SPB Clone Review

I’ve briefly mentioned SPB Clone here before as a method of deploying software across the enterprise. Fellow MVP Darryl Burling has completed a review of the product over at GeekZone which I recommend you read if you are facing the problem of deploying the same software across a large number of devices.


http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=4252

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New tool for Visual Studio help integration

Creating help files which seamlessly integrate with Visual Studio 2003 is a pain. Microsoft have released a Help Integration Wizard (Beta). This is designed to walk through the process of creating a setup which will integrate a HTML Help 2.0 file with Visual Studio.


Currently to integrate your own help you either have to get down and dirty and edit the tables of data within an .MSI installer, or use a third-party tool (H2Reg) to register the help collection without using an MSI installer. The first method is documented with the Visual Studio Help Integration Kit but is by no means clear, and if you start making changes to your .MSI project you generally have to start all over again.


I’ve downloaded and begun to test the wizard and it looks promising, however it appears to have a few issues with the help files generated by the latest version of NDoc (1.3b1a). Hopefully this can be overcome either by tweaking the options in NDoc or by some manual editing of the generated files. When I find a solution I’ll post again here.


Read about the tool (and download the beta) here:-


http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dv_vstechart/html/integration_wizard.asp


 


[Update – It appears it’s not particularly new, just well hidden! ]

UK Tablet PC ISV Challenge – Judging Complete

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been down to Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading as a member of the judging panel for this interesting Tablet PC competition.


Entrants were given the ability to purchase a subsidised Tablet PC and develop an application which they felt was perfect for the Tablet PC platform. The first week we looked over many entries aimed at a whole range of vertical markets, this was reduced to a shortlist of 10 entrants who came in this week to give a short presentation to the panel and get a chance to explain their projects in more detail and demonstrate some of the Tablet PC specific features.


There can be only one winner of course, they will receive the chance to travel to Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond and meet with the Tablet PC team. I can’t tell you who that is yet as it will be announced at the Tablet PC event in Heathrow next Tuesday. It was a really interesting experience to see the range of things people are planning to use Tablet applications for.

Visual Studio 2005 Team System and new source control system

Steve Ballmer officially unveiled “Visual Studio 2005 Team System” which is a collection of tools around Visual Studio, previously code-named Burton. There’s more juicy details on Korby’s weblog.


Part of this is a new source control system code-named “Hatteras” which is based on SQL Server. This is used both to track work items and source code checkins, there is even an ASP.NET interface into the system, and of course full integration into Visual Studio itself.


Looking through the juicy documentation on the recently opened Team System website, one of the clear messages you get is that the system is designed for all the different roles within a team – there are tools for architecture, development, project management and testing but they all integrate together.


While none of this is specific to Smart Device development this looks like an interesting suite of technologies for any software team.

Small but useful update in MSN Messenger 6.2

Recently released with little fanfare is a minor update to MSN Messenger. One of the first changes I noticed which I find useful is if you sort your contacts by Online/Offline status there are now three states.



  • Green – Online
  • Amber – Available in on a mobile device
  • Red – Offline

It makes it easier to distinguish between those who are completely offline and those who can be “pinged” on a mobile device.