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Integrating Crystal Reports in Visual Studio .NET Application. Overcome the common hurdles with ease.

June 21st, 2013 by ARUN Thundyill Saseendran

Crystal reports logoCrystal Reports is a preferred business intelligence application used to design and generate reports. Using Crystal reports you can create visually stunning, data-rich reports with ease. Crystal Reports was bundled as OEM package with Microsoft Visual Studio 2003 to 2008. With the release of Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft dropped Crystal Reports to move to their in-house reporting tool named SQL Server Reporting Service. However the craze for Crystal Reports in the developer community did not drop. Even today most developers around the world use Crystal Reports for creating dynamic reports, both standalone and in web applications. Read the rest of this entry »

The ultimate combination of ASP.NET 4.5 and Blend for Visual Studio 2012 – Make the best of Windows Store

June 17th, 2013 by ARUN Thundyill Saseendran

Blend logoA windows store app is a type of application that is installable on any device running Windows 8. With the boon of Windows 8 and the expected revolution that is rumored to be brought about by Windows 8.1(Windows Blue), Windows Store apps are gaining a lot of audience around the world. This is the right time to explore the Windows App World and make the best out of it and get in earlier. Read the rest of this entry »

A Neutral Comparison between ASP.NET and PHP – The Rival Frameworks

June 6th, 2013 by ARUN Thundyill Saseendran

Whenever when it comes to a programming framework for Web Development, the arch rivals will surely be ASP.NET and PHP. There are many write ups on the Internet mostly biased towards one of the technologies. In this article, let’s have a neutral review about these two frameworks. Both of these are excellent and have a large community of developers using them. At the same time both have their own advantages and disadvantages. A choice can be made only based on your requirements. Read the rest of this entry »

Rival of the Titans – MySQL vs SQL Server

June 4th, 2013 by ARUN Thundyill Saseendran

MSSQL vs MySQLMySQL and Microsoft SQL Server are both Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) that rival most in the market. Both database management software are freely available and are mainly used as the back end for small or medium-size applications. However, still there are significant differences between these two. In this article I will try to draw a clean line between these two databases. Read the rest of this entry »

From PHP/FI to PHP 5! The Evolution of PHP

June 3rd, 2013 by ARUN Thundyill Saseendran

PHP LogoWe all know that PHP is a widely used server side scripting language. Nowadays it is used even as a general purpose programming language. A recent survey says that, PHP is installed on more than 244 Million websites and 2.1 Million servers worldwide. No wonder PHP is considered a must learn topic for all web developers. You may be strong with some of the concepts in PHP but have you wondered how PHP evolved from the classical acronym of Personal Home Page to the present matured programming language with the recursive acronym PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. Read the rest of this entry »

The twists, hurdles and peaks of the World’s Most Popular Open-souce Database – MySQL

May 30th, 2013 by Michael Guilfoyle

MySQL Logo

MySQL is the World’s most popular open-source database. Though it does not ship with a GUI to manage it like other databases, the developer community around the world loves MySQL. MySQL is a popular choice of database for use in web applications and web hosting, and is a central component of the widely used LAMP open source web application software stack (and other ‘AMP’ stacks). LAMP is an acronym for “Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python.”The advantage is that it is even compatible with Windows Web Hosting.

The internet offers a variety of articles and tutorials for different concepts in MySQL. But I found that there is very little literature about the how MySQL has evolved to the stage it has reached today.

The initial development stages of MySQL had to overcome a lot of hurdles. Firstly it was a time that the market for databases were blooming. So naturally many big players in the arena tried to aquire it or put it down. But due to the endurance of the community, and support from a few Non-profit organizations it was able to reach beyond competitive proessures. Let us get into the evolution of this marvellous database with a timeline.

1995-1999

MySQL was developed by the company named MySQL AB. It is named after co-founder Michael Widenius’ daughter, My. MySQL AB is a company with its base in Sweden, founded in 1995. The company was founded by Michael Widenius (Monty), David Axmark and Allan Larsso. It was during this period that MySQL was developed and tested hard in the warehouse of MySQL AB. Upto 1999 the database was sold commercially.

