40% off Microsoft Press Books at Books24x7

At the moment Microsoft Press in conjunction with Books 24×7 have an offer where by you can get 40% off the subscription fee.

Follow these steps to receive a 40% discount to Books 24×7 E-Reference Library for Microsoft Press Titles, a virtual library that contains over 500 technology books that are published by Microsoft Press.

  1. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/learning/books/ereference/default.mspx

    Note: You can also watch a demo of E-Reference Library by clicking the "Watch an E-Reference demo" link on the page.

  2. Click the "Subscribe to an E-Reference Library" link at the top of the page.
  3. Click the link to the type of library that you would like to purchase. On the next page, you can review a description of the library.
  4. Click the Add to Cart..
  5. Type the discount code below that corresponds to the library type that you selected, and then click Apply.. The discounted price will be reflected.

    Discount Codes:

    • Desktop Library: EREFDESKB
    • IT Professional Library: EREFPROB
    • Developer Library: EREFDEVB
    • Complete Library: EREFCOMPLETEB
  6. Complete the checkout process to purchase the E-Reference Library at the discounted price.

Prize Draw Winners

As last Monday’s meeting ran a little late we didn’t have time to do our normal prize draw at the end of the evening.

We’d therefore like to congratulate Erika Birse and Chris Woolderink who both won a copy of TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio.


At a recent Scottish Developers event we had a brief talk by Peter Munro who introduced us to IT4Communities who look for volunteers to help charities. He left us with a number of leaflets for those that were interested. If you didn’t make it to the event, or didn’t manage to get a leaflet here is the information.

Share your Professional IT Skills

Share your time and talent with charities and make a real difference

Why volunteer?

  • Your skills make a real difference.
    You bring much needed professional skills and expertise to charities
  • Volunteering can develop your professional skills
    Apply your knowledge in unfamiliar settings and learn new skills
  • Something simple to you means the world to a charity
    An hour of your time could save months of headaches
  • There are a number of ways to volunteer
    Sometimes charities need hands on help, others just need your trusted advice
  • Your business perspective
    Your commercial knowledge can help and organisation achieve sustainability

Sounds great – How do I volunteer?

Register your talent in 5 minutes at www.it4communities.org.uk. There are hundreds of opportunities waiting for you. You can search in your own time (by region, skill and charity type or free text in our RSS feed) and you are not committed until both you and the charity are ready to go.

Why volunteer through IT4Communities?

IT4Communities is the UK’s leading volunteering programme for IT Professionals. We’re on hand throughout the project to help – we understand both IT Professionals and the voluntary sector. Remember we ask for established IT Professionals – see our link “What is an IT Professional?” on the registration page.

For more information, please visit www.it4communities.org.uk or phone 020 7796 2144

Craig Murphy interviewed Caroline Bucklow from IT4Communities for his podcast last year.

Book Review: Java EE 5 Development with NetBeans 6

Title: Java EE 5 Development with NetBeans 6
Author: David R. Heffelfinger
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Price: £30.99
ISBN: 978-1-847195-46-3
Pages: 390

This book has been written for Java developers with no knowledge of NetBeans or Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE), who wish to develop Java EE applications using NetBeans. It promises to take the reader on a tour through the most important parts of Java EE programming, using screenshots and instructions to demonstrate how using NetBeans and its features can save time and enhance their development experience. Sounds good, but does Heffelfinger deliver and can someone with only a basic understanding of NetBeans and Java Standard Edition (Java SE) learn anything? Before I attempt to answer this question, here’s a quick summary of what’s in each of the books chapters.

Chapter 1, Getting Started with NetBeans, takes the reader through the process of downloading, installing and configuring NetBeans, before deploying the Corporate Travel Centre sample application that ships with NetBeans, to ensure that the GlassFish application server and JavaDB have both been correctly configured within the NetBeans environment.

Chapter 2, Developing Web Applications with Servlets and JSPs covers how to create Java EE web applications using Java Server Pages (JSP) and the Serverlet API, before looking at form based authentication as a means of securing web applications. Finally, the reader is shown how they can use the NetBeans HTTP monitor to keep track of what’s happening to their web applications.

Chapter 3, Enhancing JSP Functionality with JSTL and Custom Tags introduces the JSP Standard Tag Library (JSTL) as a way of building more readable and maintainable JSPs by relying less on JSP scriptlets. The two main areas covered are, how to use the Core and SQL JSTL tags, with the former showing how to decide which page to display (conditional logic) and how to display collections through the use of loops in JSPs, while the latter deals with inserting, retrieving, updating and deleting database data.

