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Friday, April 01, 2005

REVEIW: Visual Web Developer Express 2005

This is one amazing tool. By building on the awsome VS.NET Microsoft have produced a tool specifically for web development projects using the ASP.NET 2.0 Framework.

VWD is still in Beta form at the moment. It is available for free download, but will probably change a little before the final commercial product is release. This allows people like me to try its features, find its faults and suggest enhancements, thus being an active member in the development of a tool that will define the future of web development.

There area many new features and enhancements in ASP.NET 2.0 that you read about here, here or here. My particular favourite at the moment is Web Parts. Web Parts will undoubtable spark a whole miriad of next-gen CMS systems that will allow drag and drop customisation of content. THe next most important feature on my list is the new Profile object in conjunction with theming. This makes it a simple and easy task to create fully customizable websites for end users. This can all be seen at work on MSN Spaces, where blog creators can easily change themes and drop and drop different components around the page.

It may take a while, but this will definatley change the face of web sites and web development.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

IIS Export Utility

After figuring out how to export the ODBC Data sources I moved on to trying to duplicate the IIS settings. In doing so I found this great little shareware utility.

The IIS Export Utility was created by Adsonline. It is designed to export web and ftp sites from Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS) version 4/5/6 to either a database for later import, or straight into another IIS server. Before this program there was no easy way to transfer web sites from one server to another, including all virtual directories, permissions and so on. Copying the files alone will not re-create IIS permissions, virtual directories or any of the many other options which can be set with IIS.

ODBC Data Source Backup/Export

I was looking for a way to export ODBC data sources from one machine to another and came across this article.

Visual Web Developer and ASP.NET 2.0

I have just finished downloading and installing the beta for Visual Web Developer Express 2005. I must say that it was far simpler and than the MCMS debacle earlier in the week, although it was a hefty download as it has to install MS SQL Express, ASP.NET2.0 beta and the MSDN library for it as well.

So now I'm off to investigate these Web Parts i have been reading up on. If the are as good as it promises to be we will all be creating sites with the level of and ease of customisation as on Google News.

PSP an iPod killer?

With Sonys new PSP is iPod in for a battle. Not according to ZDNet

Sony PSP largely delivers on its remarkable promise of bringing a PlayStation 2-like gaming experience to a handheld gaming platform with built-in wireless capabilities, all at a relatively reasonable price. It also doesn't hurt that the PSP can do other tricks, such as play video and music as well as display images. Unfortunately, much of that functionality isn't as fleshed out as it could be. So while the Sony PSP largely lives up to the hype as a portable gaming device, it still needs some work before it fulfills its potential as an all-in-one portable entertainment unit.

But hey, we all still want one. Even if you have to brave the foul weather as more than 100 dedicated fans did at the New York midnight release. I think I'll wait until a more appropriate and comfotable time to purchase mine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

ASP.NET troubles

I have been havig troubles with serving ASP.NET pages from my local machine. This is just a testing and development environment on a WinXP SP2 machine. I have had alsorts of problems from unknow 500 to not even parsing the page and causing an XML error.

After reading and searching forums everywhere, I decided to see which version of .NET my application was using. So I fired up IIS snap-in, and looked in the properties of my virtual directory. Clicked on "Configuration" to see the mappings and I didn't even have an entry for .aspx

To fix this I read about using aspnet_iisreg.exe and all the different switches. The downfall was I had to do it for each individual application. When you have been working in the industry for a while and you have umpteen sites running this was going to be a task and a half.

Solution - uninstall all versions of .NET framework and just install the version you need. Propbably 1.1 for now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hello and Picasa

Just found out about Hello. I have been using Picasa for quite sometime now and I am completely chuffed with it. Now that there is Hello to publish directly from Picasa to Blogger well I am doubly chuffed.

Microsoft Content Management System

MCMS is a monster. The only reason I am even looking at it is because a client already uses it. So off I went and downloaded the 120 day trial version at the MCMS website only to discover that it isn't that easy.

It has taken me about three days to collect all the prerequisites and fixes/patches/workarounds to get this beast off the ground. I was installing this on a WinXP SP2 machine. And it has not been an easy task.

Install before you install

  1. First of all there is a list of pre-requisite software to be installed. THere was IIS which is pretty obvious.

  2. Then I had to install a version of SQL Server called MSDE which will run on WinXP which you can get from the MSSQL site. This was the easy part.

  3. Next up is IE Web Controls. It took me forever to find these only to discover that a simple search on the Microsoft Downloads page against Content Management Server listed it as the second most popular download after MCMS itself. You live and learn.

  4. J# Redistributable was a little easier to find.

  5. Visual Studio .NET. Can't help you here for a download. I have an eduacational version from my university as I can't afford the massive price tag.

  6. I would also recomend downloading a sample of the Woddgrove Site. The links on the MCMS setup splash screen.

Now you would have thought that 3 & 4 were included with the install - or at least the option to download them on the fly.

Preparing for the install
  1. You need to set up a user account on the local machine for MCMS to use. THe details are in the Installation notes so i will not rehash them here. I called mine "mcms_sys" so as to know exactly what it is for.
  2. You also need to set up a database for MCMS. I called mine - wait for it- mcmsTest.
  3. As my example is on a WinXP machine I didb't have to worry about setting up a seperate website as recommended for the Site Configurator.
  4. Run the install - follow the prompts - and pray.

Woodgrove Sample Site
This was a real pain to install. Every time I ran it it wouldn't accept my credentials. It would install all the files and get to the point of adding the data to the database. When i put in the user details I had created up comes "Could not authenticate the user" (or something to that affect).

Lots of googling later I found that this was a known problem as detailed on this page. Mind you the solution was pretty hard to follow so here goes.

  1. Click Start->Run
  2. Type "gpedit.msc" and then enter
  3. Drill down Commputer Configuration->Windows Settings->Security Settings->Local Policies->Secutity Options
  4. Locate "Network access: Sharing and security model for local accounts"
  5. Right click and Properties
  6. Change the model to "Classic"
  7. "OK" and exit

Now run the Woodgrove Installer and all should go according to plan. Might take a while though.

Happy CMSing.

Why blog?

I have decided to start a blog. Why?

Basically because I have had a hard time stumbling through learning to be a developer/system admin/support throughout the last couple of years. If I can help someone else ease the pain of learning I'll feel as though I am doing my part in the online community.

I'll be sharing my trial and tribulations along with my success and failures. Hopefully the stuff I uncover will help the next person to have a smoother journey.

And I hope to pick up some writing skills along the way - so don't expect this to be a literary masterpeice from the get go.