We did it! LightSpeed 3.0 is done!
15 December 2009 in .Net, Code, Mindscape, Tools | Comments (2)

Mindscape LightSpeed Logo

I am stoked – we finally got LightSpeed 3.0 out the door! For a company the size of Mindscape, we took on a mamoth amount of work and took almost all of 2009 to deliver what we think is an extremely solid 3.0 product.

If you’re interested in the features, you can read the official blog post with highlights or check out the more detailed change log (which incidentally is the same size as all our previous change logs combined).

What I’m really excited about is the integration of migrations into LightSpeed 3.0. Personally I have always hated the pain of having to script out my database changes as I was working away. Even in Rails I’ve not overly enjoyed creating migrations even though they have a nice simple abstraction for them. LightSpeed 3.0 allows you to have the designer track changes and automatically generate the migrations for you. This means you do not have to write a single line of code to have migrations created for you as you tool around updating your model. To me, this is a huge win – we are taking even more work away from the developer so they can focus on solving the actual business problems. I can’t wait to see what feedback we get around this feature :-)

The other exciting aspect of the migrations tracking is that it moves LightSpeed up the value chain – we’re no longer “just an ORM”. With LightSpeed 2.0 we delivered a cool designer will full schema round tripping for heaps of different databases. That was an awesome performance boost for developers and really helped folks working with their models. The migrations capability moves us even further up that value chain by helping manage the life-cycle of the database for developers.

There is of course far more to LightSpeed 3.0, but I wanted to share my thoughts on one feature that I think will really boost my productivity going forward :-)

Download the free express edition and let me know what you think!

Come and learn about VS 2010
30 November 2009 in General | Comments (0)

A quick note to anyone living in New Zealand who would like to learn more about what’s coming in Visual Studio 2010 and the changes coming to MSDN subscriptions. I’ll be speaking about these changes over the course of the next two weeks in various locations, I’d love to see you there.

1st December – Wellington
2nd December – Christchurch
3rd December – Dunedin
8th December – Tauranga
9th December – Auckland

Along with me in the afternoons will be a session for developers on how to get started with Azure. So if you’re keen to learn about what’s coming up in the world of Microsoft development then come along :-)

The events are free and you can register and find out more on the unplugged website.

– JD

New blog – a seperation of concerns
22 March 2009 in Blogging, Business, Mindscape | Comments (0)

Right-o! One thing I’ve juggled a bit on this blog over the years has been a separation between technical and business. I’ve sorted that out by deciding to push any business related posts onto my new blog over here: http://www.mindscape.co.nz/staff/johndaniel/.

This blog will still exist and be used but I’m going to be covering more general technology stuff here. If you like tech, stick with this one. If you like business grab the other one. Ideally grab both – all the cool kids are doing it!

My first post on the other blog covers the initial start of Mindscape – what I was thinking prior and how we kicked things off. I appreciate any feedback you have for ongoing topics on either blog.

Ah, blogging on a Sunday night – it’s actually a great way to wind down the weekend.

Cheers,

– JD

We shipped WPF Flow Diagrams
25 February 2009 in .Net, Mindscape | Comments (1)

WPF Flow Diagram

Yesterday we shipped our WPF Flow Diagrams product – a really nice component for creating beautiful flow diagrams in your applications. They can be interactive, read-only, exporting to PNG/JPEG/BMP, serialized, deserialized, customised with new node types, and a whole heap more.

WPF Flow Diagram in use screenshot

When we release a product I always like to put up screenshots (something that was hard with LightSpeed 1.0 since it was just an assembly at the time!). We also try to show some corporate personality is put up one or two fairly absurd but fun screenshots. Ivan has taken the cake this time with his flow diagram highlighting the mating rituals and life cycle of Penguins. Not to mention his awesome over the top use of WPF 3D to show a diagram tilted and with spotlights flashing (unfortunately the flashing isn’t visible in a static image, but it looks great when you do see it – especially since you can edit and work with the flow diagram while all that’s going on!).

If you’re developing a modern application and need a sexy WPF Flow Diagram, check it out :-) I appreciate any feedback.

– JD

Mindscape gets #2 NZ Start-up
15 February 2009 in Business | Comments (5)

I was pleased to see that Mindscape was named the #2 start-up in the New Zealand Top 10 Start-up awards. It’s always nice to get recognised for the work you are doing and I’m thankful to those that voted for us as well as our supporters and customers who have helped us to where we are :-)

Published on the New Zealand Herald Website:

Mindscape was founded in February 2007 by John-Daniel Trask, Jeremy Boyd and Andrew Peters with the intention of creating software products that “didn’t suck”. Tired of software feeling slow and bloated, they set about creating the tools that they, as software developers, would love to use tools that were small, blazingly fast and effective.