Chapter 4, Developing Web Applications using JavaServer Faces introduces the reader to web frameworks; once again Heffelfinger mentions some of the alternative non-standard web frameworks, before explaining that JavaServer Faces (JSF) was introduced as part of the Java EE specification.

Chapter 5, Interacting with Databases through the Java Persistence API guides the reader through the intricacies of using the Java Persistence API (JPA) via an example that uses the Model-View-Controller design pattern. During this process, NetBeans is used to generate JPA classes, JPA entities from a database and a complete JSF application from existing JPA entities.

Chapter 6, Visual Web JSF Development takes the reader through writing their first Visual Web Application, in a predominantly drag, drop and bind fashion. However, Heffelfinger points out that this isn’t always the quickest way to work as using code completion can be a faster option for some tasks.

Chapter 7, Implementing the Business Tier with Session Beans covers how to use session beans, including how to implement Aspect-Orientated Programming (AOP) via interceptors and how to use the Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) Timer Service to periodically invoke a session beans methods.

Chapter 8, Messaging with JMS and Message Driven Beans deals with the Java Messaging Service (JMS) and focuses on how the reader can use NetBeans to generate the required boilerplate code, leaving them free to focus on the applications business logic.

Chapter 9, Web Services introduces both SOAP and the Representational State Transfer (REST) before focusing on the former and guiding the reader through creating both a web service and a web service client. Once again NetBeans is used to generate the majority of the required boilerplate code.

Chapter 10, Putting it all Together takes the reader through the process of creating an Enterprise Project which takes advantage of some of the technologies explored in the earlier chapters and reinforces the learning experience.

Finally, there are two appendixes, A. Debugging Enterprise Applications with the Netbeans Debugger and B. Identifying Performance Issues with NetBeans Profiler. Both are brief in nature, but provide enough information to get the reader started.

As you may have guessed, Heffelfinger has written this book to guide the reader through creating the various applications using a step-by-step method, making extensive use of screenshots and highlighted code snippets to supplement the instructions. Heffelfinger doesn’t expect the reader to mindlessly follow these steps though, as he takes time to briefly explain about technologies and why we need to do certain things. An example of this is where Heffelfinger mentions alternative products before using a product that ships with NetBeans, in chapter 1 MySQL and Postgres are both mentioned and while they are popular RDBMSs and arguable more so than the Java DB, using either in this context would have added little of real value, and in all probability they would have simply been an unnecessary distraction. I appreciated the logic behind this approach and was pleased to see it used throughout the book.

Each of the chapters uses their own applications focusing on their particular technologies, which works well as it means the reader doesn’t have to move from one chapter to the next in a predefined order. Heffelfinger repeats relevant notes where they are required to aid the reader, or direct them to the relevant information should they choose to read the book out of sequence. I personally started at the beginning and worked my way through the book, however, I have no doubt that this flexible approach would benefit more knowledgeable readers who are interested in specific Java EE technologies or NetBeans features.

Alas this book isn’t perfect, to me if a book is based around the step-by-step style then I feel I should be able to create the applications from the book alone and not be forced into downloading the code samples. The step-by-step style was the case for the first couple of applications, however, once we moved onto Servlet Development in chapter 2, Heffelfinger opted to leave out a simple JavaBean, explaining that it was a simple JavaBean and therefore it was not shown, but at only thirty one lines of code, including comments was this really necessary? Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident and the policy was prevalent throughout the remainder of the book.

As for the downloaded code samples themselves, I personally found these to be of a mixed quality, which isn’t to say the code or applications themselves are poor as they certainly achieve their aims, but is more a reflection of the randomness of whether they would run without modification or configuration, and while I accept that for some, configuration is required, it would have been beneficial if these steps were documented, possibly in an appendix. An example of this can again be found in chapter 2, where the Form Based Authentication code sample requires the Enable Authentication Constraint checkbox to be ticked, while the next code sample for Creating a JSP Fragment in NetBeans, comes with this checkbox already ticked. Despite this I managed to get all of the code samples, working without any major issues, except for those in chapter 9 which continue to frustrate me.

I enjoyed reading this book and found it easy to read, with the content pitched at the right level for its target audience, developers new to Java EE 5 and NetBeans. That isn’t to suggest it’s the only book on NetBeans or Java EE 5 that you’ll ever need to own, but then again I don’t believe this is Heffelfingers aim.

Rating: 4/ 5

© Hamish Hughson 2009 (Republished on the Scottish Developers website with permission)

Web Analytics Wednesday

If you are interested in Web Analytics there’s a new group that you might be interested in meeting. Here’s what they have to say:

WAW is group of developers, digital agency people, online PR and web analysts. We’re an off shot of the Web Analytics Association and are an informal network of people interested in web design, usability, website measurement and optimization. There are a couple of other active WAW groups in London, Europe and the US and we had our first meeting in Glasgow in April at The Living Room in St Vincent Street. The next meeting is planned for the 24th of June.

