Microsoft Launches SkyDrive Application For Windows

24. April 2012 13:38

Microsoft Utils Windows Azure 

On 23rd April Microsoft announces the launch of official SkyDrive application for Windows on Windows 8 blog. This is one of the most awaited applications among the developers and users. All we wanted is a simple app through which we can manage our cloud storage with ease. Download the SkyDrive app here.

Here is what available now according to this blog post:

  • SkyDrive for the Windows desktop (preview available now). View and manage your personal SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer on Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista with this new preview app available in 106 languages worldwide.
  • Fetching files through SkyDrive.com. Easily access, browse, and stream files from a remote PC running the preview app to just about anywhere by simply fetching them via SkyDrive.com.
  • SkyDrive storage updates. A new, more flexible approach to personal cloud storage that allows power users to get additional paid storage as their needs grow.
  • SkyDrive for other devices. We’ve updated the SkyDrive apps on Windows Phone and iOS devices, bringing better management features and sharing options to those devices. We’re also releasing a new preview client for Mac OS X Lion, letting you manage your SkyDrive right from the Finder.

After downloading the application run the setup. This will install the app.

The installation will also let you sync the folders between your PC and other devices like WP7, Android and iPhone. You can un-check the option at this moment but if you wish to enable file sharing among devices then you can set this from SkyDrive app settings option later on.

Once the installation is complete you can then set the folder SkyDrive path:

After the folder has been set up the SkyDrive app will started in the background. The SkyDrive app will then download the files from the SkyDrive inside the SkyDrive folder set up while installing the app. Check out the below screenshot, as the SkyDrive is sitting in the task bar and syncing the files on the other hand. The folders which are synced are marked with tick icon and the folders which are still in sync process is having the sync icon. If you have worked with LiveMesh then you must be aware of the sync icon.

I am quite familiar with the application even before it's launch. I have use LiveSync app so this app seems pretty similar to me. To add a new file just copy and paste or drag & drop the file in the local SkyDrive folder. The file or folder will then get synced to SkyDrive which can be accessed from anywhere around the planet. If you want to un-install the app then make sure that you un-link the SkyDrive folder before you do that (I don't know why someone will remove the app!!) To un-link the local folder right-click the settings icon and click Unlink SkyDrive button to unlink the folder.

In the end the most awaited SkyDrive app is out and is going to be a big hit soon. If you have some suggestions for the SkyDrive app or want to report back a bug or you have some suggestions or want some new features then please do so. Let's make this app a hit.

IMPORTANT: If you are not the current user of SkyDrive then be advised that for the new users the storage capacity available will be 7GB and not 25GB which is offered to old account holders. So make it quick to get the 25GB storage capacity before it gets too late.

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BingMap.JS - Jquery Plugin For Bing Maps

10. March 2012 16:39

API Jquery Microsoft Projects 

Bing maps are out there for a long time now and is getting mature pretty fast. I have used Bing maps myself in few of my projects and I remember as a first time user I have a hard time configuring it according to my project requirement. To get myself out of the overhead I searched the web for a jquery plugin, but I can't find a single jquery plugin for Bing Maps instead I found few for Google Maps. I do have some knowledge of jquery and Bing map API, so I decided to write a jquery plugin for Bing map in my free time that will handle all necessary configurations and all the hard work for me and more importantly save my time.

How I get started and how it ended up

Initially I started writing a plugin to just set up the default configuration like setting the map with different modes, zoom level and other necessary configurations, but I ended up doing something more. Besides just the normal configurations of the map I was also able to incorporate Bing map API to search and pinpoint the address on the map. Now if you have an address and you want that to be located on the map then you just have to write in the address in the address parameter and do the other necessary configuration like if you want to show the pushpin on the map or not, or you can set the description on the balloon tip when the user hover the mouse on the pushpin. You can also change the view modes and can also set the zoom level. Plenty of stuff in the plugin and I will add more to make it more flexible and more productive. The API thing in the plugin was just the test from my side, I never thought of using the API in the plugin when I started writing it. But I am happy that I ended up making something useful for myself and I am sure enough that it will help other fellow developers out there also.

Where to get the plugin?

I have a dedicated a page for the Bing Map plugin here. There are still few changes to be made on the page so that it can have more information. In the next phase I am planning to have a demo page and provide more information on plugin.

