Visual Studio 2010 Professional Beta Download

17 07 2009

Visual Studio 2010 Mascots!?Visual Studio developers rejoice! Microsoft is on the verge of releasing its brand new version of Visual Studio, simply named Visual Studio 2010 which will run applications on the yet to be released .NET Framework 4.0. It is currently at beta and you can start downloading Visual Studio 2010 Professional Beta here right now. The new features which consists of a new enhanced user interface, parallel programming to make use of multi-core processors, new code features, cloud development and better database support are pretty nifty and cool. It also includes full Silverlight and WPF support without the need of an add-on this time around.

Visual Studio 2010

If you have been a big fan all along and want to try it out before its actual release, do so right now! Screenshots and reviews will be back right after I am done with my own download. ūüėÄ

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Microsoft Silverlight 3 Deep Zoom for Your Images…

12 07 2009

Deep Zoom LogoMicrosoft Deep Zoom is yet another impressive web app based technology piggybacking on the recently released Silverlight 3 which allows users to pan around and zoom in a large, high resolution image or a large collection of images.  Anyone who have checked out sites like the Hard Rock Memorabilia would surely be impressed with the way their collections have been organized. Not convinced? Just have a look at the video demo on the Hard Rock Memorabilia below:

Creating applications like what you saw above ain’t hard and the possibilities of what you can do is great. Some of the applications possible would be virtual newspapers, virtual mind maps and virtual picture galleries which are zoomable to several levels according to your liking. To create, you only require¬†a simple¬†drag n drop tool¬†called the¬†Deep Zoom Composer and some creativity to come up with your Deep Zoom app. By following this guide, you will be able to create your deep zoom applications in no time!

Step 1: Download the Deep Zoom Composer

Click here to get the latest version of the Deep Zoom Composer from Microsoft.

Step 2: Create a New Project and Add your Images

To start composing a Deep Zoom application, click on the ‘New Project‘ button. Right after that, the first step that you will need to perform is to import the pictures that you want into the¬†project first by clicking on the ‘Add Image‘ button. In this sample, I will try to embed multiple playing card pictures into a single card. Try to keep the color tone of the images in the number to be as close as the larger picture so that it looks more natural.

Deep Zoom 01

Click on 'New Project'

Add your Selected Images after Clicking on the 'Add Image' Button

Add your Selected Images after Clicking on the 'Add Image' Button

Step 3: Composing your Deep Zoom App

Once you have added your images (you can always go back and add more if you want to), click on the ‘Compose’ button at the top center of the program to start composing your Deep Zoom application. To do so, just drag the images from the bottom of the composer into the workspace and compose the application in any way that you desire. The best practice is to of course get images of higher resolution to be used as it will provide a more clearer viewing experience. To move around your image, make use of the navigator located on the bottom left of your workspace, highlighted in red below.

Drag your Images into the Workspace and Resize them accordingly

Drag your Images into the Workspace and Resize them accordingly

Step 4: Finalize and Export your Project

The final step should not be an issue too. What you should see once you click on the ‘Export’ button would be a preview of your entire project that you have composed earlier. If you are not happy and would like to apply certain changes, just go back to the previous step by clicking on the ‘Compose’ button at the top center of the composer.

If you are happy with it however, you may choose to either export your application to the Internet through your DeepZoomPix account which you must register first OR by clicking on the Custom tab to export the project to your local computer. In this case, I will be exporting the project to my own PC so that I can view it locally.

For exporting, you may choose to export into a ‘Silverlight Deep Zoom’ application or a ‘Seadragon AJAX’ application. In this case, choose Silverlight Deep Zoom if you would like your Deep Zoom application to be viewed through the Silverlight plug in or¬† Seadragon AJAX if you do not want your application to be viewed by the Silverlight plugin. Do take note that Seadragon AJAX’s performance may not be as good or satisfactory as Silverlight even though it is viewable without the Silverlight plugin.

You can also choose the quality and the type of the images being exported in your project too to scale the loading time of your application. Once you are done, press ‘Export’. All steps are listed down below

Set the settings of your Exported project on the Right hand side of the Composer and click on the Preview in Browser button to check out your application!

Set the settings of your Exported project on the Right hand side of the Composer and click on the Preview in Browser button to check out your application!

After completing the previous step, you should get a dialog box telling you that your export have been completed. In this case, select ‘Preview in Browser’ to view your Silverlight Deep Zoom application in your browser.

Step 5: Mission Accomplished

If your preview works well, you may now publish your Silverlight application into your IIS server. Just copy the exported folder into IIS and everything should work as what you have seen in your preview.

Hint: Do check out the toolbar at the top of your Deep Zoom app as it has many functions, most notibly zooming to highlighted areas/images in your project.

That’s it for today’s tutorial. Come back to my blog for more on Silverlight and ASP.NET application development!





Demystifying AJAX and Creating ASP.NET AJAX Applications using VS2008

19 06 2009

asp-net-ajax copyThis post was created after I have realized that most people gives me a blank (O.o) look when I first tell them about AJAX technologies on the web. In Malaysia, most people will mistakenly think that AJAX is a floor cleaning soap named Ajax Fabuloso due to its really cheesy advertisement on Malaysian TV. Football fans on the other hand always links AJAX to a famous Dutch based football club thus causing even more confusion. In this post, I will be highlighting what AJAX is (in the web development world) and how you can start creating your very own AJAX applications on ASP.NET using Visual Studio 2008 in 5 minutes.

