Visual Studio "Orcas" beta 1
Notice that before I installed Orcas on my Vista Business setup, I first deinstalled all the VS 2005 add-ons (such as GAX, GAT, software factories, AJAX, and the WCF/WF/WPF extensions), but I did not uninstall VS 2005 itself.
- The installation of .NET 3.5 fails almost immediately. It seems that the Visual Studio setup uses the wrong command-line arguments, since I got a pop-up similarly to what you get when you add -? Or -h to a command-line tool. I had to manually install the 3.5 bits. After that, installation went fine.
- I also installed the Team Explorer parts from the Team Foundation Server folder. I'm happy to inform you that I managed to succesfully connect to an existing TFS server and get all my sources. So no need to change your TFS v1 installation.
- I then installed the Visual Studio Orcas SDK (Feb 2007 preview) and the Feb 2007 versions of GAX and GAT. However, the Guidance Package Manager did not appear in Orcas (but did in VS2005). I also reinstalled Enterprise Library 3.0. This basically renders Orcas unusable for production development until somebody figures out the required registry changes.
- Orcas contains a different version of the System.Web.Extensions AJAX assembly. The stuff you can download from http://ajax.asp.net is version 1.0.61025.0, but the Orcas version is 220.127.116.11.
- I couldn't find the WCF Configuration Editor you get when you install the WCF Extensions for Visual Studio 2005. I expected it to be a built-in part of Orcas by now.
- Opening existing projects and solutions will trigger a conversion wizard. They must have changed the project format once again.
- The first console application I tried to compile resulted in a "Required file 'alink.dll with IALink3' could not be found'. I fixed it by manually reinstalling Windows6.0-KB110806-x86 from the WCU folder. This article refers to this problem in more detail.
- Obviously, Resharper will not install on Orcas. But looking through their roadmap for version 3.0 shows their plans for including it. We'll just have to wait.
- The Web Service Software Factory-based solution runs fine, but the ASP.NET 2.0 website does not. According to the ASP.NET designer there is a problem with the master pages. Investigating...
After banging some rocks together I finally managed to put together a working Windows Home Server beta and I must say it really has beaten my expectations. Let's see what's in the box:
- File sharing: Instant sharing of data across all PC's, a local central store for your personal data.
- Backup and Restore in an integrated package, better than most "Big hard disks with some software to backup stuff".
- A web based secure interface that you can expose to the Internet to make your home data and PC's accessible. There is a hub for remote access to your home PC's.
- uPnP Media streaming to your XBOX 360 and other multimedia boxes you might have. I have a NOXON box but your Soundbridge or maybe even Phillips box should work as well.
- A Windows Server that can host any Internet (web)application you can imagine.
This last feature surprised me, I didn't think media streaming was part of the package. Compared to my "old" home server the FSG-3 Freecom Storage Gateway the full featured Backup and Restore is a plus. All in all it is an attractive package that should appeal to any true geek.
The bad side of the story remains the fact that you need to run Windows 2003 server to get it all up and running. This is the setup I am using:
- Biostar iDEQ-210M Socket 478 SFF Barebone
- 2.13 GHz Intel Celeron
- 1GB Corsair ValueRam
- 250 GB WD Caviar harddisk
It actually is a reasonably low-power setup, but you can see that the Windows Server needs that power. Still, it consumes 70-90 Watts of energy. If you compare this to the Linux based old FSG-3, using around 10-20 Watts, you can start to see the picture. If you have seen All Gore's movie, are you really the person to leave 2 regular light bulbs burning day and night? My regular PC easily burns 200 Watts, so the Home Server isn't doing that bad. I'm not sure that Windows Home server as a powerhouse can compete with Linux light-weight power in this area. If my router supported Wake-On-LAN I would probably start using that, of course you could go down to maybe NEC C7 processors and see if Windows Home Server can run on real low power boxes.
If you are the kind of person that leaves any amount of PC's running at home all day anyway, Windows Home Server will be very attractive. Otherwise I would still recommend the FSG-3 class devices.
One of my former collegues pointed me at a great article
by Billy McCafferty which will be one of my classics. It deals with many great design and architectural patterns and the tools available to implement those patterns in a real-live production-ready enterprise solution. It's a great document for enjoying a afternoon full of architectural discussions with your coworkers...
It seems that Microsoft has finally acknowledged the sheer amount of requests for supporting WSS 3.0 in Team Foundation Services. I've always found it a huge issue that we have a great portal environment such as MOSS 2007 on one end, and an out-of-date TFS team site based on WSS 2.0. There have been some great community efforts that seem to work okay, but basically rendered the installation useless when upgrading to newer versions.
Well, in the approach to Visual Studio "Orcas", they've released a document
that should provide decent guidance on upgrading to WSS 3.0. If I can find the time, I'm going to try it out and report on it through this blog.
Over the last three months I have been experimenting extensively to get to grips with the Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF). The main purpose for me is to see if workflow can be a part of controlling the UI dialog with the user interactively. If you have been using WWF and had the same interest as me you would probably have found that neither the regular sequential workflow nor the state machine workflow forms really fits the interactive UI model. Especially if you want to have a 'Go Back' in the UI, things get really hairy.
You would expect the Patterns and Practices people from Microsoft to have a special interest in WWF, because there really is a good story in putting the Model-View-Controller pattern in user interaction and have the Model and Controller part of this pattern work graphically with WWF. Now someone else stood up at Microsoft and introduced a new product: ASP.NET PageFlow. It shows up as new WWF templates: UI Workflow. It combines elements of the sequential workflow and the state machine workflow. Of course it supports 'Go Back'. You can find an introduction of the first prototype code here.
It will be interesting to see if this catches on and results in a downloadable CTP code soon, because it really fills a gap in WWF. Kashif Alam promises that it will show up later this year…
Remember that I celebrated finally getting a PC loaded with the XNA
development platform? Well I was sniffing around to find a good start for a platform game, but it all has ended prematurely. My lovely spouse developed a need for a good kitchen PC, because the old one was too slow and quirky and now the game machine is running its rounds there. What? You don't have a kitchen PC at home??
Unfortunately, my first experiences with Windows Home Server beta
were not very promising. On two machines my adventures started out with the dreaded "UI failed to start" during setup. Physical memory is an issue and the way the IDE bus is used and configured in the system. Appearantly very old PCs dont't make the mark and fail on installation.
When you take into account that Windows Home Server actually is a take on Windows 2003 Server it really isn't that strange. It makes you think, however, that this will make it hard for Windows Home Server to compete with all the lightweight Linux based alternatives. The main thing that Microsoft has to offer to win you over is a networked storage/backup system and the fact that you get a very capable OS to run web sites and networked apps. I remember writing an X10 service
to remotely control home appliences. This would run nicely on the Home server. Maybe Microsoft also hopes that someone writes a killer app for the Home that needs a strong and user friendly OS.
For now I am exploring Windows Home Server as a Virtual PC. Not one of the best ways to test the beta I'm sure. When I can get my hands on a more recent 'spare' PC I will give the setup another go. Spare PC? Anyone?