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Windows 8 Release Preview Available Now

By Steve Ives, Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:42 pm

If you hadn’t already heard, Microsoft today announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview is now available for download. As I talked about in my Introduction to Windows 8 session at the DevPartner Conference in Chicago, my colleagues and I are strongly urging all Synergy developers who build and deploy Synergy applications on Windows to download the release preview now and start testing your installations and applications.

If you attended my session you will know that there are some significant changes in Windows 8 that developers need to be aware of, and we want to help our customers to avoid any potential problems when Windows 8 starts shipping.

As well as the new operating system there is also a new version of the .NET Framework (4.5) which is an “upgrade” to Framework 4.0. This upgrade will be delivered to systems via Windows Update, and replaces the 4.0 version. We have already encountered problems with several existing .NET applications (not just Synergy .NET, just .NET generally) and we strongly advise you to test your .NET applications on Framework 4.5 also.

This version of Windows 8 is likely to be fairly close to whet the final released version will be, but Microsoft have already stated that they are still developing in some areas. If things go “as normal” then we might expect the final RTM (Release to Manufacturing) versions in around two months time, but no guarantees of course! Microsoft have also publicly stated that they are in good shape for a final release well in time for the 2012 “holiday season” … presumably they have big ideas about Santa Claus delivering lots of Windows 8 ARM-based tablets this year … we’ll have to wait and see how well that works out!

You can get more information and download the Windows 8 Release Preview here:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview

By the way, if you’re more interested in the server version of the O/S then the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate is also available for download now:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh670538.aspx?ocid=&wt.mc_id=TEC_108_1_33

We’re still in conference mode here at Synergex, but once the UK conference in York is out of the way I’ll write more about the changes in Windows 8, and provide more information about what you need to know before your customers start buying Windows 8 systems.


DevPartner 2012, Chicago style.

By Richard Morris, Posted on May 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

Having just completed the three day conference in Chicago I felt the urge to write about the event.  Fun is most certainly a word I would use!  It’s a real blast.  That’s not to take away from the information exchange, education and general idea stimulation that occurred not only during the conference times but throughout the informal evening receptions, which always stimulate great debate.

This year’s agenda is a mix of technical presentations and self-paced tutorials – a total of sixteen brand new tutorials to test and tax your brain and to expand your knowledge of just what Synergy can do today!  Although all the tutorials use Visual studio or Workbench as the development environment, many of them introduce capabilities which are cross platform, as you would expect with Synergy!  And the presentations themselves cover many subjects including the upcoming Windows 8 operating system from Microsoft – will your software be ready?

Tuesday starts the conference with a detailed review of everything Synergy – and I bet there are quite a few enhancements and new features you never knew existed.   Then we move into unchartered territory for the Professional Services Group – Open Source.  We will show you two great new Open Source projects that we have created, and invite you to join the community and collaborate together to build some great tools and frameworks.  So come and join the orchestra and help us all to take full advantage of Synergy and Synergy .NET.  And that’s not all, we’ll have you all hooked up by lunch!

Wednesday kicks off with the development team presenting future thoughts and Synergy opportunities.  And of course their unique take on the issues that will affect you – even before you’ve thought of them! Watch out for the pesky new disk drives, they will hurt you if you are not ready!  And what do you store on a disk drive – data of course.  Wednesday is data day so you can be as selective as you like with the information you receive, but be sure to update those brain cells you’ll need to remember it all.

Thursday starts with the Synergy brain strain – pitching your knowledge and skills against my grey matter manipulating questions.  We’ll blow away those early morning cobwebs ready for the final day of presentations and tutorials.  Hold onto your input windows as we show you how utilize Synergy .NET and tweak your UI toolkit programs.  And we’ll get all %NM$N%REFrrF$%£GRT&FSD£$FSD– that’s encrypted so you’ll need to attend the presentation to know what I said.  Get ready to jump on the metro and take a tour of the Windows 8 OS – you’ll be amazed, but is it right for your customers?

Throughout the conference the sessions are informative and thought provoking.  Being described by one customer as a cross between Monty Python and Austin Powers one wonders how educational the event really was – but I was assured they’d learnt a whole lot of new things about Synergy and our amazing Synergy .NET environment.

And so the DevPartner 2012 conference hits the road and will be rolling up to York, England, on the 12th June.  Do you think you have the knowledge to take on the Thursday morning Synergy brain strain quiz?  You’ll only know by signing up and being there.   There really is just too much information and opportunity to miss and I hope to see you there!


CodeGen Goes Open Source

By Steve Ives, Posted on May 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

For several years now I have been developing a tool called CodeGen. As you may have already guessed from the name, it’s a code generator! What’s a code generator? It’s a tool that generates code … sounds useful, right?

