|By Kevin Alons||
|September 18, 2005 12:00 PM EDT||
I have used Microsoft Visual Studio at various companies over the years, starting with Visual Basic 3 to create simple, stand-alone Windows applications, then later using Visual Basic 5 and 6 for multitiered development. More recently, I've used Visual C++ to create a commercial application, and have recently been doing extensive .NET development using C# for both WinForms and ASP.NET development.
In all of these development environments, I've used the Visual Studio IDE as the primary tool for editing source code, testing, debugging, etc. Back with VB3, it was fairly simple to build the application as well with the IDE, because I was only building single executables (without even the need for an installer). As I progressed into more complex projects using components, then different layers of components, source code control, installers, and databases, my build experience became increasingly tedious, error-prone and frustrating.
About that time I discovered Visual Build, and quickly began automating my build process, starting with checking my code in and out of SourceSafe and compiling my Visual Basic project groups. I saw an immediate increase in consistency and repeatability and a significant decrease in my frustrations (and stress) when building, testing, and releasing updates to the applications I was writing.
The Visual C++ gig was part of larger team that required more coding discipline (and a lot of studying to learn C++), working across a relatively slow VPN link, as I was working remotely. Fortunately, this work environment was already using Visual Build Professional to automate many of their processes, which enabled me to join the development team quickly, as I could use existing build scripts and read them to quickly understand how they operated without constantly bothering fellow coders.
Over the years, the Visual Studio IDE has steadily added new features and (for me) maintained its position as my primary development tool. Visual Studio has consistently provided the ability to build and deploy applications; however, there have always been significant reasons why it wasn't an optimal build solution in my real world. These reasons include the use of third-party tools, source code control, the manual nature of builds using a nonautomated process, and the need to extend a build to do things that weren't necessarily build-related.
The Visual Studio .NET IDE provides a good framework for developing .NET applications and managing the relationships between projects and components as part of a .NET solution. Extensive debugging capabilities are provided, along with Intellisense and other coding assistance, which greatly boosts developer productivity. And it does provide a limited means of automating builds via the devenv.com console application. Visual Build Pro hides the complexity of building Visual Studio projects and solutions by providing a graphical front end for configuring the appropriate command-line flags and adding additional functionality, such as easily building a single, multiple, or all configurations, more control over setting or incrementing versions and assembly properties, etc.
Another advantage of utilizing Visual Build Pro for Visual Studio .NET builds is that you are isolated from changes made between the different versions of Visual Studio. When migrating from Visual Studio 2002 to 2003 to 2005, once the projects have been opened in the IDE and converted to the new format, the build process remains unchanged, since VBP's Make VS.NET action detects and handles each version appropriately, and even takes advantage of MSBuild for Visual Studio 2005 projects and solutions (thereby preventing the need to install Visual Studio itself on the build box).
Employing Visual Build Professional for .NET builds also provides the ability to continue building legacy applications or projects (without a rewrite) as you move forward with the latest technology. The builds you have defined for older languages and tools continue to work and can simply be extended for any new applications you develop (regardless of the manufacturer). In my example, I have continued building some legacy VB 6.0 and VC++ 6.0 applications in addition to the latest .NET projects in development. And Visual Build Pro provides built-in support for all of the major source control systems (SourceSafe, Perforce, Vault, Surround SCM, Subversion, etc.), thus making it easy to incorporate these products into the build process as well.
As much as we like to keep things standard and follow conventions, every shop I've worked at had many exceptional situations that required customization to their build process. This is another major reason to maintain the process using the flexible and powerful build framework provided with Visual Build Professional. Some examples I have encountered are the need to deploy ASP Web sites (first shutting down the IIS server, compiling Delphi components, a legacy method of deploying components to central server, updating metadata in a SQL Server database, etc). I have been very impressed with VBP because I rarely find a build problem that can't be solved using common-sense programming techniques.
Building software is challenging and demanding business, and often requires highly skilled expertise and extensive knowledge. As applications and the tools used to create them have evolved, they have become highly complex and specialized. As mentioned earlier, using Visual Build Professional can greatly reduce the amount of perishable information and research used within the build process. The files used by Visual Build Professional are XML files, which typically are checked in to your source control system just like your application source code, thus preserving the history of your build process. When your core developers leave the company, they don't leave you stranded. Instead the necessary information remains with the company, so the build process isn't compromised.
While the .NET development system is extensive and powerful, it is a very complex tool that spans a wide range of technologies and capabilities. Unless you work for a large company, you probably won't get personal support from Microsoft. It is comforting to have access to the knowledgeable Kinook Software support staff and the Visual Build Professional user base through their support forum. Their level of support is outstanding, the depth of the samples and documentation is second to none, and they have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to provide assistance when I have been stumped by a particular issue.
I have been a long-time user of Visual Build Professional, and I can honestly say that it has paid for itself many times over. It is the primary tool in my build toolbox that allows me to focus on what I enjoy best: developing and producing software. It is a powerful yet flexible application that achieves what it was designed for: automating any Windows-based software build process. If you either haven't automated your build process or are struggling with your current system, you owe it to yourself and your company to give Visual Build Professional a try!
- Visual Build Web site: www.visualbuild.com
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 25, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 261
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 25, 2015 08:15 AM EST Reads: 341
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Nov. 25, 2015 07:45 AM EST Reads: 339
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 25, 2015 07:30 AM EST Reads: 246
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 25, 2015 05:45 AM EST Reads: 287
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 25, 2015 05:45 AM EST Reads: 375
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Nov. 25, 2015 02:30 AM EST Reads: 679
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Nov. 25, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 287
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Nov. 25, 2015 12:30 AM EST Reads: 410
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 25, 2015 12:00 AM EST Reads: 161
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Nov. 24, 2015 10:00 PM EST Reads: 259
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Nov. 24, 2015 08:00 PM EST Reads: 342
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Nov. 24, 2015 07:30 PM EST Reads: 346
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 370
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 462
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 510
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Nov. 24, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 290
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Nov. 24, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 419
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 412
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 488