Tearing down the tents (and moving them closer together)

Being fairly focused on Microsoft technologies myself, I see a lot of the “us vs. them” mentality where you either use Microsoft technologies, or you’re part of “the other group”. Seeing Lachlan Hardy at Microsoft Remix was awesome – he was a Java dude talking about web standards at a Microsoft event. The more we can focus on the ideas rather than which camp you’re from, the more we’ll develop the inter-camp relationships and eventually destroy this segmentation. Sure, we’ll still group up and debate the superfluous crap like which language is better (we’re nerds – we’ll always do that) but at least these will be debates between the sub-camps of one big happy web family. (It’s not as cheesy as it sounds – I hope.)

What’s the first step in making this happen? Meet people from “the other group”!

The boys and girls at Gruden and Straker Interactive have put together Web on the Piste for the second year running. It’s a vendor neutral conference about rich internet technologies – so you’ll see presentations about Adobe Flex and Microsoft Silverlight at the same event (among lots of other cool technologies of course). These types of events are a perfect way to meet some really interesting people and cross pollinate some sweet ideas.

It’s coming up at the end of August, and I understand that both conference tickets and accommodation are getting tight so I’d encourage you to get in soon if you’re interested (Queenstown is crazy at this time of year).

And of course, yours truly will be there evangelising the delights of Windows Live as well as ASP.NET AJAX to our Flash using, “fush and chups” eating friends. 🙂

Will you be there?

Mark Pesce to keynote Remix Australia 2008

It was great to see this afternoon’s announcement on the Remix website that Mark Pesce will be taking the top presentation slot.

Mark did the locknote at last year’s Web Directions conference in a Sydney with his “Mob Rules” talk. He discussed some amazing social aspects of the internet and, in a more general sense, the unprecedented communications in poor communities. Over the last decade we’ve gone from more than 50% of the worlds population never having made a phone call, to over half the population now owning a mobile phone. The social impacts of this are quite surprising in ways that people never could have predicted.

I highly recommend watching the Mob Rules talk when you get a chance. You can watch it all online at http://www.webdirections.org/resources/mark-pesce.

He’s an amazing presenter, whos presentation technique reminds me a lot of Al Gore (another speaker I have immense respect for).

I look forward to seeing what he’ll deliver at Remix.

‘Twas a cold autumn night …

It was the day after April Fools, and I awoke in the morning eager to iron my shirt and get to work.

I was however distracted by the email waiting on my screen.

From: support@mvpaward.com [mailto:support@mvpaward.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 2 April 2008 1:26 AM
To: tatham@oddie.com.au
Subject: [MVP] Congratulations! You have received the Microsoft MVP Award

Dear Tatham Oddie,

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2008 Microsoft® MVP Award! The MVP Award is our way to say thank you for promoting the spirit of community and improving people’s lives and the industry’s success every day. We appreciate your extraordinary efforts in Windows Live Platform technical communities during the past year. Microsoft will soon send your MVP Award gift package. It is our way to say “thank you for making a difference.” You will receive an e-mail message in the next 10 business days that contains your MVP Award gift package shipping information and your tracking number.

On behalf of everyone at Microsoft, thank you for your contributions to technical communities.

Sincerely,

Roseanne Stamell, your MVP Lead

Yay. 🙂

Thanks to all the guys in Microsoft DPE who’ve continued to support me over the years. Frank, Coatesy, Fin, Kordahi and their peers. 🙂

Still more upcoming presentations

Update 4-Dec-07: The Canberra talks on Dec 20th have been bumped to make way for the Canberra IT Pro + Dev Christmas party instead. The party will be on at King O’Malley’s Irish Pub from 1630 on Tue 11th Dec 2007. (131 City Walk, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia). My next talk in the nation’s capital will now be on 20th March 2008.

Through December and January I will be delivering updated versions of my “Utilising Windows Live Web services Today” presentation. It is a hybrid of my Tech.Ed presentation and the content from my Enterprise Mashups talk at Web Directions.

The presentation covers a reasonably high level overview of the technologies that fall under Windows Live, and what APIs you can use to access them. For a welcome change, I actually have really licensing numbers and actually dollar figures to talk about too (none of this “You’ll have to call a sales rep” type talk). Most importantly, it’s all about technologies that are available today and many of which are free too. I’ll also do a number of code demos covering Windows Live Data, Virtual Earth, MapPoint and some ASP.NET AJAX.

Canberra Developer Users Group (Lunch): Thursday 20th Dec, 1230 at King O’Malley’s Irish Pub, 131 City Walk, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia

Canberra Developer Users Group (Evening): Thursday 20th Dec, 1630 at Microsoft Canberra, Walter Turnbull Building, Level 2, 44 Sydney Ave, Barton, ACT 2600, Australia

Queensland MSDN User Group: Tuesday 19th February, 1730 for 1800 at Microsoft Brisbane, Level 9, Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle St, Brisbane, QLD 7000, Australia

Hope to see you all there!

Loading Collections into Virtual Earth v6

Update: Keith from the VE team advised on the 17th November 2007 that this issue is now fixed. Closer to 3 weeks than the advised 3 days, but at least it’s resolved.

