Saturday, April 10, 2010

How Excited Are Businesses About Yet Another Version Of A .NET Framework ?

Just in a couple of days (on 12th, April 2010 precisely) Visual Studio 2010 will be released along with .NET 4.0.  While most of the .NET developers are excited to see an improved version of .NET framework and itching to try the latest and greatest of all, it is totally a different ball game for businesses, for they prefer  and wish a stable framework that doesn’t change, well, forever. As every new version comes with a new set of challenges and often hit bottom lines pretty hard.

A new version is always quite an expensive proposition

Its not at all a surprising fact that even today most businesses are running their business applications on .NET 1.1 or even some still run on classic ASP. Because, more often than not, upgrading to a new version proves to be quite expensive and doesn’t offer enough benefits or improvements that justify the cost of upgrade.

  • A new version comes about once in a year. If not a new version altogether, a new SP that fixes a whole bunch of bugs and security issues. The frequency of these updates alone is a big issue to manage.
  • Though new versions are often faster than earlier versions, you may have to upgrade your hardware resources to really squeeze enough juice out of those new versions to make sense.
  • Even with the possibility of running multiple versions side-by-side, upgrading to a new version is never easy for businesses, as often new versions are not completely backward compatible.
  • If there are 3rd party libraries are used in those applications, businesses may have to upgrade those 3rd party libraries as well. New versions, often bundled with a laundry list of new features (mostly not useful at all) comes with a price as well.
  • Though, .NET framework itself supports side-by-side execution, more often that not, running different versions of tools is a nightmare. Since not every application can be migrated at once, most enterprises must support co-existence of multiple versions of these tool sets for a long time, living through one night mare by another.
  • If Businesses do not upgrade, then there is an issue of support. For instance, Microsoft and 3rd Party vendors may cede support to older versions and force to upgrade. And, it may not be easy and good on account books to find developers who can support older versions.

On the other side of the coin

Its true that a new version is may be a better one than the earlier. Some times a faster, more secure and significantly improved. Some times, a new version even enable new business models, opportunities and much better ways to solve business problems. The truth of the matter is though, most businesses have already developed systems with existing toolset itself to leverage new market opportunities.

And its not just an issue with Microsoft, .NET Framework or Visual Studio. Upgrading any software is an issue and hit bottom lines for most businesses.  Its even the same story in the consumer space. For instance, iPhone OS 4.0 will not be supported on the first generation 2G iPhone, forcing to upgrade to a newer version. Everybody is well aware of the story of Windows Vista.

It will be a tough decision for stake holders to make a call to upgrade. But as we all know, it must be done at some point. I wish, we will have a stable release, for at least 3-4 years. No SPs, No new versions of frameworks, tools or any other component.

But we all know quite well, how it works.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Design Sense : Critical Elements of Landing Pages

We spend a significant amount of time and money in marketing a web site to reach the target audience. We take extra care in designing our marketing brochures, advertisements and campaigns, that translate our ideas, products and solutions to customers.

But what about the website landing page, the first page that customer or visitor get to see when he/she visits the web site. First impression is the best impression. Do you think your website makes the same first impression you wish it would? Does your website speak the same language? Does your website can keep the conversation going?

Here is a wonderful video by Gregg Blanchard explaining three critical elements of Website landing pages.

If you think first impression is important, landing Page is the ‘first impression’ of your website. So make sure, you make your first impression the best impression.

Previously on Design Sense :

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Accept OpenID In Your ASP.NET Web Application

If you would like to accept OpenId in your ASP.NET Web application or make your ASP.NET Application act like a openId provider, consider using the open source dotnetOpenAuth library before developing your own. The library supports off the shelf OpenID, oAuth and InfoCards.

Check out : 

The library even have Visual Studio Project templates to build a simple web app or an MVC application. In the next few days, we will include a step by step tutorial on using dotnetopenAuth library to build ASP.NET MVC2 Applications. Please stay tuned.

