Free as in beer IDEs from MSFT

Microsoft has made freeware "express" editions of it's Visual Studio IDE products and SQL Server available free of cost. Supposedly, they were to become payware in November 2006. This is definitely a smart move on Microsoft's part; an effort to capture some of the armies of developers moving to free tools like Eclipse, Netbeans, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.

The free IDEs are stripped down versions of Visual Studio and with a few missing features. They're suitable for folks getting started with .NET 2.0 development using C#, VB.NET, J#, C++ and ASP.NET, but they're missing some key features you'll need for "real" development. The Visual Studio site has a feature-by-feature product comparison that shows the differences between the Express, Pro and Team System versions. Here's my summary of what's missing from the free IDEs:
  • No source code control - you can't even hook-in SouceSafe
  • No unit testing - you need the big-dollar Team System for that
  • No XSLT support - but some XML tools are available
  • No mobile device support - oh well (try the Netbeans Mobility Pack instead)
  • No 64-bit compilers
I've tried a couple of the express editions and they didn't look very stripped down to me, except in comparison to the current crop Java IDEs. None of the features I was using in Visual Studio C# 2003 were missing.

I recently upgraded the RSS and Atom in Action examples to .NET 2.0 using the express editions of Visual Studio C# 2005 and Visual Web Developer 2005. My overall impressions were mixed. I was a little disappointed that I had to install two completely separate IDEs to get C# development ASP.NET development capabilties, but I was glad to see that Visual Web Dev. includes a test web server, so you don't have to muck with IIS. All and all, free is good and I'm definitely happy that my readers can build and run all of the examples in the book with free-of-cost IDEs from Sun, IBM and now Microsoft as well.

Talking Roller in Dublin at ApacheCon EU 2006

I'm happy to announce that my Roller talk was accepted for ApacheCon EU (June 2006). I'm slated for 10:30AM on day one (here's the full schedule). I'm giving basically the same talk as I gave at ApacheCon US, but I'll have to make some significant updates because Allen's been busy refactoring the Roller backend and the proposed Roller roadmap has changed pretty drastically since then (more about that  later). Here's the abstract:
Roller is the open source Java blog server that drives the popular Sun's employee blogs at, IBM developerWorks blogs, and numerous other blog sites. Currently making its way through the Apache incubation process, Roller is built on a host of Apache technologies including Struts, Velocity, Lucene, Jakarta Commons, XML-RPC and more. This overview, a primer for Roller users and contributors, covers the Roller feature set, architecture, lessons learned, project status and future plans.
Andi is already looking into travel arrangements. I think the stars might be aligned just right for a vacation in Ireland. The week after the conference is the Sun summer shutdown and the in-laws have bravely volunteered to watch the boys.

Raleigh bloggers meetup tonight at Cafe Cyclo

Triangle Citysearch: Rust-colored walls, wooden chairs and a colorful row of mounted lights give Cafe Cyclo a cozy atmosphere, perfect for quiet conversations. By day, expect a quiet lunch spot. By night, expect a jazzy social scene with understated energy and lots of charm. The menu is as loaded with drink concoctions as it is with munchies. This is the perfect place for a light meal; the Asian-influenced dishes range from Vietnamese spring rolls to seared tuna.
That's us: jazzy and social with understated energy. Come on down. Josh has the details.

Tip'o'the hat to the FeedValidator and crew

I'd like to thank the folks who developed and run the FeedValidator, a valuable service that let's you know if your feeds validate against the RSS, Atom and commonly used extension specs. The warnings that it issues may be irritating and some can be safely ignored, but they're valuable just the same. I don't particularly like the warnings about <content:encoded> (which Roller now uses, by the way) and the style attribute, but I understand why they're necessary. If you want to whine about something, whine about the crappy RSS specs that we're all stuck with not the folks that are trying to help you understand them.

Update: In Roller RSS 2.0 feeds, we now use <atom:summary> for entry.summary (which is new) and <description> for entry.text (as we always have).

Four years blogging

I'm a week late with this post. My first post was April 11, 2002 (also here) but the 17th is the date I remember because that's the day that the Roller article was published at I started blogging with Userland Radio and moved to Roller in June of 2002 right around the time Leo was born. Ah, the memories...

Jini to Apache?

Jim Hurley on the JINI-USERS mailing list: we feel that "Jini" would make a compelling top level project at Apache, and plan to make contacts there in hopes of successfully proposing "Jini" as a project.
Right on!

Java Studio Enterprise goes open source

... an obligatory Sun-related post to counter all that borg talk ;-)

The news had already leaked out via blogs, but now it's official: Java Studio Enterprise is going open source as part of Netbeans 5.5. I'm really looking forward to 5.5. I'm most interesed in the Subversion support, but I'll definitely be checking out the 2-way UML modeler and the new XML tools as well. No doubt about it, the 5.5 feature set will lure a lot of new developers to Netbeans.

Windows RSS platform answerman

Congrats to Niall Kennedy, formerly the Technorati community manager, who has accepted a job with Microsoft to work on RSS/Atom platform technologies. This is great news for all unless it means an end to the Om and Niall PodSessions.

