Archive for November, 2007

Fluid-Width <div> Layers with Rounded Corners

 Check out THIS POST where Josh shows us how to make DIVs with rounded corners.

Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 RELEASED !

 It’s HERE !

And we did TONS of videos to show you all the cool new stuff (I did 8 myself!)


FastCGI for IIS has launched.

This is HUGE for developers in heterogeneous environments and developers that “get” the power of ASP.NET but also want to leverage the great PHP applications that are available out there.

· FastCGI is a free download and you can get it at

· FastCGI allows IIS to reuse CGI processes for multiple requests to PHP applications, enables PHP hosting on Windows with comparable reliability and performance to Linux.

· Microsoft is embracing the PHP community and to help bootstrap early adopters of PHP on Windows, we’ve been validating the popular PHP applications on Windows and publishing walkthroughs that give step by step instructions on how to setup and install the most popular PHP apps on top of FastCGI and IIS/Windows.

Get it here –

Here is the official “Press Release” !

“Microsoft is eager to announce the release of Microsoft FastCGI Extension for IIS 6.0 (FastCGI Extension) as a free download from the IIS community site,  For the first time, Microsoft is providing its customers full support for a stack of technology that enables reliable, scalable PHP hosting on production Internet Information Services 6.0 (IIS 6) Web servers.” 

“Furthermore, Zend has validated their Zend Core offering, a certified and supported version of PHP, on this release of FastCGI and found PHP on Windows performs comparably to PHP on Linux.  Andi Gutmans, Chief Technology Officer of Zend states, ‘We have been testing PHP on this FastCGI technology for over a year and we are very pleased with this official release from Microsoft.  There is finally a PHP solution for Windows that offers a comparable level of stability and throughput as PHP on Linux.’ “

“This release could not have come at a more exciting time for the technology: previous beta releases on IIS.NET have had over 14,000 downloads and no less than six hosting partners have already begun offering PHP hosting on IIS 6 with the FastCGI Extension.  In addition to the downloads, the community site also has a very active forum of users exchanging ideas and providing feedback about the FastCGI Extension. “

“With Microsoft’s implementation of the FastCGI open standard, IT Professionals will be able to host PHP applications on Windows Server® 2003 and IIS 6 with increased reliability, scalability, and security.    Customers also know that they will be able to count on Microsoft to stand by and service the Microsoft FastCGI Extension.  By supporting the open standard, Microsoft has made it possible for PHP and other CGI compliant languages to be hosted efficiently and effectively on Windows Server 2003 and IIS.  With the addition of FastCGI, IIS reliably and performantly hosts ASP.NET; classic ASP and PHP Web applications, making it easy for IT Professionals to standardize on IIS and Windows Server as their Web platform of choice.”

“This FastCGI Extension release is supported on IIS 6 in Windows Server 2003 for a fully scalable production environment and runs on IIS 5.1 in Windows XP in order to support developers who build their Web applications on Windows client machines.  This provides developers easy access to build and deploy a broader range of Web applications on the Microsoft platform.   To further facilitate application support, the IIS product group is working with the community to test and optimize popular PHP applications on this platform.  The IIS product group will make available ‘getting started’ guides for the most popular PHP applications as part of the release to help developers and Web hosters evaluate.”

“Looking ahead, betas of Windows Server 2008, already include the FastCGI Extension as a completely integrated feature of Internet Information Services IIS 7.0 (IIS7).   The new modular architecture introduced in IIS 7 will provide additional functionality to PHP applications by enabling them to take advantage of new managed code services.   In fact, Hostway has already deployed a PHP offer on Windows Server 2008 and Senior Architect, Matthew Baldwin, claims ‘IIS7’s integrated PHP support lets us offer our customers a host of new application options, with the same IIS infrastructure so there is no increase in support costs.’ ” 

“These results demonstrate how Microsoft is embracing PHP hosting on Windows.  As a result of these efforts, the PHP community will be able to take advantage of the increased reliability of PHP on Windows and simplified administration available on the Windows platform.  Furthermore, this work multiplies the opportunities available on the Windows platform to partners and developers.  Regardless of the development or licensing model, today’s successful companies are choosing Windows.”

