2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Microsoft takes .NET open source and cross-platform,adds new development capabilities with Visual Studio 2015, .NET 2015 and Visual Studio Online

NEW YORK — Nov. 12, 2014 — On Wednesday, Microsoft Corp. reinforced its commitment to cross-platform developer experiences by open sourcing the full server-side .NET stack and expanding .NET to run on the Linux and Mac OS platforms. Microsoft also released Visual Studio Community 2013, a new free edition of Visual Studio that provides easy access to the Visual Studio core toolset. The announcements kicked off Microsoft’s Connect (); event, where the company released Visual Studio 2015 Preview and .NET 2015 Preview.

“With billions of devices in the market today, developers need tools that target many different form factors and platforms,” said S. Somasegar, corporate vice president, Developer Division, Microsoft. “Through Visual Studio and .NET we are committed to delivering a comprehensive end-to-end solution for developers to build and manage applications across multiple devices and platforms.”

Open, accessible and cross-platform

Delivering on its promise to support cross-platform development, Microsoft is providing the full .NET server stack in open source, including ASP.NET, the .NET compiler, the .NET Core Runtime, Framework and Libraries, enabling developers to build with .NET across Windows, Mac or Linux. Through this implementation, Microsoft will work closely with the open source community, taking contributions for future improvements to .NET and will work through the .NET Foundation.

“A strong, open source, cross-platform CLR opens significant new options for building large server-based systems,” said Brian McCallister, chief technology officer, Groupon. “This significantly expands the choices developers have when finding the right tool to solve their problem. I’m very excited to have access to the quality virtual machine and tooling of the CLR without having to completely rework our production infrastructure in order to run it!”

Visual Studio for every developer

Available Wednesday, Visual Studio Community 2013 is a free, fully featured edition of Visual Studio including full extensibility. Targeting any platform, from devices and desktop, to Web and cloud services, the community edition provides developers with easy access to Microsoft’s Visual Studio toolset for all nonenterprise application development. Developers can get started with Visual Studio Community 2013 here.

Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 2015: build for any device

Built from the ground up with support for iOS, Android and Windows, Visual Studio 2015 Preview makes it easier for developers to build applications and services for any device, on any platform.

To further support cross-platform mobile development with .NET, as part of their strategic partnership, Microsoft and Xamarin announced a new streamlined experience for installing Xamarin from Visual Studio, as well as announced the addition of Visual Studio support to its free offering Xamarin Starter Edition — available later in the year. In addition, for Web developers interested in building cloud-powered apps that target mobile devices, Microsoft delivered the final release of Apache Cordova tools. Developers can get started Visual Studio 2015 Preview here.

Building for the cloud

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the preview of ASP.NET 5.0, a streamlined framework and runtime optimized for cloud and server workloads. In addition, the new Connected Services Manager in Visual Studio 2015 makes it easier to connect applications to line-of-business API services such as the Office 365 API and SalesForce, among others.

Visual Studio Online: Agility and DevOps in the cloud

Building on a year of service enhancements, Microsoft announced additional capabilities for Visual Studio Online, its online service for development projects, by announcing additional capabilities for the service, including these:

  • Release Management as a service, available in preview, to enable customers to automate and manage application releases without the need to set up or maintain any service infrastructure.
  • Cloud Deployment Projects, to allow organizations to more easily and reliably provision and configure development, test and production environments in Azure.

Visual Studio 2013 update 4

Also on Wednesday, Microsoft announced the availability of Visual Studio 2013 Update 4, the fourth fully featured update in the past 12 months, which includes various productivity enhancements and additional capabilities. Download and product information can be found here.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center athttp://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts/.


Reference: http://news.microsoft.com/2014/11/12/microsoft-takes-net-open-source-and-cross-platform-adds-new-development-capabilities-with-visual-studio-2015-net-2015-and-visual-studio-online/

Material design with Polymer


Table of contents


Material design is a unified system of visual, motion, and interaction design that adapts across different devices. Material design is inspired by tactile materials, such as paper and ink. Material surfaces interact in a shared space. Surfaces can have elevation (z-height) and cast shadows on other surfaces to convey relationships.

Polymer’s paper elements collection implements material design for the web. The Polymer core elements collection provides a number of unthemed elements that you can use to achieve material design app layouts, transitions, and scrolling effects.

For more detail on the material design philosophy and guidelines, see the Material design specification.

