• Farewell MCT

    I first became a Microsoft Certified Trainer back when I was working at LobsterPot Solutions. Teaching is something I quite enjoy, though the opportunities are limited. The only times I’ve been using my MCT status in the last few years was to be able to attend the Microsoft TechEd conferences as a hands-on labs trainer.

    Recently, Microsoft announced some changes to the MCT programme, including that MCTs must teach at least one course a year, and that receive a training quality score (feedback) of at least 6.

    As it’s been a few years since I last taught a course, I won’t be able to renew my MCT this year. They have introduced an ‘MCT Alumni’ programme for inactive trainers, which I would qualify for, but I haven’t decided if there’s value in me doing that.

  • Extending WinForms controls

    I’ve been looking at ways to extend and enhance .NET WinForms controls recently and thought I’d summarise what I’ve found/learned so far.

    Inheritance

    The most obvious way to extend a control is to create a new class that inherits from the existing class. You then have full access to add new properties and methods and access any protected methods from the base class.

    It does mean that if you’ve already used the control in your application, you’re going to have to replace references to the base class with your new class – not always easy.

    IExtenderProvider

    Properties window showing Tooltip propertyAnother option is to create a class that implements the IExtenderProvider interface. You can then create a component that can be added to a form or user control that extends specific types. An example of this that ships in the framework is the ToolTip class. When you drag this control onto a form it doesn’t add a visible control to the design surface. Instead it adds a new ToolTip property to appropriate controls on the same form.

    Custom ComponentResourceManager

    Visual Studio designer showing properties window with Localizable set to trueA more specific area of WinForms controls that you might want to customise is the localisation support. Localisation for controls on a form is enabled by setting the Localizable property of the form to true. This also alters the designer-generated InitializeComponent method to add a new resources variable of type System.ComponentModel.ComponentResourceManager. This allows you to use .resx resource files to load locale-specific values for properties. This is the standard way that you would provide alternate language translations for your application.

    A question on Stack Overflow asked about replacing this implementation with another that could load resources from an alternate location (such as an XML file or a database). The accepted answer pointed to some samples from Guy Smith-Ferrier’s book, .NET Internationalization: The Developer’s Guide to Building Global Windows and Web Applications.

    Impressively, even though the book was published in 2006 Guy has been releasing regular updates to the code samples at http://www.dotneti18n.com/Downloads.aspx. His sample for a custom ComponentResourceManager includes a ResourceManagerSetter class that has the DesignerSeralizer attribute. This was new to me, but it turns out this is the mechanism that generates the code that appears in a forms’s .Designer.cs file. This uses the CodeDom to generate code that inserts the replacement ComponentResourceManager instance.

    private void InitializeComponent() { System.ComponentModel.ComponentResourceManager resources = new System.ComponentModel.ComponentResourceManager(typeof(UserControl1)); this.resourceManagerSetter1 = new Internationalization.Resources.ResourceManagerSetter(); this.label1 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label(); this.SuspendLayout(); Internationalization.Resources.ResourceManagerProvider.GetResourceManager(typeof(UserControl1), out resources); // // label1 // resources.ApplyResources(this.label1, “label1”); this.label1.Name = “label1”; //

    Using CodeDom means that the code is generated for the appropriate language automatically. The only requirement is that this component must be the first one added to the form. If you’re adding this to an existing form with controls, just go to the Designer.cs file and move the line calls the constructor to the top of the InitializeComponent method. (The order of the calls to the constructors seems to determine the order in which the serialized code generators are called)

    You can see from the code sample above that the original instantiation is still there, but is effectively replaced by the call to the GetResmourceManager method.

    MSDN has more info on Globalizing Windows Forms.

  • Tour Down Under 2014

    We made it!

    Me and Dad, about to head for the start at UnleyI’m glad to report that unlike last year, my back was behaving itself and yesterday I was able to take part in the Bupa Challenge Tour with my Dad. The Challenge Tour is a chance to ride the same route that the professionals do for one day of the Tour Down Under. Like previous years, we rode as part of the Mud, Sweat & Gears team.

    Riders, Looking north up King William RdWe rode the full course of 154km from Unley to Victor Harbor. That’s the longest distance I think I’ve ever ridden, and boy did my feet and my behind know about it – especially the last 30km or so! It took just under 8 hours (7:54 according to the Endomondo app I used on my phone), which included time at the rest stops.

    The start of the ride took us up the South-Eastern Freeway through the Heysen Tunnels. Normally cyclists aren’t allowed along here, so that was quite a novelty – though we agreed that the tunnels themselves are quite stuffy.

    The weather this year was fantastic. It was a little drizzly early in the morning, but then remained comfortably cool for most of the day. It was overcast for most of the morning, which helped a lot. A gentle breeze earlier in the day became a little more blustery towards the end, but not as bad as some years.

    We made three stops along the way – at Meadows, Mt Compass and Yankalilla. A chance to refill drink bottles with various colours of Powerade (each stop seemed to have a different colour) and grab a banana and fruit cake to refuel.

    This year for the first time they scanned the RFID tags on our bikes as we progressed through the route. You could then log in to a website to obtain the results. Here are mine:

    Split TOD Time
    Unley 06:42 am 00:12:16
    Unley Backup 07:09 am 00:39:30
    Stirling 07:53 am 01:23:13
    Meadows 09:03 am 02:33:57
    Mt Compass 10:30 am 04:00:13
    KOM 11:48 am 05:18:17
    Yankalilla 01:13 pm 06:43:55
    Finish 02:37 pm 08:07:25

    Route map from Unley to Victor Harbor

    The ride started at 6.30am, but you as can see it took us 12 minutes to pass through the start – not surprising as there were thousands of riders there.

    Highlights:

    • Repeatedly being overtaken by former UniSA colleague Mandy (apparently I’m quite conspicuous on a bike, even amongst 6,600 other similarly attired cyclists)
    • Well run food and drink stops
    • Watching the pros finish in a blaze of colour
    • Finishing

    Lowlights

    • They’d temporarily closed the lunch station as the pros were approaching the finish line and there just a few salad roles in a tray. I gather earlier finishers had a better selection. We didn’t starve, but it didn’t seem to be very organised.
    • I wonder if there’s such thing as a saddle that’s comfortable even after 100kms. I don’t think I have one 😀

    Odd-lights:

    • Lemons as a choice of fruit at the food stops. Didn’t seem to be a lot of takers.

    Team work

    After the ride – waiting for the Pros (photo by Fiona)

    Keep your focus on the goal

    Grimacing Greipel, 150m to go before he won the stage (photo by Fiona)

    Special thanks to Narelle’s parents Rick and Margaret, who drove us to the start very early in the morning, and then met us at the finish to take me and our bikes home again.