My Double Life!

As most of you know, during the day I’m a mild-mannered .NET developer using all things Microsoft. But I lead a double life!


Before my (still undiagnosed) illness came upon me suddenly last year, most of my free time was spent with my family or playing golf at some of the country’s best daily-fee courses here in Houston. I really enjoyed the fresh air, exercise and competitive nature of the sport. Unfortunately, my current condition makes playing golf almost impossible and much too risky. This situation has left me with much more free time than I’m normally used to having and after several months of rest and recuperation, I’ve decided to do some “after-hours” consulting.


Now in the evenings and on the weekends I do freelance development work using mostly “other technologies” such as Javascript, Ajax, PHP and mySQL on OS X Leopard. I also do some freelance photography in my local area and occasionally work on native and web iPhone applications. Since this part-time activity has begun to generate income, I’ve also started a new part-time company called Jeff Lynch Development, Ltd. and launched a new blog at http://blog.jefflynchdev.com (wordpress.com) to post about Mac & iPhone development, my new business and life in general.


I still plan to post regularly on this blog about all things Microsoft, so don’t fret! But if you’re like many of us and have a foot on both sides of the Microsoft and Apple fence, please join me at http://blog.jefflynchdev.com and have a good read! I’ll also let you know when my new web site is up and running!


Currently reading: Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney

Posted in Apple | 6 Comments

Commerce Server 2007: Importing Excel Catalog Data

This just came up in the Commerce Server forums and I wanted to remind everyone that FarPoint Technologies has an Excel parser component ( FarPoint Spread for BizTalk Server 2006) that can be used to create a simple process for uploading Excel catalog data into Commerce Server 2007.


The FarPoint website contains training videos, the case study I participated in, and lots of other technical information on this very cool tool!


If you missed my previous posts, you should take a look!


BizTalk Server 2006- Excel Parser News!


BizTalk Server 2006- FarPoint XLS File Pipeline Component Schema Wizard


BizTalk Server 2006- FarPoint Spread for BizTalk Server 2006 Beta


BizTalk Server 2006- FarPoint’s Spread for BizTalk Server 2006 Released!


Just ping me at jeffrey.t.lynch@[nospam]comcast.net if you need a copy of my entire BizTalk solution for this. It’s free of charge for any existing Commerce Server customer that buys the FarPoint Spread for BizTalk Server 2006 component as my way of saying thanks!


Best regards,


Jeff

Posted in BizTalk Samples, Commerce Server 2007 | Leave a comment

ASP.NET "Head" Rendering Issues!

Are you one of “those” ASP.NET web developers that care passionately about not only about writing “good” code, but writing “easily” understood and “readable” code? Are you looked upon as perhaps a little bit “obsessive” about your code? Do you understand what “semantic” really means?


If the answer is yes, have you ever looked closely at the HTML markup your ASP.NET code generates? I mean taken a really, REALLY close-up look?


If you have and you’re anything like me, it bugs the hell out of you when adding something as simple as <head runat=”server”> produces this mess in the <head> of your otherwise beautiful HTML markup.



Of course, there are ways to fix this mess. You could always forget using Master Pages and code each .aspx page by hand or even write your own base-page class like I’ve seen done. You could even revert to using “static” .html pages with JavaScript and forget about all the great features .NET brings to web development. Or you could just forget about ever creating truly “semantic” HTML markup using ASP.NET!


However, if you Google (or Live Search) long enough, you’ll find a few posts about something called Adaptive Control Behavior in the MSDN Library and three very well hidden posts by Anatoly Lubarsky with some great sample code!


http://blogs.x2line.com/al/archive/2007/01/10/2773.aspx


http://blogs.x2line.com/al/archive/2007/01/31/2814.aspx


http://blogs.x2line.com/al/archive/2007/01/31/2816.aspx


These three posts and the sample code you can download here, turn this code …



into this markup …



which is exactly what the <head> element of any respectable HTML markup should look like! And yes, I know it doesn’t matter one hoot to the browser (even IE6) which will faithfully render the web page correctly, but IT MATTERS TO ME.


I use “View Source” and Firebug almost every day to look at my own markup as well as the markup of sites who’s authors I respect. I want my markup to look every bit as professional as the markup of a professional web “designer” such as Dan Cederholm, John Gruber or Andy Clarke.


Don’t you?


Currently listening to: “Caravan of Dreams” by Peter White

Posted in ASP.NET, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments

More Thoughts on HTML5, CSS3 & WebKit Advances!

Yesterday I wrote a post on Why Safari May Become the Browser of Choice and got some great feedback (both positive and negative) in the comments and several emails. I thought I’d take this opportunity to address this feedback and explain a little bit more about why I believe these new “features” in WebKit are so important to the future of web development and design.


First off, let me set the record straight and tell you that I am an unqualified supporter of Microsoft technologies such as SQL Server, BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and the .NET Framework. I’m also a Microsoft MVP for Commerce Server and an avid C#, ASP.NET and BizTalk developer. In my day job, I use these Microsoft technologies to create business-to-business e-commerce applications for the company that I work for.


But at night and on the weekends, I moonlight as a free-lance web designer/developer using mostly non-Microsoft technologies such as Ajax, PHP & mySQL. In both areas I strive to create “standards” based web sites and applications and my overriding goal is always to “create the best user experience requiring the least bandwidth” and this is where WebKit comes in.


Think about how we (ASP.NET) developers create great user experiences today and two things come to mind; ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight. Both technologies allow you to create really great user experiences on the web but only at the cost of bandwidth (download time, initial or otherwise). The same rule holds true for Flash and any Ajax library such as Prototype, script.aculo.us or jQuery (all of which are excellent Javascript frameworks).


Now think about our potential to create great user experiences using nothing more than the new HTML5 and CSS3 capabilities found in the latest WebKit builds. Gradients, shadows and rounded-corners without images, transforms and animation without Javascript, client-side data that goes way beyond cookies and support for highly compressible vector graphics (SVG). All in a fully “standards” based HTML/XHTML/CSS framework that (hopefully) renders the same in all browsers, both desktop and mobile.


Now we’re talking about actually having the tools to “create the best possible user experience requiring the least bandwidth”. This may be a pipe dream but it looks like the WebKit folks and I are drinking the same Kool-Aid at the moment!


Currently listening to: “Still Feels Good” by Rascal Flatts

Posted in Web 2.0 | 4 Comments

Why Safari May Become the Browser of Choice!

If you’re a web designer, web developer or just someone that keeps up with the latest "Web 2.0" technologies, you know that a lot of progress is being made by ALL the major browsers to become "standards compliant". You also know that the Web Standards Project has created a number of "Acid" tests that help all the browser developers ensure that their browser works as "expected". If you’re an experienced web designer or developer, you probably use several different browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera, Camino, Safari, etc.) to test your sites against everyday.

What you may not be aware of is some of the very "advanced" features Safari (WebKit actually) has in the works which may well change the way we think about developing Web 2.0 applications.

  1. Web Fonts
  2. Client-Side Database Storage
  3. CSS3 Transforms
  4. CSS3 Animation
  5. SVG Support
  6. CSS Gradients
  7. CSS Box Shadow
  8. And Many, Many More…

If you look at any one of these new features individually, they are very cool! If you look at integrating these new features together, you begin to see the potential for replacing today’s Javascript (Ajax) "eye-candy" with native browser rendering support!

And why you ask, is WebKit (and Safari) pushing these advanced features out the door so quickly?

Safari on iPhone!

Starts you thinking, doesn’t it!

Currently listening to: Eric Merienthal’s "Just Around the Corner"

Posted in Web 2.0 | 7 Comments