Sunday, June 21, 2009

DevTnt 3 - File Comparer Tools 2 - BeyondCompare

Here at last the promised post on BeyondCompare.

Download: http://www.scootersoftware.com/download.php
Pricing: $30 Standard Edition / $50 Pro Edition

Pro

  • Compares directory structures (also over FTP) using powerful filtering options

  • Compares text files ignoring unimportant differences (configurable)

  • Compares text files exactly differently coloring important/unimportant differences

  • Compares pictures

  • Compares version information of executable files

  • Also compares binary files in HEX view.
  • Additional file formats for download include HTML tables, HTML tidied, XML tidied, XML tidied with attributes sorted, INI files sorted, text content of Word, Excel and Powerpoint, ...
  • Able to save comparison sessions

Con

  • Costs some money - but not that much
  • Need some time to find and use all the features

Friday, June 19, 2009

DevTnT 7 – Visual Studio: Double-click in Pending Changes Window

Double-clicking a file in the Pending Changes Window opens it. Holding SHIFT pressend when double-clicking does a diff with the current Source Control Version of the file.

This may apply to other windows (e.g. View History) as well, but unfortunately in the Solution Explorer it does not.

DevTnT 7 - Using $exception within Visual Studio’s Debugger

Sometimes our exception handling code makes no use of the exception object that has been thrown. Therefore we do not need to declare a variable to reference it (i.e. the traditional “ex”). However this leads to an issue while debugging. Without a variable there is nothing to mouse over in order to display the exception’s contents once the initial popup has been dismissed.

Instead of doing this you can add the special variable $exception to the debugger’s Watch Window, or query it via the Immediate Window. This variable references the currently thrown exception when located within a catch block.

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DevTnT 7 – How to Stop on First Chance Exceptions in Visual Studio

In many applications you do some exception handling which implies catching exceptions and displaying the error to the user in a proper way or just log it into a file oder database. During the debugging process you might want to jump to the code where the exception was originally thrown (“first chance exception”).

Using Visual Studio .NET, you can configure how the debugger handles first chance exceptions on a per exception basis or for exception families (by namespace and/or runtime). Select Debug – Exceptions (or use CTRL+ALT+E) and now you can enable “Thrown”-checkboxes for exception types you want the debugger to stop immediately.

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Note: The same effect for a single exception can be reached by using the System.Diagnostics.Debugger.Break() method.

DevTnT 7 – Turn on/off Message Types in the Output Window of Visual Studio

To keep the Output Window (Debug - Windows – Output) “cleaner”, you can prevent message types from being displayed. Of course they can be turned on again. When right clicking into the window six kinds of messages are to be configured:

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DevTnT 7 - Incremental Search CTRL+I

Incremental search can also be thought of as live search. The cursor highlights the first finding as you're typing the search term.

Warning: It does not search within collapsed regions (no matter if explicit or implicit regions).

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Searching backwards starting by the cursor position can be done by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+I.

  • CTRL+I - Incremental Search
  • CTRL+SHIFT+I - Back Search
  • F3 – Find Next
  • SHIFT+F3 – Find Previous

DevTnT 7 – ReSharper SHIFT+CTRL+N

For quickly finding files in Visual Studio you can use SHIFT+CTRL+N. A small dialog pops up where you can enter a pattern (including * as a placeholder) for the file name. Below the list of all matching files in the solution is displayed immediately.

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DevTnT 7 – How Does KeyJedi Improve My Presentation?

KeyJedi is a nice tool that makes keyboard shortcuts visible as you use them. The tool also works if you are remotely connected to a different machine.

But be careful if you hold a presentation and enter your password somewhere ;-).

See the blog of Roy Osherove to find out more about his tool: http://weblogs.asp.net/rosherove/archive/2007/05/29/key-jedi-1-03-renamed-from-shortwatcher.aspx

DevTnT 7 – Web Service Studio and Similar Tools Help To Invoke Web Methods Manually

Web Service Studio is a free tool to invoke Web Methods interactively. The user can provide a WSDL endpoint. By clicking the button “Get” the tool fetches the WSDL, generates .NET proxy from the WSDL and displays the list of methods available. The user can choose any method and provide the required input parameters. On clicking Invoke the SOAP request is sent to the server and the response is parsed to display the return value.