Design Sense : Avoiding Unintended Expectations In Writing

Our recent experiences with Supercool School have reminded us some of the key aspects of web application design, that we normally take for granted otherwise. For instance, clarity of copy writing on our web applications. Are our messages clear and conveying what we really intend to? Are our messages clearly translating our vision and ideas? Are our messages guiding the user to interact with the application naturally?

Some times, if we fail to think through the mental model of real users, it may result in unintended expectations on our applications. For example, when a new user try to signup for an account at  Supercool School, this particular screen is displayed where the user is offered a choice of signing up for a Professional Account or start a Free school. Look at the screen and try to figure out how many users a Free school can have?


Based on the text, there is only ONE limit on free school : you can host only 15 classes in a given month, compared to unlimited classes in the Professional account. Omitting number of users for a free school, led us to think  there is no limit on users in free School version.

What do you think? 

We came to know later that it allows only a maximum of 15 members in a free school. They might have mentioned some where, but we didn’t notice until we hear complaints from users that they couldn’t signup.

Go back and have a look at your web site or application. Make sure, those messages really translate what you intended. Try to think like a user. Or even better conduct a few usability tests with real users. See, if they can use the application just the way you want them to use. Then try tweaking your flow, messages and everything on your site until a new user can navigate your application and get things done as they are supposed to be.

Design Sense : How to Keep Conversations Going, In The Face Of Exceptions

No matter, how well we design our Software Systems, exceptions are bound to happen. Some times, due to our internal faults arising from bad or incomplete design like not handling errors or certain uncommon conditions. And some times, due to events that are totally out of our control. What makes our application exceptional is how we handle those exceptions and keep the conversations going.

Instead of just babbling theoretical aspects of what makes design sense, we would like to share examples from a real experience at Supercool School and clarify what should have been done to handle an exception.

We signed up for Supercool School last week and created a new class to offer our most popular “Unleash Your Career” event. We added the site url in all our communication and marketing material and started promoting the session. A couple of days later, on 6th of April, we received an email from a user that he couldn’t signup. We visited the site and tried to signup. This is how the error message was displayed on the screen.


Now that may look perfectly reasonable error message for many. But think what will happen next. It will cut short the conversation with user. User may not take the extra pain to complain or communicate with you and just leave the site. The user may never visit the site again. And most likely the user will discourage other people visiting the site. Does keyword ‘viral’ or social ring a sound? All the effort put so far to get the user to visit site, persuade the user to see value and signup for the account, all goes in vain.

The solution, is simple. Keep conversation going. Just do not give up so easily. Think about, automatically retrying on behalf of the user. Think about alternatives that could be offered to keep the user proceeding further. If no alternatives are available, Think about collecting some information from the user so that you can reach them back later. Do something, whatever possible, so that you don’t loose that user.

Thinking about this specific issue, Supercool School should have done some thing like these:

  • Offer the user to contact the School owner by providing a link right in the error message.
  • Even better, explain to the user about the problem, but also take the registration as usual and put the user account in a ‘pending state’. This way, School owner do not loose the user and User experience is not suddenly broken.
  • Inform the school owner about the exception and offer the owner to upgrade to next plan immediately.
  • Even better, allow registrations for a day or two, giving some time for the Site owner to make arrangements to upgrade to the next plan.

It is really worth giving a serious thought to how you are currently handling errors/exceptions in your system. And how you can keep those conversations going. Remember, don’t give up so easily.

Links : Google Tops in Authentication Services at JanRain

“A new study from OpenID company JanRain shows that users heavily prefer to use their Google and Facebook logins on websites that offer third party sign-in options.

In many segments, such as media, retail and technology, Facebook outstrips other authentication services by a sizable margin. Still, for JanRain’s entire client base of 170,000, Google remains the most popular login service overall, commanding about 38% of all user authentications.”

Source: Mashable

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

VS2010 : Even The Basic ASP.NET Web App Looks Slick and Complete

No doubt, Visual Studio 2010,  to be officially released next week (12th April, 2010) is loaded with lots of new features.  We would like to share about some nifty features we liked as we discover.