Microsoft launched version 6 of the Virtual Earth API last week. Keeping with the product’s tradition, they broke some core features too. In particular, the ability to load a collection from maps.live.com directly in to the map control.

We use this approach on a number of our sites (the latest being visitscandinavia.com.au) because it basically gives us the mapping CMS for free. The client can create pushpins with text and photos, draw lines and polygons, all in the maps.live.com interface. They then just copy-paste the collection ID into our web CMS.

The problem is that in V6, the load method doesn’t throw any errors but it also doesn’t load any pins. We tried rolling back to V5, but that just brought back old bugs (like the pushpin popups appearing in the wrong place if you actually use a proper CSS column layout instead of tables).

This is the workaround I came up with (inspired by http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=2276610&SiteID=1).

Loading of GeoRSS feeds still work fine, and we can get to our collections as GeoRSS feeds (the UI is a bit convoluted, but you can do it). Of course, we can’t load the feed directly from maps.live.com though because that would be a cross-domain call.

The proxy to get around this is pretty simple – just a generic handler (ASHX) in ASP.NET:

namespace SqueezeCreative.Stb.WebUI
{
    public class VirtualEarthGeoRssLoader : IHttpHandler
    {
        public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
        {
            string collectionId = context.Request[“cid”];
            string geoRssUrl = string.Format(“http://maps.live.com/GeoCommunity.asjx?action=retrieverss&mkt=en-us&cid={0}”, collectionId);

            WebRequest request = WebRequest.CreateDefault(new Uri(geoRssUrl));
            WebResponse response = request.GetResponse();

            string geoRssContent;
            using (StreamReader reader = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream()))
                geoRssContent = reader.ReadToEnd();

            context.Response.ContentType = “text/xml”;
            context.Response.Write(geoRssContent);
        }

        public bool IsReusable
        {
            get { return false; }
        }
    }
}

We can then call this handler from out client-side JS like so (where B33D2318CB8C0158!227 is my collection ID):

var layer = new VEShapeLayer();
var veLayerSpec = new VEShapeSourceSpecification(VEDataType.GeoRSS, ‘VirtualEarthGeoRssLoader.ashx?cid=B33D2318CB8C0158!227’, layer);
map.ImportShapeLayerData(veLayerSpec, function() {}, true);

Their ETA for fixing this was 3-5 days, but that seems to have gone out the window.

I hope this helps in the mean time!

Virtual Tech.Ed

At Tech.Ed Australia this year, the Virtual Tech.Ed team made an appearance to collect some content for http://www.virtualteched.com/. Virtual Tech.Ed exists to try and extend the benefits of Tech.Ed across a full calendar year by drawing on content from all the international Tech.Eds.

For one of the videos, Dr. Neil and I had a bit of a chat about what Windows Live is, and how it’s useful:

Windows Live Web Services

Get a sneak peak at the Tech·Ed Australia Session “Utilising Windows Live Web Services Today” from Dr. Neil Roodyn and Tatham Oddie, independent consultants. Be sure to check out the Via Windows Live community space and Via Virtual Earth for more.

Watch Now (stream)

Watch Now (download WMV)

Presentations galore (well, 4)

Well, it’s time for me to hit the road again touting the benefits of Virtual Earth and Windows Live technology.

As a bit of a last minute swap, I’ll now be delivering Dave Lemphers’ session at Web Directions this week.

Enterprise Mashups

Enterprise Mashups are a great way to spice up existing investments in SOA and Web Services with new technologies such as maps and Web APIs. In this session, Tatham Oddie, will demonstrate how you can leverage technologies such Virtual Earth and MapPoint Web Services to build a simple mapping solution for visualising customers… and all in 15 minutes!

Thursday 27th Sep, 10:15am in the Microsoft Silverlight Lounge

I’ve also lined up some usergroup sessions to deliver a slightly tweaked version of my Tech.Ed presentation for those who either didn’t make it to Tech.Ed or were still sleeping off the party.

The presentation covers a reasonably high level overview of the technologies that fall under Windows Live, and what APIs you can use to access them. For a welcome change, I actually have really licensing numbers and actually dollar figures to talk about too (none of this "You’ll have to call a sales rep" type talk). Most importantly, it’s all about technologies that are available today and many of which are free too.

Utilising Windows Live Web Services Today

Windows Live represents a collection of opportunities to integrate with a new generation of online services. This session provides an overview of the Windows Live family – outlining the business and technical advantages, the range of integration options that exist for each service, real world examples and live demos.

Newcastle Coders Group: Wednesday 3rd Oct, 1800 at 9 Denison St, Newcastle West, NSW 2302, Australia

Canberra Developer Users Group (Lunch): Thursday 20th Dec, 1230 at King O’Malley’s Irish Pub, 131 City Walk, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia

Canberra Developer Users Group (Evening): Thursday 20th Dec, 1630 at Microsoft Canberra, Walter Turnbull Building, Level 2, 44 Sydney Ave, Barton, ACT 2600, Australia

I hope to see many of you around, with as many Virtual Earth, Windows Live, ASP.NET and CSS questions as you can think of.

Thanks again to Coatesy, Finula and the whole DPE team at Microsoft Australia for inviting me along to events like Web Directions, and their continued support for local user groups.