eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley

Ramblings of Matt

VisualHG: A Mercurial Plugin for Visual Studio

March 15, 2010 12:03 by matthaw
In addition to blogging, I'm also using Twitter. Follow me @matthawley


imageMercurial is quickly gaining momentum in the open source world, and the need for great tooling to make developers lives easier is always essential.  Most developers using Mercurial know of the the explorer shell plugin, TortoiseHg, but what many don't know about is VisualHG. In summary, VisualHG is

  • A source control plugin for Visual Studio (works with 2005, 2008 and 2010)
  • It sits on top TortoiseHg exposing common commands in Visual Studio
  • It tracks file status changes automatically indicating the state in Visual Studio
  • There's absolutely no SCC bindings!
  • It's absolutely free!

An occasional gripe we hear from CodePlex users, is that when they download and open a project from CodePlex that contains SCC bindings, they quickly get annoyed by the Visual Studio warnings of working temporarily uncontrolled. This is why the second to last bullet point is even listed, it's that important! The mere fact that it's free is just a bonus :)


To get started working with VisualHG is very simple.

  1. Download and install TortoiseHg and VisualHG.
  2. Open Visual Studio and go to Tools -> Options.
  3. In the options tree view, select Source Control. (You may need to click the Show all Settings checkbox)
  4. Select VisualHG from the drop down list, and click OK.
  5. Open your Mercurial based solution to see the plugin installed and determining your files' statuses.

So, why am I writing this post? Well, I wanted to highlight and recommend a great Mercurial based project hosted on CodePlex that we, the CodePlex team, use every day. Don't get me wrong, a few of us still use Mercurial from the command line (myself included), but I wouldn't even go without having VisualHG installed for simply tracking file status changes (necessary when doing lots of refactoring).


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Review: WipeClean v1.0

December 7, 2004 17:30 by matthaw

Over the past month, I’ve been beta testing a new product by Avantrix called WipeClean. This product allows you to securely wipe files from your hard drive by writing zeros overall the bits on the drive. Another great feature that it adds, is if you wipe a folder, it’ll wipe that folders contents and subfolders based on a file mask that you provide. So, by easily supplying *.dat when wiping a folder, only files with that mask will get wiped leaving all other masks in-tact.

One of the biggest features that I enjoy, is the Windows Shell integration. This is an optional executable that runs in your systray that provides right-click context menu availability for wiping files directly from Windows Explorer. An added feature, is this same integration adds support for wiping your Recycle Bin contents.

There is also another great feature called “Wipe Free Space,” that you guessed it, wipes the free space of a hard drive. This is great for zero-ing out all that extra space on your hard drive if your a worry-wort, or just wanted to compress the drive size done (in VPC only).

The only pieces that I didn’t like, which is strung across all their products, is the fact that “Jobs” can be saved, but not on a per user profile basis. It saves your jobs to a directory below the installation directory, which means – you can’t save jobs if your running as Non-Admin. In Avantrix response, though, they state that operations like above should really only be done as an Admin, thus eliminating the possibility of not being able to save the job.

All in all, this is a great product, and I’ve found it extremely useful in securely wiping my files / folders from my hard drive. In work, this is a great thing, especially if you deal with secure documents all day. Check out the WipeClean website and try out their 15–day trial! And for a $19.95 value, you can’t go wrong.


Review: Avant Browser

July 6, 2004 23:23 by matthaw

I was pointed towards Avant Browser earlier via a Blog Post and I must have to admit that I've pretty much fell in love with this.

Avant Browser, is in my own opinion, Internet Explorer on steroids. This very popular browser package incorporates Internet Explorer without a hitch, but adds an array of useful items. Such items include:

  • Flash Animation Filters
  • Built-in Popup-up stopper
  • Additional Mouse Functions
  • Multi-Window Browsing
  • Real Full Screen Mode / Alternative Desktop mode
  • Built in Yahoo/Google searching
  • Full IE compatibility
  • Skins

Okay, okay, so some of these are no brainers and can be easily used with the current Internet Explorer, or are already built in with FireFox / Mozilla, Opera, the one item that stands out to me is the Multi-Window Browsing. This takes surfing the internet to a MDI level (Yes, I know Opera can do this too). However, I'm a IE fanatic, and the huge differences between the alternative browsers listed above is in how things are presented to me.

At the time of this writing, Avant Browser is at version 9.02, Build 033, and it is stable as heck. The UI is a bit hard to get used to at first, but with the tool tips and customized skins, it makes it easy to get that IE feeling. With the price that cannot be overlooked (free!), Avant Browser is definately a must look for all.

Review: MoodLogic

June 29, 2004 00:24 by matthaw

This weekend I ran across a utility called MoodLogic in the search for an application that would allow me to easily sort my music library as well as generate music mixes easily. With tag lines like "The Ultimate Music Experience" and "We make Mixes from the best music in the world...Yours" I have to truly agree.

I've only been using MoodLogic for 2 days so far, but I'm thouroughly impressed with their services. When you add your music to the library, your music is "activated" with their services. Don't let this frighten you, though, as its more of a way to easily retrieve information about that music file like its Artist, Genre, Album and more.

