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Jayson's Blog

  • CommentAPI Regression in Community Server 2.0 (And a Fix)

    [Update] Ah geez, look at that formatting.  Whoops. [/update]

    So I get an email from Kevin last night basically saying “dude, the CommentAPI code you added to the CS core sucks; fix it.”  Ok, that’s entirely untrue; it was more like
    “there was a late change to the CS core that introduced a regression into the CommentAPI subsystem, here’s the culprit, and here’s a quick fix.”   Yeah, more like that :-).

    I am partially to blame actually; with the release of CS2.0 all httpHandlers were moved out of the web.config file and into .ashx files (which rock by the way, will be posting about this subject very soon) for various reasons, namely for the sake of simplicity and consistency.  Apparently I didn’t get that memo (which really means I haven’t been reading my Vault check-in emails to keep up with what’s going on), so my lone httpHandler was left in the config file to intercept incoming CommentAPI posts.  As stated before, there was a change in the SiteUrls.config file that intercepted the same url pattern and rewrote it, so those requests were never actually getting fired off to the RssCommentHandler httpHandler.  So, here’s the “quick and dirty” fix, via his email to me:

    Jayson added Comment API support in early October.  He setup the HttpHandler to accept urls like rsscomment/[PostID].aspx and added a line to the Web.config HttpHandlers section to map those requests to it like this:

    <add verb="POST" path = "rsscomments/*.aspx" type="CommunityServer.Blogs.Components.RssCommentHandler, CommunityServer.Blogs" />


    However at some point after that a second ShortLink SiteUrl was added that intercepts the CommentAPI requests and rewrites the URL before the HttpHander runs.

    <url name = "blog_ShortLink2" location = "weblogs" path = "{0}.aspx" pattern = "##blogName##/(\d+).aspx" vanity = "shortlink.ashx?PostID=$2" />

    We agreed that the easiest fix is just to comment out the blog_ShortLink2 element in SiteUrls.config; according to Scott this was used for some edge cases and generally speaking shouldn’t affect out of the box installs (YMMV, test first).  If that’s good enough for you, you can safely stop reading this post.


    The long term solution (getting the httpHandler declaration out of the web.config file) is slightly more involved, but still relatively simple to do (though it does involve recompiling the CSBlogs assembly).  The first step is to modify your CommunityServer.Blogs.Components.RssCommentHandler:

    1. Change the default constructor's access level to public (private constructors and ashx files don't get along at all, this took me a little while to figure out but is essential in hooking up ashx's to httpHandlers).
    2. Change line 39 to int postID = int.Parse(request.QueryString["postid"]);

    Next we have to change the url handler for rssComments; in SiteUrls.config find the declaration for weblogRssComments and change it to the following:  <url name = "weblogRssComments" location = "weblogs" path = "##blogdirectory##rsscomments.aspx?PostID={1}" pattern = "##blogName##/rsscomments.aspx" vanity="rsscomments.ashx?App=$1" />.  This hooks up requests for the httpHandler to the ashx file (the ashx stub files are already in correct locations, so there's no need to create these).  And finally, remove the httpHandler declaration for rssComments from your web.config.  Recompile and you should be good to go.  The same steps can be applied to CSGalleries to get CommentAPI properly functioning for them.


    As any developer knows, regressions are the toughest bugs of all to track down, so kudos to Kevin's sleuthing work in tracking down the culprit, and my bad for not hooking up those ashx files in the first place.

  • Office 2007 User Interface Visuals Released

    Jensen Harris has taken the wraps off of the next generation user interface in Office 2007 (lots of screen shots).  I’ve been using the pre-release for 5 months now and (slight bugginess aside) I absolutely love it.  I personally think the screen shots are beautiful, but as always there are quite a few folks who don’t like it.  This ain’t your daddy’s Office GUI, that’s for sure.  The biggest gotcha IMO is going to be the amount of re-training that knowledge workers will have to go through to learn the new interface. 

