size of a compressed file. See the System.IO.Compression namespace.

  • Ability to customize a reflection context to override default reflection behavior through the CustomReflectionContext class.

  • Support for the 2008 version of the Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) standard when the System.Globalization.IdnMapping class is used on Windows 8.

  • Delegation of string comparison to the operating system, which implements Unicode 6.0, when the .NET Framework is used on Windows 8. When running on other platforms, the .NET Framework includes its own string comparison data, which implements Unicode 5.x. See the String class and the Remarks section of the SortVersion class.

  • Ability to compute the hash codes for strings on a per application domain basis. See <UseRandomizedStringHashAlgorithm> Element.

  • Type reflection support split between Type and TypeInfo classes. See Reflection in the .NET Framework for Windows Store Apps.

Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF)


The Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) provides the following new features:

  • Support for generic types.

  • Convention-based programming model that enables you to create parts based on naming conventions rather than attributes.

  • Multiple scopes.

  • A subset of MEF that you can use when you create Windows Store apps. This subset is available as a downloadable package from the NuGet Gallery. To install the package, open your project in Visual Studio 2012, choose Manage NuGet Packages from the Project menu, and search online for the Microsoft.Composition package.

For more information, see Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF).

Asynchronous File Operations


In the .NET Framework 4.5, new asynchronous features were added to the C# and Visual Basic languages. These features add a task-based model for performing asynchronous operations. To use this new model, use the asynchronous methods in the I/O classes. See Asynchronous File I/O.

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Tools


Resource File Generator (Resgen.exe) enables you to create a .resw file for use in Windows Store apps from a .resources file embedded in a .NET Framework assembly. For more information, see Resgen.exe (Resource File Generator).

Managed Profile Guided Optimization (Mpgo.exe) enables you to improve application startup time, memory utilization (working set size), and throughput by optimizing native image assemblies. The command-line tool generates profile data for native image application assemblies. See Mpgo.exe (Managed Profile Guided Optimization Tool).

Parallel Computing


The .NET Framework 4.5 provides several new features and improvements for parallel computing. These include improved performance, increased control, improved support for asynchronous programming, a new dataflow library, and improved support for parallel debugging and performance analysis. See the entry What’s New for Parallelism in .NET 4.5 in the Parallel Programming with .NET blog.

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Web


ASP.NET 4.5 includes the following new features:

  • Support for new HTML5 form types.

  • Support for model binders in Web Forms. These let you bind data controls directly to data-access methods, and automatically convert user input to and from .NET Framework data types.

  • Support for unobtrusive JavaScript in client-side validation scripts.

  • Improved handling of client script through bundling and minification for improved page performance.

  • Integrated encoding routines from the AntiXSS library (previously an external library) to protect from cross-site scripting attacks.

  • Support for WebSockets protocol.

  • Support for reading and writing HTTP requests and responses asynchronously.

  • Support for asynchronous modules and handlers.

  • Support for content distribution network (CDN) fallback in the ScriptManager control.

For more information about these features, see ASP.NET 4.5 and Visual Studio 2012.

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Networking


The .NET Framework 4.5 provides a new programming interface for HTTP applications. For more information, see the new System.Net.Http and System.Net.Http.Headers namespaces.

Support is also included for a new programming interface for accepting and interacting with a WebSocket connection by using the existing HttpListener and related classes. For more information, see the new System.Net.WebSockets namespace and the HttpListener class.

In addition, the .NET Framework 4.5 includes the following networking improvements:

  • RFC-compliant URI support. For more information, see Uri and related classes.

  • Support for Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) parsing. For more information, see Uri and related classes.

  • Support for Email Address Internationalization (EAI). For more information, see the System.Net.Mail namespace.

  • Improved IPv6 support. For more information, see the System.Net.NetworkInformation namespace.

  • Dual-mode socket support. For more information, see the Socket and TcpListener classes.