Recognising the skills of the founders, Microsoft got in touch with Mindscape and enlisted their help to develop BackgroundMotion a technical best-practice open source application to aid other .NET developers worldwide in understanding how to best architect modern Web 2.0 websites on the .NET platform. This initial development work helped aid early profitability on top of the small seed capital the founders had provided at launch. Since this time Mindscape has released three products for software developers, continued to grow profits and revenue and has customers all over the world – including Fortune 50 companies.

Mindscape has achieved all of this with only three full-time employees and no external funding. They’ve been profitable since inception and continue to develop both the product and consulting sides of their business.

IETester – Essential web dev tool
22 January 2009 in Tools | Comments (2)

In my last post I wrote about several add-ins to FireFox that make web development easier. Now I’ve found another tool that makes the world of web development much easier – IETester. Oh. My. God. This is a tool that every web developer on the planet should have running on their machine. What you get is a nice tabbed interface to show your web pages using the IE 5.5, 6, 7 and 8 rendering engines. Fantastic!

IE Tester tool

One of the *biggest* costs to web development, in my view, is the cross browser compatibility work. Internet Explorer is the prime offender here because of older versions that are still in use. To be fair, we all know that if Microsoft aggressively pushed updates, like Mozilla do, they would get in legal troubles. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Personally I think IE updates should be forced upon people just to reduce the massive global waste of development effort that goes into cross browser support but perhaps that’s my view of the world :-)

Grab this free tool, install it and hopefully you’ll find cross browser development much easier! :-)

Download IETester Here

4 essential FireFox extensions for geeks
12 January 2009 in Tools | Comments (3)

I’ve always used extensions with Firefox but only really one or two. Recently I’ve started using a few more and finding them super handy. Perhaps I’m late to the party but who cares – lets call it fashionably late. For those of you who haven’t seen these extensions then perhaps they’ll help you too. If I’ve missed any you think help developers then post a comment!

FireBug

Firebug in action

What would any list of Firefox extensions be without FireBug? If you’re using the Web Developer Toolbar then it’s time to move on up to FireBug. FireBug just makes web development so much easier with features like JavaScript debugging, providing network data, giving you in depth style information and a whole lot more. I’m sure a small book could be written on this fantastic tool so I won’t go on too much about it.

FireBug homepage

HttpFox

httpfox in action

Every now and then the network monitoring ability of FireBug lets you down. It’s powerful but not superman tough by any means. Enter HttpFox. HttpFox is a much more powerful network monitoring add-in which will provide you with truck loads of information about what’s going in and out of your browser.

One annoyance with FireBug is the need to force a re-post of values to see what the response to a POST action was. This is where HttpFox helps out – it just does everything all the time. Good Times. Thanks to Jeremy for pointing me in the direction of this great add-in.

HttpFox Homepage

S3Fox

S3Fox in action

You’re storing your data on Amazon’s S3 service right? No? Well perhaps you should. S3 is a great services for storing large amounts of data and making it available on the web in a very inexpensive manner. The downside is that tooling support is somewhat limited which is exactly the problem that S3Fox resolves.

Once installed it’s like getting a file explorer for S3 right inside your browser. Manage ACL’s, upload files, do everything you need.

S3Fox Homepage

TwitterFox

twitterfox in action

Lots of geeks are on twitter but it can be time suck. TwitterFox nicely integrates into FireFox and means you don’t need to sit there on the Twitter site or with a dedicated application running. Every now and then it pops up and shows recent tweets which is handy. Saves the whole “oh, I best go refresh the page!” syndrome.

TwitterFox Homepage

I hope that helps – if you’re on twitter then feel free to add me here. Also, if you’re new to my blog then why not subscribe to my rss feed?

kick it on DotNetKicks.com

Starcraft II – now with rain
7 January 2009 in Games | Comments (0)

One thing I want to do this year is just start posting a little more about random things I spy and want to comment on rather than just announcements & opinion peices. I’m not buying into this whole “My blog posts that ruled in 2008″ so here’s to the first post of the year.

I’m looking forward to Starcraft II coming out, whenever that is, and spied this updated screenshot recently (click to see full sized view):

Starcraft 2 rain picture

Notice that it’s raining. Previously in Starcraft there were no weather effects so this is a nice addition. One thing still bugs me though – why not create a shine map so that when it’s raining things look wet? It seems like a fairly arbitrary addition if they’re just drawing lines in front of the camera rather that creating a more immersive effect. I’d love to see puddles appear and as units drive through those puddles they create ripples. I’m appreciative that things like raindrops on water could be too computationally expensive to perform but this currently looks like the same rain effect seen games from five years ago.

Nice improvement, lets see Blizzard take this to the next level.