Window RSS platform answers

As I was researching my chapter on the Windows RSS platform for RSS and Atom in Action I came up with a list of questions based on the IE7 previews. Scoble hooked me up with Walter VonKoch, who kindly answered them all. Read on [Read More]

Today's links [April 10, 2006]

JBoss sanitized blogs before aquisition?

Back in 2004 I linked to a blog post authored by JBoss exec Mark Fleury that called Red Hat "open source wannabes" and "girly men." According to my referrers, people are looking for that old post using those keywords. Apparently, they're not finding it because it's been removed (but not from the Google Cache Wayback Machine). I wonder why.

Some news

First, Mark Pilgrim is blogging again. He said he'd return when hell froze over or Rogers switched to Atom. Fortunately for us, hell froze over (i.e. Bootcamp) and Rogers made the switch.

Second, Microsoft has kindly answered my questions about the Feeds API. I was wrong; they were just too busy to answer sooner.

Third, Raleigh's own Red Hat is aquiring JBoss. I always knew they'd start doing some Java stuff someday.

And finally, of course, there was that stuff last week about our president being the source of the leaks he supposedly hates so much, but we already knew that so big woop.

ROME chapter complete

Over the weekend I finished the second of two new chapters I promised for RSS and Atom in Action. The first one covered Windows RSS. The one I finished late last night is the new Chapter 7 on "The ROME newsfeed utilities." Here's the outline:
  • Introducing ROME
    • How ROME works
      • The SyndFeed model
      • Parsers, generators and converters
      • The parsing process
      • The generation process
    • ROME limitations
    • The ROME subprojects
  • Parsing newsfeeds  with ROME
    • Parsing to the SyndFeed model
    • Parsing funky RSS
      • How to handle Dublin Core
      • How to handle <content:encoded>
    • Parsing to the RSS model
    • Parsing to the Atom model
  • Fetching newsfeed with ROME
    • How the ROME Fetcher works
    • Using the ROME fetcher
  • Generating newsfeeds with ROME
  • Extending ROME
    • The ROME plug-in architecture
    • Adding new modules to ROME
    • Overriding ROME
  • Summary
I also updated the book's example code, which you can find on Java.Net here:

New layout on Roller project blog

There's a new layout on the Roller project blog, which uses Roller built-in Planet aggregator to display blogs from Roller committers, wiki changes, and recent issues.

Things that need fixing in the MS Feeds API

Here's what I think Microsoft should fix in the Windows RSS Feeds API:
  • Support feed and item ids. The property does not reflect the RSS <guid> or Atom <id> of the item/entry in the original feed. Plus, it's an integer -- not the right type for a URN. If you want to get the actual feed or item/entry id you have to parse the XML. Make it easy to get the real id if there is one
  • Item objects should have description and content fields. Currently, the object model can't completely repesent Atom, Wordpress style RSS or Typepad style RSS -- they have both description and content elements. So, add description and content and get the mappings (and content model) right for Atom, plus regular, funky and 1.0 style RSS.
  • Allow parsing of feeds from file system. Apparently, you can only parse a feed named by URL and you can't parse feeds on your hard disk. That can't be right. Make it possible to subscribe to and parse feeds from the file-system.
  • Cough up a spec for the Common Feed Format extensions. The normalized format used to store all feeds includes some new elements in the same namespace as the Simple List Extensions (SLX), but they're not mentioned in the SLX spec. Fix that.
Tags: topic:[ie7], topic:[rss], topic:[atom], topic:[vista]

Escape from JRoller

Roller doesn't yet provide a blog export facility, but you can do just about anything with Roller templates if you know what you're doing. For example, Debashish Chakrabarty explains how to use Roller templates to generate the RSS required to move a blog from Roller to Wordpress. He was able to get all of his blog entries and all comments out of this way, he imported his entries to his new Wordpress blog, but he couldn't find a way to import the comments.

Raleigh bloggers meetup tonight at Cafe Cyclo

As Josh points out, a US congressman showed up at our last meetup. Which local blognitary could it be this time? John Edwards? Maybe Mark Pilgrim will appear to announce his return to blogging. Or maybe it'll be Dr. Jim Goodnight, who'll ask how to get his employees blogging about SAS Institute products (did you hear the news?) instead of IBM ones.


JavaOne sessions have been scheduled. I'm speaking on Tuesday at 11AM, a much better time slot than last year when Patrick, Kevin and I were stuck with a lunch-time slot on the last day for our Beyond Blogging session.

    Session Id: TS-1756
    Session Title: Java™ Technology and REST: Implementing the Atom Protocol
    Track: XML and Web Services; Web Tier
    Room: Esplanade 301
    Date: 16-MAY-06
    Start Time: 11:00

In related news, I also submitted two proposals for ApacheCon EU 2006 in Dublin.

Roller on Sun Java Web Server 6.1

Seema Alevoor explains in great detail how to install Roller on the Sun Java Web Server.

Roller on OC4J (again)

Tom Stroobants figured out how to get Roller working on OC4J -- something I'd done once before, but I wasn't able to offer much help because that was almost four years ago and painful memories fade fast.

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