Tools

Ten Cool Visual Studio 2010 Features

I’ve attended an event late March in Glasgow where Scott Guthrie, Microsoft vice president showed off some of the new fewatures of Visual Studio 2010. Based on this talk and my experience using Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and the Release Candidate I’ve collected the ten most useful new features of this edition. These are:

  • Pinning variables when debugging
  • Box selection
  • On-the-fly search
  • Zooming
  • View call hierarchy
  • Sequence diagrams
  • Dependency graphs
  • IntelliTrace and dump debugging
  • Multi-monitor support
  • Intellisense improvements

For a detailed description of each of these features read my blog post Ten Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Visual Studio at my Scott Logic blog.

Workspace alternatives: a comprehensive comparison

Teamwork isn’t an easy sport: the bigger the team the harder it gets. If the goals/milestones are set clear, one person will probably complete the project just fine. If it’s a team of two they’ll probably split up the work, track each other progress and finish in time. If its one of three, four or five they’ll probably start calling meetings, send emails, update their progress. If it’s a team of over 20, there’ll probably be people working full time just managing the communication between teams.

As the team grows the overhead of coordinating work just increases. I’m sure everyone has realized at some point that emails and Excel sheets are quite limited at managing things as the project grows and sticky notes work good, but not with distributed teams.

Of course lots of others have realized this problem before and created software to aid this process: these tools are usually referred to as project management tools or (virtual) workspace solutions. The idea of these is to have users store and update documents in the workspace, be able to constantly track their and others’ progress and make collaboration easy in this space. There are lots of promising workspace solutions: when first searching I came across at least two dozen seemingly good products/services.

One of the most efficient and popular way to help manage comlpex projects is by providing workspaces to users – a common shared storage area related to a specific task. Users can upload and share documents related to the project to the workplace, collaborate with other users involved in the project and track what is going on in the workspace.

Back in September 2009 while I took up the task to test the major players in workspace management fields so that the company would have a picture of where their workspace module was on the market. This study never got published however while doing the research I didn’t find any useful comparisons that were not funded by some vendor. I’ve left Sense/Net in October 2009 and decided to publish my research as it might be a good guideline for someone looking for a short list of project management tools.

The products evaluated in this comparison are Central Desktop, Huddle, Office Live WorkspacesO3Spaces, ProjectPlace, ProjectSpaces, Sense/Net 6.0 and Sharepoint 2007. Evaluation criteria is detailed and is grouped into general overview, document management, collaboration and content publishing categories.

General overview
Central Desktop Huddle Office Live
Work
spaces
O3
Spaces
Project
Place
Project
Spaces
Sense
/Net 6.0
Share
point
2007
SaaS solution Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Self Hosted No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Price estimate for small team (3-10 people,3-10 workspaces) $25-50/month $15-38/month Free with MS Office license €15-65/month (€177-790/year) $80-270
/month
$79-129
/month
Free (open source) $4800+
one-time
fee
Price estimate for mid-large team (50-150 people, 50-150 workspaces) $500-1500/month $200+/month, price provided upon request Free with MS Office license
Workspaces
€250-1000
/month (€2950-11850
/year)
$1100-3500
/month
$399-749
/month
Free (open source) $9500-
19500+
one-time fee
Detailed pricing See details See details See details See details See details See details See details See details
Company response time for e-mail inquiries * Within days Within days Within hours Within hours Never Within hours Within hours Within days

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A great disk storage usage monitoring tool

It’s quite a common problem that disk space shrinks dramatically and something has to be deleted. But what are those big files taking up the free space? With Windows you simply need some kind of tool to get a picture of disk usage. And the best tool I’ve found to do the job so far is Scanner2. It!s freeware, it’s simple and – beleive it or not – it was written 10 years ago.

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Monitoring website load

Over the weekend I’ve been in charge of monitoring one of our bigger portals which consists a database server (running SQL Server 2005) and multiple web servers (running IIS 6.0 and ASP.NET) connecting to it. The architecture of the system is the following:

System architecture diagram

I’ve chosen a really simple – and at first glance efficient – way of monitoring the system with the Windows Performance Monitor (also known as PerfMon): Read More…

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