You can sign up at http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/wednesday/index.asp?event_city=Glasgow

The group is an informal networking group we’ve got some sponsorship from some of the vendors for a few free drinks - but hopefully we can start to  bring in some excellent speakers to give some short informal talks on hot topics such as Google Website Optimizer, Multivariate Testing, User testing etc.

7 hours of free .NET training

InnerWorkings have an free training offer for all Scottish Developers members, as Scottish Developers are a member of INETA.

Summer is finally here, and it’s the perfect chance to sharpen your current skills (or learn some new ones!), with this special free training offer for the INETA community.

Build your .NET skills - for free!
Until June 30, InnerWorkings is giving away 7 hours of the latest hands-on .NET learning to any INETA member, no strings attached. This is your chance to sharpen your current skills or learn some new technologies at no cost, using InnerWorkings Developer. The 7 hours of .NET learning include the following technologies:

• ADO.NET Data Services                                    
• Silverlight 2
• Threading

Learn by doing
At  InnerWorkings, we believe in hands-on learning – check out our quick product tour for more information. Our learning environment is integrated with Visual Studio and our patented code-judging engine provides instant feedback on your solutions. Take us up on our offer and we’re confident you’ll see the value of our hands-on approach.

Tell a friend
This InnerWorkings offer is completely free to the entire INETA community, so please forward this email to your local members and to other INETA regional directors so they can share it with their members. Challenge your INETA group to learn with you! Remember, this free offer ends after June 30 so act today!

June Newsletter


We never managed to put out a newsletter in May as we were all recovering from Developer Day Scotland. This was the second time we’ve put on a DDD (Developer! Developer! Developer!) conference and we think we’ve got better at it. Certainly the feedback suggests that people got a lot out of the day.

The top three speakers on the day were Eric Nelson, Barry Dorrans and Ray Booysen. We also did a bit of analysis to see where folks came from on the day. We attracted delegates from far and wide, but 83% of attendees came from within Scotland. From our perspective this is fantastic. We also increased attendance by 29% from last year.

Later in May, I also took the opportunity to travel down to Taunton to find out how the DDD South West chaps conducted their conference. Suffice to say, I was very impressed so we’ll be incorporating some of the ideas from there into Developer Day Scotland next year.

In the meantime we have some fantastic events coming up. Later this month Kathleen Dollard is coming across to speak about Rethinking Object Orientation (Monday 22nd June in Edinburgh) and Your Application in Pieces - MEF and MAF (Tuesday 23rd June in Glasgow). Then in July, Richard Fennell is coming up to talk about Developer Testing for SharePoint (Wednesday 15th July in Glasgow, sponsored by Equator)

Incidentally, Equator are starting the search for graduate/junior level developers, so, if you are recently graduated, the SharePoint event in July event would be an excellent opportunity to meet a potential future employer in an informal setting.

Colin Mackay, Chairman, Scottish Developers


22-June-2009 @ 19:00 in Edinburgh (Scottish Developers)
Rethinking Object Orientation
Registration Required - Cost FREE

23-June-2009 @ 18:30 in Glasgow (Scottish Developers)
Your application in pieces - MEF and MAF
Registration Required - Cost FREE

2-July-2009 @ 19:00 in Edinburgh (Scot ALT.NET)
An Evening of O/RM
Registration Required - Cost FREE

15-July-2009 @ 19:00 in Glasgow (Scottish Developers)
Developer Testing for SharePoint
Registration Required - Cost FREE

Sponsor’s Message

EquatorEquator is a full service digital agency offering design, marketing, SEO and application development.  Our development projects range from CMS based sites to full business web applications.

Due to continual growth, Equator is always interested in hearing from talented developers.  If you feel you would enjoy a career in a vibrant, forward thinking company and have skills in any of the following ASP.NET, Javascript, jQuery, C#, SQL, CSS and HTML, then please do get in touch with Robert Graham or visit our jobs page.

Job Opportunity: Glasgow Graduate/Junior level

Equator are looking for talented graduates/junior-developers to fill two software development positions within their development team. The role itself will be varied and will give you the opportunity to work in new product development and support of existing client projects.

The right candidate will have a passion for quality software development and be able to demonstrate an ability to learn and absorb from more senior members of the team and a willingness to share knowledge with colleagues.

