Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio 2013 Preview

At the build conference (June 26-28, 2013) Microsoft announced Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio 2013 Preview. I installed them on my Virtual Machine. Just in case, to protect my system from some unexpected features ๐Ÿ™‚

In case of Windows 8.1 there are no big changes. Only some small, useful improvements. I like ‘search all’, which enables you to search within apps, settings and files in the same time. However I am still using Search Everything, because it’s faster and more effective. It’s also cool to have the Start button, which brings you to the metro desktop, but again – no big deal (I was ok with WIN button). You can find list of improvements/changes here and here.

The new Visual Studio is more interesting. The One ASP.NET idea is applied. When you create new project, there are only one template: ‘ASP.NET Web Application’. Then in second step, you can choose which types of applications you want to include into it.

Visual Studio 2013 One ASP.NETVisual Studio 2013 One ASP.NET templates

There is MVC 5 (Preview) in it, along with various scaffolding options. You can e.g. scaffold just edit action.

Great feature for web developers: you can open page in multiple web browsers and then refresh them all from Visual Studio (e.g. after change in code).

The editors experience is improved. You can have code map in the scroll bar. HTML editor is rewritten from scratch. Short list of my favorite features:

  • new code snippets (in HTML document try: ‘div.myClass*4>lorem’ and click TAB)
  • intellisense in web.config
  • ALT + UP/DOWN – move code line up or down
  • ALT + 1/2 – extends text selection to level up or down
  • ALT+SHIFT+W – allows to surround selected text with new tag
  • ALT+V – voice commands (which shows shortcuts), yes we can speak to Visual Studio!
  • JavaScript frameworks intellisense (e.g. AngularJS)

But the greatest news is: WebEssentials2013 are now Open Source on github. Everyone can contribute. The policy is to add experimental features to WebEssentials and then move the hottest to Visual Studio (once they are tested). To see all, new, hot features watch Mads Kristensen’s talk at build 2013.

Another cool thing is possibility to ‘sign in’ in the Visual Studio. Once you sign in using your Microsoft account, you can synchronize settings across your devices. Now, it is enough to customize you Visual Studio only once.

There is much more new features. You can find them here and here.

The “Last Lecture”

Most of people I know doesn’t like lectures. I think I have been at 1000 lectures so far. 1 course = ~10 lectures per semester. During my undergraduate studies I had ~7 courses per semester, and 7 semesters. That is 10*7*7 = ~500. Another 500 is conferences, scientific groups meetings and Graduate School courses.

There is one lecture I like the most of them all. The “Last Lecture”ย by Randy Pausch. It is amazing, and I watch it every 1-2 years. I did it again today. Randy Pausch was a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. A month before giving the lecture, Pausch had received a prognosis that the pancreatic cancer, with which he had been diagnosed a year earlier, was terminal. Despite this, he didn’t lose optimistic life approach. His last lecture is about achieving childhood dreams and…you just need to see it! I promise: you won’t regret it!

The lecture took place at Carnegie Mellon on September 18, 2007. Randy Pausch died on July 25th, 2008. There is also a book written by him after worldwide success of the lecture (16 millions views on youtube).

The future of Mobile Apps

I think that in next 5 years Web Mobile apps will be more popular than classic Mobile apps we are using today.

Me, June 28, 2013

That is what happend in case of PCs. 10 years ago we were installing apps instead of just use them in the browser. Now we can edit Word documents, play games and even use IDE in Web Browser. I am not saying that it will be no classic Mobile apps at all, but e.g. apps like Calendar, gmail, Evernote, OneNote or games should be easilly accessible through Mobile Web Browser. The advantage of that would be lack of necessity to install bunch of apps.

What that means for developers? People who are currently working as Mobile Developers will need to learn Web Development. People who are currently working as Web Developers will need to learn Mobile Development. Additionally, future developers will not necessary need to know all different platforms (iOS, Android, WP), because they will be able to create apps in HTML5 and JavaScript (which should be well supported and compatible with Mobile Web Browsers in next 5 years).

This is my prediction. We’ll see what happens after 5 years.

