Mathias Brandewinder on .NET, F#, VSTO and Excel development, and quantitative analysis / machine learning.
by Mathias 9. August 2009 17:25

The first of Scott Hanselman’s “Top 10 Tips Working Developers Should Know about Windows 7” really made my day: Win 7 includes .NET 3.5 SP1. This probably doesn’t matter to you if you are not a .NET developer, but if you are, chances are you have had the same frustration as I did. .NET 3.5 SP1 is really what you want to be developing against, because it includes so much goodness, but in my experience, most users don’t have it on their machines. As a result, your potential user has to go through a good 15 minutes of download and a reboot – and that’s assuming the IT department is fine with that, which is not a given (personal experience).

This is of particular importance to me, because my pet project Akin, a free application that helps track down differences between Excel files, is written against .NET 3.5. I really needed WPF to create the kind of user interface I wanted, but this has proven a hurdle in getting people to try it out. You might be able to convince people you know personally that they should install .NET 3.5, but for the casual visitor who stumbles across a webpage and wants to just try out an application, asking them to download a giant file for unclear purposes first is just a killer. You lost one potential user, right there.

With Windows 7 pre-sales making a solid start, hopefully I will be relieved of that issue. This is very motivating – time to get back to it, and implement some of the great suggestions I received so far!

by Mathias 5. March 2009 15:54

My first reaction when I learnt that the keyword var had been introduced in C# 3.0 was horror. It comes in part from my past as a VBA developer, which has a similar-looking and named "variant" type. "Variant" is pretty much the equivalent of "object" in C#, which explains my worry: on the surface, a statement like the one below looks like you gave up on all the goodness of type-safety.

var myInstance = new MyClass();

I quickly learnt that var != variant, and that var IS type safe - and after reading the Handbook from the Department of Declaration Redundancy Department, I started using var to instantiate new objects:

EncoderReplacementFallbackBuffer buffer = new EncoderReplacementFallbackBuffer();
var buffer = new EncoderReplacementFallbackBuffer();

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by Mathias 22. February 2009 16:39

The M-V-VM seminar of last month inspired me to finally get serious about WPF. The best way to learn a technology is to write some code with it, so I have begun working on a project of my own, which I hope to complete by end-March (in spite of being working full bore on a project for a client).

So far, working with Model-View-ViewModel and WPF has proven easier than what I expected. Once you get the logic, things flow pretty naturally. One of my recent stumbling blocks was binding with a collection. Now that I got it to work, it seems trivial, but maybe this will help some other WPF beginner on the path to enlightenment!

Imagine that your model contains a list of persons, and that you want to display two things:

1) the list of persons,
2) detailed information about the selected person

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by Mathias 11. December 2008 16:58

Apparently, VSTO Power Tools have been around for a while (Feb 02), but if I had not read this article, I would have missed them - which would be too bad, because they are awesome. The Power Tools consist of a few dlls, which, while not officially supported, have been released by Microsoft developers.

I started playing with the Excel Extensions, and I love it; it is a "very thin wrapper to the Office primary interop assemblies", which essentially gives you cleaner methods to access the Excel object, with type safety, and without the clumsy "Missing.Value" arguments. More...

by Mathias 11. August 2008 19:12

Just plugging the next Bay.Net Education Day (which I am organizing), where Mark Michaelis will

start with a blank slate, the Visual Studio Wizard, and proceed to create a series of assemblies that comprise .NET 3.0/.NET 3.5 sample application.  The result will be a whirl wind introduction to technologies such as Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Ajax, SharePoint, Visual Studio Unit Testing, LINQ and much more.  Attend this all day session to catch up with where Microsoft .NET technology is today and gain insight into where it is going tomorrow.

Should be a great event - it will take place Saturday September 6, at Foothill College; you can register here.

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