Hire Andrew !

 Do you know this guy ? Hire him.

His name is Andrew Stopford. I met him years ago after reading a book he wrote.

And we’ve stayed in touch. He’s been to Redmond for some of the “private” events we’ve had.

Anyway, changes at his company (outsourcing or something) have made him AVAILABLE.

He’s in the UK.

His blog is here –

Use the contact link to ask for his full resume.

ASP.NET Applications and User Interface Design Aesthetics

I’m “aesthetically challenged” !

Doing good “look and feel” work doesn’t come natural to me, and I want to change that. For both the demo applications that I will be using in 2008’s webcasts and videos, as well as for my “pet projects”, I want to build great LOOKING web applications (as well as great WORKING ones.)

Visual Studio 2008 has some GREAT new designer and CSS support.

I’ve recently finished recording a series of 8 videos on “What’s new in Visual Studio 2008”. They are currently in post-production and will hit the web within a week or two (I’ll blog a notice when they do.)

The tool support really helps me use the technology, but I’ve still been struggling with the “what and why” of it. So, I started doing research, thinking I should doa vedeo series on the “designer” process of building ASP.NET application.

There really isn’t much ASP.NET specific reference on the subject, but I though I woul share some of the stuff I came up with.

First – you gotta read this book!

Next, did you know there are hundreds of “ready-to-use”, free / Open Source” web designs out there ?

Check out these sites for many of them.

Of course, CSS is a MUST.

I found these 2 books useful.

CSS-Mastery CSS Cookbook

CSS Mastery was a good tutorial, but the CSS Cookbook has a bunch of great examples that really helped me “wrap my head around” how to use CSS and what you can do with it.

Here are some cool CSS oriented wen sites!

And don’t forget the CSS Control Adapter Toolkit !

CSS Control Adapter Toolkit for ASP.NET 2.0

Do you have some great “Designing for ASP.NET” resources, tools, or ideas?

Please send them to me!

You can contribute to the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit

Did you know that there is an open contribution model for submitting new controls in the AJAX Control Toolkit ?

This document provides some guidelines on how you could get your custom ASP.NET AJAX control added to the toolkit and therefore used by developers around the world !

The document also contains pointers on how to submit fixes and feature additions for existing controls.

Contributing to the Toolkit

The AJAX Control Toolkit is a shared source project released under the Microsoft Permissive License and built on top of ASP.NET AJAX. It has a set of over 35 controls, many of which were written by members of the ASP.NET AJAX community. The Toolkit has matured into a stable and feature complete product through work with the community over the past year. We would like to continue our organic growth by defining a process for all Toolkit contributions.
Contributions should add sound value to the Toolkit and serve its customers’ needs. Anyone wishing to contribute should be committed to a high quality bar and take responsibility for their code. There are two ways that our users can contribute to the Toolkit: use the Toolkit Patch Utility for bug fixes and new features for existing controls, or become a Toolkit contributor by adding new controls.

If you already have a great control and would like to share it with us or if you would like to write a new control from scratch this is a great opportunity to challenge yourself to write great reusable controls, show-off your technical and design skills, get plenty of visibility, learn more about Shared Source at Microsoft.

If your control goes into the AJAX Control Toolkit – email me, I’ll do a video about it !

Is Microsoft Committed to AJAX ?

I got this recently in an email from a developer friend.

“Is Microsoft committed to Ajax? If so, why is development so slow? (Yeah I know, Silverlight, that means nothing until it is at least version 2 and wide spread.) I am seriously disappointed, and I think others are too. After the 1.0 excitement, there is nothing to get excited about. (What’s up with ASP.NET Futures anyway, how about right now?)”

