Debug.Assert replacement for Phone and Store apps

Sun, January 13, 2013, 09:42 PM under MobileAndEmbedded

I don’t know about you, but all my code is, and always has been, littered with Debug.Assert statements. imageI think it all started way back in my (short-lived, but impactful to me) Eiffel days, when I was applying Design by Contract. Anyway, I can’t live without Debug.Assert. Imagine my dismay when I upgraded my Windows Phone 7.x app (Translator By Moth) to Windows Phone 8 and discovered that my Debug.Assert statements would not display anything on the target and would not break in the debugger any longer! Luckily, the solution was simple and in this post I share it with you – feel free to teak it to meet your needs.

Steps to use

  1. Add a new code file to your project, delete all its contents, and paste in the code from MyDebug.cs
  2. Perform a global search in your solution replacing Debug.Assert with MyDebug.Assert
  3. Build solution and test

Now, I do not know why this functionality was broken, but I do know that it exhibits the same broken characteristics for Windows Store apps. There is a simple workaround there to use Contract.Assert which does display a message and offers an option to break in the debugger (although it doesn’t output the message to the Output window). Because I plan on code sharing between Phone and Windows 8 projects, I prefer to have the conditional compilation centralized, so I added the Contract.Assert workaround directly in MyDebug class, so that you can use this class for both platforms – enjoy and enhance!

Perfect is the enemy of “Good Enough”

Sun, January 13, 2013, 08:55 PM under Career

This is one of the quotes that I was against, but now it is totally part of my core beliefs:

"Perfect is the enemy of Good Enough"

Folks used to share this quote a lot with me in my early career and my frequent interpretation was that they were incompetent people that were satisfied with mediocrity, i.e. I ignored them and their advice. (Yes, I went through an arrogance phase).

I later "grew up" and "realized" that they were missing the point, so instead of ignoring them I would retort: "Of course we have to aim for perfection, because as human beings we'll never achieve perfection, so by aiming for perfection we will indeed achieve good enough results". (Yes, I went through a smart ass phase).

Later I grew up a bit more and "understood" that what I was really being told is to finish my work earlier and move on to other things because by trying to perfect that one thing, another N things that I was responsible for were suffering by not getting my attention - all things on my plate need to move beyond the line, not just one of them to go way over the line. It is really a statement of increasing scale and scope.

To put it in other words, getting PASS grades on 10 things is better than getting an A+ with distinction on 1-2 and a FAIL on the rest. Instead of saying “I am able to do very well these X items” it is best if you can say I can do well enough on these X * Y items”, where Y > 1. That is how breadth impact is achieved.

In the future, I may grow up again and have a different interpretation, but for now - even though I secretly try to "perfect" things, I try not to do that at the expense of other responsibilities. This means that I haven't had anybody quote that saying to me in a while (or perhaps my quality of work has dropped so much that it doesn't apply to me any more - who knows :-)).

Wikipedia attributes the quote to Voltaire and it also makes connections to the “Law of diminishing returns”, and to the “80-20 rule” or “Pareto principle”…

it commonly takes 20% of the full time to complete 80% of a task while to complete the last 20% of a task takes 80% of the effort

…check out the Wikipedia entry on “Perfect is the enemy of Good” and its links. Also use your favorite search engine to search and see what others are saying (Bing, Google) – it is worth internalizing this in a way that makes sense to you…

Best of "The Moth" 2012

Tue, January 1, 2013, 07:31 AM under Personal

As with previous years (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year and share a quick review of my blog posts from 2012 (plus speculate on my 2013 blog focus).

1. Like 2011, my professional energy in 2012 was dominated by C++ AMP including articles, blog posts, demos, slides, and screencasts. I summarized that over two posts on the official team blog that I linked to from my blog post here titled: “The last word on C++ AMP”, which also subtly hinted at my change of role which I confirmed in my other post titled “Visual Studio Continued Excitement”.

2. Even before I moved to the Visual Studio Diagnostics team in September, earlier in the year I had started sharing blog posts with my thoughts on that space, something I expect to continue in the new year. You can read some of that in these posts: The way I think about Diagnostic tools, Live Debugging, Attach to Process in Visual Studio, Start Debugging in Visual Studio, Visual Studio Exceptions dialogs.

3. What you should also expect to see more of is thoughts, tips, checklists, etc around Professional Communication and on how to be more efficient and effective with that, e.g. Link instead of Attaching, Sending Outlook Invites, Responding to Invites, and OOF checklist.

4. As always, I sometimes share random information, and noteworthy from 2012 is the one where I outlined the Visual Studio versioning story (“Visual Studio 11 not 2011”, and after that post VS 11 was officially baptized VS2012) and the one on “How I Record Screencasts”.

Looking back, unlike 2011 there were no posts in 2012 related to device development, e.g. for Windows Phone. Expect that to be rectified in 2013 as I hope to find more time for such coding… stay tuned by subscribing using the link on the left.