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Visual Studio 2008 and .NET FX 3.5 SP1 Beta 1 Released

Posted in .NET | Astoria at Monday, May 12, 2008 6:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Ok, I'm not totally sure why all my posts lately have had a slightly negative tone to them, perhaps I'm becoming a slightly disgruntled Microsoft developer. Anyhow, here goes another slightly disgruntled post.

Today MS released the beta mentioned in the title of this post. You can get the details at Somasegar's blog:

Traditionally our service packs address a range of issues found both through customer and partner feedback as well as our own internal testing.  While this service pack holds true to that theme and delivers updates for these types of issues, it also builds on the tremendous value that Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 deliver today and enables an improved developer experience by adding a number of additional components that cover a range of highly requested customer features.

Ok, so this service pack is really not a service pack at all. I think Matt Milner describes it well in his post Not just a service pack (VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 SP 1):

Microsoft has rolled out the beta of SP1 for .NET Framework version 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008.  Now don't get confused, this is not just a simple set of bug fixes, this thing is big! 

  • Entity Framework and LINQ to entities
  • ADO.NET Data Services (formerly project "Astoria")
  • Dynamic data web sites (highly RAD data driven web sites)
  • Performance improvements across the board (WCF, WPF, AJAX, debugging, etc.)
  • New client profile (not quite the slimmed down CLR of silverlight, but gives you a smaller footprint without server technologies you don't need).  Now, if they could do the opposite and remove the Windows UI stuff so I could run Windows Server 2008 Server Core with IIS and ASP.NET. 
  • a bunch of perf and usability improvements in VS 2008

Now I'm excited about this service pack because as a Microsoft developer I get a lot of benefits from the above items. I've been using ADO.NET Data Services and think it is great. However, I think Microsoft needs some help with its release cycle and naming releases. Maybe it is because they are trying out this new way of doing more frequent releases, but thinks have just gone completely wacky in my opinion. It used to be fairly straight-forward:

  • .NET 1.0 - 1/5/2002
  • .NET 1.1 - 4/1/2003
  • .NET 2.0 - 11/7/2005
  • .NET 3.0 - 11/6/2006

.NET 3.0 varied some in that it still used the CLR 2.0 which was somewhat confusing for many people, but also made sense and was a nice feature. However, next up was .NET 3.5 which really seemed more like .NET 4.0 than 3.5 with all the new features. Interestingly, .NET 3.5 still used the CLR 2.0 but included C# 3.0. Confused yet?

Now we have a service pack on top of 3.5 that adds even more features. So 3.5 SP1 is more of a feature pack, but I guess it does have performance enhancements which makes it kind of a service pack. I personally this to be confusing and think that if you add features you should do some kind of rev on the version number. Really this should be .NET 4.1, but that is only my $.02.

Anyhow, enough complaining, get back to coding with all these new features, which are really cool features! Have fun!

Build Zune Games Today.. or Maybe Tomorrow

Posted in General | .NET | Zune at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 6:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time

The XNA Team announced the CTP of the XNA Game Studio 3.0 today:

Today, we are delivering the first Community Technical Preview (CTP) of XNA Game Studio 3.0, giving you the ability to build games for the entire family of Zune media devices.  This feature gives you access to the majority of the XNA framework APIs while retaining a seamless sense of integration with the Zune media experience.  In addition, this release now requires either Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition and higher (C# language support must be installed), or Visual C# 2008 Express Edition.

I downloaded the CTP today thinking I could whip up a quick sample hello world game during my lunch break just for fun. After installing it on one of my virtual machines I realized there was no way for me to get the game (or even test the game since there doesn't appear to be an emulator) to my Zune since there isn't a way to "plug" my Zune into my virtual and according to the FAQ:

Q: Can I transmit the game to another Zune device wirelessly?

A: No, you must deploy the game to your Zune through your device connection on your PC, using XNA Game Studio 3.0 to deploy.

Ok, no problem I thought, I'll just install the VS 2008 C# Express Edition on my host. So after installing that and then installing the CTP it would crash every time I tried to add my Zune to the device center. Then I remembered reading this in the FAQ:

Q: Does the CTP work for 64-bit mode?

A: This CTP doesn't work in 64 bit yet.  We plan to support it before RTM.

Hmmmm.. I guess programming Zune games isn't in my near future. If I have time tonight I'll give it a shot on my desktop PC which I haven't moved over to 64-bit yet (mainly because I'm still waiting for a 64-bit client for Home Server).

Longest Certification Title Ever

Posted in General | WF | Certifications at Thursday, May 01, 2008 7:29 AM Pacific Daylight Time

I just recently found out that I passed the WF 3.5 beta exam (well, actually I passed it some time ago but it took Prometric, the world's worst test provider, a while to figure out how to send the score to Microsoft). So here is my new logo:

MCTS(rgb)_1100

Since they wrap a lot of the words, you really need to spell it out:

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist - .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Workflow Foundation Applications

I think that is my longest certification title to date. The Windows Mobile 5.0 is a close second.

BTW - I also found out that I didn't pass the WPF or the WCF exams so I'll have to retake the real ones at some point.