Equator aim to provide you strengthened abilities in the design and development of software systems, the writing of good quality documentation for internal and client consumption. Technologies and practices you will be exposed to in this position include:

  • C# 2.0 and 3.0
  • .NET Framework 2.0 to 3.5 (esp. ASP.NET)
  • Visual Studio 2005 & 2008
  • SQL Server 2000 & 2005
  • Javascript
  • jQuery
  • CSS & HTML
  • XML & XSLT
  • Object Oriented Design/Development
  • Test Driven Development
  • Agile Methodologies

If you have an interest in any of the above technologies and practices, combined with a good science or engineering degree, then we would like to hear from you.

If you feel you would enjoy a career in a vibrant, forward thinking company, please do get in touch with Robert Graham.

Scot ALT.NET: An Evening of O/RM

O/RMs help us bridge the gap between the database and the code base we love to write. On the night we will be looking at two O/RMs, NHibernate the most mature O/RM in the Alt.Net space and Microsoft’s recently released Enitiy Framework, the young pretender to the O/RM thrown.

ScottLogic, a leading financial software and consultancy company based in Edinburgh, have been kind enough to offer the use of their premises for an evening of O/RM knowlege sharing and dicussion.  The event will take place on 2nd of July at 7pm, 17 Gayfield Square Edinburgh EH1 3NX.  All are welcome!

The agenda

19:00 – 19:30 Paul Cowan - An Introuction to NHibernate
19:30 – 20:00 Chris Canal - FluentNHibernate in 15 minutes
20:00 - 20:10 Break
20:10 – 20:40 Colin Gemmell - NHibernate vs Entity Framework - which is best?

After the meeting we will retire for a beer and some heated discussion.  If you are planning to attend, please let us know by registering at the Scot Alt.Net Edinburgh EventBrite page (http://altdotnetedinburgh.eventbrite.com/).

About the speakers

Paul Cowan has recently started his own business Cutting-Edge Solutions.  He is a keen advocate of iterative development, test driven development, continuous integration and modern techniques.  Paul is a regular committer to the horn open source project.  He recently gave a presentation on horn at the Dsl DevCon at Microsoft in Seattle.  You can follow his blog here.

Chris Canal has worked at a Web Developer for the past 7 years. Starting with procedural languages like ASP and PHP, he quickly moved onto the .NET Platform when first released. A great believer is continual–improvement, Chris is constantly looking for new technologies, tools and methodologies that will help in creating robust and maintainable software applications. Having felt the pain of using Microsoft "Demoware", Chris has become an active member of the Scottish Alt.Net Community to share his findings and ideas with like-minded developers.

Colin Gemmel is a Web/Application Developer working in the Medical Faculty of Glasgow University for the past 3 years. An avid follower of agile principles and practices he is always happy to pass on his views of software development to anyone that will listen. Colin is also a regular participant of the Scottish Alt.Net Community


Event: Developer Testing for SharePoint

The Talk

The development of components for use in SharePoint is a complex process, and often seems to fly in the face of what is considered good development practice in a Test Driven Development world.

In this session Richard will show how using some good design practices and tools such as Typemock Isolator you can develop testable components for SharePoint without even having to have SharePoint on your development PC.

Speaker Biography

Richard is the Engineering Director of Black Marble Ltd a Microsoft Gold Partner based in the North of England. Black Marble specialises in BizTalk & SharePoint based business automation. As Engineering Director Richard is responsible for the delivery of systems and tools to allow the company, and their clients, to deliver solutions efficiently. All Black Mable’s development activity is underpinned by Team System using Scrum as a process model. Richard is a Certified Scrum Master. Richard is a regular presenter at community events in the UK and Ireland (and the rest of the world given a chance) where his most common subject is software testing and development process.


  • 18:30 Doors Open & Refreshments
  • 19:00 Welcome
  • 19:10 Developer Testing for Sharepoint (Part 1)
  • 20:10 Break
  • 20:20 Developer Testing for Sharepoint (Part 2)
  • 20:50 Feedback and Prizes
  • 21:00 Close and Repair to the Bar

Date & Venue

This event will be in the Broker Suite at the Ramada Jarvis Glasgow City Hotel at 201 Ingram Street, Glasgow, G1 1DQ on the evening of Wednesday 15th July 2009.

Sponsor’s Message

Equator Equator is a full service digital agency offering design, marketing, SEO and application development.  Our development projects range from CMS based sites to full business web applications.

Due to continual growth, Equator is always interested in hearing from talented developers.  If you feel you would enjoy a career in a vibrant, forward thinking company and have skills in any of the following ASP.NET, Javascript, jQuery, C#, SQL, CSS and HTML, then please do get in touch with Robert Graham or visit our jobs page.

We hope you enjoy Richard’s talk!