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Customized tasks in VSTS builds

The Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) have a totally new way of creating build definitions. There are many available tasks right out of the box. It offers tasks to build .NET code, build Xamarin apps, execute Grunt and Gulp tasks, do code analysis with SolarQube, integrate Jenkins jobs, publish NuGet packages, run cloud-based load tests, copy files to a machine, deploy a SQL database to Azure, publish a web app or cloud service to Azure, … It has also many utility tasks and there is a collection with free third-party tasks in the MarketPlace.

But when building your software, quite often you need custom steps. In this article I will cover some techniques how to customize the build process. I will show you how to implement PowerShell scripts, do logging and work with environment variables and arguments, how to load custom C# .NET assemblies and how to create extensions and upload them to VSTS.

ASP.NET WebAPI 2.2 REST services and Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA)

An detailed article about ASP.NET WebAPI 2.2 REST services and Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA) for intranets. How does it work and how to configure windows authentication in your .NET server project, in IIS (Express) and in the webbrowsers. And finally I will show some examples how to implement .NET and HTML/Javascript clients which consume the service.

Spatial Data in Entity Framework 5.0

In Entity Framework 5.0 spatial data types are supported so now we can create Linq queries to query nearby locations, calculate distances and check if locations intersect with an area. This articles demonstrates how to insert and update locations with latitude and longitude coordinates and how to query them in different ways.

Silverlight 4 design-time features for ViewModels

Visual Studio 2010, .NET 4.0 and Silverlight 4 offer a lot of new features. I like all the new features but I was especially interested in improvements that could help my current developments which are based on a M-V-VM architecture with ViewModels and a lot of bindings with UI controls. So I wrote an article and published it on my personal website. The article will focus on the improved design-time features. Along the way I will show a lot of screenshots and try to cover some other new Silverlight 4 features.

ReSharper 4.5 beta

Today I installed the public beta of ReSharper 4.5. I’m using this tool for more than a year and I really like it. ReSharper integrates in every part of the IDE of Visual Studio and it offers me a big productivity boost. ReSharper provides a lot of great features like all kinds of coding assistance, handy refactorings, code cleanup wizards, fast navigation and search popups, …

The new version 4.5 is mostly about increasing performance and indeed the tool looks even more responsive. Besides it also offers several improvements and I especially like the following onces:

  • Better Silverlight support: code assistance for datatemplates in XAML, …
  • MSTest support: the handy unit test explorer can now be used together with MSTest.
  • New solution-wide warnings and suggestions: unassigned fields, suspicious type conversions or checks, …
  • New naming style configuration for variables, fields, properties, events, methods, enums, interfaces, classes, …
  • New and improved refactorings.

A detailed list of the new features and the download link for this beta version can be found on the website of JetBrains:

Finally I would like to recommend a great plugin for ReSharper. StyleCopForResharper is a plugin which adds all the StyleCop (=Style Analysis) rules to the code assistant and cleanup wizard of ReSharper. It is not so easy to find the perfect combination of all the rules from Code Analyses, ReSharper and StyleCop but you really should give it a try:

Modeling PowerToys for Visual Studio 2008

A new version of the open-source PowerToys for the Class Designer and Distributed System Designer has been released. These add-ins provide additional functionality for the Visual Studio Class Designer, such as HTML/XML export, new creation commands, filtering commands, formatting commands, a pan/zoom window, a documentation window, a floating properties window, …

A post on my website describes how to install it and it shows a screenshot which highlights almost all features.

View source code of the .NET framework

Yesterday Microsoft released the .NET Reference Source project. This project allows you to view the source code of the .NET Framework libraries while debugging with Visual Studio 2008. The sources of all .NET base class libraries, WinForms, ADO.NET, ASP.NET and WPF are already available. The LINQ, WCF and WF sources will be added soon.

Shawn Burke from Microsoft has a detailed blog post that covers all steps on how to install, configure and use it.

After modifying the configuration I needed to restart Visual Studio to enable to “Load Symbols” menu item. It works good and quite fast and the sources are well documented. Shortly, I really like it.