Monthly Archives: April 2014

Does everyone learn the same way?


Are there differences in learning styles from one person to another? Does an application developer learn the same way as an IT professional? Does a computer user learn Microsoft Office the same way a programmer learns web development?

Success comes from having the right technical knowledge, coupled with the ability to work effectively and efficiently. This requires you to use the right training and reference material to get up to speed in your technology of choice. Will “just any” training material do? In my opinion, you will have the most success with training material that fits your learning style or styles.

According to Neil Fleming, designer of the VARK a guide to learning styles, there may actually be 18+ dimensions of learning, including temperature, light, food intake, biorhythms, etc. He went on to identify four main learning styles in his research:

  • V – Visual
  • A – Aural
  • R – Read/Write
  • K – Kinesthetic

Studies at categorized people by learning style based on a questionnaire. The studies identified that most people use multiple learning styles, with Kinesthetic being used to some degree by the largest share of learners.

  • 61.6% prefer more than one learning style
  • 34.1% use all four learning styles

Clearly there is not one dominant learning style, most people are multi-modal. Because of this, an effective learning tool must support all learning modalities, not just one or two.

At LearnNowOnline, we believe that whether you are a SharePoint developer, a Windows Server administrator, or a project manager, you’ll learn best by using a method consistent with your preferred learning style or styles.

That’s why our learning content is designed to accommodate ALL learning styles with a variety of learning resources like video, eBooks, transcripts, closed captioning, hands-on labs, sample code, and pre/post exams.

Here’s how LearnNowOnline resources support each of the VARK learning styles:

V – Visual
View key information graphically via video and eBooks with flow charts, diagrams, graphs, screen captures, sample code and more.

A – Aural
Listen as experts lecture on key concepts and take you step-by-step through real-world examples.

R – Read/Write
Read comprehensive eBooks (online courseware), searchable transcripts, closed captioning; bookmark key points in video and add notes.

K – Kinesthetic
Watch real-world video demonstrations; perform hands-on lab exercises and work with sample code; complete pre/post exams.

LearnNowOnline recognizes that learning styles matter, and offers something for everyone by including resources that nurture all learning modalities. When choosing training and resources to help you learn new skills and technologies, be sure to set yourself up for success by choosing a tool that supports all of the ways you learn.

Some Food For Thought:

  • What type of a learner are you? (Not sure? Take the VARK questionnaire.)
  • Are you an efficient and effective developer, IT pro, or computer user?
  • Do you use reference and training material that fits your learning style?
  • Does your training material cover all the learning modalities?


About the Author

Craig PhotoCraig Jensen is the President and CEO of LearnNowOnline. Craig has led the company’s change from instructor-led classroom training, to self-study CD/DVD training, to the award winning online learning solutions offered today. Craig is passionate about helping individuals and businesses of all sizes solve their problems through practical learning and technology. He is involved in setting direction for the company, including selecting training content for development with resources to support all learning styles. He is also involved in The CEO Roundtable organization in the Twin Cities as well as the Minnesota High Tech organization. In his spare time, Craig loves to travel, golf, and partake in water sports of all kinds.

Windows 8 Using XAML: Introducing Badges

As you have seen, tiles act as a Windows Store app’s interface on the Windows Start screen. These tiles can display static or “live” data, depending on the functionality you add to the application. Sending notifications to the tiles to update their content is the topic of a different/earlier section—in this section, you’ll learn about creating the badge that can appear in the lower-right corner of any tile. This badge is a separate entity from the tile content, and you create and update the badge separately.

Badge Overview

A badge on a tile displays summary or status information for the application, and that information must be specific to your particular application. In other words, it would be confusing and irrelevant to display information about anything other than the application associated with the tile.

A badge on a tile can take on one of only two forms:

  • A numeric value between 1 and 99; numbers greater than 99 appear as 99+.
  • A glyph (a small image); one of a set of pre-defined glyphs.

Badges can appear on either wide or square tiles, and badges always appear in the lower right corner of the tile (lower-left corner, for RTL languages).

You might use a badge to indicate any of the following sample scenarios:

  • Network connection in an online game.
  • User status in a messaging app.
  • Number of unread email messages.
  • Number of new posts in a social media app.

Consider these things when designing an application that includes a badge on the applications tile:

  • Badges can only display numeric values between 1 and 99. Setting the value of the badge to 0 clears the badge, and setting the value to a number greater than 99 appears as 99+ on the badge.
  • Badges can display a limited number of glyphs (plus a special glyph value, None, which displays nothing). You cannot extend the list, and Windows supplies all the glyphs that a badge can display.

As an example, Figure 1 shows a sample tile for the Windows Store. This tile displays the number of apps that require updating.

introbadges1Figure 1. The Windows store tile, with a badge.

Figure 2 shows a sample application tile that displays a glyph badge. This glyph is one of a small set of available glyphs.

introbadges2Figure 2. The sample app displays a badge showing a glyph.

