Microsoft

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Code!

Posted on June 17, 2009. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Tech Tips, Web Development | Tags: , , , , , |

I recently was asked to update a Web page with a rather long list of names, which were provided in a Word document.  I use a combination of Dreamweaver and Expression Web, because they both have good tools for stripping out problematic HTML from Word, but today they weren’t much help.

This particular document had a table (of sorts) built into it, which listed names and cities, but after a good ol’

copy and paste, I found that things didn’t quite line up.  Upon closer review, I found that the “table” was actually made up of tabs and spaces.  While this worked in Word, it made a horrible mess for the Web.  Just doing a copy and paste job created spaces (technically non-breaking spaces — “nbsp”) that seemed like empty space, but actually take up quite a lot.  In fact, these spaces made the page 322kb!  Most of the larger pages on the site were around 20-25kb, so I took another look at things.

In this case, I decided not to go with a table for the little bit of text that could fit in, instead going with the city name in parentheses after the person’s name.  After removing all the nbsp’s from the code, I was able to shrink the page to 32kb – a 90% reduction in page size!  That means the page will load in just over 1 second, instead of over 12 from before.

So, to recap:

  1. Copy and paste doesn’t work as expected with the web, so be prepared to clean up your code a bit.
  2. Check for spaces that don’t belong, particularly the “ ” – they take up more space than just hitting the spacebar does.
  3. Use a tool like Firebug for Firefox, or the built-in tools in several other browsers (IE8, Safari 4, Chrome) to test your page for load times and see how you can improve them.

Windows Live Tags: Code,Word,Dreamweaver,Expression,tools,HTML,spaces,text,reduction,size,Copy,tool,Firebug,Firefox,Safari,Chrome,nbsp

WordPress Tags: Code,Word,Dreamweaver,Expression,tools,HTML,spaces,text,reduction,size,Copy,tool,Firebug,Firefox,Safari,Chrome,nbsp

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Making Excel Charts Even Easier

Posted on August 31, 2008. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Software, Tech Tips |

If you’re like me, you crunch numbers.  It may be sales, inventory, finances, or any number of things.  You probably use Microsoft Excel; maybe you even need a chart now and then but avoid it because it’s just a bit too crazy. 

If this describes you (even a little), check out the Chart Advisor from Office Labs.  These folks have been putting out some good Add-Ins that run within various Office programs.  This one evaluates your data, creates a chart, and automatically puts it in your spreadsheet.  I’ve tried it and am immensely impressed with it.

Here’s the official description:

Chart Advisor is a prototype that provides an alternate approach for creating charts in Excel 2007. This add-in uses an advanced rules engine to scan your data and, based on predefined rules, displays charts according to score. Top scoring charts are available for you to preview, tweak, and insert into your Excel worksheet.

 

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What Browser Do You Use?

Posted on March 25, 2008. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Tech support, Web Development |

Via TechCrunch

There is a scourge on the Web. It is called Internet Explorer 6. Even though the more recent version of Microsoft’s browser, IE7, has been around for more than two years, IE6 still represents 31 percent of all browsers out there (versus only 22 percent for IE7 and 36.5 percent for Firefox). This upgrade lag is simply unacceptable—to programmers, that is, who find it a real pain to make sure their Web apps work on five different browsers. Not only that, but IE6 supports some non-standard features and functions that are not compatible with other browsers.

I’ve been using and developing for IE7 since the beta version was released and I have to admit, it’s making standards compliance a TON easier, which is why I’m joining SaveTheDevelopers.org in their effort to get users to upgrade their browsers from IE6.  I’m not saying everyone needs to use IE, as I happily use IE7, Firefox and Opera side-by-side, as well as Safari every now and then.  I’m just encouraging everyone to move away from IE6 as your browser.

Won’t you join me in saving the Internet?

