Understanding .NET

With the exception of the ColdFusion application I support, the company I currently work for is a Microsoft shop. I've recently been asked to help out with maintenance on some of our .Net applications; the only problem is I have next to zero .NET experience. For what I've had to do so far this hasn't been a huge problem, but I've decided to take this opportunity to really dig into .NET and see if I can't learn anything useful. I decided to start out with a book I've had on my bookshelf for awhile, Understanding .NET, A Tutorial and Analysis by David Chappell. The book is a little outdated so it covers some topics that are no longer relevant (.NET My Services anyone?), but overall I've found it pretty helpful. If you are looking for a hands-on book to teach you programming in .NET this is not the book for you. This is more of an introduction with a strong focus on the underlying technologies and design decisions behind the .NET framework. The first part of the book gives a general overview of .NET, followed by introductions to both web services and the CLR. The latter part of the book has some example code with one chapter on the different .NET languages and another on the .NET Framework Class Library followed by chapters focusing on ADO.NET and ASP.NET specifically. The author is obviously a Microsoft technologist, but he at least makes an attempt to be objective. One quote I particularly liked was the following:

The people who create software tools often forget that they're almost always much better software developers than the people who will use those tools. As a result, they tend to create tools that they themselves would like to use, tools that are too complex for many of their potential customers.

While the author is talking about VB.NET in this quote, it definitely rings true for developers of software products in general, not just software tools in particular.

While the book does have some good content, I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking to get started in with .NET, mainly because it is a little outdated. I'm probably going to be reading a couple more .NET books over the next few months so maybe I'll have a recommendation soon. Also if any of my reader have any recommendations of good hands-on books for web application development with C# I'd like to hear them. (A co-worker lent me Teach Yourself C# in 24 Hours from Sams Publishing. I've never really been a big fan of that series of books, but it has been awhile since I read one so I may give this one a try.)

CF Debug Copy on RIAForge

CF Debug Copy for FireFox now has a home on RIAForge. A download is available now and I should have the source code in SVN soon.

In preparing this release I noticed that the earlier version of this extension didn't work with frames. The version on RIAForge should fix that issue.

I'm also thinking about creating a RIAForge project for the IE version of CF Debug Copy. The only problem is it is currently a Visual Studio .NET 2003 project and I'm not sure how to best share it. If anyone has any suggestions on how to best store Visual Studio projects in SVN I'm all ears.

Missed the Scorpio Road Show

Due to a SNAFU at work yesterday I missed the Philly stop in the Scorpio Road Show. I'm disappointed because I had a few questions I wanted to ask Adam and Tim about the upcoming CF release. I was also looking forward to catching up with some of my former co-workers and other local CF develpers... Oh well, hopefully one of my fellow Philly bloggers will fill me in on what I missed.

cfObjective Review

Nice hotel, great sessions, even better people... I'm definitely going to try to make it back next year.

Since I've seen detailed post for most of the sessions I attended I won't try to do that here. I am going to list out the sessions I attended and try to pull out the key fact or impression I took away from each.


Instance Identifier for CFMX 6.1 Administrator

I manage several different instances of ColdFusion on several different physical servers. Each instance has its own CF administrator running under JRun's built in web server and while I have each bookmarked, I often forget which port number belongs to which instance on any given server. To help me identify which instance I'm currently working in I put together this basic instance identifier for the CF administrator. Just download the attached serverinstance.cfm and place it in your CFIDE/administrator directory. If you have an existing extensionscustom.cfm file in your administrator directory just add the following link:

<a href="serverinstance.cfm" target="content" class="link">Server Instance</a><br />

If you don't have an extensionscustom.cfm file in the CFIDE/administrator directory create one with the above content.

When you log in to the CF Administrator you should now have a "Server Instance" link under "CUSTOM EXTENSIONS" in the left hand navigation frame. Click on the link to bring up a page identifying the JRun instance.

The code is from a Dev Center article by Brandon Purcell.

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