2000

With the fuzz of Y2K, there was another major breakthrough. MySQL was made open-source under the GPL license. Though the revenue of the company went down by 80%, the developer community around the world welcomed it with open hands. Slowly MySQL started aquiring the position of the most opted database for web applications.

2001-2003

In the beginning of 2001, Marten Mickos was elected as the CEO of MySQL. He was a man with a sales and marketing background. During his reign, there were more than 2 Million active installations of MySQL DB. Also during 2001, MySQL was funded by Scandinavian venture capitalists with an undisclosed amount. It is rumored to something between $1 to $2 Million.

By 2002, the company was growing rapidly that launched a US headquarters in addition to the Swedish one. The number of active users was more than 3 Million by the end of 2002 and the company made a handsome profit of $6.5 Million.

2003 was a very successful year for MySQL. The project raised a whopping $19.5 Million from Benchmark Capital and Index Ventures. Not just that, the active users grew to 4 Million and it was estimated to have more than 30,000 downloads a day. By the end of the year, the company made a great profit of 12 Million in revenue.

2004-2006

Now it was time for hard-core development. The users were not satisfied with a basic Relational Database Management System. During this time period the company enhanced the core features. The DB was more stable and the mean time between failures became very high. Features such as cursors, updatable views, information schema etc., were incorporated. Also during this period, the company saw its peak in terms of revenue and the number of users.

By the end of the year 2006, there were more than 8 Million active users of MySQL and the company made a revenue of 50 Million. This was mainly due to the reason than instead of OEM licenses, they had started selling end user licenses from 2004.

2007-2008

2007 was a silent year for MySQL. There no major developments in the technology or with the marketing strategy. The company and the user base grew with the natural pace and it made a revenue of 75 Million in 2007.

2008 brought a changeover to MySQL. Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL AB for approximately $1 billion. But shortly after the acquisition Michael Widenius (Monty) and David Axmark, two of MySQL AB’s co-founders, begin to criticize Sun publicly and leave Sun shortly after.

But under Sun Microsystems, MySQL saw major technological and economic developments.
The developer community took on MySQL openly and developed many new features such as

• Partitioned tables with pruning of partitions in optimizer
• Shared-nothing clustering through MySQL Cluster
• Hot backup (via mysqlhotcopy)
• Multiple storage engines, allowing one to choose the one that is most effective for each table in the application
o Native storage engines (MyISAM, Falcon, Merge, Memory (heap), Federated, Archive, CSV, Blackhole, Cluster, EXAMPLE, Aria, and InnoDB, which was made the default as of 5.5)
o Partner-developed storage engines (solidDB, NitroEDB, ScaleDB, TokuDB, Infobright (formerly Brighthouse), Kickfire, XtraDB, IBM DB2). InnoDB used to be a partner-developed storage engine, but with recent acquisitions, Oracle now owns both MySQL core and InnoDB.
o Community-developed storage engines (memcache engine, httpd, PBXT, Revision Engine)
o Custom storage engines and
• Commit grouping, gathering multiple transactions from multiple connections together to increase the number of commits per second were incorporated into MySQL.

By the end of 2008, MySQL was a major competitor in the arena challenging various commercial databases including Oracle.

2009-Present

In April 2009, Oracle Corporation entered into an agreement to purchase Sun Microsystems, the owners of MySQL copyright and trademark. Sun’s board of directors unanimously approved the deal; it was also approved by Sun’s shareholders, and by the U.S. government on 20 August 2009.

There were a majority of the community members who opposed the deal. A movement against Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL, to “Save MySQL” from Oracle was started by one of the MySQL founders, Monty Widenius. The petition of 50,000+ developers and users called upon the European Commission to block approval of the acquisition. At the same time, several Free Software opinion leaders (including Eben Moglen, Pamela Jones of Groklaw, Jan Wildeboer and Carlo Piana, who also acted as co-counsel in the merger regulation procedure) advocated for the unconditional approval of the merger. As part of the negotiations with the European Commission, Oracle committed that MySQL server will continue until at least 2015 to use the dual-licensing strategy long used by MySQL AB, with commercial and GPL versions available.

