Awhile back, we wanted to create demo videos for clients, showcasing some of our iPad Web Application work. One of the challenges was how to show the interactions — the touches and gestures — when working with the application. There is no mouse, like on desktops. A screenshot, or a video of the application, will simply show things happening as if by magic. And taking a video or photo of a user interacting with the device is just clumsy and laborious: You need a camera, the user’s hand covers the content, you have to get a manicure, all that.

With the programming expertise of Xiyuan Shen and our good friend Ian Gilman, I set out to do something about this. I knew from having seen the awesome yet thoroughly creepy Phantom Limb (demo) that it was possible to inject a mouse-marker using a bookmarklet. This would allow us to run our code on almost any webpage, without the author having to include our script on their page. It could be injected on an as-needed basis by the presenter.

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The Extract, Transform & Load (ETL) process typically accounts for 70% of an entire data warehousing/data migration effort (according to The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit). And this proportion represents a major element of the project in terms of risk: the implementation could make or break the project. This fact should be taken into consideration while designing and implementing an ETL solution.

Every staging project has two elements: the ETL itself and a staging data structure. So today I’d like to talk about best practices for standing up a staging area using SQL Server Integration Services [ETL] and hosting a staging database in SQL Server 2012 [DB]. The ‘best practices’ are across three areas: Architecture, Development, and Implementation & Maintenance of the solution. Each area represents key patterns and practices (not a comprehensive list) for the ETL component and the data structure of the staging database.

And since I presume readers are looking for best practices silver bullets, that is what I will try to deliver. What you will not find in this post are turnkey ETL performance optimizations.

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Another Friday, another great round of links and blogs from the AIS team:

The Case of the Case-Sensitive CustomFilter Refiner: If you’re setting up FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint and need a custom date refiner, you’ll want to read about Tim Larson’s experience before you run into trouble. (Code Thug)

My Favorite Visual Studio 2012 Extensions: In honor of the recent launch of Visual Studio 2012, Ryan Cromwell shares six of his can’t-live-without extensions. (cromwellhaus)

Protecting Your API Keys: How to hide your API keys in your Windows 8 app source code. (And what to do if you’ve already accidentally exposed them!) (tewari)

BizTalk 2012 R2 and REST Example Walkthrough: A nice simple walkthrough on how to configure BizTalk to expose an Orchestration as REST service and consume a REST service. (madhukar gilla)

Code Samples from TechGate Conference: In case you attended Steve Michelotti’s Azure presentation at the TechGate conference in Reston last weekend, code samples can be found via his blog. (Steve Michelotti)

N-tier development is not a new methodology. I remember learning about it in 200-level courses back in 2000, and I used it in ASP.NET development before I jumped on the SharePoint bandwagon. However, one of the things I’ve noticed over the years as a SharePoint developer is that most project development is done in the SharePoint object’s code behind or a few helper classes. This isn’t always the case —sometimes the solution isn’t complex enough to warrant a tiered approach (i.e. a single Event Receiver). But a recent project highlighted the power behind N-tiered architecture.

The client has a custom solution that they provide as a service: A master document (Microsoft Word) is split into section documents (also Word) by a project manager. Each section is assigned to a person to be modified in Word (the client also provides a Word plug-in for this modification). Once the sections are properly marked up, the master document is recreated from the sections. We were brought in to implement this solution in SharePoint 2010. Read More…

To meet extraordinary and unanticipated growth, AIS India has added a second office location. It is located in the HITEC city area — home to many IT organizations such as Google, IBM, Microsoft, Dell and Amazon. This facility will support up to 100 engineers and Microsoft Certified professionals as the team grows over the next year.

This office reflects the hard work and dedication of all the employees who have built this organization from the ground up, when we started out of a humble business center in January 2008. AIS India has built a successful and scalable business model of delivering high-quality solutions for our customers despite the challenges that arise from working in a global product development model.

(Click “Read More” to see photos of the AIS team enjoying their new digs!)
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One of the most discussed concepts about authentication today is the concept of Single Sign-On, or SSO. SSO is the ability for a user to log into one location, and authenticate across several domains without entering any additional credentials. This saves the user from having to enter several credentials for related websites, as well as possibly prevent the user from having to remember multiple logins.

While developing the Rolling Stone and Vogue Archives, we needed a SSO system that could integrate our ASP.Net based archive with each provider’s existing authentication systems, primarily Apache-based web applications. Our solution was to develop a C# implementation of mod_auth_tkt cookie-and-token based authentication system, which we have since released open source.

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For the second year in a row, AIS is proud to announce our ranking on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies. We’ve grown 47% over the past three years and hired 80 new employees in our quest to best serve our clients. We’re honored to be ranked shoulder-to-shoulder with other great companies and entrepreneurs.

As always, though, we’re looking forward. Just this week, AIS attained our fourth AND fifth gold competencies in the Microsoft partner program, in the areas of Business Intelligence and Application Integration.

This achievement is an important benchmark in the competitive world of Microsoft technology partners. Each gold competency requires five customer references, numerous developer exams and other objectives. Joining our other areas of competencies — Software Development, Web Development, Portals and Collaboration (and the sub-category of Cloud Accelerate) — BI and Application Integration give AIS a well-rounded portfolio of expertise and opens new opportunities in the partner channel, including advisory councils and boards within Microsoft.

According to AIS President Tom O’Connell, “This is a testament to the depth and breadth of our experiences.  Even though Microsoft dramatically expanded the type and number of certifications and client references, we have quickly reached five gold competencies with our personnel and projects.  We applaud Microsoft setting a higher bar so that we can differentiate ourselves.”

Congratulations to the entire AIS team and everyone who helped make these achievements and recognition possible!