The real power is when you wish to create "instant" mixes (as I like to call them. You easily pull up the interface, choose which Genre you want, your tempo, mood, and the length of the mix...and shazzam! you've got a new mix that can easily be imported into Windows Media Player, Winamp, or iTunes. To do this, just click the Play button at the bottom of the interface and your chosen player is launched...its that simple.

The other cool thing about MoodLogic, is that it integrates with TiVo's Home Media Option allowing you to play any of your mixes directly from the TiVo or have MoodLogic play songs from a particular Genre, Artist, or Mood. It can even "Suprise" you by generating a random mix and play it through your TiVo.

Unfortunately, MoodLogic isn't free, however for the power it provides, the $39.95 one time fee is well worth it. If you want to give it a trial run, they do have a 14-day trial.

Worth checking out if you own a TiVo or listen to music all day at work:

Review: CodeBrarian VS.NET Add-In Framework

June 28, 2004 21:44 by matthaw

My first "official" review is on Brady Gaster's CodeBrarian Add-In framework. Brady first mentioned his framework on his weblog, and states:

"The goal of Codebrarian is to provide a flexible, extensible Visual Studio.NET add-in that other developers can extend as they see fit."

I have to say, it truly is flexible, and extensible, making a plugin super-easy for those of us who do not know how to do such a thing (I'm included in this ). Brady's framework installs a VS.NET addin that allows you to plug-n-play new plugins that inherit from his interface. The documentation is nowhere to be found, but I found it extremely easy to understand once I opened up Codebrarian.dll in Reflector and followed his Highlightor plugin.

After I understood what needed to be done, I started my own plugin to interface with WebDeploy (don't expeect this to be released, any time soon that is). After adding a reference, I created a new class and implemented the plugin interface, added a the MenuText and CommandName properties, and just re-displayed the FilePath that was passed into ProcessCodeFile. After building, I dropped the compiled assembly into the Codebrarian's directory, restarted VS.NET, and wahla! My plugin was active and working.

As this is the first public release, its pretty well "built tough." (thanks Ford!) I would personally like to see more options on where the plugin architecture would come into play, like instead of having it only in the solution explorer, but in the editor screen, and in a menu item. The plugin's themselves can tell the architecture where they would like to be shown, and depending on where the plugin was activated, a different procedure can be called.

Truly a simple plugin architecture, I give it 4 floppy disks! 1 Floppy1 Floppy1 Floppy1 Floppy

Review: VisualBlogger 2004 - Beta 3

June 28, 2004 17:02 by matthaw

So as I stated previously, I said I'd give VisualBlogger 2004, Beta 3 a better run for its money...I'm not so sure how long that will last. It still seems to be missing that ease of use that I love so much in BlogJet, however this post is written entirely within VisualBlogger 2004.

The good...

  • The UI is a lot better, getting around the program is a bit easier now that we have an actual menu bar.
  • I do like the office feel.
  • I do like the code snippit functionality, however whenever you insert the code, the dialog should dissapear.

Now, for the bad --

  • I'm still not keen on the sideways submit button.
  • The configure blogs UI is horrible, no, horrendous. I got in there and (without reading the documentation) was completely at a loss for what I needed to do. Ohh - okay, so this tree menu on the right, those are my blog providers, okay, how do I add my blog to it? Ohh, right click...gotcha. Not intuitive at all, sure it looks a little better, but it still works like crap.
  • Now, how to exit the configure blogs dialog, right - red "X".
  • File -> Exit ... I can't exit? Are you serious? You mean I have to just keep this open 24-7 until I shut down my laptop? No, wait, there is another red "X" at the top right hand corner, phew.
  • Seems like a lot of the menu bar isn't wired up yet...thats okay, its a beta...though how come I can't format my font? I guess I'll just use the toolbars, err.
  • So you want a picture? Okay, click the button - ohh, shoot, you gotta write the url first, then highlight the url, then click the image button. Good thing I finally opened the user guide.
  • Ditch the "Flat" style of controls, they look terrible - go for the "themed" look of XP.
  • Again, I just state that the "Property Grid" for advanced options looks terrible, I know you've already stated its just a test, but err, it looks terrible.

So, you wanted my comments, and you got them...I realize my comment's aren't necessarily pro for VisualBlogger, but I think its a tool that is far from being a competitor with w.bloggar and BlogJet. Just wondering, have you used either of those to see what they got right, and how they do things rather than trying to reinvent the wheel? The way I look at it, is "could my mom setup and use this program?" Right now, no - not in a heartbeat, she'd delete just about as fast as I'm going to. Just a thought...

All things set aside, I give this:

Update: The post was originally written in VisualBlogger, but for some reason the stupid tool craps out on me and I can't: 1) submit my post, 2) exit VisualBlogger, 3) Close my post. It gives error messages each time, something about updating my entry...okay, so as you probably figured, I've now opened BlogJet and going to post via that. Time to Ctrl-Alt-Delete and close, then delete VisualBlogger 2004.

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