Tips, tricks and all the info about Microsoft Visual Studio 2008

Live Services... Jumpstart

, posted: 5-Feb-2009 09:00

This article will explain for developers who are interested in building applications on the Azure Platform with the help with Visual Studio 2008 how to get started. 

Live Services (previously Windows Live Dev) is a development centre and supplier of software development kits for the Windows Live and Azure Services Platforms

It provides information on getting started with Windows Live services, latest documentation and APIs, samples, access to community areas and relevant blogs, and announcements of future releases and innovations.

Live Services are a set of building blocks for handling user data and application resources.  Live Services provides developers with an easy on-ramp to build rich social applications and experiences that can connect with over 460 million Windows Live users.  Live Services includes Mesh technologies for synchronising user’s data and extending web applications across multiple devices.

Windows Live is the collective brand name for a set of services and software products from Microsoft.  A majority of these services are Web Applications, accessible from a browser, but there are applications that need installing as well:

• Hotmail, Messenger
• Live Search, Spaces
• Alerts, Sky Drive
• One Care, Writer
• Photo Gallery, Events
• Live Search Maps

There are three ways in which Windows Live services are offered: Windows Live Essentials applications, web applications and mobile services.

Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform is a cloud platform (cloud computing platform as a service) offering that “provides a wide range of internet services that can be consumed from both on-premises environments or the internet.”  It is significant in that it is Microsoft’s first step into cloud computing following the recent launch of the Microsoft Online Services offering:

Live Mesh is a data synchronisation system from Microsoft that allows files and folders to be shared and synchronised across multiple devices.  Live Mesh consists of a software component that allows synchronisation relationships to be created among different devices. 

Once a folder is set for synchronisation, it will be available in all devices, and any changes made to the content of the folder will be reflected across all devices. 

Live Mesh uses FeedSync to convey the changes made in each device so that the changes can be synchronised.  The information about devices and folders participating in a synchronisation relationship is not stored locally but at the service-end.  Devices in a sync relationship are collectively referred to as a Mesh.
Live Mesh is part of Live Services, one of the building blocks of Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform – a “cloud” platform hosted at Microsoft data centres.
So what’s the diff?

• Google
     o Offer Software As A Service (SAAS).
     o Revenue stream from advertising

• Microsoft
     o Offer Software + Services (S+S).
     o Revenue stream still from shrink wrapped applications
     o As well as new stream from SLA on cloud architecture

According to Microsoft, the state of the world is that people are increasingly “on-the-go.”  We are using more devices.  Connectivity is proliferating.  Life-styles and work-styles are blending.  People are working and playing together more digitally.  All of this is leading to an increasing expectation (demand) for complete end-to-end experiences.

What if you had one integrated platform designed to support the rich-client experience in a standard, open way?  Live Services is Microsoft’s answer to getting us off our digital islands.  It’s a connected experience through services and devices working together, recognizing that connectivity and communication is everything.  The Live Framework (LiveFx) connects devices, data and applications through a consistent, approachable framework.

The key concept behind LiveFx is it’s the uniform way for programming Live Services: any platform, any programming language, any application or device.  LiveFx makes it easy to build S+S applications. .NET developers can use the LiveFx API kits to build applications.

The design principle behind LiveFx is it’s user-centric to the core.  It is a S+S distributed platform, which means it has universal reach, but with an emphasis on “experience first.”  It is designed for humans and code.  It has Internet scale, and re-uses proven assets (e.g. SQL Server).
How Do I Use It?

Either you can integrate Live Services into your applications (opting in to as much of the Live Framework as you like) or you can export your applications as Mesh Applications onto the Azure Platform.

For developers with an existing Windows Live ID, you can log onto this site to start downloading the SDK.

Everything needs an ID – Why LiveID?
• You the end user don’t have to worry about setting up and maintaining the back end infrastructure required for AuthZ and AuthN
• LiveID Services takes care of it for you.
• LiveID Services is always online, secure, backed up and available
• Based on Open standards and platform neutral
• Easy to provision, access and use
• Technology agnostic
• Move seamlessly across multiple applications/services – A Single Sign In service
• Last but not least – largest collection of users on system – close to half a billion users already use LiveID. So it’s easy to tap into this vast existing user base for your customer base or audience.

The beneficial features offered by Mesh Application include:
• Access anywhere
• Data everywhere
• Data sharing
• News
• Deployment
• Security

Once you’ve sign up on Azure, the process for installing and running your applications couldn’t be simpler:
• Open Live Desktop
• Go to Apps tab
• Choose a Mesh Application
• Click “Add to mesh”
• Name the instance
• Open on the Live Desktop

The Software Development Lifecycle thus becomes much simplified:
• Development
• Zip/upload
• Deploy
• Rinse & Repeat
o Now deploy = auto upgrade!
Prior to upload, your deployment package has several requirements:
• Application Code
     o JavaScript
     o SilverLight
• Manifest
• HTML start page

The Manifest file consists of XML tags which define the following elements:
• HTML start page
• Application name
• Application description
• Return URL (optional)
• Version
• Single/Multi Instance allowed
• Delegated Auth info
• Default data feeds

Download Visual Studio 2008 90 day trial
For detailed information and to request a free 90-day trial DVD of Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite to be sent out to you, go to the Microsoft Visual Studio webpage.

About the Author
James Hippolite started programming in 1983 on an Apple IIe, at the age of 14. After graduating with a bachelor degree in Information Systems from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand in 1990, he started working with small systems relational databases, like dBase, Paradox, FoxPro and finally Microsoft Access.

In 1991 he founded Mana Information Systems, a company for SME who couldn’t afford their own IT departments. As the lead developer, he developed small to medium WinForms applications using SQL Server, Visual Basic and latterly ASP.  In 2003 James developed in C# his first .NET web application, an internal metrics reporting tool for his new employer, Telecom New Zealand, utilising SQL Server stored procedures and .NET classes.

Due to the worldwide success of SubSonic, James converted in 2008 to this O/R mapper, which is currently one of the market-leading data-access solutions for .NET, C# and VB.NET. James has been a trainer and contributed lectures on Microsoft Certification and SQL Server Reporting Services to the .NET community.  James has received for his community efforts no MVP reward (yet).

He lives in Wellington and is currently employed full time in a large corporate and loving the regular hours that non-consultants enjoy.

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Writing your own Html Helpers for the ASP.NET MVC Framework
Automating Visual Studio 2008

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