Monthly Archives: May 2006

Microsoft’s Brian Jones has an excellent blog post explaining the reasons behind opening up the Office file formats through the standardization of the so-called Office Open XML Formats. These formats are described extensively in a 4000 page document. This document is work in progress for the ECMA standardization committee.

Brian also argues pretty well why Microsoft decided to create its own XML formats and decided not to use the Open Document Format. Microsoft wanted 100% fidelity in saving all the features of its Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications as XML. There are also performance reasons for keeping the XML tag names short.

Also of interest is the beta of the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats. This add-on for Office XP and Office 2003 allows you to use those older versions to create new documents and open, edit and save documents in the new file formats.

Okay, so I had to cheat a bit on my first entry that I published from Word 2007. I got a publishing error at first. Digging in at the HTTP traffic with the Fiddler HTTP Debugging Proxy, I discovered that this was due to a compatibility problem in formatting the creation date time between Word 2007 and the MetaWeblogAPI running at bloggingabout.net.

Fiddler is a powerful tool that allows you to resend HTTP requests (even POSTs) after fiddling with them. After I changed the date time format from 2006-05-23T19:18:28Z to 20060523T19:18:28, the MetaWeblogAPI accepted my blog post. I found the correct format in this MSDN article.

I am really glad to get all the features of Word back when composing a blog entry, like grammar and spell checking. Previously I started out in Word but had to do a lot of tweaking when pasting the entry into the FCKeditor HTML editor control on bloggingabout.net.

Also very cool is that you can open previous blog posts from within Word by using the “Open Existing” feature.

Below you can see what the first blog entry looked like after I republished it. BTW, I didn’t have to fiddle with the HTTP traffic on republishing. I did notice that the post wasn’t syndicated on the main feed by default, so I had to enable this option through the web site after publishing.

The release of Windows Vista Beta 2 was indeed imminent. The beta 2 wave has hit! Microsoft simultaneously released the beta 2 of Windows Vista, "Longhorn" Server, WinFX and Office 2007.

Build 5384 of Windows Vista and "Longhorn" Server can be downloaded if you have an MSDN Subscription. The MSDN Subscriber Download Center has been fully geared up for the Windows Vista downloads. I am seeing download speeds > 500 kB/s. At that rate the 3200 MB download for Windows Vista Beta 2 should take me about 1.5 hours.

The WinFX related components can be downloaded by everyone. They also run on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP1.

The Office System 2007 can be download from here. You have to register with a Microsoft PassportWindows Live ID. After that you can download the SmartSource for Microsoft Office Downloads application. It's a download manager to download separate client and server components of Office 2007.

This is a screenshot of the SmartSource for Microsoft Office Downloads application:
Screenshot of the SmartSource for Microsoft Office Downloads application that is required for downloading Office 2007.

Don Box coded up a nice little VB 9.0 program that serves up an ATOM feed containing data about the running processes of the host machine. It's just 50 lines of code.

I wonder how many lines that will take in the programming language that starts with a J 🙂

Run it in Visual Studio 2005 with the LINQ May 2006 CTP installed and check out http://localhost/bob in IE7.0 Beta 2. You might want to change the MIME-type from application/atom+xml to text/xml to be able to view it more easily in IE 6.0 or Firefox.

Screenshot of a ATOM feed of list of running processes in IE7.0 Beta 2.

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Do you know the Google Earth application? It's a great free program that allows you to fly over the surface of the earth and watch satellite imagery and aerial photograph. The detail level can be amazing: details of up to 50cm can be visible. But those detailed images are not available for all locations.

A couple of days ago, I read in the local newspaper that detailed imagery of Zeist was made available in Google Earth. Zeist is the town where I live in the Netherlands. So I checked it out. It was really amazing. I can almost recognize the cars parked in front of my flat. Google Earth also has a nice feature to save a location and point of view, so others can start from there. Here is the placemark for my home.

Go and check if you can find your own home.

Google Earth picture of my home

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Yesterday Microsoft launched a mini-wave of data access related technology in a new way. Normally these types of announcements would be made at a PDC or Tech·Ed. This time a combination of blog entries, papers on MSDN, a screencast and a Channel 9 video was used. Nevertheless it appears to be a quite low key announcement, since it doesn’t appear yet on the MSDN front page.

So what is it all about? Microsoft announced its plans for ADO.NET 3.0 and simultaneously released a new CTP preview release of LINQ.

Microsoft is bringing Object-Relational Mapping (OR/M) to the masses in ADO.NET 3.0. The goal is to raise the data access programming model to a new conceptual level. This new conceptual level is much closer to how you would model the problem domain in objects than how you would model this in a normalized relational database.

The excellent paper Next-Generation Data Access: Making the Conceptual Level Real on MSDN explains Microsoft's vision for raising the level of abstraction from the logical (relational) level to the conceptual (entity) level to eliminate the impedance mismatch for both applications and data services.

There is another excellent paper which gives a more technical view: ADO.NET Tech Preview: Overview. It explains how Microsoft intends to fill the gap between the relational database and objects by building a new conceptual model on top of ADO.NET 2.0.

The May 2006 LINQ CTP includes updated versions of both the C# 3.0 and the VB 9.0 compilers and new versions of the LINQ library classes that are mostly contained in the namespaces. System.Query, System.Xml.XLinq and System.Data.DLinq. Also included are lots of samples and a lot of documentation on how to use LINQ.

I can also recommend watching the Channel9 video where Scoble talks with a bunch of program managers on What’s coming in ADO.NET? It answers what has happened to OPath. This query language, which was used in WinFS, is not just succeeded by LINQ. Queries can also be expressed in a new SQL derived language called eSQL. There are more videos coming up on this topic in the near future.

Some related blog entries are:

And finally you can watch a screencast with a demo of the mapping technology and a demo of a prototype of a graphical mapping tool. It maps the database schema to the entity schema.