Related posts:
Save the Developers! Stop Using Internet Explorer 6

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Now More Contact Options

Posted on January 26, 2008. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Web Development |

I came across an article through the LiveSide blog, which got me poking around the Live Developer site a bit more.  I learned that now you can include your own little Live Messenger chat window in your web site!  I like the idea of being reachable to not only my clients, but to those of you who are looking for immediate help, so I’ve included this as an option on the Contact Us page of the Estes Tech site.

Now you can email, call, or chat directly with me when I’m online, and I can help answer questions for you as they arise.  Give it a shot!

Links:

Insert IMMe Link Plugin – LiveSide – Developer Blog

Windows Live Messenger

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Completely Certifiable

Posted on July 3, 2007. Filed under: Main, Microsoft |

With the summer here, I’m working on personal education goals, namely studying up for Microsoft certifications on current and new technology.  Thanks to two separate testing offers, I was able to take (and retake, in one case) exams that have led to my new certifications: Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) with certification in Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Windows XP and Technology Specialist (MCTS) with certification in Configuring Windows Vista.

What does that mean for my customers?  Simply that with the additional knowledge I’ve added, I’m able to support you even better than before.  These certifications involve not just study, but actual use of the technology that’s being tested on; that means I’m using both XP and Vista, so that when it comes time to upgrade, I have first-hand experience so that your experience will be as painless as possible.  If you’re staying with XP, I can provide even better support than before.

For more information on Microsoft’s certification program, visit Microsoft Learning.

 

MCP Logo MCTS Logo

 

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How do you host?

Posted on June 19, 2007. Filed under: Microsoft, Web Development |

Microsoft has a survey for Web Developers to help them improve they way they work with us.  I recommend taking a few minutes (about 5) to read about it on the Expression Web Team’s blog and take the survey.

Here’s the link to the blog entry talking about the survey:

Hosting and Publishing Survey

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New Windows Live products released

Posted on June 4, 2007. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Uncategorized |

I just got back last weekend from a three-week trip to China, so I’m a bit behind on getting caught up on the latest tech news.  As I went through my blogroll, I found that two beta programs I’ve been using have gotten a bit less beta, which is pretty exciting.

Windows Live Mail

First up, Windows Live Mail, the successor to Outlook Express and Vista’s Mail program.  I started using it simply because it lets me access my Windows Live e-mail account without having to go through the site.  Before this, the only way to get my mail was to go through the web site (which, admittedly, is a bit slow at times) or pay for the Office Live upgrade which would allow me to connect to the mail server from Outlook, which is what I use at school (Office 2007 rocks!).  Since I’m always looking for the least expensive/most valuable option, being able to get my mail offline was great.  On top of that, you can also connect to a ton of other providers and Windows Live Mail is pre-configured for the majority of big-name email services.  I’m using it now to access my Gmail and Live e-mail accounts, and there’s also the option of connecting to an Exchange Server, so you can use it at work and home!

I’d like to be able to tell you I’ve been using Outlook as my RSS aggregator, but I’ve been disappointed with the workings and “integration” of IE7 and Outlook.  I’ve tried a few, but ended up sticking with RSS Bandit, which has worked well, although I was frustrated with the amount of memory it ate up and it’s slow startups.  Other than that, I liked it.  Tired of using three separate programs to read mail and newsgroups, and RSS feeds, I decided to give the RSS reader in WLM a shot, and was pleasantly surprised.  Adding feeds is relatively straightforward (although I wish there was feed discovery like RSS Bandit), and importing the OPML was easy, too.  There’s better integration with IE7 than Outlook provides, but somewhere in the process I’ve seemed to have lost the ability to subscribe to feeds from within Internet Explorer.  Not sure if that’s the fault of the software, or some other changes in the past.  I’ll keep using both programs for RSS until I can get a good feel for how WLW handles some things, but it’s looking good so far!

Windows Live Writer

Hands down, one of the best products Microsoft has come up with (second only to OneNote), and it’s free!.  I still haven’t played with all the features yet, but the ones I’ve worked with have gone great.  As always, setting up your blog is painless, and the new version of WLW includes SharePoint blog support.  Also, you can now get one-click access to areas of your blog such as comments, stats, and your dashboard.  For those who upgrade from a previous version, all your plug-ins still appear to work, but those that don’t are being quickly updated, so don’t worry too much.