    One of the great things (in managers eyes at least due to $$$) about previous releases of Office (‘97–2003) is that you could just plop down a new version in front of a user and they’d be off and running within minutes as the basic GUI hasn’t changed in years.  Technical folks like ourselves will have a minimal learning curve, plus generally speaking we enjoy poking around new software; for us it’s both a tool and a hobby.  Office is just a tool for most knowledge workers; they don’t care about the new GUI/features/etc, they just want to get their work done.

    The biggest mistake that managers can make in a situation like this is not to offer formal training on the new release…productivity would plummet initially as folks got acquainted with the new release, and support desks would handle the brunt of the load which isn’t very cost effective in the end.  Regardless of how organizations go about re-training their workers, I do believe the new interface will enhance productivity in the end, and hopefully everyone will be happy with it.

    Speaking of mistakes that could potentially be made, there have been quite a few calls from the general public (mostly from the clueless) for MS to include a pre-2007 mode that the user can select to revert to the menu based interface we have now.  This would be an enormous mistake on the part of Microsoft.  MS has been known in the past to snap under pressure, but in this case they need to stick to their guns, even if it’s perceived as shoving this down everyone’s throat.  Change is good, and in this case change is excellent.

    As developers, we need to get our hands on beta bits as early as possible; the Office GUI has always set the standard for designing Windows based application interfaces in the past; this won’t be any different going forward.  They are effectively killing the menu based system that’s been the de facto for decades now, so the same that knowledge workers will have to unlearn how they navigate interfaces, so will we have to unlearn how we design the interfaces they use for their applications.  No doubt there will be some crossover for a while, and the developer types (the VB6 guys) who cringed when .Net came out will want to stick to their menu based designs, but overall we’re looking at where MS is taking interfaces in the next few years.  Windows will follow, as will Visual Studio, ad nauseum.  This developer is pretty excited about the changes, and I look forward to one day being able to incorporate “ribbon” like elements into the applications I build.

  • Virtual Server 2005 R2 Is Now Free

    From eWeek (full article here):

    Microsoft has a big surprise planned for not just those of its own customers using virtualization, but for those in the open-source community as well.

    On April 3, the Redmond, Wash., software giant will use the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Boston to announce that it is making its Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition product available as a free download from the Microsoft Web site.

    This is indeed quite a surprise, though after reading more about this out on the web it makes a lot of sense.  In other somewhat related news, they also announced support for a few flavors of Linux to be hosted as a guest OS, which is quite a bit more surprising IMO.  Granted, they are still making money from OS sales as VSR2 will only run on Windows (and that most definitely will never change), but it sounds strange to now have the ability to run Linux inside a Microsoft product, plus they’ll be porting their VM additions to that platform.

    I personally love virtualization; has been hosted in a VM since the very beginning.  I still think VMWare is better from a performance standpoint, but being able to administer my VSR2 boxen from a web browser (IE only of course) is fantastic, plus now it’s free.  If you haven’t had a look at Virtual Server, I highly recommend playing around with it a bit.  Download it from here.

  • Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Out Flying The Dog

    The strangest thing just happened while walking my dog a few minutes ago.  Some background.  This time of year (in the Southeast at least) is always very windy…something about wind coming down from the northern mountains or some crap (I am not a meteorologist).  Plus it’s thunderstorm season; they always crop up randomly towards the evening hours and generate quite a bit of wind on their own.  Combine that with the fact that the area where I walk Escher is sort of in a ravine, so the wind gets funneled through there and picks up even more speed.  And finally, Whippets (when viewed from the side) have a very narrow but (vertically) deep chest, so there’s a lot of surface area there…so if the wind catches them just right….

    …you end up flying your Whippet like a kite.  A large gust caught him just right from the side and lifted him up and blew the poor guy over.  In the middle of him doing…well, you know, so he was pretty surprised.  He looked at me as if I had done it to him, only to be greeted by me double over laughing hysterically.  Maybe I’ll create a new sport for sighthounds (all of them are shaped that way) to see who can fly their dog the farthest.

    Sidenote:  Even as I type this, we’re in the middle of a pretty bad storm, and the sun is setting.  I’ve watched the sky change about a dozen different shades of pinks and purples…it’s been beautiful.  I tried to take some pics, but none of them came out.  Oh well, at least I get to enjoy it :-).

