I recently had the opportunity to look into and make use of the Microsoft System.Security.SecureString class. This class is one of those dark corners of the .NET Framework that you don’t think about on a day-to-day basis but are really glad that it’s there when your security auditor starts asking questions about how PII data such as social security numbers are protected while resident in memory. The SecureString class takes care of this problem, helping you avoid a situation where unencrypted sensitive String data is left lingering around on the .NET heap. However, since this class does reference unmanaged memory buffers, its use is not entirely intuitive. I’ve attempted to demystify things with the explanation, drawing and code snippets in this post.
One of the things I was really eager to do was help one of our clients manage the archival and history of projects within their TFS repository. Historically, VSS volumes sizes have gotten out of control over time, resulting in commensurately poor performance. Obviously, a SQL Server backing database offers lots of advantages over the Jet database engine but even SQL Server performance will degrade over time as the history volume in long-running projects backs up.
Everybody loves lists of tools. Scott Hanselman’s annual list of Windows tools has been immensely popular over the years and has opened my eyes to a bunch of new tools. The topic of tools has also been the subject of some very popular books, such as Windows Developer Power Tools and Java Power Tools.
Performance counters for WCF have been available ever since the first release of WCF with the .NET 3.0 Framework. As long as these counters have been available, Microsoft has been cautioning about the memory requirements and potential performance degradation associated with insufficient shared memory allocation. I thought that I had heard at the PDC that WCF 4 would fix some of this but going back to the WCF session video, it looks as if these counters won’t really be addressed by WCF 4 but instead superseded by the ETW instrumentation present in AppFabric. So, until everyone moves to AppFabric, I see a need for a bit more guidance than the “allocate enough memory” that Microsoft offers us.
As many of you likely know, Lutz Roeder turned over control of one of the “must have” .NET developer tools, .NET Reflector to Red Gate software. True to their promise, RedGate has continued to support the free version of Reflector and make continued improvements, including the addition of a Visual Studio plugin to jump into Reflector and the support of .NET 4 assemblies with their most recent release of the tool.
How would you like to achieve detailed exception and trace logging, including method timing and correlation all within a lightweight in-memory database that you can easily manage and query, as exhibited below?
Sometimes you know that something works a certain way but you haven’t really internalized it, you haven’t grok’ed it, until you experience it firsthand. Such was my knowledge of the interaction between .NET web services and the XML Serializer a couple of weeks ago.
I picked up this gem of a book when it first came out in eBook format during the PDC. I sent it over to my Kindle and got through the entire book during session downtimes. I planned on being the first to post a review of this book on Amazon but I’ve sat it out too long and will now be the fifth review.
For quick and easy prototypes, you’ve got to admire ASP.NET MVC and WCF RIA Services. These approaches may not be perfect out-of-the-box but they’re structured much better than the old “bind a dataset to a grid and let it fly” approach of 2003. As easy as these approaches are, I’m always looking for ways to make things easier. I get a lot of bang for my buck by using SQLite as an in-memory database whenever I create a new MVC or RIA Services solution. In fact, I create 4 SQLite databases with each new solution: one each for application data, test data, membership/role data, and logging/tracing data. Below I’ve described the techniques I make use of to utilize each of these databases.
One of the things I’m often asked to do for clients is to create an applicability matrix. That is, which technology applies best to which particular challenges in an enterprise? There would seem to be an acute need for this type of clarification in the realm of Microsoft’s service technologies. With the recent releases of Web Process Activations Services (WAS) on Windows Server 2008, WCF 3.5 and 4.0, Windows Server AppFabric, BizTalk 2009 and 2010, and Windows Azure AppFabric, the waters of Microsoft’s service and integration technologies is muddy indeed. In this post, I’m going to provide some clarification; explaining what new service and integration offerings are on the way from Microsoft, offering a frame of reference on how I see them applying to enterprise customers, and furnishing references to materials you can use to educate yourself in these technologies.