November 2005 Archives

Support NDoc project!

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I've been asking for help on getting NDoc working with .NET 2.0 recently. I was lucky enough and Kevin Downs, the developer of NDoc sent me an alpha version of the next NDoc release that was good enough for generating Mvp.Xml API documentation. And that unexpected problem made me realize that NDoc reached such level that we all take this tool as granted, like part of .NET SDK or Visual Studio. While NDoc is actually a free open-source tool developed by enthusiasts! NDoc is so awesome and pervasive that Microsoft even doesn't bother to provide any alternative solutions. Java has javadoc and doclets, while Microsoft provides no tool for generating code documentation and indeed - why, don't you have NDoc? That's an interesting open-source phenomena.

But the cruel fact is that developing such a tool as NDoc for no money is a tough challenge. In .NET 2.0 Microsoft introduced huge amount of changes in both CLR/BCL and SDK docs NDoc has to adapt to, while NDoc project is very low on contributors and donations and Kevin Downs, the guy who writes NDoc has been recovering from some major health problems recently. That actually looked like NDoc project is dead, but it's not! Kevin is working on the next version and it already works as you can see here.

But my point is that we absolutely have to support NDoc project. NDoc saved Microsoft lots of money, while Kevin Downs even has no MSDN subscription and Visual Studio 2005! What a shame... Come on, Microsoft, show some love to NDoc and .NET community! And NDoc users, especially the ones using NDoc in commercial stuff - please support NDoc, donate some money to the project or directly to Kevin Downs.

W3C: CAPTCHA considered harmful

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W3C warns that using CAPTCHA on the Web is actually bad idea as it poses problems for those who are blind, have low vision or have a learning disability such as dyslexia. That makes sense.

2005-11-23: The WAI Protocols and Formats Working Group has released Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA: Alternatives to Visual Turing Tests on the Web as a Working Group Note. Requests for visual verification of a bitmapped image pose problems for those who are blind, have low vision or have a learning disability such as dyslexia. The note examines ways for systems to test for human users while preserving access for users with disabilities. Read about the Web Accessibility Initiative.

Michael Rys asks "What do you want to see regarding XML support in the next version of SQL Server?" Don't miss a chance to suggest your favorite feature.

Mvp.Xml library v2.0 released

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I'm glad to announce release 2.0 of the Mvp.Xml library. This is first Mvp.Xml release for .NET 2.0. Download it here.

Mvp.Xml project is developed by Microsoft MVPs in XML technologies and XML Web Services worldwide. It is aimed at supplementing .NET framework XML processing functionality available through the System.Xml namespace and related namespaces such as System.Web.Services. Mvp.Xml project currently provides .NET implementations of EXSLT, XML Base, XInclude, XPointer as well as a unique set of utility classes such as XmlSerializerCache, IndexingXPathNavigator, SubtreeXPathNavigator, XPathNavigatorIterator, XslReader, MpXslTransform and tools making XML programming in .NET platform easier, more productive and effective.

Joining FXSL project

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So Dimitre Novatchev invited me and I joined the FXSL (Functional Programming Library for XSLT) project.

The FXSL functional programming library for XSLT provides XSLT programmers with a powerful reusable set of functions and a way to implement higher-order functions and use functions as first class objects in XSLT.
I do think functional programming matters, that's where we are going and that FXSL rocks. I'm not sure what will be my role in the project, but I hope to be helpful. But first I have to refresh my functional programming skills with wonderful "Haskell: The Craft of Functional Programming" book by Simon Thompson.

Ndoc for .NET 2.0 help anyone?

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I'm stuck one step before releasing Mvp.Xml library v2.0 for .NET 2.0. I can't generate API documentation, because NDoc doesn't support .NET 2.0 yet :( Apparently NDoc wiki contains instructions how to get it working with .NET 2.0, but the wiki seems to be down and the google cache is empty... Anybody knows how to hack NDoc?

MSN joins Google, Yahoo and others supporting the TopCoder community - a major league for programming competitions. MSN is sponsoring 8 TopCoder matches and is giving away $40,000 in cash prizes to the TopCoder Community. MSN is also hiring best topcoders.

That's cool. And TopCoder is a great place to exercise your programming and problem solving skills competing online with geeks like you. Try it out.

Mike Kay keeps teaching us XQuery. New installment of his XQuery tutorials series sponsored by the Stylus Studio, is called "Blooming FLWOR - An Introduction to the XQuery FLWOR Expression" and covers XQuery FLWOR expressions, "the workhorse of the XQuery language".

Breaking changes in MSXML6

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Just released Microsoft Core XML Services (MSXML) 6.0 introduces some security-related breaking changes in XML and XSLT processing, but MSXML6 SDK documentation isn't released yet (expected next week) and can be found nowhere on the net, so you might have a hard time wondering why basic things stop working after upgrading to MSXML6. Here is a bit of information that might be helpful.

XLinq news

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After initial announcement XLinq hubbub seems to be more and more quiet - users are busy moving to .NET 2.0 and Microsoft is working on the next preview version. Anyway, there are some news:

  • Microsoft released "C# LINQ Tech Preview Update for Visual Studio 2005 RTM Release":
    This is an updated version of the LINQ Technical Preview unveiled at PDC 2005. It includes samples, whitepapers, hands-on labs and compiler support to create LINQ-enabled applications using the RTM release of Visual Studio 2005 or Visual C# 2005 Express Edition.
  • Similar update for VB is available too. Note that LINQ homepage is obsolete at this point
  • I've updated at bit XLinq.Net portal with a list of XLinq bloggers, XLinq news from arround the blogosphere, list of XLinq-related videos from the PDC
I've been told that the next XLinq wave might be expected in December. I can't wait it.

That's a big milestone in a 6-years-going-so-far design-by-committee experiment: XSLT 2.0, XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 are finally W3C Candidate Recommendations. That means that W3C now officially calls for implementations (which shows another weirdness of the design-by-committee process as XQuery alone has about 40 implementations already as per Ken North). CR phase will last at least till 28 February 2006, that means late 2006 is probably the timeframe for the XSLT 2.0, XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Recommendations.

There is a known problem with new XSLT processor in just released Microsoft .NET 2.0 - XslCompiledTransform class doesn't support pull mode XSLT - outputting XSLT result in XmlReader form as obsolete XslTransform class did. I'm happy to announce that the problem is solved now. Sergey Dubinets from the Microsoft XML Team has developed XslReader implementation which allows to read XSLT output via XmlReader in a very efficient way - i.e. without full output buffering. It's concurrent writer-reader bridge, which runs XSLT in another thread and lets it to produce another output portion whenever reader wants to read more.

And Sergey kindly donated his code to the Mvp.Xml project, so it will be part of the Common module of Mvp.Xml library v2.0, which is going to be released really really really really soon. Kudos to Sergey! Stay tuned.

I can't refrain myself from linking to this wonderful "Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?" paper by Charles Petzold. Sorry. That's gonna be another good source of citations.