Sample Browser App for the All-In-One Code Framework

As I’m taking a break to wind down a bit before tonight’s adventures, I figured I should tell you guys about the Sample Browser app in the Windows Store.  (Sorry, guys – no Windows Phone app yet.)

This was the app you mentioned briefly at the end of your last post, right?

Yep!  Once you install the “Sample Browser” app from the Windows Store to your Windows 8 device, you can access the All-In-One Code repository browser data.  Here’s the opening screen:




Ooh!  Shiny! Wait… that looks similar to the app from the last post.

Very observant!  Sometimes, the Microsofties understand this concept called consistency.  It’ll work wonders here.

Okay…. let’s go on an adventure. Let’s say I want to see some ASP.NET stuff.

See that ASP.NET tile under Web Samples?  Click that tile, and you should see something like this:



There are plenty of ASP.NET code samples to peek at.  I’m going to click on the web chat program that the All-In-One Code Framework team wrote.  This will take us into the project view:



All the data… what do I see?

This details page shows a lot of details, including:

  • Name of the project
  • Link to the project
  • The ability to browse the project document
  • The ability to download the code
  • Relevant technologies
  • License
  • Visual Studio support
  • Author/last updated/ratings/download count metadata

Okay… so I clicked the Download button, as I want to have the C# sample on hand.

Did you notice that the button changed to browse?  Now, you have this helpful code browser at your finger tips.  Navigate through the C# code and check out the syntax highlighting.


You can also select code and copy it to the clipboard, much like copy and paste in a lot of Metro Windows Store apps.

What if I don’t want to download the code but want to bookmark this code for later?

Come on, now!  This is a Microsoft product, which means “bookmarks” are out and “favorites” are in!  Right click in the code area to bring up the context menu bar at the bottom.  Then, click the Add Favorite button.

Okay… I downloaded this code.  I favorited this code. I like the syntax highlighting.  But how can I easily find my downloaded code or even my favorited samples?

If you go to the search screen, you’ll notice some categories at the top, including Downloaded Samples and Favorite Samples.



You’ve shown us what happens when there are results.  What if there aren’t any results?  

These guys have a very helpful “not found” message.  Here you go:





So… how did you hear about this again?

The benefits of being an MVP and finding out cool things that we’re actually allowed to talk about!

Now, if you’re on Windows 8 – go get the Sample Browser app!

If you’re on Windows 7, see my last post on how to get their app!

The One Code to Rule Them All

I’m at the Microsoft MVP Summit this week, which means that there are a lot of things I won’t be able to share due to all sorts of non-disclosure agreements, lawyers, etc.  However, there may be some cool non-NDA stuff that I’ll be able to share as well, and you can bet that if it’s that cool, then I’m telling you guys about it.

While checking out some work that MVPs and Microsoft has done, I came across this gem: Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework.

So, Sarah, what’s so cool about this?

Have you ever had a moment while coding when you wondered “How do I do {xyz}?”  Sure, you may have looked up that in your search engine of choice.  However, if you have Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio 2012, there’s an add-in for you that lets you search a code repository of various samples.  If you’re more of a “Let’s look at code samples and maybe get inspired” kind of person, their Sample Code Browser is a great app for that.  The VSIX for the Visual Studio extension and the ClickOnce for the app are both available from their download page.

Let me get this straight. Someone did something cool with a code repository?

Yes! Here’s a look at what I downloaded just this morning from their site:



While the menu and layout remind me of my nemesis – the Zune software, the content is helpful.  Also, I have a good feeling that there’ll be even more features, as talking with these guys, I gathered that they are open to feedback and would love to see this take off.

That’s pretty… but where’s my Visual Studio Add-In? I know I installed it here somewhere…

Once it’s installed and Visual Studio has been restarted, you’ll see a toolbar that looks like this (minus the search criteria):



Okay… not so confused anymore.  Show me how you find stuff for graphs, since you hinted at it above.


Now, let’s say you’re working on a project that uses graphs.  Business people like seeing data in charts and graphs, so we better do an app for them.  In my add-in, I typed graph and pressed Enter, which opened the following results:



180 results is a lot to sift through!  Let’s filter these so that I’m only looking at HTML5 stuff, as this client is trying to target multiple platforms and thinks HTML5 might be the way to do it.  Click in the box, and the filtering selections appear.  I’m changing my Technology to HTML5.  Much smaller!




Let’s take a look at a sample and what it has to offer.  I’ve chosen the top one.

What are the details, documentation, and social about?

I’m getting there!  First off, the details section:



This section contains a link to where I can find the app.  You can see what technologies are supposedly used, the license, the supported Visual Studio edition(s), the author, ratings, last update, and download count.  If you click that download button, it’ll download the sample and change to an open button.  Clicking that button will open the sample in Visual Studio.