With that agreement, today MySQL is available in both commercial and GPL versions. The MySQL 5.6 Community Server is the latest of the releases in the GPL license. MySQL Enterprise Edition Server and MySQL Cluster CGE are owned by Oracle and are released as proprietary software. The price range starts from $5000 for MySQL Enterprise Edition Server and $10000 for MySQL Cluster CGE with Server bundle.

Though the Enterprise edition has benefits such as prompt support and rich features, most developers around the world opt for the community edition for normal web applications. The community edition itself is stable and reliable, though it misses a few out of the box features offered by Oracle.

Learn how to integrate PostgreSQL with ASP.NET Application

May 28th, 2013 by Michael Guilfoyle

Postgre SQl LogoPostgreSQL is a powerful, open source object-relational database system. It has evolved over a period of 15 years of active development and a proven architecture that has earned it a strong reputation for reliability, data integrity, and quality. Often when we consider developing ASP.NET applications, the default choice for a backend is MSSQL. I do agree that MSSQL is very good and greatly compatible with ASP.NET. For small applications of course you can make use of the freeware version. But what if you are working on a database intensive application. There is no doubt you will need a commercial version of MSSQL. And don’t forget that is a costly affair. This is the time where you should consider PostgreSQL.

As an enterprise class database, PostgreSQL supports sophisticated features such as Multi-Version Concurrency Control (MVCC), point in time recovery, tablespaces, asynchronous replication, nested transactions (savepoints), online/hot backups, a sophisticated query planner/optimizer, and write ahead logging for fault tolerance. The database is fully ACID compliant, has full support for foreign keys, joins, views, triggers, and stored procedures and that too in multiple languages. It includes most SQL – 2008 data types, including INTEGER, NUMERIC, BOOLEAN, CHAR, VARCHAR, DATE, INTERVAL, and TIMESTAMP. So it will not be a problem porting to PostgreSQL if you are familiar with basic SQL. Moreover, it also supports storage of binary large objects, including pictures, sounds, or video. One of the major advantage is that, PostgreSQL is highly scalable both in the sheer quantity of data it can manage and in the number of concurrent users it can accommodate. Now the point to remember is that you get all these in the enterprise version of PostgreSQL completely FREE of cost. Yes, PostgreSQL is FOSS, which means you will not have any licensing problems in your commercial applications.

Now the natural question will be how to integrate this with your ASP.NET applications. Most of you might think, like other FOSS software you will have to win a battle to integrate PostgreSQL with ASP.NET. But techies, happy news for you! Using PostgreSQL as backend for your ASP.NET application is very simple and you will be able to do it easily after reading this article.

The first thing you have to do is go to the PostgreSQL website and download the latest Windows release. In this article, I have used v9.2.4. You can use the graphic installer to install PostgreSQL server and the PGAdmin III. PGAdmin III is a visual Database management software for PostgreSQL. If you have worked with any DB Management Software like Aqua Data Studio, SQL Manager or the MS Management Studio then PGAdmin III will be a walk in the park. Though it lacks a little in GUI compared to other DB Management software, trust me it has all the features. Play around a little and you will find it powerful just like I did.

Once the server is up and running, you will have to create a user and a database. Create a new table and insert a few entries to use as your sample DB. The following SQL-script will help you do it. In this article, I have created the user – m6user, a database -m6database and a sample table – m6table.

Dtabase creation in Postgre SQL

Now that the sample database is ready, let’s see how to connect and fetch data from this table using an ASP.NET application.

Note: Download npgsql.dll to your PC. You will need it to add as a reference in the Web Application you create.

• Open Visual Studio and create a new ASP.NET Web application.
• On the right pane, right click on the project and select Add References.
• Browse and add the npgsql.dll as a reference.

ASP.NET Library

Now it is the matter of a few lines of code for the connectivity part. I h¬ave made your work simple. Have a look at this snippet.

Before we get into the script, here are a few parameters that you should keep handy for a smooth connection.

Postgre SQL database connectivity parameters

These parameters are required to create a connection string in your .NET application. Those of you familiar with Database connectivity in ASP.NET for MSSQL this is very similar. For those of you who are relatively new, don’t worry. This is very simple. Have a look at the script below. You can tailor you application with ease using this script as the base.

