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It is human nature to jump right into a project without spending the necessary preparation time to ensure success. They say that 80% of the effort painting a room is preparation (laying the tarps, cleaning the walls, taping the trim, etc.). This is also the case when developing applications. If you don’t properly storyboard the applications you hope to create and instead simply start clicking away in the software, you will inevitably run into road blocks and discover that the way you are building your application will not work. You would then have to backtrack and try again and this process could repeat itself many times over.

storyboardingBy gathering the application stakeholders and sitting in front of a whiteboard, you can map out the application design and sequence of events the user will experience. If done properly, when the time comes to build the application, you will have a clear set of “instructions” for how to proceed.

Till today I’ve tried a number of different tools to document these storyboards and communicate them between the stakeholders, but none of them compares to the new Storyboarding plugin of PowerPoint 2013. With it I can easily and accurately storyboard applications for all the latest Microsoft platforms like windows mobile 7 and Windows 8.

If you haven’t tried it yet you should definitely give it a shot. To learn how to use it you can try this exercise http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vs11trainingcourse_storyboardsandfeedback_topic2.aspx


Before HTML5 when it came to creating rich interactive maps where one could hover or click any region and see details about them, Flash was the right tool for the job.

Right now, though, it is much easier to create maps with JavaScript and, thanks to JS frameworks, it even gets much simpler and jVectorMap is such a JS framework.

jVectorMap

jVectorMap is a jQuery plugin for creating interactive maps very quickly.

It uses SVG as the map format and there are various ready-to-use map files provided. Also, using a vector graphics editor (like Expression Design), we can draw anything (like the map of a shopping mall), export it to SVG and add interactivity to it.

There are options provided for customization (colors, opacity, etc.) and callbacks exist on every level.


Crossfilter is a JavaScript library for exploring large multivariate datasets in the browser. Crossfilter supports extremely fast (<30ms) interaction with coordinated views, even with datasets containing a million or more records;

Since most interactions only involve a single dimension, and then only small adjustments are made to the filter values, incremental filtering and reducing is significantly faster than starting from scratch. Crossfilter uses sorted indexes (and a few bit-twiddling hacks) to make this possible, dramatically increasing the perfor­mance of live histograms and top-K lists. For more details on how Crossfilter works, see the API reference.

imageCheckout the Airline on-time performance


If you ever created a professional website/application you’ll probably know the value (you’ve probably learned it the hard way as I did Smile) of stress testing your web applications.

There are plenty of tools you can use in order to stress test your web site, ranging from Microsoft Visual Studio to CMD Line tools. Yesterday I found another one StresStimulus.

StresStimulus is an extension for Fiddler (an awesome and free web debugging proxy) which enables us to create instant load tests with virtual users.

stressing

You can record a browser activity (like creating a user), replay it under concurrent load and get the results for the performance of web pages and the entire test.

If you prefer a simple but powerful tool this one is for you.


I recently had a conversation with a client about the future of press and how digital magazines and newspapers are the future of the business. When we talked about that I had a few technologies in mind but nothing like Treesaver.

Treesaver is a JavaScript framework for creating magazine-style layouts that dynamically adapt to a wide variety of browsers and devices. Both content and design is shaped with standards-compliant HTML + CSS and no JavaScript programming is required.

treesaver-js

It simply searches for the <article> tags and displays the content inside them, makes browsing them possible with prev-next buttons and auto-generates a “contents” menu.

The JavaScript is under 25K gzipped (pretty important for mobile) and works with most modern browsers (degrades gracefully for others).

Note to self: Keep that in mind, it might come handy Winking smile


I’ve been involved for quite some time now with a new Microsoft project codenamed “WebMatrix” but couldn’t say anything about it since all the info was under NDA. Today though, the public availability of the Microsoft WebMatrix Beta was announced, so I guess I’m no longer bound by the NDA agreement and can let you in on a few things.

So first let me clarify a few things, and to do that I’m going to use an excellent explanation from David Ebbo’s blog.

WebMatrix: a stack and a tool

Let’s start with WebMatrix.  The term is actually used is two ways

  1. The WebMatrix stack contains a number of things that you get when you install it via WebPI:
    • The new ASP.NET Web Pages framework
    • The Razor templating engine
    • The WebMatrix tool (see #2)
    • IIS Express
    • SQL CE 4
  2. The WebMatrix tool, which lets you perform various tasks:
    • Create web apps that use the Web Pages framework and the Razor templating engine
    • Install existing sites from the Web Gallery.  Note that those sites don’t have to use the Web Pages framework, and in fact most don’t (e.g. ScrewTurn wiki, Subtext)
    • Manage IIS express
    • Manage SQL CE 4 databases

Key point: the WebMatrix tool is not by any mean the only way to create Web Pages apps.  In fact, the Web Pages framework was designed to be very notepad friendly.  On the other end of the tooling spectrum, it will later be fully supported by Visual Studio.

