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Occasionally Relevant Insights from a Software Builder

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How To Download Visual Studio 2015 for Offline Install

I don’t mind online installers. They’re convenient but if your installing a multi-gigabyte application, you don’t want to reinstall it this way. Visual Studio 2015 is one of those apps.

This, in my humble opinion, is the best software developer tool out there. If it had PHP, Ruby, and FTP/SSH, I could uminstall Eclipse. (To clarify, there is PHP available for VS but it’s a commercial product and the free Eclipse version is just as good and free. Did I mention that it was free?)

There used to be an option on the Microsoft site to download a VS ISO, but it seems to be unavailable now. You can still download the installation files (not the ISO) by running the online installer with a command line option.

First, download the installer. Then open a cmd.exe prompt as administrator. Then run the installer as follows:

    vs_community_ENU /layout

You will then be prompted for a download path, then the long download will proceed.

This will download the core features of Visual Studio and you’ll still need to go online to download all of the features you might need.

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QLingo for Notepad++

Writing code in QLingo for XMPie uStore in InDesign is challenging since it can be difficult to read due to the font and lack of colours to highlight key areas. I prefer to write code outside of InDesign so that I can save it in an easy to reference format.

My programming editor of choice and editor for general usage is Notepad++. It supports multiple programming languages and gives the option of adding your own custom language. I created a QLingo language addon that you can download from the following link: QLingo for Notepad++.

Comments in your code are deleted when you import into your InDesign document, but its useful to keep in your saved source code for when your debugging it 3 months from now.

QLingo for NotePad++

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Unlocker

<sarcasm>Everyone enjoys seeing Windows messages like the following:</sarcasm>

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You can’t delete files in Windows when their file handle is still open in the operating system. This can still occur even after you closed the document and the application that was used to display it.

One solution is to reboot the computer which may release the file handles, but this doesn’t always work. Unlocker is a system tray application for Windows that can force file handles to close and delete processes. Unfortunately, it won’t delete locks over networks, but there are other ways to do it manually.

The application is free and it uses very little memory when running. You don’t need to run it all the time, though. I just use it when I have file problems and then close the application afterwards. This is a must have application for Windows users.

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pscoder: PowerShell plugin for Eclipse

Now that I’m using PowerShell more, I’m looking for a good editor for it. The GUI editor that comes with PowerShell 2.0 is ok, but it only works well with editing one document at a time. If you have multiple libraries and modules, it may be difficult managing your project.

The first place I looked was finding a plugin for Eclipse, and found pscoder. This is an open source plugin from Google Code. The plugin is very basic, but it does colour code the source and has comment/uncomment hot key support. Its still a work in progress, but so is the GUI editor from Microsoft.

You can download pscoder at code.google.com/p/pscoder.

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PowerShell: A Better CMD.EXE

Every systems administrator and power user is very familiar with CMD.EXE: the command line interpreter for Windows. Its used for running applications from the command line, and also for performing administrative tasks with batch files. Not much has changed with the traditional command line interpreter from the days of DOS 1.0. The batch language has improved and more functionality has been added, but its still very limited and not as capable as Linux command shells (i.e. bash).

Taking on Bash

All of this has changed with Microsoft’s PowerShell. This is a vastly improved command line shell with a built-in programming language. The language is very similar in capabilities to PHP or Perl and works very well with creating small utilities for Windows. The big advantage of PowerShell over Linux shells is the vast .NET Framework that it has access to. You can write a script that can extract data from a Microsoft SQL Server database, send it by FTP to a remote folder, and then send an e-mail notifying a user where they can find the files that were transferred. Before this, a batch file would have to call external applications to perform the FTP and e-mail functions.

PowerShell scripting can easily be replaced by any of the Visual Studio .NET languages, but it has the advantage of being able to edit source code and immediately execute it.

Apart from scripting, the shell is also very good for executing commands, or cmdlets as they are called, from the command line. With this, you can perform complex operations that would require a great deal of programming to do.

Choose the Right Version

If you search Microsoft.com, you will find Windows PowerShell 1.0, but I would not recommend using this version. A better choice is the Community Technology Preview version of PowerShell 2.0. This version supports running scripts on a remote machine, creating cmdlets with its scripting language, reusable modules for organizing scripts, a GUI integrated scripting environment, and many more useful features.

Uninstalling PowerShell 1.0

Before you can install PowerShell 2.0, you need to uninstall version 1.0 if you installed it previously. This can be done by checking on the Show updates box in Add or Remove Programs (Control Panel). This is required otherwise Windows PowerShell will not be visible for uninstalling. You can find it in the Windows Software updates section.

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Is It Worth Learning?

PowerShell is a powerful scripting language and can hold its own again PHP and Perl. The command line interpreter will save you time as a Windows administrator and you won’t go back to CMD.EXE or batch files after learning it. PowerShell is worth the effort in mastering it.