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Visual Studio 2010 ASP.NET MVC and C# SaaS Starter Kit

One of the best ways to learn how to code well is to read code and write it (imagine that!). Luckily, with Visual Studio, Microsoft has graced us with tons of Starter Kits that are free to use.  Starter Kits are pre-packaged project templates that are usually completed websites that you can build on top of or read to learn from.  Now, with WebMatrix and its integration with Visual Studio, you have even more ways to get started fast on your side projects with tons of open source applications to learn about MVC, OAuth, and more.  However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a starter kit for a tier-based pricing model Software as a Service (SaaS) web application.  With the rise of cloud computing platforms like Microsoft’s Azure, and SaaS, it’s always beneficial to know how to scale a solution not only from a technical aspect, but from a consumer aspect as well.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a starter kit for SaaS applications?

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SharePoint 2010 People Search: No Results Found While Forcing Secure (SSL) Sites

Recently, I had a problem with SharePoint 2010’s people search.  It stopped working, particularly after the network guys set us up with auto-forwarding http:// requests over to https://.   Once that was set up, it broke the search.  We couldn’t get any results to come back for the regular search or people search.  Turns out you need to point SharePoint 2010’s search crawler not only to your content, but also use the proper protocol.  If you force SSL, then you need to change the protocol accordingly.  Here’s how.

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Visual Studio 2010 SP1 brings Intellitrace to x64 and SharePoint 2010

Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Beta is out for MSDN subscribers, and brings great new features for everyone – not to mention SharePoint development.  If you’ve used Intellitrace to step backwards through your code to debug tricky situations that require more context, you know how awesome it is.  Unfortunately, that’s not available for x64 bit and SharePoint projects currently.   Finally, SP1 bring that functionality to us along with a lot more.  Here are some of the highlights via Jason Zanders’ Weblog:

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Free, Automated WordPress Backup Using Dropbox or Any FTP Site

I recently just migrated my blog from Tumblr to my own WordPress install.  So far, things have been great.  I love having everything in one place – from my blog to my CV.  The only problem with this, however, is that if something should happen, I’d lose everything!  That’s not a good place to be.  Ever.  Even if it’s your own personal website, just think about how many hours it would take to just get the site with your original design back up.  Not to mention all the content produced over the years.  What options are there for backing up WordPress?  The good folks at ChurchIT gave me a great place to start (and other great backup tips not mentioned here).

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JavaScript Best Practices for Increasing Website Performance

If you’ve done any web development before, you’ve probably had to work with JavaScript.  It’s the secret sauce that makes the web come alive and has in recent years gone from a language that was looked down upon as 3rd rate to one that is taking the web by storm.  With AJAX and JQuery the key pieces of interactive web design, and users becoming more performance-demanding every day, it’s important to know how to tune your site for speed and efficiency.  Luckily, Nokia (yes, the old school cell phone company!) has a great cheat sheet to help prune JavaScript and make your code scream.

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How to Build an RSS Feed Reader in Windows Phone 7 – Part I: Retrieving, Parsing, and Displaying Post Titles

One of the first applications that I write for a new platform to learn the ropes is an RSS reader.  That rule holds true for Windows Phone 7.  The great thing about the Windows Phone 7 SDK and the .NET 4.0 platform is that everything you need to work with RSS or any other syndication feed is ready for you right out of the box!  With Android development, you need to parse the XML and return values yourself.  For just reading an RSS feed, it’s a nightmare.  The references don’t, however, show up in Visual Studio 2010 automatically, so you’ll need to add them manually.  I’ll go over it all in this guide to programming RSS feeds in Windows Phone 7.

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How To Install SharePoint Server 2010 RTM on Windows 7

When developing SharePoint 2010 Applications, you must have an instance of SharePoint 2010 installed on the same machine to both allow for access to SharePoint .dlls as well as for easy deployment and debugging purposes.  One of the problems with this is that SharePoint 2010 has always been solely supported on Windows Server operating systems.  With SharePoint 2010 you can now install and develop on Windows 7 (x64 versions only)!

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Android Project Part II: Reading RSS Feeds

The first real goal for the Android app was getting news updates into the app.  One of the main goals of the app is to be able to get up-to-date information that mirrored that of the harvesttn.com website.  As you probably already know, content is typically served up using an RSS feed in today’s world.   With that in mind, the first real piece that I needed to write for getting news notifications was to build a way to consume and display an RSS feed.

One of the great things is that reading an RSS feed
in code is an extremely common activity.  The first thing I did was look for a library that I could use to grab and read the feed.  I eventually found an article from IBM with code using Android’s SAX parser to parse an XML feed and place it into a ListActivity.

I copied over the code, and basically used the MessageList class as a template for my NewsUpdates class in my app.  Not much needed to be changed, except for the way it loads the feed.  The code on IBM’s site grabs a feed from a hardcoded URL in the FeedParserFactory, and out of the box only contains a .getParser(ParserType type) method, passing in what method you want to use to parse the XML (I used Android-SAX).  I figured that I may need to reuse the FeedParser again, so I overloaded the getParser method to pass in not just the type, but also a feed url, as you can see me using  in the code below.Once I did that, the rest of the code is just getting and displaying the information that the FeedParser got for me.  first, you just get the items out of the parser into something that you can use. Here’s a simple way to get and parse the RSS feed, modified from the ListActivity in IBM’s code and simplified for easier use. Here’s a simple way to get and parse an RSS feed once it is modified (read the whole article if you’re cutting corners):

/*In a ListActivity class, this is in a loadFeed(ParserType type) method. Of course, this isn’t really necessary to read a feed. Only down to the “List<Message> messages = parser.parse();” line is necessary. You can then iterate through each message and call standard getters for each of the items to get the Title, Description, etc.*/

//Get a new FeedParser from the factory.
//Pass in the type of library you want to
//use as well as the URL of the feed
//you want to grab.
FeedParser parser = FeedParserFactory.getParser(type, getString(R.string.News_RSS_Feed));

//Parse the feed into the Messages so you can
//use the feed data more easily in your app.
List<Message>= parser.parse();
String xml = writeXml();

//Iterate through each RSS entry and grab the titles to use as the content in the ListView
List<titles>= new ArrayList<string>(messages.size());
for (Message msg : messages){
titles.add(msg.getTitle());
}

//Add the ListView via an ArrayAdapter
ArrayAdapter<string> adapter =
new ArrayAdapter<string>(this, R.layout.row,titles);

this.setListAdapter(adapter);

DONE! Simple as that. RSS is a great way to integrate content into you mobile application and have a similar (and often better) experience to the web version. The original IBM post is located below, where you can also download the full source.  This code was writted for Android SDK release 3, but it worked perfectly with the 7th release (Android 2.1). Remember that when you copy over the code into your project, ensure your manifest file properly registers all the appropriate activities. Otherwise, you’ll get a force close.: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/opensource/library/x-android/index.html