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On the second tab “Request/Response” you can specify an XML message to send to the Web Service. On the third tab “WSDLs & Proxy” you can investigate the proxy code that was autogenerated from the XSD. There is an option to save it into a file.

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The tool is very useful for testing your Web Services easily without writing client code. In one of our customer projects we call the Web Services directly for executing some seldom maintainance operations.

See http://www.codeplex.com/WebserviceStudio or http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/webservicestudio20 for download and further information.

soapUI

Similar functionality for WSDL or REST based Web Services offers the free and open source desktop application soapUI. It provides

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It can be found at http://www.soapui.org/.

Microsoft’s WcfTestClient.exe

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Test Client (WcfTestClient.exe) is a GUI tool that enables users to input test parameters, submit that input to the service, and view the response that the service sends back. It provides a seamless service testing experience when combined with WCF Service Host.

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http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb552364.aspx

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DevTnT 4 - Helpful Side-Effect of Rounded Corners When Running A Full Screen Virtual PC

One might think that using a non-classic theme under windows XP or higher is just a matter of the look of windows. I thought so for myself until I found a real cool feature just by accident and investigated it a little bit.

Kind Of A PITA: Switching To The Host From Within A Full Screen Virtual Machine

You might know the following situation: You are running a virtual machine in full screen mode because it is your current main occupation. But once in a while you have to switch back to the physical host machine to read your mail or alike.

So, how can you do that?

Correctly. Hopefully you can remember what you host key settings are (I like using the scroll-lock-key because I do not use it for the function it's originally intended), hold it down while hitting the return key. So, the virtual machine window restores and you're back where you wanted to.
Then, when you're done with the tasks on the host machine, you will bring the window running the virtual machine back on top and again maximize it using the host-key together with return.
If you have to do this every twenty minutes or so that can be really unsatisfactory.

But, there may be some light for you at the end of the tunnel.

As the following screenshot proofes, you can bring up windows from the host machine while still running the virtual machine in full screen mode (here a Windows XP in a virtual machine booting on 640x480 fullscreen hosted on Vista machine):


How did that come about?

When restlessy moving around with my mouse I could not see the arrow because I just had a windows in an early stage of the boot process in front of me. But, some times a big arrow flashed up, namely when I hit the left or right top corner of the window. Although I'm not a gamer, I know: "when there's a mouse cursor, I can click.". And so I did.
Meanwhile the desktop of my virtual machine showed up and I tried the task switch (Alt-Tab). And, astonishing, the Vista task switch came up (including the desktop-icon)! So I learned, that even from within the full-screened virtual machine I can put the focus back to host machine by clicking one of the top corners.

Investigating the screen shot of the full screen uncovered the round corners of the not really full screen:


Awesome, isn't it?

And yes - it is about the rounded corners of the desktop theme I used with Vista. A temporary switch back to classic mode proofed that the feature (is that by design?) disappeared.


Here's another evidence, the Vista taskbar and a system dialog in front of the full screened XP in the virtual machine:

Also with this screenshot the rounded corner's show up (but one has to look carefully with my notebooks native resolution):



A Warning

By clicking on the top left or top right corner you just click through your virtual machine onto any window of the host system lying behind it. So, especially with the top right corner be careful not to accidentally close some window you might need. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

DevTnT 6 - ReSharper CTRL+W

CTRL+W is a very helpful ReSharper shortcut for refactoring. Based on the current cursor position it marks the current word, sentence, sentence + apostrophe, the parameter, all parameters, statement, line, block, method, class, and so on. This shortcut is very useful when it comes to extract the string literals from your source.

DevTnT 6 - ALT+Print

With this windows shortcut you can make a screenshot from the current focused window. This is very useful when it comes to document a specific part/window of your application and you just want to have a screenshot of the specific one. With the help of this shortcut you don't have to crop the screenshot anymore.