I guess that it’s hard to keep up with all the new stuff in our profession, so I thought I would hi-light some of the new AJAX related stuff that we’ve been building, especially in ASP.NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 (currently in Beta) as an illustration our investments in AJAX enabling technologies.   

* Core Integration of ASP.NET AJAX – ASP.NET AJAX is no longer an add-on to ASP.NET. It is now a first class concept like XML Web Services or Data Access. This means full support, full feature lifecycle, etc.

* Full and Dynamic JavaScript Intellisense support in Visual Studio 2008. This includes the JavaScript language and all the ASP.NET AJAX Extensions as well as dynamic support for the code that you write.

* First Class JavaScript Debugging Support in Visual Studio 2008, complete with Break Points, Watch, Immediates, Call Stack, everything you would expect from a first class debugger PLUS, both design time and run time code images so you can drill down into your applications exact JavaScript state and collection at runtime no matter how much dynamic JavaScript is involved in your application.

* JSON, RSS, and POX support for WCF so that all your WCF services can me AJAX Callable.

* The AJAX Controls Toolkit has grown to 34 controls.

* 64 ASP.NET AJAX  How Do I Videos offering tutorial and prescriptive guidance on how to use the features of ASP.NET AJAX

* Forthcoming soon….new ASP.NET AJAX controls like the history control, selector support, and other improvements on both the client and server side.

To me that seems like allot of work in a fairly short time (since ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 was released.)

What’s with the “Futures” ???

The current “Futures” include ….

* History support for the Safari browser, inclusion of “titles”, encoding and encrypting of server-side history state and the ability to handle history in the client without a server requirement.

* CSS Selectors APIs have been modified to be applicable to W3C recommendations.

* A script resource extraction tool that allows you to create script files on disk that originate from embedded resources in assemblies.

The reason the Futures are not “Right Now” is simple.

Developers have asked to be more involved in defining the end products we create. “Futures” releases gives folks the chance to get their hands on VERY early bits of the new stuff that we’re working on, and that means you can provide feedback early enough in the process to effect the final outcome.

Most folks tell me that they LOVE the fact that we’re being so transparent in much of our development process.

So in short – YES 🙂 We’re very serious about AJAX !

CAPTCHA Kinda Spam Prevention in ASP.NET

Spammers really bug me.

I’ve been working on this on-going sports related portal project (that probably will NEVER go live 🙂

I love of hobby community sites degrade quickly because they lack the moderation resources to keep the user submitted content quality high and I’ve been thinking about this problem.

I thought I would share some interesting links that I found on the subject.

Visual WebGui – Windows Forms for Web Applications ?

 HTML make you queasy ?

I’ve been playing with Visual WebGui, which is, from my humble perspective, Windows Forms for Web Applications. The development experience is exactly Windows Forms.

Download it yourself, it’s free and Open Source.

I’m toying with using it as the interface to a large web based media aggregator. Send me your experiences with Visual WebGui!

PHP Designer 2008

Some years ago I got an email from an interesting young man named Michael Pham and we discussed PHP IDEs.

I am NOT one of those guys who insist on using a featureless editor to write code (and prove how geeky I am.) I love good IDEs.

For my PHP work I routinely use all the “biggies”.

  • PHPEd by NuSphere (Which is AWESOME if you are a Windows User – $229 Pro, $119 Std, Retail)
  • Active State Komodo (Great, Multi Platform, not PHP Specific – $295 Retail)
  • Zend Studio (Strong, but moving to an Eclipse based Version – $299 Retail)

Michael remembered wishing for a commercial quality PHP IDE that was frugally priced when he ws a student – so he wrote one !

He just released the 2008 version and, as with all his new releases, it’s packed with new features.

The personal version (last version) is FREE !

The Pro Version is 39

10 Users is 249

Unlimited Site Licence is 499

And the Academic licence for the full version is 29

I hope you’ll check it out. Michael originally gave me a free evaluation copy and I liked it so much I paid him for it!