For a sample of the material design patterns in use, see the Topeka sample app.

For quick visual demos of many of the paper elements, see the Paper elements sampler.

The Polymer core elements set includes several elements for application layout, including creating toolbars, app bars, tabs, and side nav consistent with the material design guidelines.

See Layout elements for information on using these elements.

To work well with the Polymer layout elements, you should make sure other parts of your app follow the same metrics described in the material design spec, such as:

  • Baseline grids
  • Keylines
  • Touch target size

Material design uses icons extensively. Polymer provides access to a large variety of scalable, tintable SVG icons using the <core-icon> element and its associated icon sets. Using <core-icon> can be as simple as:

<link rel="import" href="/components/core-icons/core-icons.html">
<core-icon icon="info"></core-icon>

core-icons.html is a utility import that includes the <core-icon> element and the default icon set, which includes over 150 common icons. Here are a few examples:

For details on using <core-icon> and its relatives, see Using core icons.

The paper elements collection includes a number of material-themed controls for all common areas of your application. The following table shows the common controls.

More examples
Toggle button
Icon button
More examples
Floating action button
Radio buttons
Progress bar
More examples

Dialogs, snackbars and toasts all appear as a separate sheet, overlaying the background. The paper element collection includes two elements.

  • A dialog (<paper-dialog>) is a modal window that can include a title, text, action buttons, and other controls.
  • A snackbar or toast (<paper-toast>) is a small, transient popup that includes a message and optionally a single action (such as “undo”).

Use the <paper-dialog> element to create a dialog. Set a title on a dialog using the heading published property.

You can use any kind of children inside the dialog. For action buttons, add the dismissive or affirmativeattributes to place the controls (typically buttons) at the bottom of the dialog:

  • dismissive actions, like Cancel, close the dialog and return to the previous screen without making changes. They’re displayed on the left.
  • affirmative actions, like OK or Save continue a process or confirm a decision. They’re displayed on the right.

The following example creates a dialog with two buttons:

<paper-dialog id="dialog" heading="Launch?"
  <p>This app would like to launch a small, unmanned vehicle
     into space.</p>
  <paper-button label="Cancel" dismissive></paper-button>
  <paper-button label="OK" affirmative default></paper-button>

In this example, the default button has a default attribute. The dialog doesn’t apply any special treatment for a default option; you can style it differently using CSS.

Dialogs are hidden by default. Call the dialog’s toggle method to show or hide it.

More examples

A <paper-toast> element appears at the bottom of the screen or on the lower-left on mobile. Use the textattribute to specify the text to display.

<paper-toast id="toast" text="Your draft has been discarded."></paper-toast>

Like a dialog, a <paper-toast> is hidden by default. Call the element’s open method to display it. The toast disappears after a timeout, or can be dismissed by swiping.

More examples

When designing your own components or using generic HTML elements such as <div>s, you can add material design effects using the <paper-ripple> and <paper-shadow> elements.

Material responds to input events with an touch ripple effect: an animation that moves out radially from the origin of the event. These effects are built into the paper elements collection:

When working with other elements, you can use the <paper-ripple> element to create a touch ripple effect.

To use <paper-ripple>, declare a <paper-ripple> element as a child of the element you want to add the effect to:

<div style="position: relative;">
  <paper-ripple fit></paper-ripple>

Touch the cards and icon below to see ripple effects.

Default ripple

Colored ripple

Circular ripple

The <paper-ripple> should be position: absolute and sized to fit the parent element. In this example, the fit layout attribute is used to position the ripple appropriately. (See layout attributes for information on fit and other layout attributes.)

You can clip the ripple to a circle by adding the circle class to the ripple’s classlist. Circular ripples are used for small buttons used in a grid layout (for example, icon buttons, number pads).

You can set the color of the ripple using the color CSS property.

paper-ripple {
  color: red;

When using a paper element, check the element API doc to find the CSS selector to style the ripple. Most elements that have a ripple have a <paper-ripple> in the shadow DOM with an ID of ink or ripple. For example, to style a button:

paper-button::shadow #ripple {
  color: blue;

To style a checkbox:

paper-checkbox::shadow #ink {
  color: blue;

Material has an apparent elevation (z-height) and casts shadows. In Polymer, elements can have a z-height between 0 and 5. Material can raise or lower in response to user input.

The paper-elements have shadow effects built-in. For example, a <paper-button> declared with theraisedButton attribute appears raised above thesurface it rests on, and raises up when touched.

