Developer Product Briefs

February's New Tools and Apps for Your Toolkit.

A look at: Kaxaml 1.0, SubSonic 2.1, SapphireSteel Software, Subkismet.

Kaxaml 1.0
This lightweight XAML editor, created by Robby Ingebretsen of IdentityMine Inc., provides a split-view WYSIWYG workspace so developers can tweak XML code and view the rendered content at the same time. It requires the .NET Framework 3.0.

New features in version 1.0, which follows version 0.2, include IntelliSense code completion, a tabbed interface for opening multiple project files, and an improved editor that provides syntax highlighting, line numbering, automatic indenting and other tweaks.

Designers will welcome both the enlarged color-picker module that lets you assign specific RGBA or HSBA values and the new zoom function for magnifying design elements. The new XamlScrubber plug-in, the Web site says, removes unnecessary properties commonly inserted by Expression Blend. There is no formal support for Silverlight XAML, though it is available as a hack of the WPF XAML. Kaxaml is freely downloadable.

Figure 1. Kaxami 1.0
[click image for larger view]
Kaxaml 1.0, a freely downloadable XAML editor created by Robby Ingebretsen of IdentityMine Inc., offers IntelliSense code completion and improved editing in a revamped UI.

Open Source: SubSonic 2.1
A self-described "super high-fidelity Batman utility belt" for working up the data access layer, the newly released SubSonic 2.1 aims to speed and streamline the development of data-heavy apps under .NET Framework 2.0.

Employing a Ruby on Rails-like approach, the utility provides code-free domain model generation, simplified data scaffolding, useful controls and customizable templates. SubSonic 2.1 supports SQL Server 2000 and 2005 as well as the MySQL and Oracle database platforms (with support promised for SQLLite, SQLCE and Postgres).

Rob Conery, the developer behind the open source project, says his aim for version 2.1 was to "create a 'LINQy' experience for .NET 2.0" and provide a query tool that lets developers perform queries "in a readable, discoverable way." Conery was hired by Microsoft in October to build a version of SubSonic (dubbed "Makai") on top of the upcoming MVC option in ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions, now in alpha. SubSonic 2.1 is the last version for .NET 2.0, according to Conery. It's freely downloadable from the SubSonic project site.

SapphireSteel Software:
Ruby In Steel Text Edition
Ruby In Steel, the Ruby programming environment for the Visual Studio IDE, is now available in a lower-cost Text Edition, which comes bundled with a Ruby language-only edition of the VS 2008 Shell. Designed to get Ruby into the hands of more programmers, the $49 Text Edition costs $150 less than its full-fledged Developer Edition counterpart, and lacks the fast Cylon debugger and the full IntelliSense support found in the more robust version.

According to the company, the Ruby In Steel Text Edition includes an integrated debugger, a Rails setup wizard and project management features.

Open Source:
Subkismet 1.0
Subkismet 1.0 is a freely downloadable set of controls, service clients and tools to help Web developers contend with the non-stop stream of blog spam that can overwhelm successful and growing blog sites. An open source project hosted on the Microsoft CodePlex Web site, the Subkismet core library includes the following tools:

  • Akismet client Web service to check comments against a spammer database
  • Invisible CAPTCHA control to challenge spammers
  • Visible CAPTCHA control for ASP.NET
  • Honeypot CAPTCHA control to hide form fields from spam bots
  • ASP.NET trackback spam-stopping HTTP Module
  • Integrated Google Safe Browsing API service client for validating URLs against phishing or mal-ware attacks
Subkismet 1.0 is compatible with .NET Framework 2.0. According to contributor Keyvan Nayyeri, an upcoming update will provide compatibility with .NET Framework 3.5, add new spam-busting techniques and feature an overhauled application structure.

Visual Numerics Inc.:
IMSL C# and JMSL Numerical Libraries
Development shops working on advanced analytical apps face specific challenges as they craft code to process and visualize complex data sets. The IMSL C# Numerical Library 5.0 and JMSL Numerical Library for Java Applications 5.0 provide algorithms that speed app performance and enable important new visualization capabilities. According to a company statement, the libraries enable "highly accurate algorithms for quantitative analysis such as predictive modeling and quality control."

The pre-packaged libraries offer highly optimized algorithms to shops that don't want to build algorithms and functions from scratch. The IMSL C# Library, for example, can embed into the Intel Math Kernel Library to boost app performance for tasks such as linear algebra and matrix multiply functions, while the JMSL Library accelerates Fast Fourier Transforms and matrix multiplication. Also included in the libraries are 13 new classes of process control charts.

The IMSL C# Numerical Library 5.0 starts at $995 for a node-locked development seat. Both the IMSL C# Library and the JMSL Library start at $2,895 for a floating development seat.
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