As I work more with this, I’ll let you know.  Until then, download a copy for yourself and start writing!

Windows Live Writer screen shot Windows Live Mail screenshot
Windows Live Writer Windows Live Mail

Related Posts

Windows Live Writer Beta 2 Now Available

Windows Live Writer Beta 2 – Updated Finally

Windows Live Mail goes into beta

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New Visual Studio Express Available for Download

Posted on May 1, 2007. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Software Development |

Microsoft has released the newest versions of Visual Studio Codename “Orcas” Express Editions (^), CTP version, for programmers and those who want to be programmers to test out.

I’ve been real impressed with the Express Editions that Microsoft started putting out with the release of Visual Studio 2005 (^).  Even though they’re not as “powerful” as the regular versions (Standard, Professional, Team), they’re great for starting out; in fact, the new Express Editions are as powerful as Visual Studio .NET 2003 Standard!  These versions are aimed at those who are interested in programming, specifically students and hobbyists, but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars on software that they would normally use to program with.  With the Express Editions, and the large number of Web sites dedicated to sharing how it’s done, it’s easy to jump right in.

Here’s a couple of places to get you started:

Coding4Fun – http://blogs.msdn.com/coding4fun

The Code Project – http://www.codeproject.com

 

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The Move to Expression Web

Posted on April 23, 2007. Filed under: Main, Microsoft, Web Development |

Well, I’ve moved completely from FrontPage to Expression, and the world is a better place now!

Well, not really, but at least my sites all work right.

Last week, I finally weaned myself off of FPSE (FrontPage Server Extensions) by removing them from my development machine.  I realized that the only reason they were on there is because I could open a web site using http:// and edit it live, even though that’s usually not the best method.

Since Expression Web creates standards-based sites right from the get-go, and it makes learning/using CSS that much easier, it made sense for me to leave FrontPage behind (since I’ve already decided not to use DreamWeaver).  I was still hung up on having FPSE, but didn’t really have a good reason as to why.  After chatting with Cheryl Wise (link) and in the Expression newsgroups (link), and reviewing her Expression site (link), it just made sense to leave them behind, as well.

So I now create sites on my computer first, upload them to the server using FTP, and make any changes to the disk-based site, rather than on the live site.  It takes a few more minutes, but it helps to maintain the integrity of the live sites I maintain.

Now, if I only had some artistic talent…

 

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Online Reservations for Oklahoma Christian

Posted on April 9, 2007. Filed under: Clients, Main, Microsoft, Software Development, Web Development |

We finally put into production our most recent web application for Oklahoma Christian University’s Office of Residence Life (formerly Housing Department).  This will help streamline the normally lengthy process the students used to endure.

Prior to this new addition, each student would come into the office with his/her friends, wait in a long line to meet with the Housing Coordinator, then select a room from a paper copy of the floor plan, without knowing what was available ahead of time.

Now each student can use a touch screen monitor located in the lobby of the Residence Life Office to see every floor plan available, along with prices for each room and whether or not a room is occupied.  This will let them know ahead of time what is available, saving both time and frustration.

The floor plans are dynamically updated every time a reservation is made, by using the Microsoft Office system.  Each Residence Hall floor plan is saved in Microsoft Excel, with custom formatting applied.  Every time a spot in the dorms is reserved, the Housing Coordinator updates and saves the floor plan, which is automatically published to the web app.  No more waiting to go in, now you’ll know exactly what’s available at any given time!

The application, based on .NET 2.0, also features a FAQ page and a Java-based calendar.  A slide show of all the floor plans cycles through when no one is using it, which attracts attention and provides quick information to passers-by.

Although this application is designed for use with this particular 19″ touch screen, it is easily adaptable for use as an intranet site

with just a few modifications.

Technical Information:

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Housing Reservations screen shot

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