WalkMe is an online tool that allows you to create step-by-step guides that show your customer, or really any website visitor, how to do what you want them to do. It inserts little instruction bubbles that guide your user to the next task. This is a very nice tool for building walkthrough and tutorials for a website.
From their site:
WalkMe enables website owners and app developers to easily create multiple interactive on-screen Walk-Thrus that help users to quickly and easily complete even the most complex tasks.
Users receive clear and error-proof on-screen instructions, displayed as sequential balloon hints within the website or app, while they perform the actual process from start to finish.
Have a look on their site.
Free SQL Server Tools
Tools for Web developers
Tool of the day: SharpKeys
Tool of the day: CopySourceAsHtml
How To: Create an Outlook 2003 addin With Visual Studio 2005
How can you can make your site run faster? Google has launched a firefox extension called Page Speed which webmasters can use to evaluate the performance of their web pages and to get suggestions on how to improve them.
Page Speed will perform several tests on your web server configuration and front-end code based on a set of best practices for improved web page performance, and will then provide helpful suggestions on how to improve its performance. It will not only make your site faster, but also reduce your bandwidth and hosting costs.
Here is how a sample site speed test error report looks like
While you give your site a try with Google Page Speed, you can also check out Yahoo! Yslow, another Firefox extension that works with Firebug to identify website speed performance issues.
Tools for Web developers
8 easy tips to drive traffic from search engines to your site
What are your customers saying about you online?
I use log4net in every applications I build that needs to have some sort of log.
Most of the examples on the log4net site puts the configuration right in the App.config/Web.config file for the example application. Since they are simply example and not real-life scenarios, that’s not necessarily the best way to do it. For example, you may have a single log4net.config that you want to use in several projects or you simply want to stick log4net.config somewhere else to make those config files more readable.
The magic bit that at least I can't easily find and always forget is:
If you add an appSettings key called "log4net.Config" you can put an app-relative path to an external log4net.config file in there and everything will automatically configure itself using that.
It looks like this:
<add key="log4net.Config" value="log4net.config" />
That example puts the log4net.config file right in the root of the application. You could specify "config/log4net.config" to put it in a "config" subfolder. You don't even have to call the
XmlConfigurator.Configure method or mark your assembly with an
XmlConfiguratorAttribute or anything. Some voodoo magic happens in the background and it just works.
Other posts :
How to enumerate the Domain Controllers in the current Domain in C#
How to Create User Accounts in Active Directory using C#
How to restart a Windows service using C#
How to set NTFS permissions using C# 2005
Open DBDiff is an open source database comparison tool for SQL Server 2005 that generates synchronization SQL. It has options to customize the comparison and SQL generations. The database differences are identified at a high level. The synchronization SQL it generates can be copied to a query tool to be executed after you review it.
Open DBDiff can synchronize:
Tables (including Table Options like vardecimal, text in row, etc.)
Columns (including Computed Columns, XML options, Identities, etc.)
User Data Types (UDT)
CLR-User Data Types (CLR-UDT)
Triggers (including DDL Triggers)
Views (Including SCHEMA BINDING option)
Functions (Including SCHEMA BINDING option)
When you are using such tools, always remember to double check the generated SQL script for anything suspicious that may harm your environment.
Free software tools for students
My 6 favourites file hosting services
Tools for web developers
Tool of the day: Copy source as HTML
Here is my list of some great file hosting sites that make uploading and sharing files really simple.
You are welcome to share if you know more free file hosting services which our readers/viewers may like.
MediaFire - Free File Hosting
With the free account, you get unlimited :
The only downside to this service is the 100Mb file size limit for the free account. The file size limit for the pro account is 10Gb.
File Savr - Free File Hosting
FileSavr.com makes file hosting easier with Web 2.0 technology and the use of Ajax and Flash. FileSavr has 10 GB upload size limit, currently the largest available on the internet. This allows users the flexibility to upload any large file of 10 GB or less.
File Factory - free and simple file hosting service
FileFactory lets you host files up to 300MB for free. You don’t have to register and there is nothing to download. Your files can be downloaded an unlimited number of times! One thing I found very annoying and spammy about FileFactory was the number of ads they have on the page.
FileDen - Free file hosting and online storage
With File Den’s free file hosting and online storage service it’s easy to share files across the internet with friends, family, work associates or anyone else. They allow our users to direct link to their files also giving you the oppurtunity to embed your files into your webpages, myspace or other social networking profiles.
Fileqube - Free Online Storage
Fileqube has an eye-pleasing design that shows its intentions well. When you upload a personal file it gives you a download link, a link to remove the file, and embed code to drop your file’s link on a website. The only downside is the 150MB file size, which is rather small with some of the other sites in comparison.