Customize Terminal in Mac

Mac (UNIX) users use to be working with Terminal a lot. There is a few tips, which can make your life easier. First of all, if you are working on Mac – install iTerm2 and use it instead of standard Terminal. It is just more powerful. There is many features not available in standard Terminal. I find very useful the possibilities to search with CMD+F and copy entire path with double click by mouse (when you double click in standard Terminal it copies only one word). Another cool thing is ‘split terminal’ view. You can have multiple panes in one window.
iTerm2 - multipane

Second improvement to work faster is creation some aliases for commonly use commands. E.g. ls, clear or la -ls. You might also want to customize command prompt. I don’t like the standard one with Machine and user name (I always know in which Machine I am, and which user I am using – in case of doubts I can use whoami). To do add aliases and change default command prompt you need to modify your ~/.bashrc file. There is my .bashrc:

alias dir='ls -lap'
alias l='ls'
alias p='pwd'
alias c='clear'
alias o='open'
alias tree="ls -R | grep \":$\" | sed -e 's/:$//' -e 's/[^-][^\/]*\//--/g' -e '\s/^/   /' -e 's/-/|/'"
export PS1="[\W]$ "

Here you can find a list of various options to customize your command prompt.

To load this settings automatically each time you run Terminal, you also need to add below command to ~/.profile file:

source ~/.bashrc

After above improvements my terminal looks like that:


Hint: when you are playing with your command prompt (or aliases), you can simple run command source ~/.bashrc from terminal to check the result of changes you made.

And of course I use black terminal with green font color.

We are Hackers

.NET Developer on Mac

I am PC person. I have never used Mac until I start my work as Research Assistant in SAnToS lab (Kansas State University). Now I am using it almost half year and I would like to summarize my experience.

I am using MacBook Pro (i5 2.4GHz, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD) with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

MacBook Pro

First of all, I noticed missing features (which are available on PC/Windows):

  • Click on app icon in dock (dock is equivalent to taskbar in Windows) does not hide application. It can only move the app to the top. The only way to hide the app is to click minimize button.
  • Lack of good alternative for Total Commander, which is not available on Mac. There is muCommander (no tabs) and double commander (less functional), but both are way behind TC.
  • No Shift-Delete to permanently remove files. You need to move them to trash first, and then empty the trash.
  • No ‘cut’ in context menu (after right click). To have this luxury you need to install e.g. Total Finder (beyond the ‘cut’ option it also provides the possibility to have tabs and some other useful features).

Now, a few differences between Mac OS and Windows:

  • The default file manager is called Finder instead of Explorer.
  • In general, when you would use CTRL+KEY in Windows, then in MacOS you need to use CMD+KEY.
  • To change file name you need to click RETURN(ENTER) instead of F2(in Windows).
  • To open the file you need to click CMD+O, instead of ENTER (in Windows).
  • DELETE key is working like PC’s RETURN (delete character on the left side of the cursor).
  • Instead of HOME key you have CMD+LEFT_ARROW, and instead of END key – CMD+RIGHT_ARROW.

I use OneNote a lot. One of my favorite features is WIN+S, which allows me to make a screenshot of selected area in desktop. On Mac OS this feature is provided along with the operating system. CMD+SHIFT+4 saves the photo into Desktop, and CMD+OPTION+SHIFT+4 saves it into clipboard. Very useful feature. However I think Apple should consider to create some two-key shortcut like CMD+4 or CMD+F4, because clicking 4 keys in the same time is quite a challenging.

Another nice feature is possibility to use country specific letters like ฤ™, ล„, ล›, ฤ‡, รค, รถ even when you have english version of the system. You just need to hold the key and then there is small tooltip showing possible special letters. You can choose the letter with mouse or using keyboard (by picking the number).

MacBook special letters

The last thing I would like to mention is my favorite: the trackpad (touchpad). It is just awesome! Maybe it is not strict part of operating system, but the gestures are implemented in it. You can see the demo of the gestures here. The MacBook Pro trackpad is also well made. Much better than touchpad in all notebooks I have used before.

When you are working on Mac, you use Terminal a lot (when you are developer). In that case it will be nice to have ‘Open Terminal here’ option in finder, which open the Terminal in directory you have clicked on. That is just my wish to Apple ๐Ÿ™‚

I think it took me about a month to become comfortable with using Mac.

EDIT: There is one more nice feature I just find out: you can past text without formatting by clicking CMD+ALT+SHIFT+V. And again…4 keys in the same time. But in this case I can’t push them all with one hand ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe CMD+SHIFT+V would be more user friendly?