ASP.NET connectivity for Postgre SQL

That’s it and it’s very similar to MSSQL connectivity. You can connect your PostgreSQL with your ASP.NET application. And don’t forget, you can do all operations that you do with MSSQL in PostgreSQL also. So don’t think twice, take advantage of the rich feature set of PostgreSQL without paying a penny.

Windows Phone 8 – The Cool new Windows Phone OS. What can you expect in Windows Phone 8.1?

May 27th, 2013 by Michael Guilfoyle

Windows 8 PhonesMost of you might have seen commercials and reviews about the cool new mobile OS from Microsoft – The Windows Phone 8. But what are the new features that make the Windows Phone 8 different from its predecessors? Why is it capturing the market virally? I’m sure you will be interested to know this, especially in a time where Windows Phone 8 has risen to compete with the Android OS from Google and the all-time great iOS from Apple.

One of the main reasons that Windows Phone 8 has reached the public mass is due to reason that it is able to bring you closer to the people, places and things you care about. It brings all these to you right in the home screen. The new tile designed innovative screen from Microsoft, has subtle refinements to make your phone a delight to use every day. The tiles are customizable, the app that form the tiles are also customizable. That gives a lot of control over the phone and most users seem this feature is cool. However, this new Phone OS is not a play phone OS. The Windows Phone 8 has astrong built in world class security features that safeguard your data letting your mind at ease and is enterprise ready.

Now let’s have a look at some of the features that stand out in Windows Phone 8.

The Kid’s Corner

No more do you have to restrict your kids from using your smartphone. When the kid’s corner is activated you can allow you kids to play as they wish with the phone but restricting them to send emails or make calls. Many parents will praise Windows for this.

Microsoft account

This feature is cool. In par with the Apple ID from iOS, with a single sign-on using your Live ID, you’ll be able to get apps, games and music from the Store, play Xbox games with friends, find your phone if it gets lost using the geo-location feature and much more.

Back up your stuff

This is another feature that makes it a close competitor to iOS and differentiating it from an Android phone. With every Windows Phone 8 you get a dedicated cloud storage space. You can safely send your app list, settings, photos and text messages to the cloud for safekeeping and syncing just as you do when you have a windows hosting.

New Start screen

The start screen of Windows Phone 8 is a revolution in the Phone OS arena. You can pick a size for each live tile, and see little or much info as you wish on the spacious start screen. You can also organize the tiles so that you will never again have to search a menu or toggle screen to open your favorite app.

Hassle-free updates

Most of us use a Windows PC and know how regular updates make our online activities safer. Microsoft has brought this awesome update feature to the Phone OS too. It gets to your phone wirelessly. No mess. No stress. Your OS will always keep itself up-to-date.

People and Social Networking

Windows has introduced the cool new feature of Rooms. Rooms are an invitation-only place on your phone where you can privately share a calendar, photo album, group chat and notes with other room members. It also supports features such as Group Sync and Contact Sharing.

