Read about a free VB6 to .NET converter, the $300 rebate if you buy Windows Server 2008 R2 and Zend Server, Producteev's developer contest, and more.
Windows Phone 7 developer tools beta
If you are looking ahead to Windows Phone 7, Microsoft just released the beta of the developer tools.
If Microsoft expects Windows Phone 7 to leave the gate with any decent apps, the company is going to have to get the final version out the door soon.
Razor view engine for ASP.NET ASP
Microsoft is working on releasing a beta of Razor, a new view engine for ASP.NET MVC. Razor appears to significantly reduce the usage of symbols for delineating code blocks; it also seems to offer a number of other potentially useful advantages over the ASPX engine.
Microsoft Biology Foundation 1.0
If you are working on a project that handles genomics, the Microsoft Biology Foundation toolkit can help you if you are using a .NET language.
Tools and products
Google releases drag 'n drop Android dev tool
Google is now offering a free tool for writing Android apps that allows you to construct the apps from basic building blocks. It's a novel approach, and it may help advance the idea that a phone is a deeply personal device that users can customize to precisely meet their needs, but it is certainly not a development tool for serious work.
In TechRepublic's Smartphones blog, Shawn Morton provides more details about Google's App Inventor for Android tool.
Load testing for the cloud
Micro Focus' new SilkPerformer CloudBurst product performs load testing for cloud applications. Remember, just because an application is in the cloud does not mean that it performs well or even better — you still need to test it!
SQL Server Compact Edition 4
Microsoft will soon release a beta of SQL Server Compact Edition 4. The big advantage is that it will allow a zero-install SQL database for your applications and store the data within the application's directory, making your deployment scenario much nicer.
Updated XAML Power Toys for Visual Studio and Cider
The XAML Power Toys for Visual Studio 2010 and the Cider Designer plugin have been updated. Support for Silverlight 4 is the big news.
Microsoft WebMatrix beta
Microsoft has made available the beta of WebMatrix. It is a package combining SQL Server Compact Edition, IIS Developer Express, and the ASP.NET Razor view engine into a single package; it also includes code editing tools.
Before you get too excited, keep in mind that it is deliberately aimed at kids, amateurs, and other non-professionals. Think "FrontPage Reloaded" more than anything else. To put it another way, "play with for fun, but don't bother bringing it to the workplace."
Azure Throughput Analyzer
Microsoft Research has released a tool for measuring throughput to and from Azure. This is very useful if your Azure app communicates with your internal systems, and you need to know what the performance will be like.
Free VB6 to .NET converter
ArtinSoft is giving away free copies of its Visual Basic Upgrade Companion software for limited use (10,000 lines of code maximum limit). Folks I know who have used this tool have been pleased with it. If you are looking at going from VB6 to .NET, you will want to give this a shot.
Testing Anywhere 6.5
Automation Anywhere's Testing Anywhere 6.5 has been released. It includes a new feature called Object Avatar, which is designed to make creating test cases much easier and more accurate.
Editorial and commentary
Microsoft Data FAQ
The Microsoft Data Developer team has an interesting Q&A for 10 common questions. The team's response regarding LINQ to SQL is particularly interesting.
Developers embracing Windows 7 features
A recent study by Embarcadero shows that developers are quickly adopting new functionality in Windows 7 such as the touch controls and the Ribbon.
Save $300 on Windows Server 2008 R2 + Zend Server
If you are looking to deploy PHP applications, Microsoft and Zend are offering a $300 rebate if you buy Windows Server 2008 R2 and Zend Server.
Tips and tricks
Measuring and fixing page load speed
Cody Lindley has written a very good article about how to measure page load speed. He also offers tips on how to correct the issues that you find.
Speaking of page loads...
Writing an e-commerce app in NetBeans
The NetBeans site features a tutorial on writing an e-commerce application. The tutorial also gets you started with NetBeans.
WPF/Silverlight data binding debugging
Karl Shifflet wrote a useful MSDN article about how to debug data bindings in WPF and Silverlight.
Producteev developer contest
Producteev is a company that makes an interesting cross-platform task management system. Producteev just opened up an API, and to celebrate, the company is holding a contest for developers leveraging it. The top prize is $2,500, and the runner-up will receive $1,000.
Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides; he has a contract with OpenAmplify, which is owned by Hapax, to write a series of blogs, tutorials, and articles; and he has a contract with OutSystems to write articles, sample code, etc.
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Justin James is an OutSystems MVP, architect, and developer with expertise in SaaS applications and enterprise applications.