File Dropper - Free File Hosting for MP3, Videos, Documents
FileDropper’s beauty is in its simplicity. It has one click file hosting where you simply click on the upload button and select your file. After the file is uploaded you are taken to the page where the file is hosted. If the file is an image, it shows the image directly on the page for easier sharing. Upload size is an impressive 5 GB.
8 easy tips to drive traffic from search engines to your site
Microsoft BizSpark - Free MS software for startups
Today’s portable app is not a simple application but a full featured database engine: SQLite. SQLite is a software library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine.
From SQLite Website:
SQLite does not need to be "installed" before it is used. There is no "setup" procedure. There is no server process that needs to be started, stopped, or configured. There is no need for an administrator to create a new database instance or assign access permissions to users. SQLite uses no configuration files. Nothing needs to be done to tell the system that SQLite is running. No actions are required to recover after a system crash or power failure. There is nothing to troubleshoot.
SQLite just works.
For those who didn’t heard the SQLite name before and have some doubts on the stability and performance of this engine, don’t fear. This is probably the most widely deployed database engine as of today. Here are some stats on where SQLite is currently used:
- 125 million copies of Mozilla Firefox . Firefox 3 uses Sqlite for bookmarks and history.
- 20 million Mac computers, each of which contains multiple copies of SQLite
- 20 million websites run PHP which has SQLite built in.  We have no way of estimating what fraction of those sites actively use SQLite, but we think it is a significant fraction.
- 300 million downloads of the Skype client software and 100 million registered users . All recent versions of the Skype client use SQLite internally.
- 20 million Symbian smartphones shipped in Q3 2007  Newer versions of the SymbianOS have SQLite built in. It is unclear exactly how many Symbian phones actually contain SQLite, so we will use a single quarter's sales as a lower bound.
- 10 million AOL subscribers use SQLite in the AOL email client that comes bundled with their subscription.
- 10 million Solaris 10 installations, all of which require SQLite in order to boot.
- Millions and millions of copies of McAfee anti-virus software all use SQLite internally.
- Millions of iPhones use SQLite
- Millions and millions of other cellphones from manufactures other than Symbian and Apple use SQLite. This has not been publicly acknowledged by the manufactures but it is known to the SQLite developers.
- There are perhaps millions of additional deployments of SQLite that the SQLite developers do not know about.
Other Portable software posts:
Portable software – Part 1 (Developer tools)
Portable software – Part 2 (Graphic tools)
Chuck Norris Programming facts
Here are some of my favourite tools aimed at Web developers.
YSlow analyzes web pages and tells you why they're slow based on Yahoo’s rules for high performance web sites. YSlow is a Firefox add-on integrated with the popular Firebug web development tool. YSlow gives you:
- Performance report card
- HTTP/HTML summary
- List of components in the page
- Tools including JSLint
There are two main features on this site. The first let you measure your Website performance. The script fully emulates natural browser behaviour downloading your page with all the images, CSS, JS and other files – just like a regular user. The second let you measure a network performance in terms of packets loss and ping speeds.
Fiddler is a Web Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP(S) traffic between your computer and the Internet. Fiddler allows you to inspect all HTTP(S) traffic, set breakpoints, and "fiddle" with incoming or outgoing data. Fiddler includes a powerful event-based scripting subsystem, and can be extended using any .NET language.
Fiddler is freeware and can debug traffic from virtually any application, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and thousands more.
Today’s portable software list is all about viewing and editing graphics.
Gimp : a free alternative to Photoshop.
IrfanView : is a fast graphic viewer with basic image editing features.
XNView : an image viewer and converter that supports more then 400 image formats!
Anim8or :is a free and portable 3D modeling and character animation program
What is a portable program ? : A portable program is a piece of software that you can carry around with you on a portable device and use on any other computer. It can be your email program, your browser, system recovery tools or even an operating system. The coolest part about it, is that all of your data and settings are always stored on a thumbdrive so when you unplug the device, none of your personal data is left behind.
This is the first of x posts on different portable software/tools.
- Nvu : Easy-to-use webpage editor. Simple alternative to Dreamweaver and Microsft Frontpage
- Server2Go : Apache webserver
- InstantRails : Contains Ruby, Rails, Apache, and MySQL, all preconfigured and ready to run.
- Putty : Telnet and SSH client
- Follow-Me IP : Displays your external IP address
- XAMPP : Integrated server package of Apache, mySQL, PHP and Perl. Just Unzip and Run
- HTTP File Server : Simple and easy-to-use file server for personal file sharing.
- CurrPorts : Lets you view a list of ports that are currently in use, along with applications that use them
- Quick’n Easy FTP Server : Portble FTP Server.
I’m all about controlling every aspect of my environment Today’s tool is from randyrants.com. SharpKeys is a keyboard remapper that writes the necessary registry keys to let you re-map any key on your keyboard.
If, for example, you always hit the windows key when playing a fullscreen game that causes it to minimize and makes you lose the final round (or race, or.. anything losable), you can re-map this key to be, for example, another shift key.