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Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)


In the .NET Framework 4.5, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) contains changes and improvements in the following areas:

  • The new Ribbon control, which enables you to implement a ribbon user interface that hosts a Quick Access Toolbar, Application Menu, and tabs.

  • The new INotifyDataErrorInfo interface, which supports synchronous and asynchronous data validation.

  • New features for the VirtualizingPanel and Dispatcher classes.

  • Improved performance when displaying large sets of grouped data, and by accessing collections on non-UI threads.

  • Data binding to static properties, data binding to custom types that implement the ICustomTypeProvider interface, and retrieval of data binding information from a binding expression.

  • Repositioning of data as the values change (live shaping).

  • Ability to check whether the data context for an item container is disconnected.

  • Ability to set the amount of time that should elapse between property changes and data source updates.

  • Improved support for implementing weak event patterns. Also, events can now accept markup extensions.

For more information, see What's New in WPF Version 4.5.

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Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)


In the .NET Framework 4.5, the following features have been added to make it simpler to write and maintain Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) applications:

  • Simplification of generated configuration files.

  • Support for contract-first development.

  • Ability to configure ASP.NET compatibility mode more easily.

  • Changes in default transport property values to reduce the likelihood that you will have to set them.

  • Updates to the XmlDictionaryReaderQuotas class to reduce the likelihood that you will have to manually configure quotas for XML dictionary readers.

  • Validation of WCF configuration files by Visual Studio as part of the build process, so you can detect configuration errors before you run your application.

  • New asynchronous streaming support.

  • New HTTPS protocol mapping to make it easier to expose an endpoint over HTTPS with Internet Information Services (IIS).

  • Ability to generate metadata in a single WSDL document by appending ?singleWSDL to the service URL.

  • Websockets support to enable true bidirectional communication over ports 80 and 443 with performance characteristics similar to the TCP transport.

  • Support for configuring services in code.

  • XML Editor tooltips.

  • ChannelFactory caching support.

  • Binary encoder compression support.

  • Support for a UDP transport that enables developers to write services that use "fire and forget" messaging. A client sends a message to a service and expects no response from the service.

  • Ability to support multiple authentication modes on a single WCF endpoint when using the HTTP transport and transport security.

  • Support for WCF services that use internationalized domain names (IDNs).

For more information, see What's New in Windows Communication Foundation.

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Windows Workflow Foundation (WF)


Several new features have been added to Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) in the .NET Framework 4.5. These new features include:

  • State machine workflows, which were first introduced as part of the .NET Framework 4.0.1 (.NET Framework 4 Platform Update 1). This update included several new classes and activities that enabled developers to create state machine workflows. These classes and activities were updated for the .NET Framework 4.5 to include:

    • The ability to set breakpoints on states.

    • The ability to copy and paste transitions in the workflow designer.

    • Designer support for shared trigger transition creation.

    • Activities for creating state machine workflows, including: StateMachine, State, and Transition.

  • Enhanced Workflow Designer features such as the following:

    • Enhanced workflow search capabilities in Visual Studio, including Quick Find and Find in Files.

    • Ability to automatically create a Sequence activity when a second child activity is added to a container activity, and to include both activities in the Sequence activity.

    • Panning support, which enables the visible portion of a workflow to be changed without using the scroll bars.

    • A new Document Outline view that shows the components of a workflow in a tree-style outline view and lets you select a component in the Document Outline view.

    • Ability to add annotations to activities.

    • Ability to define and consume activity delegates by using the workflow designer.

    • Auto-connect and auto-insert for activities and transitions in state machine and flowchart workflows.

  • Storage of the view state information for a workflow in a single element in the XAML file, so you can easily locate and edit the view state information.

  • A NoPersistScope container activity to prevent child activities from persisting.

  • Support for C# expressions:

    • Workflow projects that use Visual Basic will use Visual Basic expressions, and C# workflow projects will use C# expressions.