When building your own elements or using standard DOM elements, you can use the <paper-shadow>element to create the appropriate shadow effect.

To apply a shadow to an element, simply add a <paper-shadow> element as a child element of a relatively positioned element. The <paper-shadow> element automatically adds the shadow to its parent element:

 <div style="width: 100px; height: 100px;" relative>
   <paper-shadow z="3"></paper-shadow>

You can change the z-height of the target element by setting z on the <paper-shadow> element. Z values range from 0 (no shadow) to 5.

z = 1

z = 3

z = 5

The apparent height of the element (the z-height value) is absolute — that is, an element with a z-height of 3 casts the same size shadow regardless of the z-heights of the background elements. In addition, the z-height does not affect the stacking order of elements. To change stacking order of sibling elements, use the z-indexCSS property as usual.

You can apply a shadow to a different element (other than the parent element) by setting the<paper-shadow> element’s target property. However, the target must still be an element that accepts children. (For example, you can’t add a shadow directly to an <img> element.)

Note: The <paper-shadow> element sets its target to overflow: visible so the shadows are visible outside of the element’s borders. If you need to clip inner content, use another container inside the shadowed container.

More examples

Support for transitions is rapidly evolving. The <core-animated-pages> element displays a single child element at a time, and provides support for sophisticated transitions between two children, or pages.

You can define a set of transitions to be executed when transitioning between pages. To provide visual continuity across transitions, animated pages support hero transitions, where a selected element on the starting page appears to morph into a related element on the ending page. Use hero transitions to link important elements together, while using a simpler transition such as a cross-fade for the remaining elements.

For example transitions, see the <core-animated-pages> demos. The Topeka sample app also demonstrates a number of transitions in context.

The <core-scroll-header-panel> element supports a number of scrolling effects described in the material design spec, including condensing and expanding the toolbar as the user scrolls and hiding or showing the toolbar.

For resizing toolbars, <core-scroll-header-panel> lets you define how to transition the toolbar’s contents between states — resizing text, showing or hiding /components, and cross-fading between backgrounds, for example.

See the <core-scroll-header-panel> demos for some examples of the effects possible.


reference: https://www.polymer-project.org/docs/elements/material.html

Live up Presentation on PowerPoint with SSRS

This post talks about incorporating the report into Office/PowerPoint as opposed to exporting to these formats. The report information is positioned at the selected location in the document, and for it to stay as refreshable content.

1) Incorporating in Microsoft Word

I thought this might be possible, using Fields in Word, and with some poking about I managed to get it to work.

Firstly, open your Word document and insert a Field object:

Make the field type “Include Text” and paste in the URL to your SSRS report.

The format of the URL looks like this (again, assuming you are using SSRS in integrated mode with SharePoint):


More information on the URL format can be found here:


You can also use a “LINK” field to embed the report output – this gives a little more flexibility in how the content is to be interpreted.

To refresh the object, simply right click on the report content:


2) Incorporating in PowerPoint

Unfortunately there isn’t any native way to do the same thing, as PPT doesn’t have the same concept of the Field object that we can use as a container for the SSRS output. We can embed the report output as an image into the document by inserting an image and pasting in the URL to the report as shown below:


However, this doesn’t retain the link information so the image is not refreshable.

Enter a very useful PPT addin called LiveWeb. It allows you to embed a web frame onto a PPT slide and have it refresh each time you run the slide show. So by providing the appropriate URL to the report viewer we can have updating SSRS output directly into our PPT. Woot!


A couple of caveats:

  • It seems the addin only works with the 32-bit edition of Office. I was getting error messages when I tried to use it with my host machine 64-bit installation.
  • It’s an addin so it’s a separate file that would need to be deployed to each client machine that need to run these slide shows.
  • The content of the web page is only shown when the slideshow is running – in edit mode there is a placeholder image as shown below.


At the suggestion of Shashank (Me Smile), I did some further fiddling to see if we could get a similar result by embedding a Word document with an embedded IncludeText field into the PowerPoint slide. And as it turns out, it works!

Firstly, open Word and link in your required SSRS output as documented in point 1 above. Then select the part of the Word document that includes the field and chose “Copy”. Hint: to accurately select the field, right-click on it and choose “Toggle Field Codes”.