It officially supports Win2000, XP and, even if not “officially” supported, it works well on Windows Vista.
If you don’t want to search in the keys list for that “mute” button on your keyboard to change it to something else, you can use the “Type Key” feature that will select that key automatically.
Today’s tool is for all of you programmers/bloggers, who want to have that perfectly syntax highlighted code for your posts. CopySourceAsHtml is a Visual Studio 2005 addin that does all the dirty work for you.
You get also a lot of options for font selection, line numbering, indentation and setting custom CSS styles.
The Office Labs at Microsoft gave us a nice (and free) product.
Community Clips is a free tool that can be used to do screencasts and help videos. It integrated directly in the quick access bar in office 2007 applications and can also be used outside of these applications with the tray icon it creates.
It generates very lightweight .wmv files and is really easy to use.
At the office, we use an Outlook addin (that I originally developed in Visual Studio 2002 targeting the 1.0 .NET Framework). Finding that technology to be a little obsolete (all of our others internal applications are on the 2.0 Framework), we’ve decided to migrate it to 2.0 and add some news features while we’re at it.
The migration and installation went fine at first on my Vista development PC but I couldn’t get the addin to load on the users computers (that are on WinXP). Every thing I tried, didn’t work and the addin couldn’t load at all. What I ended up doing is a complete rebuild of the application using VSTO SE (Visual Studio Tools for Office Second Edition). Since everything works well now, I’ll share with you every resource that I came across about creating an addin with VSTO.
1. Get the prerequisites:
In order to deploy a VSTO addin, you need the following prerequisites installed on every user’s computer:
2. Code the addin:
Pretty straightforward step, depending on your company’s requirements. I’ll write another article about that part soon with some code examples.
3. Prepare for deployment:
In order to prepare for the deployment of your solution, you need to set the code access security policy for your assemblies. To do so, you need to do the following tasks:
In the custom action data for the Install custom action, you need to enter the following data, replacing “OutlookAddin” with the name of your addin:
/assemblyName="OutlookAddin.dll" /targetDir="[TARGETDIR]\" /solutionCodeGroupName="MyCompany.OutlookAddin" /solutionCodeGroupDescription="Code group for OutlookAddin" /assemblyCodeGroupName="OutlookAddin" /assemblyCodeGroupDescription="Code group for OutlookAddin" /allUsers=[ALLUSERS]
For the Rollback and Uninstall, all you need to provide in the custom action data is:
That’s a wrapper of about everything useful I found in my research. I hope this helps you! If there is something you think would be a good addition to this article, feel free to email me at: stan AT stanbiron DOT com.
Some more useful resources:
Today, I’ll introduce you to some tools that I like a lot and that have improved my productivity and efficiency in both my job and my day to day computer use. I ordered them with the ones that I like the most first but I suggest you to try them all to see if some are of more use to you than me in your particular context.
Disclaimer : I have not been paid in any way to endorse these products. Some of them are free and, for those that cost money, I personally think that their price is right for the functionalities they provides. I have bought all these tools with my own personal money. Also, all of these tools have a free evaluation version so you can try them out and see for yourself if they are worth the cost for your situation.
DevExpress Productivity Tools :
CodeRush and Refactor! are my best picks so far. They are both really easy to use, have a fast learning curve and integrates seamlessly with Visual Studio (all versions except for the express editions).
CodeRush is a template based code generation tool that speeds up the development process by providing a lot of useful and easy templates. There are templates for properties, methods, classes, NUnit in both VB.NET and C#. There are also navigation tools, selection tools and a lot of others interesting utilities.
Both of these tools are totally extensible via the DXCore free plug-in. In fact, CodeRush and Refactor! are really just a load of DXCore templates (and by “a load”, I mean that there are over a thousand individual templates that you can use). And if there is something in particular that you want to automate, the sky’s the limit with this tool. I will post some of my favorites customizations in the near future.
You can see these tools in actions on the DevExpress Web site here. If you never tried these tools, I suggest strongly that you give CodeRush and Refactor! a try. Trust me, it will be worth it.
Here’s a convenient Download Link (Evaluation version)
Slickrun is a free utility that replaces the over used Windows+R key combination, the quick launch tool-bar and the start menu. This little tool can hook-up and “override” the Win+R key to give you a simple command line that can be used to start any program. With features like Magic Words and auto-completion this became rapidly (for me at least) the standard way to start any piece of software that I use more than once a week. It even have the option to track your mouse position and appear right besides it so you don’t even have to move your eyes to the bottom left corner of the screen to see what you are typing.
This tool have the notion of “Magic Words”. These words are just aliases to executables where you can specify startup command line parameters. For example, C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE becomes “mail”. Doubled with auto-completion, starting a program became almost instantaneous.
That’s it for today, I’ll write some follow-ups to this article with more tools and utilities that made my life and my work so much easier.