Email and Messaging

Smart Messaging in Windows PhoneWith the Windows Phone 8 you will be stunned by the variety of attachm ents you can have for a mail. Whether it be a map or a web page, you can easily attach it to even a text message with ease. The Word Flow Keyboard has the power to learn your writing style and predict your sentences for even speedier typing. That is really cool. It also has advanced features like Email by voice where you can dictate the message and the phone will type it for you. Moreover, with Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, you have inbuilt integration of the Skype app with your Windows Phone 8. With so many rich features in the email and messaging section it is sure to attract busy business people and youth equally.
Browsing and Photo
Equipped with Internet Explorer 10, it has high security options to protect you from malware, spyware and viruses. And the techies at Microsoft have worked out tricks to get you a faster, hassle free browsing experience. Trust me, the browsing experience is very good.
When it comes to photos, innovation is embedded into it. With Lenses, a downloadable official app, you can set themes, effects and more in your camera’s viewfinder. Not just that, with a tap you can record videos and the best part, you can sync all the photos and videos you take on the move with the Skydrive.
Office Mobile Features:
When you have to purchase the MS Mobile Office for a hefty sum in other Mobile OS whether it be Android or iOS, with Windows Phone 8 you get basic version of office for free. Not just that, the MS OneNote is also included with the OS as a separate app giving you the power of the PC Note taking app right on your phone.
Powered for Enterprise
The Windows Phone 8 is fully enterprise ready. New business features like mobile device management, private app distribution and company accounts make it easy to integrate Windows Phone with your Windows infrastructure. Improvements to Microsoft Office Mobile apps – including Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel – make it even easier to access and edit Office docs whenever you want, wherever you are.
These are the features that make a Windows Phone stand out. The only small grievances that people have are the notification center which is missing and neophobia for the new user interface. However you need not worry. It is expected that the Windows Phone 8.1 code named Windows Blue will resolve this.
What can you expect with Windows 8.1?
Though there hasn’t been an official announcement by Microsoft about the features of the new Windows Blue, rumors are out everywhere. One thing to be sure of is that the new version will surely support VPN, Bluetooth 4, LE and will have an innovative notification center. To be released along with Windows RT 8.1, the new Windows Phone OS will be a delight not just for common users but for mobile app developers as well. Working with the motto, “Write once. Run anywhere”, Microsoft is expected to bring a shock to the Phone OS market. It is expected that apps that you create for Windows 8 Desktop version will be compatible with the Phone OS as well as the Windows Surface. That will surely be a great boost to the developer community.

Penguin 2.0 rolled out! What to and what not to? The new world of SEO!

May 25th, 2013 by Michael Guilfoyle

Matt Cutts on the 22nd of this month has made the official announcement of rolling out Penguin 2.0. The new version of Web spam algorithm from the Google.

“We started rolling out the next generation of the Penguin web spam algorithm this afternoon (May 22, 2013), and the rollout is now complete. About 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice. The change has also finished rolling out for other languages world-wide. The scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more web spam will see more impact.”

-Matt Cutts
May 22, 2013,
In GOOGLE/SEO

The new version of the Web Spam algorithm update by Google is expected to bring about a lot of changes in the SERP and also the PR of pages. Google warns that Webmasters who are doing SEO using black-hat tricks like cloaking and spam anchoring should watch out as this update will not only penalize such websites but also block those sites permanently from appearing in search results.

Another important thing that webmasters should watch out for is the comment that Matt made stating that the new algorithm will penalize sites that have bought links from high PR sites. He made it clear that it is not wrong to sell links for money but it should be made obvious that it is just equal to a commercial ad appearing on a site and should be disguised as editorial or organic.

An important update that is bundled with the new Penguin 2.0 is the algorithm to spot hacked web sites. Google says that it will make the Webmaster Tools from Google a single spot for fixing your site and streamlining it for SEO. The new update will recognize any hacks that have happened in the site and not just notify the webmasters through the webmaster tools but will also guide them to recover the site from the attack.

And techies, do not panic. Google is not trying to crush SEO. The one thing that Google is trying to make clear is that you cannot do SEO using unfair means. As per the update made by Google, it says, “If your focus is creating a user interactive, content rich sites that users will want to come back and again, make a bookmark or suggest to their friends, then Google Search will align with you and help you by bringing your site to the top of the search results”. Further it is made clear that now and forever, quality and genuine content will be appreciated and valued by Google. For a detailed press release by Matt Cutts from Google, have a look at the video below.

Matt Cutts Interview on the Roll Out of Penguin 2.0

As an expert in the field, I personally suggest that once you are able to create genuine content that will attract readers then Google will surely help you in promoting your site. Not just that, if your site gains a respectable rank with your quality content then I guarantee that you will not have to worry about any algorithm updates because since Google Search started, quality content is valued, no matter what and will continue to be so.

The future of SEO

Having said that yon can no longer rely on black-hat tricks or plain link building for SEO, now the natural question will be what is the way forward for SEO industry?. Yes, and that is of course one of the most asked question in leading forums after this release. To answer that I say that you have to step into the new generation of SEO. By new generation of SEO, I mean you have to do SEO using quality content. You can even call this Content Marketing. And trust me; as long as your content is genuine this is perfectly legal.