NOTE Samples in this chapter assume that you have installed Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 (or later). If you are running the original release of Visual Studio 2012, some of the steps will not function correctly.

ldn-expertkgetzThis post is an excerpt from the online courseware for our Windows 8 Using XAML: Tiles, Badges, Print, and Charms,course written by expert Ken Getz. 

Ken Getz is a featured instructor for several of our Visual Studio courses. He is a Visual Basic and Visual C# expert and has been recognized multiple times as a Microsoft MVP. Ken is a seasoned instructor, successful consultant, and the author or co-author of several best-selling books. He is a frequent speaker at technical conferences like Tech-Ed, VSLive and DevConnections, and he has written for several of the industry’s most-respected publications including Visual Studio Magazine, CoDe Magazine and MSDN Magazine.

Using Visual Studio 2010 to Create BCS Applications

There are two ways to use Visual Studio to create BCS applications. The first is to build custom BCS models with the Business Data Connectivity Model, the second is to use Visual Studio to migrate declarative models built with SharePoint Designer for deployment via solution packages.

Business Data Connectivity Model

Visual Studio 2010 includes the Business Data Connectivity Model project template that you can use to create and use a .NET Assembly shim to any data store for use by BCS. Solutions based on the project template consist of a feature to install the model in BCS, an XML configuration file that is the model, and .NET classes that do the work of reading and writing data.

The XML model contains all of the information required to work with the .NET classes including method and type descriptors. This means that the associated .NET class’s methods and parameters must match the model.

At this point in the chapter you may have the strong impression that Microsoft really wants people to buy licenses to SharePoint Server if they need BCS. If so, it will not surprise you to discover that you must do some extra work to use this project template with SharePoint Foundation to support deployment to BCS.

Migrating Declarative Models to Visual Studio

You can use the Business Data Connectivity Model project template as a basis to migrate declarative models created in SharePoint Designer. Begin by using SharePoint Designer to export the model. Then create a Business Data Connectivity Model project and remove the default template items. Finally, add the exported model and replace the missing SharePoint Server specific feature receiver to deploy the model to SharePoint Foundation.

doug (frame 367 of smile clip)This post is an excerpt from the online courseware for our Microsoft SharePoint 2010 for Developers course written by expert Doug Ware.

Doug Ware is a SharePoint expert and an instructor for many of our SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 courses. A Microsoft MVP several times over, Doug is the leader of the Atlanta .NET User Group, one of the largest user groups in the Southeast U.S., and is a frequent speaker at code camps and other events. In addition to teaching and writing about SharePoint, Doug stays active as a consultant and has helped numerous organizations implement and customize SharePoint.

SQL Server 2008: Refining Attribute Relationships

Once you create a basic cube with dimensions, hierarchies, and measure groups, you will need to refine your cube design to optimize performance. One critical step in optimizing performance is to refine the attribute relationships, especially those in your natural hierarchies. When you build relationships between the attributes that form the levels of a hierarchy, SSAS can use an aggregation that was stored at one level to build aggregations for another level. For example, in a time dimension, a relationship exists between the semester
and year level, and SSAS has stored the aggregation for the semester level. When you query the year level, SSAS can add the two semester totals to determine the result for the year, thus improving query speeds.

Once you create a hierarchy in the Dimension Designer in BIDS, you can change to the Attribute Relationships tab to manage the relationships between the attributes being used in the hierarchies.

The Attribute Relationships tab has three sections, the design surface (which holds a relationship diagram), the Attributes pane, and the Attribute Relationships pane. In the design pane, you can drag and drop attributes to define the required attribute relationships. You should start with the key level and build from there. To create a relationship between the Employee key and Title attributes, you would drag the Employee key and drop it on the Title. An arrow will appear both on the design surface and in the Attribute Relationships
section to represent the relationship pictured in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Attribute relationships are indicated by arrows.

In the Dimension Designer, as shown in Figure 2, you will notice that the arrow between Employee and Birth Date and the arrow between Employee and Start Date are solid black. This indicates a rigid relationship.


Figure 2. Rigid relationships are indicated by a solid black arrow.

Attributes where the relationship are not likely to change over time should be defined as rigid relationships. The examples in the previous paragraph of Birth Date and Start Date as they relate to each employee should not change over time. The employee’s original start date should not change once they have started work. Rigid relationships allow SSAS to better optimize aggregations during incremental updates. Aggregations for rigid relationships are
maintained during an incremental update, while aggregations for flexible relationships are dropped and must be reprocessed.

NOTE Aggregations and dimension processing are beyond the scope of this chapter. For more information about aggregations, see the SQL Server Books Online topic, Aggregations and Aggregation Designs and for more information on dimension processing see the SQL Server Books Online topic, Processing (Analysis Services – Multidimensional Data) and Processing Options and Settings

Flexible relationships may change over time, for example, an employee’s title  may change when they are promoted. By default, all relationships are flexible. To change a relationship from flexible to rigid, right-click on the relationship arrow in either the diagram or Attribute Relationships areas, and then select Flexible or Rigid on the Relationship Type submenu. Additionally, when you right-click the relationship, you can select Edit Attribute Relationship to modify both the attributes and the relationship type.

ann.weberThis post is an excerpt from the online courseware for our SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services course written by expert Ann Weber.

