Meeting Date: March 29, 2007

Philly.Net has expanded.  We now host meetings in the Philly Suburbs,  Philadelphia (Center City), and now…South Jersey.  Thanks to Travis Laborde for getting the new South Jersey branch going.  Tonight’s meeting was a huge success.  It was standing room only with about 50 attendees which is pretty impressive for a first meeting.  Pizza and location provide by New Horizons Training Center.  Plus, Travis’ wife Jessica treated us to a cake to celebrate the start of Philly.Net in NJ.  It was a great meeting.  Please read on…

Presenter:  Travis Laborde, Data Deluxe

Topic:  Developer Testing

Not only did we learn a lot from Travis’ presentation but we laughed a lot too.  Travis always does a great job to make sure his presentations are fun.  Tonight he talked all about developer testing.  And typically for Travis, he included bunch of great tools.  He demo’d the basics of NUnit, a FREE tool that assists with executing test classes.  He also showed MBUnit which he dubbed “NUnit on steroids”.  This tool allows you to execute similar tests as NUnit, but introduces the RowTest attribute so you can run the same test in multiple iterations, passing in different parameters each time.  Next he went through testing for “Code Coverage” via TestDriven.Net and NCover.  He ended up with some quick demos of SeleniumIDE, a very cool FireFox add-on that allows you to record steps in the Browser so you can play them back.  This gives you the ability to test an ASP.Net UI over and over again automatically.

If you are into free tools and tips for .Net development, check out Travis’ clipmarks site where you can read about all kinds of cool stuff.



Presenter:  Scott Watermasysk, Telligent Systems

Topic:  ASP.NET Tips & Tricks

Scott has been posting ASP.Net tips and tricks on his blog for a while.  Tonight he went through a bunch of them for us.

It is hard to summarize Scott’s talk because he talked about so many items.  The good news is that most of the content is up on the web, check out the links included in my text. He provided us with a ton of tips for everyday use.  Some tips provided for controls:  Try to use <asp:Literal> control instead of <asp:label> and use <asp:Repeater> instead of <asp:GridView> where possible.  Some general ASP.Net tips included:  use Page.IsValid from button event handlers, use the AppOffline.htm page when you are doing “construction”, use the new VirtualPath class to convert relative paths to absolute ones.  And Scott also spent a lot of time talking about State Management and Caching tips.  He also recommended a few articles:  one by Fritz Onion on Control State and “A Matter of Context” by Susan Warren.  I’ll update this blog post and include his slides as soon as I can.

As a special bonus, Scott provided free copies of CodeSmith Professional for all attendees.  This certainly went over big with the crowd.


Meeting Sponsor:    

Additional Door Prizes courtesy of:  and Microsoft

I’m a big fan of anything that makes my daily grind easier.  Some time ago I was turned on to a cool VS2005 add-in for C#/ASP.Net developers:  ReSharper.  There are so many great features packed in to this tool.  Check out the complete list of features on the JetBrains site.

Here are a couple of the features that stand out to me:

Quick Fixes – When ReSharper detects a problem in your code, it suggests a solution.

Status Indicator and Marker Bar – ReSharper keeps track of whether or not your code will compile and reports the answer with the Status Indicator located at the top of the Marker Bar.  Within the Marker Bar are color coded stripes that link to all of the errors or warnings ReSharper finds in your code.

Refactoring - ReSharper includes a list of cool refactoring functions to help the coding process.

Navigation and Search- Ctrl-Click any symbol in your code to go to its definition.  Or Alt-F7 to find all usages of a variable.

Unit Testing and NUnit integration – If your project includes NUnit tests, ReSharper will put some icons in the left gutter of the VS editor.  Clicking on these icons will give a few options to run the tests.

Using Directives - ReSharper tells you when you need to add a using directive.  It also tells you when you can remove using directives that you included but no longer need.

Many, Many More – I could go on and on here.  There are so many great features.  I don’t know how I ever worked without this.  Check it out for yourself.  Then convince your boss to buy it for you.  But it isn’t too expensive.

Time for all of us to confess.  I know that don’t do a good job of it.  Once in a while I copy a bunch of files from the hard drive on my PC to a portable USB drive.  I try to do a better job with photos so when I push them to my PC I also put them on the portable drive.  But it is easy to get out of sync.  Well, that is hardly a “backup plan”.  I really need to come up with a better strategy.  Scott Hanselman had a post about this topic and it got me thinking.  

I am planning to install Vista in the next few weeks.  Vista seems to have some cool backup features built in so maybe that will help.  Once it is set up I will blog about it again to tell how well it is working.

Isn’t it odd that we put a lot of thought into this for our clients and employers yet for our own data we are pretty lazy?  Good luck to us all.

The other night after the Philly.Net meeting I was talking to Peter Laudati about my new blog.  He suggested I check out Windows Live Writer (Beta).  Basically, it is a Windows application that lets you edit/save your blog posts on your PC and publish them too.  It has some pretty cool features that I am pretty sure will make my blogging easier too.

For instance, I added this picture of the Colosseum very easily (yes, I took the photo).  OK, that’s no big deal.  But this made it VERY easy to adjust the appearance including the size, border, margins and add the water mark.  Plus, it was easy for me to wrap the text on the side of the picture.  I couldn’t do that with my web interface.


Another cool feature is that you can add maps and aerial photos in!  This is all done with So I added this map.  I tried to do an aerial photo of my house but each time I inserted it, it changed to a picture of someone else’s house!  So I guess that is why this is called Beta software.  But otherwise this is a really nice tool.


So if you are blogging, check out Windows Live Writer (Beta)