Here is one to start with. Its about the new and improved ASP.NET Web Application template. When you create a project with ASP.NET Web application template in Visual Studio 2008 or any earlier editions, all you get is a Single Empty Page web application.


But with Visual Studio 2010, even the basic ASP.NET Web Application looks quite stylish, slick and sexy.


Now the template includes a cool Style, Pages needed for basic Account Management (Register, Login, Change Password), a Default Home page with a Master Template enriched with Navigation and added some introductory text on pages. The app also include jQuery library and associated VS Metadata file to support Intellisense for jQuery library. It even includes the Global.asax file.


That means, when you create a new project template, its in fact almost ready for deployment as your first draft version of an application. Just hook your database, add some context to your application, you can start accepting memberships too.

Not that doing any of those above is difficult, but having them as default in the template, saves time, give that ‘rapid’ development a new feather and makes us like VS2010 even more.

PS: If you haven’t signed up for the VS2010 Virtual Launch Event, go ahead and signup now.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Unleash Your Career 2010, Now At Supercool School on 10th April 2010

Have you ever got curious what is Microsoft .NET is all about? Are you looking to jump start your career in IT? Or Are you already in IT and looking for a break to advance your Career? Or just want to know what is HOT in the Job market today?

Come, Join us at INSPIONS University, now a Supercool School to Unleash Your Career, by exploring various opportunities in the Market place and to carve out a blue print to achieve your dreams.

"Unleash Your Career" is our Annual premier event where Dreams come true for IT Professionals. In this .NET Edition Explore and Discover various Career Opportunities around Microsoft .NET Technologies. Learn about Technologies, Job Markets and what skills Businesses are looking for. And leave with a blue print on how to achieve your Career aspirations with Microsoft .NET Technologies.

Ask YOUR own questions. Also get answers to questions like

  • How is job Market today? Where? What? and How?
  • I am just a student. What is the best way to approach the Job Market?
  • I already work on xxxx. Why should I switch to .NET?
  • I already work on xxxx. How can I switch to .NET technologies?
  • .NET 1.1/2.0/3.5 and now 4.0? How can I keep up?
  • Should I learn C# or VB?
  • ASP.NET, WPF or Silverlight? What pays more?
  • NUnit or xUnit? What is HOT in the market?
  • Is AJAX still relevant in the market?
  • I heard a lot about Sharepoint. What it takes to master it?
  • What is the best paid Technology today?
  • I want to become an Architect? How do I go about it?
  • SQL or Oracle? What gets a better job?

and a whole lot more.

Join Us Online On Saturday, 10th April, 2010 at 11AM. Its FREE.

Reserve Your Seat Now

By registering at INSPIONS University you can access all upcoming seminars, tutorials and .NET sessions LIVE as well as on demand.

See you there.

INSPIONS University is now a Supercool School !!!

We are constantly looking to enrich our learning platform and have found Supercool School to be, well, really super cool. So, we have immediately switched and now offering “Unleash Your Career” as our first session. We are super excited about the new opportunities this platform will bring to us and to you. We are quite confident that you will like it too. Will share more about this platform and reasons why we switched to it so fast, little later. If you haven’t checked it out, join us now.

Visit and signup.


Have you ever got curious what is Microsoft .NET is all about? Are you looking to jump start your career in IT? Or Are you already in IT and looking for a break to advance your Career? Or just want to know what is HOT in the Job market today?

Then you must join our “Unleash Your Career” session, on 10th April 2010 at 11AM (US/Central). Sign up at INSPIONS University and join the session right away. Learn more about “Unleash Your Career” here.


See you there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How does your site look on iPad?

Wondering how your site looks like in an iPad, try at for a glimpse. Click on top border to toggle to landscape/portrait mode. Here is how the ‘Unleash Your Career’ page looks in an iPad.


A snapshot that shows the onscreen keyboard on iPad as well. Quite slick though.


Nothing special, as this is the same Safari browser.  The difference will be in how we interact with a site on iPad. For that, we just need to buy an iPad to try it out. Hmm!!!