June 2006 Archives
This is old news, but I somehow missed it so I'll post for news-challenged like me. Microsoft has released "Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure 2.0" aka Rotor 2.0 - buildable source codes of the ECMA CLI and the ECMA C#. This is roughly .NET 2.0 sources with original comments. Priceless! It's released under "MICROSOFT SHARED SOURCE CLI, C#, AND JSCRIPT LICENSE".
New in this release:
- Full support for Generics.
- New C# 2.0 features like Anonymous Methods, Anonymous Delegates and Generics
- BCL additions.
- Lightweight Code Generation (LCG).
- Stub-based dispatch. (What the hell is that?)
- Numerous bug fixes.
There is always the Reflector, but Rotor is different - you build it, debug with it, learn and extend CLI. Now what do I want to play with? Editable XPathDocument or XSLT2DLL compiler or extendable XmlReader factory may be...
And going on with Word as XSL-FO editor theme - take a look at a brand new tool called foActive <X>Styler:
foActive <X>Styler is a plug-in for Microsoft Word 2003 Professional which allows a user to design and test dynamic document templates right from within the Word authoring environment.
<X>Styler is used to create XSL templates for server-based transformation for high-volume dynamic document print applications such as direct mail, correspondence, invoicing, statements, contracts, and legal forms.
Writing XSL templates that generate XSL FO output can be a difficult task, one suited for an engineer and not a marketing person. What the industry needed was an easy-to-use tool for designing templates to convert XML to XSL FO using XSL. There are applications that have recently emerged to do just this, however these are standalone applications designed from the ground-up for just this purpose. As such, they can be unnecessarily complex and require specific custom training to master. They expose all the functionality and complexities of XSL to the end-user.
And so foActive designed <X>Styler, merging the most common desktop application in use -- Microsoft Word -- with the difficult to master XSL design. We coupled the whole system to the industry's best XSL FO engine -- RenderX -- to deliver a complete solution for a wide variety of XSL design tasks.
That's what I was talking about
all the way.
The price is set at $199, beta program is open. Sounds really cool.
jCatalog Software AG has releaed XSLfast 3.0 - XSL-FO WYSIWYG editor. What's new in version 3.0. In general XSL-FO doesn't meant to be authored, the idea is that XSL-FO is generated using XSLT. Unfortunately that requires knowledge of XSL-FO twisted vocabulary and, well, XSLT. I always knew WYSIWYG editor could save XSL-FO and XSLfast might be that one. If only the price wasn't freaking 890,00 EUR per license. And that probably doesn't include XSL-FO formatter itself!
Btw, after years and years Apache FOP Team's finally discussing 1.0 release...
And you thought XML is done? No way. It's alive and kicking technology. And here is just one more proof: yet another new XML API from Microsoft - the XmlLite. It's a native library for building high-performance secure XML-based applications. XmlLite library is a small one by design - it only includes pull XML parser (native analog of the .NET's XmlReader), XML writer (native analog of the .NET's XmlWriter) and XML resolver (similar to the .NET's XmlResolver). XmlLite's meant to be small, simple, secure, standards-compliant but damn fast library to read and write XML. It's claimed to be able to parse XML even faster than MSXML. What I found especially compelling is XmlLite API similarity with .NET - no need to learn yet another way to read and write XML, it's a lite version of the .NET's XmlReader/XmlWriter, but for native programming. It's a "lite", so: no validation, very limited DTD processing (entity expansion and defaults for attributes only), no ActiveX, no scripting languages, not thread-safe etc.
Bruce Eckel doesn't like XML. But alas - it's everywhere and he has to deal with it. So as you can expect, he goes and creates "general purpose XML manipulation library called xmlnode." for Python. That should be easy, right? Just one class, no need for more. Alas, it doesn't support namespaces, mixed content, CDATA sections, comments, processing instructions, DTD, Doctype, doesn't check well-formedness rules such as element and attribute names or allowed in XML characters etc. Well, that must be version 0.0...
W3C has released fresh versions of the Candidate Recommendations of XML Query 1.0, XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0 and supporting documents. No big deal changes - xdt:* types has been moved to xs:* namespace (damn XML Schema). See new XQuery1/XPath2 type system below. Looks like XSLT2/XPath2/XQuery1 are moving fast toward Proposed Recommendation. What's weird is that new documents all say
"This specification will remain a Candidate Recommendation until at least 28 February 2006." Must be a mistake. Anyway, what are now chances for XSLT 2.0 in the .NET? Next major .NET release (Orcas) is expected October 2007 or so (forget newly announced .NET 3.0, which is actually .NET 2.0 + Avalon + Indigo). Plenty of time for XSLT2 to reach Recommendation status, even provided that Microsoft actually freezes codebase 6 months before shipping.
Hmmm, community-driven MSDN documentation... tempting.
Microsoft has launched the MSDN Wiki Beta - sort of a wrapper around MSDN documentation site, which adds "Community Content section" to the bottom of each MSDN page. Anybody can contribute any content to that section. Here is my test contribution to the "XslCompiledTransform Class" page. Basically such community-driven documentation could be awesome. MSDN documentation is huge and usually the subject you desperately need happens to be covered scarcely or even in a cryptic way. Microsoft admits they are just unable to cover all topics. Sadly but fact. So at least they can provide a centralized way for the community to contribute. One big question though is community content quality - somebody have to moderte all that stuff otherwise it's gonna be filled with spam and lame questions in just a week.
I was querying one remote and probably distributed database recently. I entered my name, sent query request and got "No such record" response - four freaking months later! What kind of crazy database is it? That's Russia's police database. I requested a police certificate from russian embassy in Israel and it took them four months to query that information. Wow. No doubts they are still using legacy database called "a huge pile of paper files" out there in Russia. As a matter of interest the same query in Ukraine takes 1 day, while in Israel - 5 minutes (mostly to print results).
I had a voucher for a free Microsoft certification exam which I got at the MVP summit last year and it was due to expire May 31. So I went to see how can I use it. As you probably know Microsoft has launched new wave of certifications with .NET 2.0 and Visiual Studio 2005 release. So I found out that "Microsoft Certified Professional Developer" series is now my target in this game. I'm MCAD already and in order to upgrade to MCPD I have to take 3 upgrade exams (there is no single MCPD credentials, it's MCPD Web, MCPD Windows and MCPD Enterprise). The problem is that those upgrade exams aren't released yet. Happily I managed not to waste my expiring voucher though. MCPD Windows requires 3 exams and two of them I've already passed in beta form, which actually counts. So last week I took 70-526 exam, "TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 - Windows-Based Client Development". I don't write much for Windows these days so it wasn't piece of cake. But not a rocket engineering either. I should admit new exams are much more comprehensive and tough. Well, anyway I'm MCPD Windows now.