The documentation panel shows any documentation that is associated with the project.



This shows any important information the creator included for their project.  In this particular case, we see the software that’s required plus a note on unblocking the ZIP file.  Helpful information indeed!

The social panel shows any social media activity for that project – currently tracking Twitter, Delicious, Digg, and Facebook.



As you can see, I Tweeted about this, as it need a little love.

Okay… I don’t care about graphs. I went back to the pretty home screen and was seeking some inspiration.

Me too!  I’ve been getting rusty on my SQL skills and figured I could use some inspiring in that department, so I clicked on the SQL Server button on that page.  That in turn took me to these results:



So now I have samples to help inspire me.

You mentioned they’re open to feedback.

Yep!  Click the Sample Request Service link at the top, and then click the bright red Submit a Request button.  This will take you over to their Codeplex Issue Tracker, where you can submit your suggestions.

Okay… this is nifty! But… Zune software style seems old school.  I’m running Windows 8. Can I use this on my tablet?

Ah yes… if you do a search for “All-In-One Code Browser” on the Windows Store, there’s a beautiful version for the Windows 8 {Metro UI/Windows UI/”fancy tiles that need a better branding name” UI}.


This Sample Browser app has a nice user experience, inline with the new tablet-esque/tablety user experience.

More on that in a future blog post…  did I mention I’m at the MVP Summit?  Gotta eat breakfast for the big day ahead!  Hopefully will blog about Sample Browser later.

Overspecialize, Generalize, or Find that Happy Middle…

I’ve been dealing with this dilemma for the past couple years. While I’ve had a Microsoft MVP award for Visual C# these past couple years, I’ve wondered if I’ve gone too generalized to have it renewed this year. We’ll find out in July if that’s actually true. Even if that’s true, I’m still going to be on that mission – to find the happy middle between overspecializing and generalizing.

Add to it that I saw this tweet, and it really has me thinking:

The key to being a programmer today and in the future. Don’t over specialize, don’t stop learning, stay close to your customer.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

For me, I don’t want to go down the road of overspecializing. I’d feel like that guy who painted himself into the corner of the room, trapped. However, I don’t want to be too general, because while it’s helpful being a jack of all trades, it’s also hard to see where it’s best to place me, which projects are best to utilize my skillset. I’d like to be the master of some, not the master of none. In a way, I want to be kinda like my Microsoft MVP expertise of Visual C# – I want to be useful on many types of projects.

Visual C# is my current expertise area, but I also am dabbling with PowerShell. The beauty of it all, though, is that I am using Visual C# while playing with PowerShell – how do you think my custom cmdlets are written? If you’re in the Cleveland area on April 26th, I can show you some custom cmdlets at the Cleveland C#/VB.NET SIG. You can also see some of my custom cmdlets in appendix D in Automating Microsoft® Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration with Windows® PowerShell 2.0.

That’s not the only time I use Visual C# though. In my day job, I work on ASP.NET websites, web applications, out-of-browser Silverlight apps – all with Visual C# as their base. I’m working with ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET WebForms, which I use with Visual C#. Here at home, I play with Windows Phone development, and that too… written in Visual C#. I also write web services – be it ASP.NET Web Services or WCF – in Visual C#. Writing Windows Forms and WPF applications… those are also done in Visual C#. It’s such a handy language, with a variety of applications.

Now granted there’s a lot of theory behind Visual C# and how it’s built. There are people who specialize in that, in how the compiler works, in how the language works under the covers. And then there are people like me – on the quest of finding the happy middle. While I would love to understand how its work under the covers, I really like seeing how it is applied in the field as well. Understanding how it works under the covers can give me a better background of why its strengths and weaknesses are the way they are, and it would help me play off of the strengths and weaknesses better in code. However, understanding how it is applied helps me to put Visual C# to work in my everyday business world and in my side projects.

I like tinkering with the many uses of the language to see how it can be used, and the same can be said with any other language I’ve worked with – the various VB derivatives (VB, VBA, VB.NET), python, and JavaScript being the more recent languages. I like the continuous exploration to see what I can find. I don’t want to stop learning, and I definitely don’t want to overspecialize. I hope I’ve found a happy middle, as it feels like I’m finally there.

Are you afraid of overspecializing? If you’re a developer who focuses mostly on web development, then take a step out of the norm and look into client app dev with WPF, make a game in XNA, or write a Windows Phone app! If you’re an IT pro who’s been siloed to focus on Exchange, you can start working with PowerShell for Exchange and then investigate other technologies that use PowerShell – such as SharePoint or Active Directory! Do something that you wouldn’t normally do, and make it a goal to learn at least one new technology a year, whether it applies to your job today or to possibly your career in the future!