.Net Links of the Day: Class Builder Wizard, OpenID. Visual WebGui and Patent Extortion

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution. - Hannah Arendt

CODEPLEX: Class Builder Wizard is a Microsoft Visual Studio wizard that generates data object classes and a full data layer implementation for Microsoft SQL Server database objects. It can also be used to quickly create custom classes (not necessarily based on a database object) by defining the structure of the class "manually." And, it works with Visual Studio 2008! If you've gotten frustrated waiting for updates to the Repository Factory and other GAT-based add-ins, then this is for you. It's simple, elegant and it gives you all the "DAL" code you need for your deal to work! All you do is "Add Item" and choose the template and follow the "Way of the Wizard"! It even generates a .SQL file with all the T-SQL Code to get your database in synch with the generated DAL code.

OPENID: I've UnBlogged about OpenID before, intimating that it was getting ready for Prime Time, and now I believe it is ready. There are several new .NET implementations that I really like, and I'm starting to actually use them (that's the real test!). Developers want to start here. Mads Kristensen did a real nice "less is more" openid implementation here, but if you want something more feature-complete, check out the ExtremeSwank offering. They even have some basics on the new extensions including MicroIds. This is getting really interesting; I like Microsoft LiveID but if you want something that is really vendor agnostic and already boasts some 120 million users (Yahoo, among others, have already gotten aboard), I am starting to think that OpenID is the way to go. Even has "pravatars" now, and a lot of really neat features on your custom OpenId "page" when you start an OpenId Identity here.

You get back an openid Identity that looks like "pbromberg.myopenid.com" and you can even set features like "always allow" that mean you never have to log in to an OpenId supported site after the initial logon. The ExtremeSwank ASCX UserControl returns the OpenId "Identity" along with the primary email and other data, unlike LiveId which only returns a GUID that is unique to the user and the application. Once again, I think it is important for developers to understand that an OpenID is NOT "an account" - it is simply a way to authenticate a provided Identity via an external service. You still need to have your authenticated OpenId user fill in a local profile including their email (which should come back in their oiu user object) and whatever other items you need to store. Their openid identity (e.g. joeuser.myopenid.com) becomes the primary key or username in your Users database table.

VISUAL WEBGUI: I stumbled across Visual WebGui a couple of weeks ago on Codeplex.com and passed it up, probably because I had my mind on other pursuits. However, I ran across it again today, downloaded the thing, installed the 3.5 Framework version and started playing with some of the samples. Good God! This is POWERFUL Stuff. Basically, you are going to work with Windows Forms and all the richness and goodness and the whole app is gonna run under ASP.NET over the web. Think Outlook Web Access and much, much more. Think Silverlight and AJAX, and you don't have to worry about any code. A little bit more about Visual WebGui: I downloaded a DiggApiNet "digg" .net API wrapper library from codeplex.com. In this solution is a complex Windows Forms Test Harness. I created a new Visual WebGui project with two required forms referencing the Gizmox base classes that extend Windows.Forms, copied in the "guts" of the original WinForms app to each new WebGui form, and changed all the namespace refererences appropriately to match. There was only one other change needed and it was minor. The new application ran perfectly over the web - all of it.

Check them all out!

Patent Extortion Gone Bonkers: Smartphone patented, everybody gets sued.

This past Tuesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent on "a mobile entertainment and communication device."

When you read the patent, you will realize pretty quickly it describes the smartphone - something that every major manufacturer puts out and has been doing for years. It's simply a patent for a mobile phone with removable storage, an internet connection, a camera and the ability to download audio or video files and display same.

The company that has the rights to this patent didn't wait at all. The next day it filed three separate lawsuits against just about every manufacturer, including Apple, Nokia, RIM, Sprint, AT&T, HP, Motorola, Helio, HTC, Sony Ericsson, UTStarcomm, Samsung and a lot of others. You can get more details at Patent Troll Tracker blog.

As the link explains, the patent itself is based on a bunch of continuation filings, which are commonly used by patent holders who want broad patents to cover the latest technologies well after they've already come about in the market. Should the PTO EVER have issued this patent? Look, if you are going to issue patents on technology, then you need technology experts to review the applications, not nasty bureaucrats.