Archive for July, 2010

Recommended Listening

As developers, we need our knowledge of our platform to have depth as well as breadth. Typically, we gain depth through projects we take on. For example, we might learn MVC by converting a WebForms application to ASP.NET MVC2. Acquisition of depth is almost passive. Once we commit to the big project, we get the depth simply by finishing the job. To acquire breadth, we do other things. Any developer with significant breadth does most of the following: read blogs, read magazines, read books, attend conferences, and listen to podcasts.

In the past few months, I found a hidden gem; I started listening to the Developer Smackdown. I’ll admit, I started listening because my area got a new Developer Evangelist, Clark Sell, and I just wanted to learn more about him. I’ve gone from stalking to the point where I look forward to the semi-weekly podcasts. During the course of an hour, Clark and his co-host, Mark Nichols, introduce you to the things that their guests are passionate about. The guests are almost all from the midwest region, so they are people that I have either met or can meet fairly easily. Clark and Mark are TFS Rangers, so ALM discussions are never far away on any topic. For example, they recently had Brian Hogan from Eau Claire on to talk about HTML5 and related topics (listen here). I increased my breadth fairly quickly by learning about HTML5 and CSS3. I was also able to add a trick to my web development toolbox: develop on FireFox first, then check for compatibility on IE since IE it is easier, in practice, to alter for IE. He also gave some more great advice: don’t worry about pixel perfect pages on IE, FireFox, Safari, etc. because the only people that compare pixel positions are web designers and developers. Everyone else uses only one browser. Just worry that things look right.

I’ve also picked up tricks from Travis Feirtag, Steven Murawski, and others. As an added bonus, Mark and Clark take this show seriously which means they’ve recently bought a ton of professional gear to make the show sound better.

What hidden gem podcasts do you know of in your markets?

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Azure ServiceBus now supports Silverlight/Flash!

The Azure ServiceBus Access Control Service was updated on July 1, 2010 with a very nice surprise: it has policy files in place for Silverlight and Flash! A week ago, I had written some code that redirected authentication requests and so on so that my Silverlight code could authenticate against the ACS. Today, I saw a post that the service had been updated. So, I went ahead and tried it out:

Silverlight: https://%5Byour service].accesscontrol.windows.net/crossdomain.xml

Flash: https://%5Byour service].accesscontrol.windows.net/clientaccesspolicy.xml

Note that both of these are policies that allow ANYONE to send messages to the ACS.

crossdomain.xml has this in the body:

<cross-domain-policy>
   <allow-access-from domain="*" secure="true" />
   <allow-access-from domain="*" secure="false" />
   <allow-http-request-headers-from domain="*" headers="*" secure="true" />
   <allow-http-request-headers-from domain="*" headers="*" secure="false" />
</cross-domain-policy>

I’d like to see options via the SDK or the admin UI that allow me to turn on global access or per website access. This is something I would change rarely, so the min-bar for me would be something on the Azure web site that allows me to manage the crossdomain.xml contents. I’ve already posted something to the forums and will be interested to see what happens next.

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