    • C# workflow projects that were created in Visual Studio 2010 and that have Visual Basic expressions are compatible with C# workflow projects that use C# expressions.

  • Versioning enhancements:

    • The new WorkflowIdentity class, which provides a mapping between a persisted workflow instance and its workflow definition.

    • Side-by-side execution of multiple workflow versions in the same host, including WorkflowServiceHost.

    • In Dynamic Update, the ability to modify the definition of a persisted workflow instance.

  • Contract-first workflow service development, which provides support for automatically generating activities to match an existing service contract.

What's new in Visual Studio 2012

 

It's no secret that a new age of modern apps is here. With connected devices and cloud-based services, you have bigger and better opportunities than ever before. Independent developers can plug in from anywhere, build a brilliant app, and make it available to millions of user. Large, agile teams can give their businesses a significant advantage—and the faster they execute, the greater that advantage can be.

That's why Visual Studio 2012 is one of our biggest releases yet. It comes purpose-built to help you thrive in an environment in which ideas are at a premium and speed is of the essence. Let's look at some of the ways it can help you turn ideas into applications fast.

A new look and feel

From the moment you open the IDE, you'll notice things are different. The entire interface has been redesigned to streamline workflows and provide easy access to the tools you use every day. Tool bars are simplified, tab clutter reduced, and you now have new, fast ways to find code. All of this should make it easier to navigate your application and work the way you like.

Ready for Win8

With the release of Windows 8, things have changed dramatically. Visual Studio 2012 delivers new templates, designers, and testing and debugging tools—everything you need to build addictive applications in as little time as possible. At the same time, Blend for Visual Studio gives you a visual toolkit for taking full advantage of the new (and beautiful) Windows 8 interface.

But maybe the best part of all is what you can do after you've created your application. In the old days, it wasn't always easy to get great products in front of the customers who needed them. Now you have the Windows Store, a widely available distribution channel that can reach millions of users. The terms are transparent and the potential easy to see. So you can code, sell, and maybe spend the next few years on the beach.

Web dev upgraded

When it comes to web development, Visual Studio 2012 also has you covered with new templates, better publishing tools, and full support for emerging standards, like HTML5 and CSS3, as well as the latest advances in ASP.NET. We've also made it easier to debug with the Page Inspector by interacting with the page you're coding, right in the IDE. Going mobile? With ASP.NET you can now create applications with controls that optimize for phones, tablets, and other small screens.

Cloud capable

In the old days, everyone had to maintain a server. Scaling required major investment in infrastructure. Now you have fast access to virtually unlimited servers in the cloud with the ability to add more storage and computing power on the fly. Visual Studio gives you great tools for taking your apps to Windows Azure, including new templates and publishing options, support for distributed caching, and a lower install footprint.

Up for serious business

You'll also find major improvements for SharePoint, including new designers, templates, and deployment options. You can take advantage of upgraded ALM features for SharePoint like performance profiling, unit testing, and IntelliTrace. But the pleasantest surprise of all might be LightSwitch, which enables anyone to create line of business applications without having to write a lot of code.

Flexible agile processes, solid ALM

Ok, so far we've focused mainly on development. But as applications grow more complex, you also need tools that help your team work faster and smarter. That's why we've included a flexible approach to agile. With Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server, you can adopt more productive practices at your own pace, without disrupting existing workflows. We've also invited your entire organization to the party, with new ways to track requirements and feedback from stakeholders, customers, and business team members.

You can even outsource your ALM efforts to us. With Team Foundation Service, you get ALM without the infrastructure. That way, even the smallest teams can then benefit from revision control, code reviews, and agile planning tools.

This is, of course, only a small bit of what's new in Visual Studio. You'll find plenty of more coding enhancements, ALM improvements, and tools that make your development life a little easier. (For an exhaustive list of new features, click here.) Your task is to find out what works for you and do what you do best. Who knows? Maybe you'll write the next app that will grab everyone's attention. And that would definitely make all of our hard work worth it.