Well it is useful, in many different situations. Not all situations of course. If a code generator could generate ANY piece of source code that you might need then we wouldn’t need programmers any more … so why would a programmer write such a tool?

OK I jest a little. Believe me, if it were possible to write such a tool then I would have done it, and I’d have made a lot of money from it, and I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing this BLOG right now 🙂 No, of course it’s not possible to write a tool that can generate ANY piece of source code, but it absolutely is possible to create a tool that can generate useful code to address a wide variety of different requirements, and that’s what CodeGen does.

So just what is CodeGen? Well, I generally describe it as a “template-driven” code generator. What that means is that you start with a template file that defines the general “rules” for the code that is to be created, and you combine the information from that template file with some meta-data in order to produce the final code. So now the question is where does the meta-data come from? Well, when using CodeGen, in most cases it comes from a Synergy repository.

A repository database is an extremely rich source of meta-data relating to the data structures that are used within your applications. The applications that we write totally revolve around data, they create data, update data, and analyze and present data. So having a repository which completely describes not only the data structures that your application uses, but also a huge amount of additional information about HOW that data is represented and to processed, and armed with an API (ddlib) which allows programmatic access to that meta-data, a programmer can create software that “does things” based on that information. That’s what CodeGen does.

By the way, don’t fret it if you don’t already use Repository … that’s easy to address.

I have no intention of “rambling on” about what CodeGen is and how it works, because that information is all available elsewhere. CodeGen has been in use for several years, I use it extensively, and I have used it to deliver real value to several customers also. In fact in the past, that was the model. CodeGen was a tool developed by Synergex Professional Services Group, and it was available for us to use during consulting engagements. If we used it during such an engagement then that customer got to continue to use the tool, and many have done so.

The real point of writing this post is to announce, with great delight, “that times are a changing”. We’ve decided to take a different tack, and make CodeGen available to a wider audience; a MUCH wider audience. I am delighted to announce that CodeGen is now an Open Source product, and is published for the world to download and use. The project is hosted on CodePlex (Microsoft’s Open Source hosting platform) and you can view the CodeGen project home page at http://codegen.codeplex.com.

So just what does this mean? Well, it means that CodeGen is now available for you to download and use, and I hope that lots of you do just that. CodeGen is now primarily developed with Synergy .NET in Visual Studio, and if you want to use it you have two choices:

  1. Download the pre-built distribution (a Windows Installer setup program).
  2. Download the source code package and build it yourself.

The binary distribution is built with the latest version of Synergy.NET (9.5.3b), so you’ll need that version of Synergy to use it. If you’re working with an older version of Synergy then you’ll need to build CodeGen from source code, but you’ll still need a pretty recent version of Synergy/DE.

Even though the main development environment for CodeGen is now Synergy .NET, it wasn’t always that way. CodeGen started out life as a regular “Traditional Synergy” application, and it still works just fine that way. What that means is that CodeGen is equally at home under Synergy .NET or Traditional Synergy on Windows, Unix, Linux or OpenVMS, and the source code download includes scripts to build CodeGen on all of these platforms.

If you are currently attending the Synergex DevPartner Conference in Chicago, IL then you’re going to hear more about CodeGen during the conference today, and on Tuesday afternoon there will be a hands-on tutorial available to help you get real experience working with it. And if you’re attending the conference in York, England in June then don’t fret, you’ll get the same opportunity. But if you’re not attending either conference (it’s not too late to sign up for York) then you’re definitely missing out on some great information about CodeGen, and a BUNCH of other cool stuff!

But just because you’re not attending the conference doesn’t mean that you can’t use CodeGen. Head on over to http://codegen.codeplex.com to get started right now. And please, even if you don’t use CodeGen right now, at least “follow” the CodePlex project so that you’ll be kept up to date with news about the product.

By the way, to my best of my knowledge this is the first time that a “DIBOL” (Synergy) application has been published as an open source project, and I’m pretty stoked about that. BUT … there’s more! There’s another open source Synergy project about to “hit the streets” … and it utilizes CodeGen … but I’ll leave it up to my friend and colleague Richard Morris to tell you all about that!


Are you ready for Windows 8 and Visual Studio “11”?

By Steve Ives, Posted on May 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Microsoft has recently announced that the Release Candidates of both Windows 8 and Visual Studio “11” will be made available during the first week of June, 2012. Are your applications ready?

The annual Synergex DevPartner Conferences are just around the corner, and will present a wealth of valuable information that Synergy developers need to be aware of in order to deploy apps on these new platforms. It’s not too late to sign up, so don’t miss the opportunity.


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