It is just like you are writing a book and selling the publishing rights to another publisher. Very similarly the new SEO will be to create quality, creative and attractive content that is genuine. One important thing I would like to impart to you is; please do not go to cheap SEO companies that give false promises. If they had little success in the past, they will not have any success in the future. They may even damage your rankings.

With the new update Google hasn’t just uplifted the quality of Search Results but also the need for quality SEO companies. Only SEO companies that concentrate on genuine content and work with high standards can survive in the industry and make noticeable achievements. So go ahead and start your endeavor in the field of New SEO. All the Best!

Get to know the advantages of a responsive website. Learn how to design a responsive website

May 18th, 2013 by Michael Guilfoyle

Right from 2012, Mobile browsing has been rapidly growing as the new trend. It is going to be the same for at least a decade to come and it is an area you should be capitalizing on. When it comes to mobile sites, the issue now is picking the appropriate method for deploying websites on mobile devices. Though there are different methods for deploying mobile websites, the responsive design strategy seems very promising. Responsive design makes the site instantly mobile across multiple platforms. But one thing to keep in mind is the physical limitations as content must be developed with responsive design in mind. Designing a separate mobile website is also an option. Traditionally a site for each kind of device was built separately along with the main site.

However, with the plethora of devices on the market, it is literally impossible to build a site tailored for each device and yes, it is a very costly commitment. To address this, as developers you should be looking to build a site that adapts itself to the media size and resolution of the device in which it is rendering. When you build a responsive website, it is sure to attract audience on many platforms. Let’s see what you should be doing to build a responsive website.

Most of you will be familiar with CSS. Most of the websites you build will be linked with a stylesheet. The power of stylesheets is that it can be used to build highly responsive websites. Yes techies, using stylesheets you can build websites that are media aware and do it with ease. Here is how you should be doing this.

Since the days of CSS 2.1, the style sheets have had some measure of device awareness through media types. If you have written a print stylesheet then you should be familiar with this basic media aware concept of CSS.

PostgreSQL code to link ASP.NET

This is the very basic content awareness that you can incorporate into your CSS. Using this you can link two different stylesheets with the same content and based on whether the selection is screen or print the stylesheet is linked with the content. Starting to understand the potential of CSS? There is more that it has to offer.

Apart from designing neatly designed page printouts, the CSS specifications also supplied us with a bevy of acceptable media types. But most browsers and devices never really embraced the spirit of the specifications, dropping many of the media types loosely implemented. Thankfully, the W3C created media queries as part of the CSS3 specification, improving upon the media types. A media query will allow you to target not only certain device classes, but to actually inspect the physical characteristics of the device rendering our work. Have a look at the following snippet.

PostgreSQL code to link ASP.NET

In the above snippet, the media property has two components.

1. A media type – screen and
2. The query enclosed within the parenthesis that contains a particular media feature (max-device-width) to inspect the target value.

In working, the script inspects the maximum device width and if it is less than 480px, say you are viewing it on an iPhone the m6-i-style.css is linked and on a normal device the stylesheet is ignored all together.

This is not the boundary. You can even create compound queries for linking CSS by using and for joining the parameters. Look at the example below.

PostgreSQL code to link ASP.NET

Furthermore, you are not limited with implementing the media queries in the links. You can use them as a part of the @media rule or as a part of an @import directive.

PostgreSQL code to link ASP.NET

PostgreSQL code to link ASP.NET

The results are more or less the same for both the query types. Whenever the query of the device type is matched, the style or the CSS is linked. Based on the usage you can choose the best method. I would suggest you use the first method for linking CSS as a whole. Using the @media and @import rule will be very useful in customizing the image sizes for specific devices. And that the basics with which you can build really extra-ordinary responsive websites.

Flexible images and media queries using CSS is the way forward in constructing responsive websites that are suitable for cross platform rendering. As designers you should be looking to create attractive, elegant, light weight and responsive pages to attract audiences from all platforms, especially mobile surfers. Take it further, try out image queries and flexible images in your Windows Web Hosting account today!