What is AJAX!?
Simply speaking in layman terms, AJAX (shorthand word for Asynchronous Javascript and XML) is basically Javascript with the addition of XML involved as data passes through. In other words, a page can have its content changed dynamically without doing a page refresh or by going to another page. As a result, what you get is a really cool, desktop like experience on your web application because the page does not require any form of postback (refresh) to obtain/show new data.

If you have been wondering how AJAX is being used today, just refer to Facebook.  Facebook is one of the popular websites to advocate AJAX and uses it frequently in almost every page. From adding your friends, chatting, checking out pictures in a gallery, getting updated news feeds and doing quizzes, most of the time, a page refresh is never used there.

As a result, your web server will also get better performance because all that is being downloaded by the client browser is just parts of the page, not the entire chunk unlike what is being done in non-AJAX pages. It also provides a more responsive and easy to use website for your visitors.

I am Interested! So how do I Create my AJAX Page?
One way to use AJAX on your web page is to use type the relevant Javascript into your HTML files. But if you are a ASP.NET developer, you can rejoice because AJAX controls and functions have already been built in into Visual Studio 2005 and 2008. This means that you can create cool AJAX applications really quickly and easily. The only thing that will stand in your way is creativity in how you want to develop your applications. In this tutorial, I will be working on Visual Studio 2008 to create a AJAX RSS Reader to get most read most read RSS news from The Star Online, a Malaysian newspaper portal. If you are doing it on Visual Studio 2005, the process should be similar.

Step 1 – Startup Visual Studio and create a New Web Application

Step-01 Dialog Box OptionsThe first part should be pretty straightforward… Just open up Visual Studio and click to File->New->Web Site to get the “New Web Site” dialog box. In the dialog box, ensure that ASP.NET Web Site is selected and then give your site’s folder a name.

After doing so, you should be getting your empty page called Default.aspx. Please ensure that you switch to Design View by clicking on the “Design” button on the bottom left of the code editor so that we can add AJAX controls into it.

Step 2: Adding your ASP.NET and AJAX Controls

Step-02 - ToolboxAJAX controls are available inside your toolbox by default under the category “AJAX Extensions”. In order to use AJAX on your ASP.NET web application, it is COMPULSORY for you to insert a ScriptManager into your web page. This is because the script manager will be used to handle all AJAX calls or functionality by doing the necessary javascript conversion for the functions on your page.

The next control that you should have in your page should be the “UpdatePanel“. The update panel is the location of your web page where you would like functions to run without doing a page refresh. This is where I will place a GridView (a table to show the news details) and a Button which will be clicked in order for the news to be displayed on the GridView. Note: Make ensure that both your Gridview and Button is placed inside the UpdatePanel! Your design view should resemble the following:

Step-02 - Your Design View

Step 3: Add your Code Behind

Now we need to tell the button to download the news from The Star Online and place the details into the GridView. To do so, double click on your button in Design view to trigger the click event. The code should mirror the following:

Protected Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Button1.Click
     Dim reader As XmlTextReader = New XmlTextReader("http://thestar.com.my/rss/mostview/nation.xml")

     'return a new DataSet
     Dim ds As DataSet = New DataSet()
     ds.ReadXml(reader)

     GridView1.DataSource = ds.Tables(3)
     GridView1.DataBind()
 End Sub

If you want, you can basically try running your application by clicking on the debug button or pressing F5. If you get a dialog box requesting for debugging, just enable it. What you should get would be a page which will download latest news from The Star without any reloading or page refresh once you press on the button!

Step 4: Add Loading Effects

Usually in AJAX pages, you will be shown with a loading animated GIF while the data is being fetched from the server. These animated GIFs are useful to show your visitor that the site is currently fetching data. Currently in our web application, the data is being fetched asynchronously but the visitors may not be too sure whether the news is being fetched or not. But firstly, you will need to get an animated GIF for displaying the progress. You can generate and download dynamic and interesting loading GIFs from www.ajaxload.info. In this site, you can create dynamic loading animated GIFs that you want to place in your site really easily.

Since you have already got it, lets place it into our ASP.NET web page. Go back to your design view of your web page and add the control under AJAX Extensions called UpdateProgress. Place it into wherever you want the animated GIF to show when the page loads. Lastly, you must insert your animated GIF that you would like to display into the UpdateProgress Control. Your Design view for your web form should now resemble the following:

Step-04 - Design View with UpdateProgress

Step 5: Test your Application

Congratulations! You have successfully created your first AJAX web site. Now you can test it by debugging the application or right clicking on the Default.aspx file and clicking on “View in Browser”. You will notice the animated GIF appearing while it is fetching data from The Star, and the best part is, the page does not refresh one single bit.

News Details Loading upon Pressing the Button

News Details Loading accompanied by your animated GIF upon the click of the Button

The Star News Showing on your Page without Page Refresh/Reload

The Star News Showing on your Page without Page Refresh/Reload

But of course, your journey for AJAX does not end here. There are also many other cool AJAX features that you can play with by downloading the AJAX Control Toolkit

This toolkit is an add in to Visual Studio and contains plenty of other AJAX controls for you to try. To learn more about AJAX Control Toolkits, please head over to www.asp.net’s AJAX mini site.

Conclusion
So that is it. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and start your own ASP.NET AJAX web application soon. If you want to get the source code without trying, please get it here. Be back for more about tech at Derek’s Tech Blog.

Source Code: AJAXSite.zip (6.82 KB)