Make sure to read about the plugin and the configurations before you get started with the plugin at Bing map plugin home page.

If you are using NuGet then you can fire up the below command to install it into the Scripts folder.

If you have doubts and have suggestions for the plugin then please do drop me a comment or e-mail.

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Death Of Visual Studio Installer Projects After Visual Studio 2010 And NSIS & Inno Setup Installers

8. March 2012 03:36

Microsoft Visual Studio 

I came across an announcement made by Candy Chiang at MSDN Forums at ClickOnce and Setup & Deployment Projects forums.

In Visual Studio 2010, we have partnered with Flexera, makers of InstallShield, to create InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 just for Visual Studio 2010 customers. The InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 offers comparable functionality to the Visual Studio Installer projects. In addition, you can build your deployment projects using Team Foundation Server and MSBuild. For more information, see here.

With InstallShield available, the Visual Studio Installer project types will not be available in future versions of Visual Studio. To preserve existing customer investments in Visual Studio Installer projects, Microsoft will continue to support the Visual Studio Installer projects feature that shipped with Visual Studio 2010 and below as per our product life-cycle strategy. For more information, see Expanded Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy for Business & Development Products.

The question here is how we are going to create a setup within Visual Studio? How we are going to install the Windows service? How the application gets deployed in the production environment? The in-built Setup and Deployment template was extremely useful and I have no idea at the moment what is the best alternative Microsoft will come up with in Visual Studio 11 which is flexible enough to provide all what the developer needs. Well, in time we'll see but this is for sure that we are not going to have project templates for Setup and Deployment in the next release for Visual Studio. Microsoft also confirms that InstallShield will be available in the future versions of Visual Studio, but again it will be a limited edition (as what we have in Visual Studio 2010). Let's hope we are going to see more advanced version of InstallShield in next release of Visual Studio.

What are the alternatives?

With Setup and Deployment gone from Visual Studio, there is an excellent Visual Studio extension which allows you to create setup packages. This extension will let you create NSIS and Inno Setup installers for your application. At the moment this extension supports Visual Studio 2005, 2008 and 2010 and as I see excellent potential in this extension and the people behind the extension, I hope we will be able to see this extension for Visual Studio 11 soon. The current/latest version is still in beta and is only available for Visual Studio 2010.

Note: Before you start installing the add-in make sure you have few of the pre-requisites installed in your machine. Read for the pre-requisites here.

The best part about this extension is that alike traditional Setup and Deployment projects it gives you a complete wizard to create a setup package for your application. For folks who have never put their hands on NSIS, I would like to tell them that is a scriptable installer and that means that you can write your own custom scripts to get more out of the box.

Let's see what this add-in has to offer us in future. 

Related Links: 

Currently rated 5.0 by 1 person

Introducing Visual Studio Achievements - Bringing Some Game To The Code

22. January 2012 13:19

API Microsoft Visual Studio 

Another awesome stuff for developers from Microsoft! This past Wednesday Microsoftie Karsten Januszewski announced the Visual Studio Achievement Beta at Channel9. Guess what? as a developer, you are writing hundred lines of code every day without even getting noticed by the community!!? Well, you will get noticed now. Here is an extract from the official post from Channel9:

Bring Some Game To Your Code!

A software engineer's glory so often goes unnoticed. Attention seems to come either when there are bugs or when the final project ships. But rarely is a developer appreciated for all the nuances and subtleties of a piece of code--and all the heroics it took to write it. With Visual Studio Achievements Beta, your talents are recognized as you perform various coding feats, unlock achievements and earn badges.

Learn More About Visual Studio

Visual Studio is a powerful tool with tons of features, many of which you may not know about. Earning some of the badges may result in learning about features you didn’t even know existed!

How It Works

With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analyzed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server.

Get the Visual Studio Extension

Download the Visual Studio Achievement Extension from Visual Studio Gallery. Install the extension and fire Visual Studio, sign in with your LiveID and straight away you will achieve 5 points for installing Visual Studio Achievement Extension. Every time you achieve, a pop-up in will be shown inside Visual Studio IDE.

