The blogs of Black Marble staff

Oslo in a nutshell

What is Oslo all about? According to Microsoft's Burley Kawasaki at Architect Insight, Oslo is a new way to build connected applications where services are extended from client to cloud and models become the mainstream part of development. Oslo is not a product but a way of working.

Other things of interest from Architect Insight include the ConfigWeb sample (from Stock Trader) for configuring enterprise web applications ( The Internet Service bus and biztalk services (

Extra announcement on BizTalk 2006 R3

Burley Kawasaki has just announced at the Microsoft Insight 2008 conference that in BizTalk 2006 R3 that Microsoft has Acquired from Covast some of their advanced B2B functionality specifically around  new vertical industries ( details to come ) , this will be a no cost addition to BizTalk 2006 R3.



Architecture Insight 2008

Matt Deacon (Microsoft) runs a significant set of Architecture events certainly in the UK. Over the last two days several of the Black Marble architects and seniors have been at the Microsoft Insight Conference 2008. There has been a great range of topics split roughly into Infrastructure , Solutions , SaaS and Enterprise. I will update this post with links to available content when it is available.

Burley Kawasaki provided the closing Keynote on The Road to Oslo :), if you missed Burleys talk we will be running a SOA event at Black Marble in the next month or so



I want a TFS 64bit API

The lack of 64Bit TFS API DLLs is becoming a real pain for me. We have committed to a 64Bit server architecture for all our IIS and hence MOSS servers; both of these seem unable to WOW64 the 32bit TFS DLLs (though Cassini can!) so I cannot load any web front ends that use TFS such as eScrum or anything home grown on my main servers.

My only option is to run 32it servers as well for the primary systems. This is not too bad for IIS/ASP.NET bits, but it is not recommended to have a mixed 32/64bit frontend for MOSS.

I have to ask why is there no 64bit version of these TFS DLLs,  what the hell do they do that is processor type related?

If my understanding is correct they are just a set of wrappers that make the TFS WebServices easier to use. The TFS WebServices are not designed for third party access and I was strongly warned off trying to use them by Martin Wooward at IMTC and he should know as he is part of the team that wrote the Java/Eclipse client for TFS. He said the webservices do not provided atomic functions, so the API does a lot of work to make sure you don't corrupt the TFS system. However as it in the end the API uses the TFS WebServices it must just be making SOAP calls so why can't we have a 64Bit set of DLLs?

So is this a problem for just me? Has anyone else got interesting workarounds?

First Release of BlogWriter for Smart Devices

I have just uploaded the first release of my BlogWriter for Smart Devices which allows you to post new messages to blog servers that uses the MetaBlog API. My aim was to provide a LiveWriter like application for devices like my HTC PDA.

In the zip file you will find these instructions and a .CAB file. The installation process is as follows:

  • Make sure you Smart Device has .NET Compact Framework 3.5 installed
  • Copy the the CAB file to your smart device 
  • On the smart device double click on the CAB – you will get a message about unknown publisher, say OK. The EXE and the CAB are digitally signed but Black Marble is not a known publisher (we don't have Mobile2Market certificate which is the only type that the installer can check publishers against).
  • Answer the questions as to where you want to install the application.
  • Once the program has been installed there should be a icon on program menu for Blog Writer, click it to run
  • You see a splash screen, this should disappear after a short while and leave an empty page (this is because the blog server has not been configured yet)


  • On the tools menu select Options
  • Enter the URL of the community server's MetaBlog page (or any other type of blog server that support MetaBlog). In the case of CS it will be something like
  • Enter the blog name. In CS it is what is after the /blogs/ in the URL, so mine is rfennell
  • Enter your login and password.
  • Finally you can set if the application should auto-connect to the server on start-up. I would suggest not to auto refresh until you are happy it is working, there is a manual refresh option on the tools menu.
  • Once all is setup and saved use tools/refresh option and you should see a list of your last 20 posts.


  • To view a post click on it or click new post button to create a new one


  • On the details page you get a browser preview, and a text editor. As I have not found a good html editor for .NET Compact framework I just use a textbox and replace a newline with a <p> when you save.
  • You also get a categories list which is pulled from the server. You can assign a post to any category you want.
  • When you are happy use the publish option on the post actions menu.
  • Note: you also have an option to delete a post if you want.

So what is missing?

  • A better HTML editor is the critical thing, I might have to write one!
  • No context menus or help.
  • The ability to add new categories.
  • Image support - maybe linked to the PDA camera to you can blog a photo in one step.

Enigma &amp; Friends

I went to very interesting IET meeting last night entitled 'Enigma & Friends' given by John Alexander. He is a private collector of encryption machines; the bulk of his collection is currently house in the Block-B exhibit at Bletchley Park and is open to the public.

The difference between going to the museum and seeing his presentation is threefold. Firstly the you get his extensive knowledge of the subject, but I think even more interestingly hear of the adventures it takes to obtain what must be remembered were (or still are) top secret machines. And finally you get a chance to handle  the machines, probably something I will not get the chance to do again.

So what did I learn - Russian cold war cypher machines are improbably heavy, and you can buy anything on eBay!

BizTalk 2006 R3

To coincide with the release of SQL Server 2008 Microsoft plans to release an updated version of BizTalk Server. The update will cover compatibility with Windows Server 2008, .NET Framework 3.5, Visual Studio 2008 , and SQL Server 2008.  

This allows BizTalk Server users to improve on: scalability for mission-critical workloads, improved support for next-generation web and service oriented applications and improved virtualization support.

The R3 release also includes enhancements for

  • New web service registry capabilities with support for UDDI (Universal Description Discovery and Integration) version 3.0
  • Enhanced service enablement of applications (through new and enhanced adapters for LOB applications, databases, and legacy/host systems)
  • Enhanced service enablement of “edge” devices through BizTalk RFID Mobile
  • Enhanced interoperability and connectivity support for B2B protocols (like SWIFT, EDI, etc)
  • SOA patterns and best practices guidance to assist our customer’s implementations

You should expect to see a CTP of BizTalk Server 2006 R3 later this year (with an RTM planned in H1 CY09).

We will be covering BizTalk 2006 R3 in our BizTalk Event in July ( we will announce this soon ).