Azure SDK 1.5 without SQLEXRESS


If you’ve come across the error in Visual Studio telling you it failed to initialise the development store you almost certainly don’t have SQLEXPRESS installed or it’s just stopped. If it’s the latter feel free to leave now and fire it up!

Still here? OK so you want development storage against the full SQL Server instead of SQLEXPRESS. For this you’ll need to run the SDK utility dsinit located under Program Files\Windows Azure SDK\v1.5\bin\devstore.

You don’t need to manually edit configuration any longer as per SDK 1.0.
Double clicking the exe will display a GUI and attempt to initialise the development store which will of course fail. In order to fix this open a prompt from the devstore folder (Shift-Right Click the devstore folder for the Open Command Window Here option) and run the command

dsinit /sqlinstance:.

If all is well you’ll see the dsinit GUI showing a successful init. You can now return to Visual Studio, start debugging and enjoying the world of Azure.



Windows 8 Stack – A clearer perspective


Having now watched the keynotes and a couple of sessions from Build (sans whacks) I’ve found myself still confused about how the new stack built around WinRT hangs together.  Has my recent effort to spend some quality time with javascript on the assumption that it’ll become far more prevalent come to fruition or should I be hanging my hat with the XAML brigade or maybe I need to brush up on my C++?  The answers to these and many more questions remain unanswered but the following article by Doug Seven goes a long way to helping me push past the marketing hype.  His article is worth a read if only for the “marketecture” reference.

Tech Days Windows Phone Camp


I attended a Windows Phone Camp training course on Saturday and wanted to give some feedback on how I think the day went. 

This was a free Microsoft UK Tech Days course that I came across by following @ukmsdn (I highly recommend you put them in your followed list).  Although free it was on a Saturday and I was paying for the train ticket myself so I wasn’t just turning up for a “free lunch”.  There were no course prerequisites beyond .NET development experience and a laptop with the latest SDK installed.  I therefore wasn’t expecting a deep dive and that’s fine but the SDK requirement made me think there was going to be a lot of hands on labs and that’s also fine.  My current appreciation of the platform is pretty weak which was the main premise for attending.  If I could take away from it a better appreciation of where the platform currently is and where it’s going I’d be happy.

Now just to throw a little spanner in the works the week prior was the Microsoft Build Event. Here they announced Windows 8 but more significantly introduced the new Metro Style UI and the developer experience that surrounds it.  This throws a major question for me over the future direction of Win Phone 7 and I knew there was no way we’d get any clarification on that from an unrelated event so soon after.  My assumption was correct but that didn’t stop us asking the questions! 🙂

Back to the event.  Overall it felt a little too free form with all the sessions being optional and the area outside to be used for collaboration and cracking on with writing our apps.  Hang on, I don’t have one to write yet!  But if I had, none of the organisers were easily available for feedback.  There’s a balance to be struck between sitting attendees in a room and talking them to death all day and allowing them to get hands on.  I think this event went a little too far in the opposite direction without a clear objective.  Realistically the prerequisite should have been – Already have an app in development.  Overall it felt much more like a user group event rather than targeted sessions with a clear objective.  The former is fine and has a definite place in the community but I’d like to have been made more aware of the format up front because if I’m honest I probably wouldn’t have attended.

The sessions themselves with the exception of the first (which started earlier so we missed the intro) were sub par at best with too much time being spent explaining fundamentals that any competent developer could pickup.  For example, did we really need 20 minutes of discussion on the Silverlight control Toolkit and each control therein?  How about just a pointer to it’s existence on Codeplex?  Let’s get into the best practices of using these controls and the real world challenges the presenters have faced in their use.  These are the kinds of things you get real benefit from at these types of event.

My minimum requirement of any offsite event needs to be that I’ve gained more from the day than I would have by spending that time sat watching video content from my Pluralsight subscription or Channel 9.  Unfortunately on this occasion I can’t say I did.

I’ve also signed up for the Windows Azure Bootcamp training on the 30th September so let’s hope that one provides a little more tangible content.

TLDR: Not what I was expecting as there was little structure to the day.  I would have liked to see more hands on labs offered for those of us that don’t have an existing app in development.  The quality of the presentations was below that which I’ve come to expect from Microsoft.  I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with a couple of other delegates about Windows 8 and the overall future of the platform.

Stopping selected Windows Services with Powershell


I set all of the VMWare services on my machine to be manual start recently and figured the easiest way to restart when I needed to spin up a VM was with a simple net start … batch file.

That would be a perfectly good solution but I figured Powershell must provide another way and in one of those “I wonder if…” moments I tried executing the following in an elevated PS window and was pleased to see it work out perfectly.

Stop-Service VM*

Build Conference is shaping up nicely


I’ve been particularly interested of late in the priciples behind rich client UI on the web serviced through lightweight data services (WCF Data Services etc). Rather than the majority of the developers time being spent in the server code (WebForms codebehind, MVC Controllers and Views) I’ve been watching with interest how the javascript frameworks are becoming more prevelant.

There’s no doubt the movements in this direction have been led primarily by Google’s focus on javascript and of course the now almost ubiquitous javascript library of choice for DOM manipulation jQuery. Microsoft however has been sending mixed message around this space for the last 12 months. A situtation that was only made worse with the mixup post PDC around the future of Silverlight.

Whilst Mix 2011 gave us a taster, the Build Conference now seems to be playing out as I hoped with a heavy developer focus on HTML 5 and the creation of rich web design. My first port of call in the new space will be with the release of a new sku of Expression Blend for HTML development.

I can’t help but become somewhat exasperated with the pace of technology today but I also can’t wait to get stuck into the new developer tooling so I guess I’m as much a part of the problem as the next dev. 🙂

Oh and before I go I’m extremely jealous of anyone attending Build as they all got their hands on a free Samsung tablet device running Windows 8 Preview. I guess I need to work harder on scoring some training budget!

My Community Resources


In conversation with my peers I often find myself citing references to information picked up from my common list of community sources (blogs, websites, podcasts, video training etc).  All too often I’m asked “What’s dot net rocks?” or “Who’s Phil Haack?”.  Well here’s my starter for ten of essential community reading, listening and watching.

.NET Rocks – The original (seriously) audio talk show for .NET developers.
Hanselminutes – Scott Hanselman as below.  Produced by Carl Franklin who also hosts .NET Rocks.
This Developers Life – A simply excellent perspective on the experiences and stories of real developers.

Blog Roll
Scott Hanselman – Microsoft Community Manager (I think) who’s a great speaker and has a.
Phil Haack – Program Manager on the ASP.NET MVC team.
Ayende RahienThe man when it comes to OSS frameworks on the .NET stack (NHibernate, EFProfiler, RavenDB)
Willy-Peter Schaub – Team Foundation Server Ranger

Community Websites – Technical Q and A forum done properly.

Online Video Training
TekPub (Paid)- Slightly different style of video training.  Their pair programmed jQuery series is simple superb.
Pluralsight (Paid)- Been with these for a number of years now.  Awesome and now very extensive Microsoft training library.
Channel 9 – Video training side of MSDN.  Quality has increased immensely over the last 18 months.
DNRTV – Excellent series by Carl Franklin who brings us .NET Rocks.

Tech people (amongst many others) I follow on Twitter:

More to come…