New Features in CS 3.0

Community Server Comments

Scott posted his three favorite new features in Community Server 3.0, one of which is

  1. Configuration Merge - one of the deployment things I hate is managing configuration files. We now support placing configuration overrides in an optional "_override" file. At runtime, CS will attempt to override default settings with changes found in the override file. The override file uses a pretty simple schema/structure along with XPath.  (Note: as in previous releases, each version places less in configuration files, but there are some cases where this is not feasible, hence the need for a way to manage it a little better). Also of interest, we have moved the connectionstring to a separate file. This is fully supported by ASP.Net out of the box. Our initial thought was this would be for development only and when we shipped we would move it back. Having used this system for a couple weeks, I am starting to think we should keep it for the long haul. The connectionstring is generally the only thing users had to change in the web.config, with this now external, it makes it much easier to deploy updates and new versions.

Great news for all developers who extend CS with jobs, modules etc, because users do not have to edit CS' configuration files anymore. E.g. in the past you had to add the module type to the CSModules section in communityserver.config. As far as I understand, with CS 3.0 you can simply drop your CSMVPs_communityserver_override.config (or whatever the naming schema is) into the root folder of your CS installation, and CS will pick up your modules/jobs automatically. I'm curious about the implementation.

Internet Explorer 7 Installation

Firefox, Internet Explorer Comments

I just upgraded Internet Explorer on my third machine. Jayson has something to say about the installation process:

Today like the rest of the free internet using world, I installed Internet Explorer 7.  Yes it looks good, is more standards compliant, is (supposedly) more secure, blah blah blah.  I have installed IE7 in various incarnations 4 times (on this machine) over the past few months...the installation routine is just simply ridiculous; total elapsed time from the point I started today's installation routine, just over ten minutes.  To install an f'ing web browser.  That's one (1) uninstallation routine that runs to get rid of previous versions, two (2) reboots needed to complete installation...that is 1 uninstallation and 2 reboots too many in my opinion, not to mention that after the first reboot completes your machine is unusable as the installation and configuration routines both run before Explorer is launched.  Hum a tune, twiddle your thumbs, fold laundry, whatever...sit and wait 10 minutes for ~14 megs of software to install on your machine.

Yes, the update process is annoying. And though the IE Team pledges that the setup won't change the default browser setting, on one of machines (which all are set to Firefox) the default was set back to IE. And on all machines the fonts were reset to Times New Roman and Courier New. So after each installation I had to set the fonts back to my favorites, Calibri and Consolas. What a bummer!

Community Server MVP

Community Server, CSMVPs Comments

Community Server MVP

The news is out: Today Telligent awarded me a Community Server MVP. Though I am not that active in the fora, my participation in the CS community were deemed worthy enough to justify the nomination. At least my contribution to the Alabaster CSModule package is legalized now.

Congratulations to Dave Stokes and Russ Goldin, who were awarded too.

I'm curious if Keyvan's comment about MVP programs got Telligent mediate on new nominations. 😉

Anyway, I feel honored, and looking forward to the collaboration with Telligent. Can't wait to get hands on CS 3.0...

MSDN Blogs and TechNet Blogs updated to CS 2.1

Community Server Comments

Dave Burke mentioned on CS Daily News last Monday that both MSDN Blogs and TechNet Blogs have been updated to Community Server 2.1. However, in my opinion they missed to make use of one of CS's most interesting new features: tag support.

I used to have MSDN Blogs' mainfeed in my aggregator, but deleted the subscription almost one year ago. There are just too many bloggers, and the signal-to-noise ratio is somewhat low. Therefore, instead of subscribing the main feed I'd rather subscribe to specific global tags, e.g. CLR or WPF.

Fortunately, it's already there. You may have noticed in the previous paragraph that both CLR and WPF are hyperlinks. So tags are there, it's just that they are not first-class citizens. In fact, the links to the sites' tag clouds are http://blogs.msdn.com/tags/ and http://blogs.technet.com/tags/. So I ask, "Why aren't these links on the sites' home pages?"

(However, of course the global tagging system works only if all bloggers commit to a common set of terms. If one tags his posts with WPF, another one Windows Presentation Foundation, and a third one uses Avalon, you would have to subscribe to all three of these terms.)

Remote Access to SQL Server Express

Today I tried to access a SQL Express server remotely for the first time. Because I'm writing this you may already guess that I had some trouble. In fact, I got several different error messages while playing around with configuration of the SQL server, e.g. SQL server does not allow remote connections, Server does not exist or access denied etc. After struggling with the SQL Server Configuration Manager and SQL Server Surface Area Configuration for about an hour, I finally consulted Google and found this article: Configuring SQL Server Express 2005 for Remote Access when SQL Server does not allow remote connections. It provides detailed step-by-step instructions, which finally helped me to solve my problem.