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At GROSSWEBER we practice what we preach. We offer trainings for modern software technologies like Behavior Driven Development, Clean Code and Git. Our staff is fluent in a variety of languages, including English.

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pinvoke.net Add-In for Visual Studio 2005

Posted in Tools and Software | Visual Studio at Monday, 24 July 2006 18:38 W. Europe Daylight Time

pinvoke.net LogoThe .NET Framework 2.0 has become pretty comprehensive compared to version 1.1. For example, Microsoft added features for ACLs in .NET 2.0. However, in some cases us developers need a function not directly supported by the framework but by the underlying (Windows) operating system. Platform Invoke, or P/Invoke for short, is a way to call Windows functions from .NET code. First you'll have to declare the function by finding out which DLL contains the function and the type of return value and parameters. When you have to do this more than twice a day, this can become nerve-racking.

We live in a world of social software and Adam Nathan had the great idea of creating the pinvoke.net Wiki for the reason that nobody should be bothered with the tasks browsing MSDN for finding the correct DLL and translate the built-in Windows types to their .NET representation ...well, except the first one that uses a platform function :-) The Wiki is a great resource for P/Invoke declarations for a wide variety of libraries and everyone is invited to post his own.

To make the Wiki even more useful, Adam Nathan developed the pinvoke.net Add-In for Visual Studio .NET 2003. I like it a lot and wondered why it hasn't been ported to Visual Studio 2005 for a long time. Bernhard Elbl finally created a version for Visual Studio 2005 in May, and yesterday I fortunately stumbled across it!

However, I had a hard time installing it because I run an English version of Visual Studio 2005 on a German Windows XP. Visual Studio searches for Add-Ins in pre-defined folders that are not localized to the OS language. You find these paths under Tools/Options/Environment/Add-In/Macros Security in Visual Studio 2005.

Visual Studio Add-In Options

As you see the first entry reads

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\MSEnvShared\Addins

On a German machine this should rather be

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Anwendungsdaten\Microsoft\MSEnvShared\Addins

You can either add a path containing your localized version of "Application Data" or move the pinvoke.net.AddIn file to a folder that is contained in the search folder list.

Happy P/Invoking!

Now playing: Madonna - Confessions on a dance floor - Jump

Your Justification for a Multi-Monitor Setup

Posted in Geek Mode at Thursday, 13 July 2006 00:35 W. Europe Daylight Time

Productivity has always meant a great deal to Microsoft. Besides incorporating productivity improvements in their developer tools and the Office suite, they've also improved and extended the Windows operating system in sometimes subtle ways.

One example is the ClearType technology that's been released with Windows XP. ClearType improves the reading experience if you're using a LCD monitor by smoothing the edges of characters in clever ways. Instead of simply anti-aliasing the characters on a per-pixel basis in grayscale, a sub-pixel anti-aliasing is applied. This basically means that font smoothing can be done in greater granularity. Your can read more about the technology on Microsoft's typography site. There's also a video on Channel9 covering ClearType and lots of details regarding typography in general.

ClearType Enabled ClearType Enabled
Default rendering ClearType rendering

Besides the fact that I and many others consider ClearType a visual improvement, ClearType also speeds up all the reading involved tasks. Another paper concludes:

For most users ClearType-enhanced text produces a significant improvement in performance times on tasks involving extended eye-on-text interactions.

I see a lot of machines with LCDs that don't have ClearType enabled. I suspect this is because ClearType is defaulted to off and the setting is deeply buried inside the control panel. Learn how to enable ClearType by clicking on the first question in the ClearType FAQ.

Multiple Monitor Setup

However, the above is old news. The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Microsoft Researcher Mary Czerwinski who said that a setup of three monitors increases productivity by 9 percent. Six displays was considered the best setup. I think buying a second LCD would be the first step to take. One I'm looking forward to.

Now playing: Massive Attack - 100th Window - Small time shot away

Virtual PC is Now Free

Posted in Tools and Software at Wednesday, 12 July 2006 21:03 W. Europe Daylight Time

Virtual PCMicrosoft decided to release Virtual PC for free. Virtual Server has been free for some months now, but can only be installed on server operating systems. I've used both products and have never been disappointed. Go grab your copy.

Abbreviations

Posted in Geek Mode at Thursday, 06 July 2006 23:51 W. Europe Daylight Time

In online communications abbreviations are pretty common to express otherwise rather long parts of a sentence. I've been introduced to the realm of these shortcuts when I was 15. During these days T-Com provided free internet access in the Gera's broadcasting centre of the regional TV station on saturdays. I've been hanging out on IRC with friends who sat next to me the whole day.

Even though I'm using a small number of abbreviations fairly often there are people who ask me over and over again about their meaning. In the end I feel compelled to the type the abbreviation twice, the second time along with an explanation. For all our convenience, here's a list of the abbreviations I mostly use.

Abbreviation Long Version
AFAIK As far as I know
ASAP As soon as possible
BTW By the way
FYI For your information
IIRC If I remember correctly

BTW¹, Arwen has arrived and runs pretty fast.

¹ See above :-)

Now playing: Goo Goo Dolls - Gutterflower - What a scene

Tracking

Posted in Geek Mode at Monday, 03 July 2006 19:21 W. Europe Daylight Time

The new server is on its way... I'm eagerly waiting for its arrival and flooding the UPS site with tracking requests in the meantime.

UPS Tracking

Now playing: Oasis - Be Here Now - Magic pie