Then go to PowerPoint and on the slide where you want the content, insert an Object and select a Microsoft Word Document – this will place a Word frame on the slide:


You can then paste the selected text from the Word document into this frame and the Field object will still allow you to refresh the SSRS content:


Reference: http://blogs.technet.com/b/sqlman/archive/2010/06/15/incorporating-reporting-services-reports-in-word-and-powerpoint.aspx

What is ITIL?

What is ITIL?

ITIL is the most widely adopted approach for IT Service Management in the world.  It provides a practical, no-nonsense framework for identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services to the business.

ITIL: Overview and Benefits

ITIL advocates that IT services must be aligned to the needs of the business and underpin the core business processes. It provides guidance to organizations on how to use IT as a tool to facilitate business change, transformation and growth.

The ITIL best practices are currently detailed within five core publications which provide a systematic and professional approach to the management of IT services, enabling organizations to deliver appropriate services and continually ensure they are meeting business goals and delivering benefits.

The five core guides map the entire ITIL Service Lifecycle, beginning with the identification of customer needs and drivers of IT requirements, through to the design and implementation of the service into operation and finally, on to the monitoring and improvement phase of the service.

Adopting ITIL can offer users a huge range of benefits that include:

  • improved IT services
  • reduced costs
  • improved customer satisfaction through a more professional approach to service delivery
  • improved productivity
  • improved use of skills and experience
  • improved delivery of third party service.

For further information on the ITIL Service Management approach and its benefits, see pdf  ITIL: The Basics White Paper.

For further information on the Benefits of ITIL, see pdf  Executive Briefing: ITIL Benefits.

ITIL Users

ITIL has been adopted by thousands of organizations worldwide, such as NASA, the UK National Health Service (NHS), HSBC bank and Disney™. ITIL is also supported by quality services from a wide range of providers including examination institutes, accredited training providers and consultancies, software and tool vendors and well known service providers such as IBM, Telefonica, HP and British telecom (BT).

A comprehensive qualifications scheme offering a variety of training courses and certifications has been developed against the guidance. This scheme can help organizations to effectively implement ITIL, achieving success by ensuring that employees have the relevant knowledge, skills and techniques, but most importantly, ensuring the entire organization is using a common language and are fully invested in the process.

ITIL Best Practices also underpin the foundations of ISO/IEC 20000 (previously BS15000), the International Service Management Standard for organizational certification and compliance. Organizations can therefore implement ITIL to achieve organizational certification.

Further ITIL Resources

Further information on ITIL, its practical application and benefits can be downloaded from the Best Management Practice website. See the links below to access this information:

pdf An Introductory Overview of ITIL – a free to download publication published by TSO in association with it SMFi.

ITIL Technical and White Papers – a series of papers on ITIL and its alignment with other service management approaches.

pdf Using PRINCE2 and ITIL together – this Case Study explains how using ITIL and PRINCE2 helped successfully set up an offshore service desk.

pdf Disney’s ITIL Journey – a case study on Disney’s adoption of ITIL


Reference: http://www.itil-officialsite.com/WhatisITIL.aspx

9-step CIO survival guide

1.Don’t Panic!

Change creates opportunities. The current state of flux means you now have the opportunity to define what the role of CIO means to your organization. “CIOs are actually in a unique position because their roles are evolving,” says Mighael Botha, CTO North America at Software AG. “In finance, things are pretty much the same quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year. But CIOs can go out and say, ‘This is what I want this role to mean for my organization.’ It’s time to strategically look at what you can do to really accelerate the business.”

2.Assess Your Process Landscape

In IT, it’s common to talk about the 80/20 barrier: You spend 80 percent of your time and resources keeping the lights on, leaving 20 percent for innovation. And innovation is required if you want to transform the role of the CIO. There’s no magic bullet to change that ratio, but you can move the needle in the right direction a little bit at a time.

“The first thing to really look at is your process landscape within IT,” says Botha. “You have to really identify the areas that take up the most of your time. Look for ways to streamline and automate internal IT processes. Maybe I can automate some things that would enable me to move the need from 80 to 75.”

3.Identify Your Staff’s Talents and Form a Strike Team

Getting the right people in the right positions can help you carve out more time to innovate. Identify the talents of the various people on your staff, make sure you have them in the right positions and ask them how their jobs could be streamlined to spend less time on maintenance and more on innovation. Consider forming an ‘IT strike team’ focused on research and development.

