The blogs of Black Marble staff

TechEd EMEA IT: Day 0 - Greetings from Barcelona

Ola! Andy and I are now in sunny Espana. Only it's not sunny. Oh well... However, true to form we started our trip, having registered at the conference centre, by eating hot dogs in a german fast food joint in a Spanish shopping centre! If you're passing, Kurz & Gut does pretty good food.

I'm also extremely impressed with the Metro system here in Barcelona. It's my first time in the city, and the transport is pretty efficient, with a wonderful simple trip-based charging mechanism.

The only downside is that despite not travelling particularly far, we seem to have lost an entire day to travel. Up and out by 8:30am UK time, and we finally landed in the hotel here in Spain around 18:30 (17:30 UK time) - then we had to get across town to the conference centre.

Apparently, take-up on the shuttle service from the airport was low last year, so this year Microsoft didn't bother. I can understand that, but at the same time it would have made our lives much easier, even if we would have needed to get from the conference centre to the hotel after registering. Perhaps that's as much because we're TechEd noobs - next year we'll know where to go and how to get there, I guess.

So now we're relaxing in the hotel bar, checking the conference schedules and noting the irony of how the prize-of-the-moment for all conference competitions is the Dell Mini 9 (I'm typing this on mine, and Andy stole Richard's for the week!).

As I mentioned before, don't be shy - if you're in Barcelona at the moment and feel like being sociable, get in touch and we can try to meet up. Oh, and I hadn't forgotten about Robert, but he's effectively working!

CodeRush and Refactor XPress for C#

Developer Express and Microsoft now are shipping a limited free copy version of CodeRush and Refactor! Pro. The free edition is available for C# developers using Visual Studio 2008.

A list of features :

  • Find any File or Symbol...
  • Tab to Next Reference
  • Expand/Shrink Selection
  • Intelligent Declaration Based on Usage
  • Professional Grade Refactoring
  • Editor Features
  • Navigation Features

Get it Here

If you want to know more about the greatness of the free tools come along to one of our evening events where the near legendary Oliver Sturm will be presenting on Developer Productivity


Happenstance is a wonderful thing…

Rik and I arrived this afternoon in Barcelona for the TechEd IT conference that is going on this week. Our flight was pretty good, and our bags even arrived at baggage reclaim fairly quickly. After some confusion, we managed to negotiate the train/underground to get to our hotel (and I must say here that I was very impressed indeed with the Barcelona underground system; I even managed to get a good mobile signal all of the time I was on the underground). Rik and I decided at that point that a) getting registered at the conference would be a good idea and b) some food would also be a good idea. Registering was very quick and we visited the shopping centre across the road as Rik had been recommended a place inside.  After a bit of a wander around, we eventually settled on a place called Kurz & Gut (first night in Barcelona and we end up in a German themed place eating bratwurst!) – however I was very pleased that we had done. I enjoyed what has to be the very best hotdog/bratwurst I have ever eaten!

PDC – Home – TechED

I am just back from the PDC and all the great news ( post to follow ) and I am just off to TechED IT all though Rik seems to have forgotten me :(

if you are at TechED IT pop over to the BizTalk booth and say hello.


Patterns and Practices : Acceptance Test Engineering Guidance

The P&P team have released the Acceptance Test Engineering Guidance Guidance book. The guide is designed to help groups meet customers expectations of delivery.

  • How to Plan for Acceptance Testing
  • What Kinds of Acceptance Tests to Run
  • How to Create and Run Acceptance Tests
  • Defining What “Done” Means ( this is the important one from my observations )
  • Get it here

    I can’t say enough how much the P&P team are making a difference in quality to the whole of the development and IT industry, if you haven't had the privilege of looking at the exceptional set of knowledge the P&P team put together look here


    Post PDC 2008 thoughts

    So back home now after a reasonable journey back from LA all things considered; so I have had a bit of time to reflect, was the PDC good?

    Well I think I enjoyed my previous PDC in 2005 more, your first time always sticks in your memory. I think that this might be due to the fact that at the 2005 PDC LINQ was announced and it was a real left field thing, nobody seemed to see it coming. Due to the prior announcements (leaks) there was nothing that was not expected at this years PDC.

    This said, it does not mean the the announcements were not important, for the future of Microsoft probably far more important than LINQ was. You could argue that Azure is more of an IT pro announcement, on a day to day basis it will certainly effect them, due to remote hosting of core services, more than developers who will still basically be using .NET via WCF, EF etc. just altering a connection string or two. So an announcement at the Professional Developers Conference was in itself interesting, but where else would Microsoft do it?

    On a more step change for developers front, will Oslo change the world? Well in my opinion not yet, but this was a PDC so we expect the new ‘real’ product to be a few years out. Next year’s PDC 2009 I think will see the Oslo and Dublin technologies productify (is that a word?). It is worth comment that a PDC two years running is rare, so Microsoft must have something up their corporate sleeve.

    Since getting back I have done the conference survey and I found one question interesting ‘does the fact that the sessions were all available via effect your choice to go to the conference in the future?’. I have to say yes, but on reflection it was worth the trip. A conference is more than the keynote and breakout sessions, maybe there is a future in fully online conferences but it is not there for me yet. Whether I want to travel best part of half way round the world is a interesting point; a 2 hour flight to Barcelona did seemed attractive when sitting in Heathrow Terminal 5 prior to my11 hour flight. But I was lucky I suppose, a friend was off to Hawaii for an air compressor conference the same week I was in LA (each to their own I suppose). The location for me does not warrant the travel, the inside of a conference centre is much the same in any country. I suppose a factor here is how much time you spend in the conference against the beach, for me if you are going to a conference it is to learn not have a holiday (or hunt for swag!), but I am not sure all people have the same opinion here. Some people seem to see a conference a reward for work done in the year, so at treat not a learning experience.

    So will I be at PDC 2009 – I expect so. Whether Black Marble send as many to the PDC as opposed to the various TechEds I am not sure, this is a discussion we need to have post conference season. We defiantly need to cover both types of conference, as does any forward looking Microsoft partner, but the ratio is the question.

    As for me next it is the Vbug conference I am speaking on VSTS; I believe there are still spaces available, maybe I will see you there.

    Team System Database GDR Edition RTM Released

    While I was at the PDC I missed the announcement that the release candidate for Database Edition was made, I was not following blogs too much. You can find all the download links for the RTM at Gert Drapers Blog, you can also see his PDC session where he made the announcement.

    Why did I miss the session you might ask? well I was in Agile development with Team System session – some big improvement in Office integration with TFS

    Anyway I have now installed the GDR edition and it is easy and fast, at least if you are upgrading from the previous version. I have not tried a virgin install which I am sure many people will be doing given that any person with Team System Developer license can download the Database GDR edition.


    Andy and I are travelling to Barcelona this weekend for TechEd EMEA IT. I’m really looking forward to some of the sessions on Hyper-V, SharePoint and Forefront.If you’re going to be there, feel free to drop us a line and say hi.

    VBUG Newcastle: Introducing OpenXML with Craig Murphy – Wednesday 29th October 2008

    Many thanks to Andy Westgarth for organising a very interesting talk on OpenXML, given by Craig Murphy yesterday. Craig gave an excellent introduction to Open XML file formats in general and specifically the Open XML Format SDK 2.0.

    I've been working recently on a project migrating SharePoint 2001 Portals to MOSS. The project has had some tight deadlines, hence the absence of posts. I've used PowerShell to deploy and customise the sites. I'll try and post about my experiences using PowerShell with SharePoint.