You can find more info on WebMatrix in ScottGu’s blog:


FileDownload[1] If you have already started playing around SQL Azure you will have probably stumbled on the limitation the SQL Management studio has. So I think you’ll find SQL Azure Explorer rather useful till Microsoft synchronizes its toolset with the Azure platform.

SQL Azure Explorer is an addin for Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 that will enable you to manage you SQL Azure Tables just live the Visual Studio Server explorer.

Some of the main features right now is:

  • SQL Azure Explorer which contains:
    • Databases
    • Tables with columns
    • Views with columns
    • Stored procedures with parameters
    • Functions with parameters
  • Context menus for:
    • Open SQL Editor Window
    • Select Top 100 Rows
    • Script as CREATE for all tables, views, stored procedures and functions
  • SQL Editor Window with built in:
    • SQL Execute
    • Off line parser
    • Script formatter

If you’re into Silverlight/WPF development you’ll surely appreciate Karl Shifflett’s XAML Power Toys: http://tinyurl.com/karlpowertoys  Awesome (free) tool for WPF/Silverlight.

XAML Power Toys Full Feature Set  includes

  • Create ViewModel Class – from a VB.NET or C# code window, easily create a ViewModel stub that includes commands and exposed data class.  Optionally you can elect to re-implement all Model properties on the ViewModel.
  • Create Silverlight DataForm For Selected Class – quickly create a DataForm complete with bindings that are easily associated with properties on the source class
  • Create WPF or Silverlight DataGrid For Selected Class – quickly create a DataGrid complete with bindings that are easily associated with properties on the source class
  • Create WPF ListView For Selected Class – quickly create a ListView complete with bindings that are easily associated with properties on the source class
  • Create Business Form For Selected Class – quickly create a form complete with bindings that are easily associated with properties on the source class
  • Create Business Form – quickly create a form without selecting an entity class.  Great for creating unbound forms or just laying out a Grid.
  • Show Fields List For Selected Class – display a list of class fields similar to Microsoft Access.  Allows dragging of fields to create controls
  • Extract Properties To Style – allows selecting a control, choosing desired properties and have those selected properties extracted to a newly created style
  • Group Into – allows selecting one or more controls and group them inside a new parent control.  Many options provided
  • Change Grid To Flow Layout – allows selecting of one of more control and will remove all MinWidth, MinHeight, Margin properties and will set all row and column definitions to Auto.
  • Chainsaw Minimize Cider Designer XAML – allows selecting of one or more controls and will remove all MinWidth, MinHeight, x:Name, Name, Margin properties and will set all row and column definitions to Auto.
  • Remove Margins – allows selecting one or more controls and removes the Margin property from them
  • Edit Grid Column and Rows – allows selecting a grid and then add or remove rows and columns
  • Set Defaults For Created Controls – allows customizing the initial properties that are set when the software creates a new control
  • About Box – see the version of XAML Power Toys installed on your system.  The current version of XAML Power Toys is always displayed at the top of this page below the title

GPS Tools

Categories: Tools
Comments: 1

If you’re into geo-app development the following tools should come handy.

GeoFrameworks and Jon Person released their GPS Framework for .NET on CodePlex!  The  really nice thing about this framework is it works with both the full blown .NET Framework and the Compact Framework.  If you’re developing for a Windows Mobile, embedded, laptop or desktop computer, it should handle all your needs.

Just a few of the features are:

  • Automatic detection of serial GPS devices (or devices found via a virtual serial port). Capture
  • Automatic detection of Bluetooth devices (when using the Microsoft Bluetooth stack.)
  • Automatic baud rate detection.
  • Automatic recovery of lost connections.
  • Advanced GPS precision via Kalman filtering.
  • Support for desktops and mobile devices.
  • Support for real-time GPS data without relying on Microsoft’s GPS API.
  • Support for control and monitoring of precision.
  • A set of animated gauge controls for desktops and mobile devices (Altimeter, Compass, Speedometer, SatelliteViewer, SatelliteSignalBar).
  •