CensusMapper is a Windows 8 app that retrieves U.S. Census Data using the recently released Census API and displays that data on a map using Microsoft’s Bing Maps API. The application is built using XAML and C#. The intent of this version is to establish a proof of concept as well as introduce a design and user-experience direction to be explored and evolved going forward.

Upon startup, the app retrieves the population counts for each U.S. State and displays those counts in a marker positioned in the geographic middle of each state.

CensusMapper - Initial View

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At AIS, we are often asked by our customers to put together a quick prototype very early in the envisioning phase of a project. The main objective is to determine if the proposed set of technologies will address the key requirements. Having a “working” piece of software this early (despite all the scaffolding needed to make the prototype work) helps the stakeholders make a decision whether to go with a certain technology set or not.  This is especially true if a number of competing solutions are being considered.

In the following video, we talk about one such prototype that we put together quickly for a customer of ours. The requirements are typical of a large-scale document (correspondence) generation system: large-scale generation of documents, ability to author dozens of templates, ability to generate documents by binding the templates to data from business systems, ability to support multiple document formats and ability to create workflows to support the business processes.

Here we describe a solution for automated document generation using the Microsoft Office system. Combining out-of-the-box functionality like Content Controls and Open Office XML SDK with a little customization to your business rules, you can automate template creation, document generation, document conversion and (using SharePoint) allow for Web-based document management.

Read on for more about this solution…

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This is the second of a multipart series on the exciting new features of SQL Server 2012. Currently AIS is assisting a performing arts center with an upgrade to SQL Server 2012. During the research for this project I have had a chance to deploy many of these new features. These posts will highlight the best of what SQL Server 2012 has to offer.

Now that we’ve already discussed AlwaysOn High Availability, today I want to talk about the changes made to Integrated SQL Reporting Services.  Integrated SSRS is used to generate reports in a SharePoint environment.  Historically it has been very tricky to configure and maintain.

So what are some of the improvements that now make it easier? Read More…

dailyscrum

The Daily Scrum, sometimes referred to as the Daily Standup, is a simple activity most teams have adopted or experimented with at some point.  In most instances, the extent of their guidance is to limit the gathering to 15 minutes and to answer three questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. What impediments do you have?

Most leaders will jump at a chance for their teams to share this type of information and communicate every day.  Fifteen minutes is a small price to pay for a bit of insight and the appearance of teamwork.

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This is the first of a multipart series on the exciting new features of SQL Server 2012. Currently AIS is assisting a performing arts center with an upgrade to SQL Server 2012.  During the research for this project I have had a chance to deploy many of these new features.  These posts will highlight the best of what SQL Server 2012 has to offer.

First up, I want to talk about AlwaysOn High Availability (HA). In short, this feature combines the best of clustering and mirroring to make your applications highly available.

So why is this new feature so cool?

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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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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…

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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