Gotta love leap year. Every four years (more or less, since there are rules to this thing, you know) we are awarded an extra day in what is widely regarded as the worst month of the year. More February? Who needs that? How about adding a July 4-and-1/2 every fourth time around the sun? I could shoot off twice the fireworks. Or consider a December 32nd. The holiday season is already a six week-plus marathon, so what's an extra day?
Not that I'm complaining. The extra 24 hours of February has afforded me unearned procrastination points for this month's MSDN Magazine issue preview. So now that we're finally ready to step onto Spring's porch steps, what do we have in store for the March issue of MSDN Magazine?
We open the March issue with a big picture feature titled "Building the Internet of Things," by Torsten Grabs and Colin Miller. What is the Internet of Things (IoT), you ask? In short, it describes the fast-growing fabric of connected devices and end points that are constantly producing, consuming and sharing data within the context of operational business models. Grabs and Miller describe how to build scalable, low-latency, event-driven applications using Microsoft StreamInsight -- a component of SQL Server 2008 R2 and later.
In fact, programming for disparate devices and platforms is something of a theme in the March issue. Consider Shane Church's feature, "Develop Hybrid Native and Mobile Web Apps," which explores how to "wrap a mobile-optimized Web application in a device-specific native application shell." Church's approach seeks to balance the high cost of native application development against the non-optimized nature of simple Web applications. David Kean attacks this theme from another angle, as he looks to address the gaps that emerge when people perform tasks as they move from one device to another, across phones, tablets and PCs. In "Create a Continuous Client Using Portable Class Libraries," Kean shows how to build a continuous client application using the new Portable Class Libraries (PCL), and relying on the cloud (specifically, the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus) to handle communication between devices.
Three other features are running in March. Jesse Liberty (best Fourth of July name ever, by the way) is back with his feature "Windows Phone Data Binding," which is about, well, Windows Phone data binding. Liberty shows how developers can use data binding to manage relationships between controls and views and the data they display. Definitely worth a read. And keep an eye out for "New Concurrency Features in Visual C++ 11," by Diego Dagum (yes, the very same Diego Dagum who served as Editorial Director of MSDN Magazine through 2011). Dagum dives into the powerful new parallel execution capabilities of C++11 and how they are surfaced in Microsoft's Visual C++ 11 IDE. Finally, we can't go an issue without our monthly hit of HTML5. Andrey Markeev writes "Adding HTML5 Drag and Drop to SharePoint Lists," which shows how to use the powerful and flexible XsltListViewWebPart tool to bring rich, drag-and-drop support to SharePoint 2010.
You'll be glad to know that we used our extra day of February to browbeat our columnists into producing top flight tutorials and commentary. Dino Esposito knocks out a Cutting Edge column titled "Build a Progress Bar with SignalR," which explores the SignalR library and jQuery plug-in from the Microsoft ASP.NET team. As Esposito puts it: "SignalR is an integrated client-and-server library that enables browser-based clients and ASP.NET-based server components to have a bidirectional and multistep conversation." This could be good.
Julie Lerman is on board with her Data Points column, titled "Entity Framework Code First and DbContext FAQs." This is one of those Q&A deals that can cover a lot of ground fast. Definitely recommended. Oh, and if you liked the March Data Points column, you might want to check out Lerman's latest book, Programming Entity Framework: DbContext from O’Reilly Media. Lerman says you can find it here.
The front of the book closes with Joseph Fultz' Forecast: Cloudy column titled "Exploring Cloud Architecture," which looks at key issues developers face when designing a cloud software solution for an existing enterprise. Writes Fultz of the challenge: "The real trick to designing a cloud solution is to take an ideal solution and make the design efficient while still including cost efficiency."
On the backside of March we have Ted Neward revealing part two in his three-part column series on the Tropo cloud-hosted, voice-and-SMS service. Here he is conjuring up an F#-flavored version of the old ELIZA input-response processor. Charles Petzold, meanwhile, continues to dive into the impressive audio talents of Windows Phone, with his Touch and Go column titled "Streaming Audio in Windows Phone." He looks at some of the unique challenges involved in handling streaming audio, particularly when it comes to streaming in the background.
Every issue we let David Platt get the last word, and leap year or not, March is no exception. This month's Don’t Get Me Started column, "Touch, Not the Mouse," gets after developers for over-emphasizing touch interfaces, and urges application designers to think before they start committing to untenable UI models.
Finally, James McCaffrey and his Test Run column are taking the month off. McCaffrey will be back in April with a column on Bacterial Foraging Optimization. I am not making this up.
What do you want to see covered in the pages of MSDN Magazine? Let us know!