“If you get like-minded individuals together that you can task with a certain goal, you sometimes get more momentum,” Botha says. “They want to enact that change. Positive thinking and positive actions grow additional positive thoughts and ideas. It sparks new interest in getting stuff done more productively.”

4.Stop Saying ‘No!’

Historically, a big part of the CIO’s role has been taking cost out of the business. In many cases, this has led to ‘no’ as the first response to user requests. Rather than saying ‘no,’ seek to understand the user’s problem and seek a solution. Otherwise, today’s users will simply go around you. “‘No’ has become the word I hate the most from my staff ,” says Noah Broadwater, CTO of Sesame Workshop, the producer of Sesame Street. “Instead, you say: ‘I understand, let me look into a solution.’ If you say, ‘Let me understand what you’re trying to solve, and I’ll try to help you,’ then they don’t go around you.”

5.Embrace Enable and Govern Strategy

Removing ‘no’ from the vocabulary doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility for security, but it does mean ‘centralize and control’ can no longer be your guiding doctrine. Instead, you need to embrace the idea of ‘enable and govern.’

“Users just show up with their iPads and smartphones,” says Kevin Wright, CIO and senior vice president of Services and Technology at Softchoice. “For IT it’s created this situation where if we continue to try to control, centralize and block, we’ll fail. If we allow it to all just happen, then data doesn’t get governed, security gets breached and complexity increases. We need to enable the business and give them benefits while governing them.”

6.Leave Your Office

Changing the way IT supports and services the business requires truly understanding the needs of the business. You can’t do that from your desk. “Today, the budget has really moved away from the CIO,” Botha says. “The dollars really sit with the business owners. It is important for the CIO to get more in touch with the business, to learn the lingo, to really understand the vertical space you’re responsible for. The only way to do it is really to get into the field. A good starting point might be an industry get-together.”

7.Seek the Sponsorship of Your C-Level Peers

You can’t transform IT by yourself. You need the sponsorship of your C-level peers. A steering committee with stakeholders from across the business, including other functions like HR and legal, can help. And it’s important to help them understand that transforming the IT function is a process; it won’t happen overnight.

“I don’t think transforming IT into a business partner is something you can accomplish in a year,” Botha says. “It’s really about establishing a roadmap. IT has historically been a reactive business as opposed to a proactive business. You need to explain the roadmap for their success and get input from them about how IT can become a better business partner. And you need to measure success and report back on that success.”

8.Talk to Partners

When getting in touch with the business, don’t limit yourself to understanding the challenges of internal stakeholders. Sit down with your company’s business customers, partners and suppliers. Learn what’s going on in their businesses and how you can help your company become a better business partner.

9.Prototype Rapidly

Plan big, start small, fail fast and scale appropriately. When undertaking new projects, ground them in business objectives and simple metrics, and fight for a single, empowered business owner who can guide the big picture direction and tactical decisions of the project. Pilot as soon as possible and get user feedback to guide the future direction.

“The CIO of the future may look a lot like a venture capitalist—maintaining principles for what makes a solid investment, defining the boundaries upon which deals will be conducted, and driving funding, staffing and strategic support based on often-changing needs and the emerging value of individual initiatives,” say Suketu Gandhi, principal of Deloitte Consulting, and Bill Briggs, director of Deloitte Consulting.

Reference: http://www.itworld.com/slideshow/129276/9-step-cio-survival-guide-383389#slide11

What is Domino?

Domino is the name of the applications and messaging server program for the Lotus Corporation‘s Lotus Notes product, a sophisticated groupware application that is installed in many corporations. Notes lets a corporation and its workers develop communications- anddatabase-oriented applications so that users at different geographic locations can share files with each other, comment on them publicly or privately (to groups with special access), keep track of development schedules, work projects, guidelines and procedures, plans, white papers, and many other documents, including multimedia files. Lotus uses the Domino name to refer to a set of Notes server applications. Notes itself refers to the overall product.

 Ask your Lotus Domino questions at ITKnowledgeExchange.com

The Notes and Domino servers interact with other Notes/Domino servers in a distributednetwork. As changes are made to a database at one server, updates are continually forwarded to replicated copies of these databases at the other servers so that users are always looking at the same information. In general, Notes follows the client/server model. The replication updates are made using Remote Procedure Call (RPC) requests. Notes can be coordinated with Web servers and applications on a company’s intranet.
Reference : http://searchdomino.techtarget.com/definition/Domino