Ann Weber has been an author, instructor and consultant for over 12 years. She is an expert in SQL Server, and has her MCITP, MCSE and MCT certifications. Ann works with all facets of SQL Server including administration, writing queries, development, SSAS, SSIS and SSRS. Ann has developed several courses and other learning materials for SQL Server.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008: Creating Groups

It’s difficult to create a very useful report without needing to group the data in some way. A report without any groups is either very simple—and there’s nothing wrong with a simple report—or very disorganized.
Groups are a great way to organize data in a report into a more manageable assemblage of information. If you need to create subtotals or other statistics you will likely need to create groups.

NOTE While the focus of this chapter—and all of the examples—is tabular reports and row groups created within a Table data region, some of the principles also apply to matrix and list reports, as well as hybrid reports that have attributes of tabular, matrix, and list reports.

The Grouping Pane

While previous versions of Reporting Services supported grouping, SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services has brought report groups to the forefront with the addition of the Grouping pane to the design surface. From the Grouping pane, you can easily view and manage your groups. You can see the Grouping pane at the bottom of the report design surface in Figure 1.

CreatingGroups1Figure 1. The Grouping pane appears at the bottom of the report design surface.

NOTE This chapter will focus on the row groups that are part of tabular reports. Elsewhere in this course you will find a discussion of Column Groups that are used on matrix reports.

The Details Group

By default, Reporting Services adds a details group—labeled (Details) in the Row Groups pane—to every Table and List data region. (Matrix data regions do not contain a details group and Chart and Gauge data regions do not use the Grouping pane.) The details group is unique in that it is a group that is not based on a grouping expression. Instead, it represents the detail rows in a Table or List data region.

Adding a Row Group

You can add a new row group to a Tablix data region either by dragging dropping a field from the Report Data window and dropping it on the Grouping pane or by using the Grouping pane’s popup menu.

Dragging and Dropping

Drag a field from the Report Data window and drop it onto the Row Groups area of the Grouping pane to create a new group. The key to getting the group into the correct place in the group hierarchy for the report is to carefully position the mouse cursor before letting go of the mouse button. As you hover over the existing groups, Reporting Services will draw a blue line to indicate where the new group will be inserted as shown in Figure 2.

CreatingGroups2Figure 2. The new group will be created as a child of the Country group and as a parent of the details group.

When you create a group using drag and drop, you can only create parent or child groups; you cannot create an adjacent group using this technique. Nor can you control the presence of group header and footer rows, or create a group based on an expression. If you need any of these group options, you’ll want to employ the Grouping pane menus to create your group.

Using the Grouping Pane Menus

To add a row group to a report using the Grouping pane menus, click on the down arrow to the right of an existing group and select Add Group from the menu as shown in Figure 3. A submenu will present several choices including Parent Group, Child Group, Adjacent Before and Adjacent After. (Creating adjacent groups will be discussed in more detail in the next section.)

CreatingGroups3Figure 3. Adding a row group using the Grouping pane.

After selecting the type of group that you want to create, Reporting Services displays the Tablix group dialog box that is shown in Figure 4.

CreatingGroups4Figure 4. The Tablix group dialog box.

To finish creating the group, select the Group by field using the drop-down list or click the fx button to group on an expression instead. Don’t forget to check the Add group header and Add group footer check boxes as appropriate before clicking OK, because Reporting Services makes it difficult to recreate the group header and footer rows once you have dismissed this
dialog box.

Adding Row Groups without the Grouping Pane
As an alternative to using the Grouping pane, you can right-click on a tablix row to
add groups to a report. Just click on a row selector of a detail or existing group row
and select Add Group from the popup menu.
Depending on the context when you right-click on a row, some grouping options may
be disabled or invisible. In general, you’ll have better success creating groups using
the Grouping pane.

Adding an Adjacent Row Group

Rather than add a group that is a child or parent of an existing group, you can add a group that is adjacent (that is, a sibling of) an existing group by selecting Adjacent Before or Adjacent After from the Add Group popup menu (see Figure 3).

Adding an adjacent row group is similar to adding a second tablix region to your report. The major difference is that each tablix region can be bound to a different dataset, whereas all of the groups within a tablix share the same dataset.

When you add an adjacent row group, you may be surprised to find that the new group will not have any detail rows. Fortunately, you can add a child details group to the adjacent row group.
paul_LitwinThis post is an excerpt from the online courseware for our Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services course written by expert Paul Litwin.

Paul Litwin is a developer specializing in ASP, ASP.NET, Visual Basic, C#, SQL Server, and related technologies. He is an experienced trainer, has written articles for MSDN Magazine and PC World, and is the author of several books including ASP.NET for Developers (SAMS) and Access 2002 Enterprise Developer’s Handbook (SYBEX). Paul is a Microsoft MVP, the chair of the Microsoft ASP.NET Connections conference, and a member of the INETA Speakers Bureau.