Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chrome Features

Chrome is already at par with modern browsers and now other browsers have to increasingly play catchup with chrome features. It's hard to imagine the kind of progress they have made with it in just under three years. Two new features which caught my eyes recently are fine examples of adding features which actually help the user and raises the bar for others.

Extending Omnibox

The omnibox API lets extension developers add their own keyword command to the omnibox. And just like that it opens a whole new world of possibilities. New extensions can be created which might not need the real estate on browser interface. I played with Switch to Tab extension and immediately fell in love with it.

Search Settings

How many times you need to change a setting and you spend a lot of time just looking for it. Just look at Internet Explorer settings and you get drowned in a sea of settings. For example, sometimes I need to block javascript to test some functionality. Now I can serach for the keyword and get all the related settings.

It even shows that the keyword is inside Content Settings.

Even inside Content Settings, the keyword is highlighted to easily see the setting.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How NOT to launch a new version without testing?

I was going through unread blogs list when I saw this news - New version of the ASP.NET Forums is live!. Now being a developer I naturally went to see if it can help in my work (I tend to go to StackOverflow) but still any help is good help. Only if the site actually worked...

A quick look of the site through this link and found the following issues -
- Search was not working
- Navigation items were not working

Perhaps it was left to the users to test the site as the feedback thread contained all these issues and more. But can we really allow sites to go live without doing such basic testing especially when it is one of you premier sites for your users?

Update: By the time I finished this post and went back to check most of the links and search was working. But still it took about 2-3 days to fix. Perhaps we are asking too much from Microsoft.

Update 2: Search still doesn't work if you try to search from this page.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How to Handle Errors?

It's been a while since I got an error which makes you get more of these! It should be a part of  creative error handling (without annoying your users). If you find the monkeys, please point them here. :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011's Six Month Book Reading Plan

Six Books for first half of New Year.

CLR via C# (Dev-Pro)
CLR via C# (Dev-Pro) is a very good resource to master the intricacies of the common language runtime (CLR) and the .NET Framework 4.0. I think it is time to master C# and .Net Framework and this is one of the most recommended books on stackoverflow.

C# in Depth, Second Edition
C# in Depth, Second Edition is by far the most recommended book for learning deeply about C#. It assumes that you are already familiar with C# and its syntax and doing that allows it to get rid of boring introductory material.

Head First Design Patterns
When people ask for design patterns book for .net, they get Head First Design Patterns. The book provides examples in java but they are relevant for .net developers as well. This book does not cover all the GoF Design Patterns but does a good job of explaining the patterns.

Professional ASP.NET Design Patterns
Professional ASP.NET Design Patterns is more about layered architecture than design patterns. This book covers a lot of ground and is more suited for beginners to mid-level developers. David Hayden has a good review of the book here.

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code is kind of natural progression from design patterns. Every application I have worked so far could have used a bit of refactoring and I intend to learn more about it from this book.

The Art of Unit Testing: With Examples in .Net
The Art of Unit Testing: With Examples in .Net The only way I can make changes, refactor and still have confidence in my code is if I have a way of knowing that I haven't broken anything and Unit Tests are a way of doing just that - giving you instant feedback that all is well or NOT!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Zen Coding

For those looking to get more with less keystrokes, zencoding plugin is a must. You can write lightening fast HTML using its powerful abbreviation engine.

From its project site -

Zen Coding is an editor plugin for high-speed HTML, XML, XSL (or any other structured code format) coding and editing. The core of this plugin is a powerful abbreviation engine which allows you to expand expressions—similar to CSS selectors—into HTML code.
To appreciate its power you need to play with it. Its author Sergey Chikuyonok has very good article on smashing magazine - a speedy way of writing HTML code. Watch the 6 minute video and you will be a convert.

Here is an example of its power. The following expression

expands to the following snippet -
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "">
 <html lang="en">
  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=UTF-8">
  <div id="header"></div><div id="main" class="content"></div>

Or the following example

which expands to
 <li id="item-1"></li>
 <li id="item-2"></li>
 <li id="item-3"></li>
 <li id="item-4"></li>
 <li id="item-5"></li>
 <li id="item-6"></li>

Here is a link to the zencoding cheatsheet. For Resharper fans it is available as ZenCoding Powertoy and there is also a Visual Studio PlugIn