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  • Sometimes I Really Should RTFM


    I’m in the process of building my first .Net 2.0 WinForms application (I absolutely love the new designer), nothing too major.  Of course it’s multithreaded, and I’m going about doing this via events/delegates/threads…the usual way. 

    Make that the usual .Net 1.1 way. 

    I was browsing around the web earlier and stumbled across a new class in .Net 2.0:  System.ComponentModel.BackgroundWorker.  So now the question is do I rewrite the app using this new class, or do I leave it as is.  But the bigger point is this:  I really need to pick up some books on .Net 2.0…piecemealing it together from articles on the web obviously isn’t cutting it.

    My friends and family always wonder why I have my nose buried in technical journals/books.  The answer is obvious to us (especially as of late what with all the new technologies coming down the pipe from Microsoft), but they still think it’s odd that I (in their eyes at least) devote as much time as I do to my field.  I will say this, if you don’t enjoy learning and retooling every 6 months or so, then this definitely isn’t the industry for you.  I personally love it, so it’s a perfect fit for me.  Except for the “duh” moments.

    This does look like a pretty cool new class though.  I’ll post more as I get some work done with it.

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  • Downtown Charlotte at Magic Hour

    In the photography realm, it’s known as “magic hour”…everyone else usually just calls it twilight.  I managed to catch downtown Charlotte right in the middle of it this evening and posted a photo here.  As a point of reference, the camera is facing South by Southeast, so the setting sun really couldn’t be in a more perfect place to get this type of lighting on the buildings from the angle of my balcony.

    Sidenote:  You can see a pretty big change in the lower right hand corner of my view from this photo (scroll down a bit) taken ~16 months ago; that big white obnoxious looking obstruction in the newer pic are dorms for the Charlotte campus of Johnson & Wales University which were completed just in time to annoy the holy hell out of me; at least once a week some idiot chef-in-training pulls the fire alarm and two fire trucks come screaming down the street to turn them off.  Usually really late at night.  Stupid college kids.  If you’d like to see how ridiculously spoiled these kids are, here’s the website for the dorms.  That’s right, full kitchens and bathrooms…and $534 bucks a month per bedroom.  My first apartment was $495.

  • Anders Hejlsberg Dishes With Channel 9

    Anders Hejlsberg recently sat down with the new Channel 9 series “Behind the Code” host Barbara Fox; the video can be streamed/downloaded from here.  As with all Hejlsberg interviews, it’s very informative and entertaining, but light on the geek factor which is actually nice as we get to see a more personal side to him.  It’s long (an hour), but is probably one of the best videos I’ve seen on Channel 9 to date.  I wonder what this guy’s IQ is?
  • Great Electronica Site --

    I was trying to track down a (apparently very hard to find, took me a few hours) tune recently and stumbled across this site:  If you’re an electronica fan, just go to the site and it will speak for itself…there’s more free music there than you could ever want, and from very quality DJ’s nonetheless (and you don’t even have to sign up for anything).

    For the record, the track I was looking for is “Tilt – Goodbye”, which can be found ~23 minutes into this set (and there’s another great Tilt track around the 37 minute mark as well); I had been jonesing to hear it again…an amazing tune.  The first Tilt song I ever heard was “Invisible” (circa ‘99), and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

  • Definitely The Best Blonde Joke Ever

    This one seems to be making its way around the internet, so I thought I’d give it a little push of my own:  The best blonde joke ever.  Hilarious.
  • Vista's Vista to Not Have a Great Vista

    It’s (somewhat) official:  There will be no major GUI changes in Aero Glass from build 5270 of Vista.  M. Keith Warren sums up my sentiments quite nicely over here; in other words this pretty much sucks.  Granted, it’s a little better than XP…but certainly not the “revolutionary” new GUI the MS camp has been hyping up for years now. 

    I’m sure they’ll do some cleanup/polishing work (or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself) on the overall look and feel, namely some icon work as they still look very rough around the edges (literally).  The Glass effects (while nice looking) certainly aren’t revolutionary.  So maybe it’ll be more about what’s under the hood, which as developers is what we should really care about, right?  Disappointing news nonetheless.

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