UPDATE: changed the former shortcut CTRL+ALT+D+Print to ALT+Print.

Blogspot Blogging-Clients: Qumana And w.bloggar

Since the user interface of blogger.com sucks when it comes to editing larger posts, I looked around for blogging clients (thanks Marcus for the hint).

To let you get an idea of what I mean with "sucks", just look at the preview of this screenshot (no really new information from the full sized version):



I hate applications and sites where the working area is restricted to some extent when I have a 22+ inch monitor in front of me. I want to control the size of my windows and not be restricted by the application! IMHO this is a perfect fail for usability for any application (and there are so many of them out there!). In other words: *grrr*

A second thing that makes editing posts painful with Blogger's Web-UI is working with images. Although there is a nice and functional dialog for inserting (and uploading) pictures from you local harddrive, the problem is that all new pictures are inserted on top of the post. This happens regardless of the current cursor-position or selection. Moreover, it is not possible to move the picture around with drag-and-drop in the editing pane, one has to use cut and paste to shift the picture to the desired position.

A warning

Just in case you're also looking for a free alternative to Blogger's Web-UI, I wrote this post not with one of the tools described below. :(

After some googeling I downloaded two freeware editors to test - Qumana (http://www.qumana.com) and w.bloggar (http://www.wbloggar.com).


Qumana

Positives:
  • On startup a wizard-like interface asks me questions about my blog and incorporates all blogs available through one account into it's configuration. A really easy startup.
  • The application has a really nice and lucid user interface.
  • Qumana provides a Quickpad. That is a little window that can reside anywhere on you primary screen (it is not possible to move it to a secondary monitor). By interacting with this little window you can immediately start blogging or managing your blogs. That surely is a nice feature for power-bloggers (with some sort of verbal incontinence).
  • Provides for inserting alt-Tags and Titles for images via a dialog.

Negatives:
  • Qumana does not show posts that are only available as drafts done in the Blogger Web-UI.
  • On editing an existing post most of the paragraphs doubled, so that I had to edit the post manually in Blogger's Web-UI afterwards.
  • The WYSIWYG text editor does not support common editing shortcuts such as Ctrl+Arrow or Ctrl+Backspace.
  • The editor does not support to insert and upload images from my computer. On selecting an image from a local location it displays the images but informs me that it will not be visible in the blog (so what should that be good for?). There is a button labeled "Insert & Upload", but I could not manage to make it enabled.
  • Although the Post-Editor window of Qumana has a rather large field "Categories" it does neither show previously used labels nor allows it to add new ones. So, how can I add labels (tags, categories)?
  • Upon trying out Qumana I never got the feeling that I'm sure how, when and how good the synchronization between the application's offline store and the blog works. Not a good feeling
Conclusion
Because of the many problems with central areas of blogging, Qumana is not really an option for me.

w.bloggar

Negatives:
  • Startup under Windows Vista seems not to work for about one minute, but then, the first window shows up.
  • In blog-settings wizard (or what the wizard at first startup is called) it is not possible to move between the textboxes for username and password via the tab-key. OMG!
  • When viewing the recent posts of a blog, the friendly application shows me a list of - stand still - Blog-IDs and timestamps, but no blog title! I have to use the preview-window to determine from the HTML of the blog what post it is. How can one do something like that? See yourself:
  • w.bloggar provides just a HTML-editor with syntax-highlighting and a preview-tab. There is no WYSIWYG-editing. That may be not the worst, but is not the thing I'm looking for.
  • w.bloggar seems to totally ignore the titles of posts. Even on creating a new post I found no way to edit the title - it always remained "<>".
  • Even worse, when I tried to post a one-word test-post I got a NullReferenceException. Oh no, what a piece of software!
  • So, that's enough, I quit on that tool!
Conclusion
Due to the missing of basic features, I have no animo left to use this tool.


Resúmé


Both tools tested lack of basic features, so I'll contritely stick on Blogger's Web-UI. It's not that bad, as I thought! :)

Do -->you<-- know a better alternative for blogging on Blogger?