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I needed to add a boatload of files to a copy operations to a test FinalBuilder project/script. I remembered the filesets in NAnt. I was extremely happy to discover that FinalBuilder has them. I sure was dreading having to add a copy action for each file.

 FileSet Actions

The specific situation was that I needed to test about 6 different configurations for the problem I had with PainlessSVN and Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition. I just made copies of my original script for PainlessSVN. One of the scenarios had me protecting each separate file using .NET Reactor and not merging them. I needed to copy them to a directory so that both the .NET Reactor and InnoSetup could use the Release version of my assemblies.

Filesets in my script

I added a fileset to the first test version and used that subsequently. My rule of thumb is to use them when doing operation on more than 3 files.

Anyways, it's been a long time since I felt warm fuzzies for a software utility.

posted @ Wednesday, October 10, 2007 8:13 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

Posted in: .NET Tools

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I had a very enthusiastic beta tester that has been tracking down problems for me today. I really hate to break when we are having such a good communication going, so I kept FinalBuilder open and been doing release beta builds on the fly. This has allowed me to make very fast turn arounds on bug fixes, so that I can get them to the beta testers when I have them engaged.

I also noticed a very nice feature today as well. I was making a build just now, and had gone back to the forums to make a post when I noticed a MSN-like window popping up, letting me know that the build was successful.


posted @ Sunday, September 09, 2007 4:53 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

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I have been using NAnt since around version 0.81. It is more powerful than batch files, but still as annoying. Unfortunately, NAnt has stagnated at version 0.85. It can't compile solutions, so you have to shell out to MSBuild in order to do that.  Anything more complex than copying, zipping, and compiling turns into a morass of back referencing spaghetti. The one thing that could had kept NAnt shinning would have been a nice editor that was NAnt aware.

The only thing I've found to edit NAnt scripts in a contextual fashion was Nantpad. Unfortunately, this is priced above the sweet spot price for mISV. I've found that this price is around $150 for most developer tools. Anymore than that, has to be justified in doing more than one thing. My personal feeling is that NAnt is going to go the way of NDoc. The reasoning behind that could be a whole post in itself, but I'm not going to that today.

Enter Finalbuilder. I have been following this tool since the time it was a one man operation. Back then it was listed with AtoZed Software's website. The company has since grown and now host their own website. Back then I was a Delphi and VB6 programmer, doing system-type programming. I built tools for automating business processes, much like what FinalBuilder does now.

The beauty of FinalBuilder, is that I had only had to look at the help once, in all the years I had used it for work. Not only is it fairly intuitive to use, but it is a joy to work with. It doesn't get in my way. I know that Joel Spolsky uses it to do regular system maintenance activity at FogCreek. You can read what he says here:

FinalBuilder is out of the sweet pricing spot I mentioned before, but it can justify the price, because it does the automation well for many things, not just doing daily builds. Just as Joel's team, I'm going to be using it to automate several of my system maintenance tasks.

I already been using it for building Beta 1. It has saved me about 45 minutes for the build time. The other big allure is that I now have a repeatable build process. This has also cut down on the manual typos that can creep in when doing NAnt scripts. I want to absolutely automate anything that I'm doing. I just don't have the time to be monkeying around, especially now that I'm much older (40 in a couple months). Monkey businesses is for younger people.

I find that FinalBuilder is the most polished build system in this class of software produts. I have tried several others. Here are the competitors:

I haven't used Automated Build Studio, but to be honest, I don't see how it could beat FinalBuilder. I think that the main reason for this, is that I, as a customer, have access to Vincent, the creator. That personal relationship/touch will trump any other emotional argument every time. I know a couple mISVs that use Automated Build Studio, and they tell me that they don't have that personal touch with that product. I always favor smaller companies, especially because of this personal touch. This touch is what is missing in today's business environment.

I'm going to cut this short here. I was in the hospital earlier today, and I'm still under the weather. I'm surprised that I was able to be this coherent at all. Maybe I just write better when I'm on drugs, Promethazine at this moment. LOL. Anyways, I hear my bed calling to me.

posted @ Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:02 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

Posted in: Code, .NET Tools

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I have been working with Denis at Eziriz, the creators of .NET Reactor, to solve a problem with a couple 3rd party assemblies that were not merging. I found by accident, that it was the *.nrproj file that I was using for PainlessSVN Professional was corrupted. I ended up recreating a new file and used the *.mkey from the previous project. I found this out, when I was doing the protection for the new version of SVN  Backup Widget. These external assemblies merged just fine using the *.nrproj for SVN Backup Widget, so I realized that it was probably not .NET Reactor.

Things are now peachy. Denis Mierzwiak, the Chief Technical Officer, has been very patient with me. Gotta love small software companies with good tech support!

posted @ Sunday, August 26, 2007 10:49 AM by Hector Sosa, Jr

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I have nothing but praise for .NET Reactor. It seems that I'm one of those customers that end up breaking software all the time. .NET Reactor was no different. My code caused some very strange reflection bugs at least a couple times. I sent them a sample program each time my code caused it to bomb. They fixed the program within a couple weeks each time.

The program now works as advertised. I'm to the point now where I'm going to include .NET Reactor as part of my build process. I will be using its command-line interface for this.

Eriziz updates .NET Reactor on a regular basis. This is a very good thing in this software space. This keeps hackers on their toes, which means one less thing that I have to worry about.

My next step from here is creating a 30-day trial, and setup an automated licensing system.

posted @ Sunday, August 12, 2007 1:50 AM by Hector Sosa, Jr

Posted in: .NET Tools

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Here's a list of the tools that I use for both programming and maintaining my website:


.NET Libraries



  • SQL Server 2000
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
  • SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition
  • SQLite -



System Administration

Project Management

These tools are the ones I want to use, but for lack of funds, time, or knowledge, I haven't been able to incorporate into my practices:

I'm just amazed at the sheer number of programs that I'm using. I'm pretty sure I left out some, since I did this from memory. A couple of these are just way too expensive at this time. I'm  hoping to purchase them with the proceeds of the sales from the first version of PainlessSVN. This is one of the few disadvantages of growning a company organically.

I have been making a habit to purchase applications and apps from microISVs. I also check the Business of Software forums and Larkware News for other microISVs for tools that could make my life easier.

posted @ Saturday, August 11, 2007 7:39 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

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I came across this little gem earlier this week. I just had a chance to test it tonight. I pointed it to an assembly, and it generated NUnit tests. The test were devoid of code, but there were stubs for everything that can be tested. Sweet!

I'm one of those that are slowly getting into unit testing, and NStub is a time saver. Here's the URL:

posted @ Thursday, May 31, 2007 9:46 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

Posted in: Code, .NET Tools

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I recently moved to Vista, and it has been quite a painful experience when installing Microsoft Dev tools. I wasted quite a few days getting this to work correctly.

If you intend to use SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and SQL Server 2005 Express, don't install it with VS2005. So the steps will be:

Install VS2005 - uncheck SQL Server 2005 Express
Install VS2005 SP1
Install VS2005 SP1 Vista Patch
SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
SQL Server 2005 SP2
SQL Server 2005 Express Edition SP2

This will ensure that you will able to use SQL Server Managent Studio. Took me several days to get the order right. :p Had to reinstall Vista, cause my installs got fubar trying to get the install order right. I bought Acronis True Image 10, the minute I got this working right. Now I have a nice Vista image with all of my tools.

Hopefully, I don't run into any more issues so that I can get back to finishing PainlessSVN.

posted @ Friday, March 23, 2007 5:08 PM by Hector Sosa, Jr

Posted in: .NET Tools

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