Show off your achievements

Now you are earning some achievements huh!? Why not show it off on your blog. Grab the script to show off your Visual Studio Achievements. You can see my achievements widget on the right hand side of my blog. Just in case you don't like the widget, then you can customize the look and feel using CSS and providing additional parameters. You can see more widget examples here and customize it as you like. Apart from this you can also see the leading achievers at the Leaderboard.

The Achievement API

Introducing the Achievement and that too with API is super awesome. I haven't gone through the Achievement API yet, but if you are planning to write a custom tool then mash it up and share with the community.

Visual Studio Achievements Legend

So, what are the achievements that we are going to get? There are 6 different badges at the moment and we are going to see more badges in future. Here is a snap of the 6 badges:

Need to know more in detail about these badges then read about them here. Let's get started people, bring some game to the code you write from now on!!

Related Links:

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Top Visual Studio Extensions

18. January 2012 04:00

Microsoft Utils Visual Studio 

Visual Studio comes up with loads of stuff making everyday life of a developer easy. But there are few extensions which Microsoft and other developers have created and are available for free to the community members. I have compiled a list of free and powerful extensions which will take your programming experience few more steps ahead with Visual Studio.

NuGet Package Manager

You should have a very good reason if you are not using this or if you are not aware what NuGet is. NuGet is a free, open source developer focused package management system for the .NET platform intent on simplifying the process of incorporating third party libraries into a .NET application during development.

Visual Studio Achievement Extension

Get noticed, earn achievements while you write code. An awesome extension from Microsoft for programmers to get them in light while they right code. Bring on the game to the code!!

Productivity Power Tools

A powerfull extension from Microsoft with tons of features to make your work a lot easier. A MUST HAVE for every developer.

VSCommands 2010

VSCommands provides code navigation and generation improvements which will make your everyday coding tasks blazing fast and, together with tens of essential IDE enhancements, it will take your productivity to another level.

PowerCommands For Visual Studio 2010

PowerCommands 10.0 is a set of useful extensions for the Visual Studio 2010 adding additional functionality to various areas of the IDE.

Web Essentials

You must have witnessed most of the features provided by this extension in VS 2011 Developer Preview. For Visual Studio 2010, you can make use of these features with this extensions.

JSEnhancements

This extension provides outlining and matching braces highlighting features for Visual Studio JavaScript and CSS editor. Works both in JS/CSS files and HTML script/style blocks. Outlining is like in C# editor. It outlines {}s, []s and #region tags.

DevColor

Microsoft has now introduced feature in Visual Studio 2011 Developer Preview, it is a color picker stuff in the CSS window for the ease of the developers so they don't have to remember the color codes. But for Visual Studio 2010 developers this is an excellent extension that gives you a similar flexibilty.

CSSCop - FxCop for Stylesheets

We use FxCop to follow beat coding practices, but we neglect when we work with CSS. CSSCop makes it easy to adhere to best practices for writing stylesheets. It catches common errors that affect browser compatibility and much more. You can think of it as FxCop for stylesheets.

FxCop Integrator

If you are analysing your code using FxCop, then get the FxCop extension for Visual Studio. FxCop is also available if you are using VS 11 Developer Preview. 

Image Optimizer

Adds a right-click menu to any folder and image in Solution Explorer that let's you automatically optimize all PNG, GIF and JPEG files in that folder. The optimization doesn't affect the quality of the images, but optimizes them using industry proven algorithms for removing EXIF and other metadata.

Code Compare

Code Compare is a powerful file and folder comparison tool that demonstrates new level of code comparison.

Spell Checker

The next time you comment on your code or someone else code, be sure that you are using the correct spellings. Plain text files, source code comments and strings and thing that are not HTML/ASP tags are spell checked.

GhostDOC

A great extension which will automatically generates XML documentation comments for methods and properties based on their type, parameters, name and other contectual information.

Numbered Bookmarks

Creating bookmarks in Visual Studio and then remembering them is a tough task when you have thousands lines of code. Numbered Bookmarks allows users to create and recall bookmarks by using numbers. User can create 10 bookmarks (starting from 0 to 9). User can add or navigate to the particular bookmark by using the same shortcut key.

Snippet Designer

The Snippet Designer is an open source plugin which enhances the Visual Studio IDE to allow a richer and more productive code snippet experience.

For the moment, this is it, but I will update the list once I get to know more excellent extensions. Are you aware of any other extensions you think is really cool and excellent, then please do share with me/us.

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