Facebook Beacon

Ever wanted something more powerful than just a “Share on Facebook” link on your site, but didn’t want to write an entire Facebook app?  Enter Facebook Beacon.  With it, you can add a few lines of code to your site and your users can share actions they did on your site like (bought a product/service, changed their profile, posted a comment, etc) to Facebook so it shows up in their news feed and then travels down the viral highway that is Facebook.

We’re considering integrating Beacon into our community web platform that runs (Channel 9, Channel 10, MIX Online, Channel 8 and TechNet Edge).  Do you think this would get annoying?  Would you like to share what you’re doing on our sites with your friends on Facebook?

FYI, we’re building a Facebook app as well for our sites (and all sites involved in Microsoft Communities), but we think this also adds value too.  Thoughts?

Popfly – Building Mash-ups, Blocks, Pages in a Fun Community

I’ve been following Popfly for a long time.  It’s come a long way (and 2 code names) to where it is today and it’s good stuff!  They have a cool editor in Silverlight for connecting blocks to create mash-ups, a web page editor, social networking to share your creations.  If you’re into the nitty gritty you can even go in and edit all the Javascript yourself.  Check out the intro video on Channel 9.

SQL WHERE List Matches Any or All

I saw a cool post recently from Jon Galloway called "Passing lists to SQL Server 2005 with XML Parameters".  This is a pattern I've used several times while building the new version of Channel 9.  If you'd like to learn how to pass in lists to stored procedures, check out Jon's post.

One of the times I've used it is to search our database for all entries from two of our forums.  For this example, we'll say Techoff and Sandbox.  Once you have a temp table with the two forum ids (actually forums in our system are just tags too) you can just do a where in statement like the following:

SELECT e.* FROM Entry e INNER JOIN EntryForum ef ON e.EntryID = ef.EntryID WHERE ef.ForumID IN (SELECT ForumID FROM ForumList)

Note: This is all pseudo code to represent the basics of how we do this.  This is not the exact code.

This selects all the entries (or posts) from our database that are from the list of forums I passed into the ForumList temp table.  WHERE IN specificies that all rows be returned that match ANY of the records in my temp table.  The following statement would be equivalent and work exactly the same.

SELECT e.* FROM Entry e INNER JOIN EntryForum ef ON e.EntryID = ef.EntryID WHERE ef.ForumID = @ForumID1 OR ef.ForumID = @ForumID2

Note: In the above example, @ForumID1 and @ForumID2 have the values that were stored in the ForumList temp table in the example above that one.

This works pretty well.  The other thing we do with passing in lists though is selecting only the entries that match ALL (not ANY) of the list we pass in to the stored procedure.  The example of this is when searching by multiple tags.  So for instance, you want to search on our site for all content that contains information on WPF AND WCF.  The previous example won't work.  It would instead need to be something like this…

SELECT e.* FROM Entry e INNER JOIN EntryTag et ON e.EntryID = et.EntryID WHERE et.TagID = @TagIDWPF AND et.TagID = @TagIDWCF

Using WHERE IN, we can't do this (at least I couldn't find anything in the docs or internet searching to say otherwise).  Duncan helped figure out the idea on how to do this and here is the implentation I came up with:

DECLARE @TagCount int
DECLARE @Tags TABLE (TagID bigint)
DECLARE @Entries TABLE (EntryID bigint)

SELECT @TagCount = COUNT(*) FROM @Tags
WITH Entries(EntryID, MatchCount) AS
        COUNT(DISTINCT t.TagID) AS MatchCount
        Entry e
            INNER JOIN
        EntryTag et
                e.EntryID = et.EntryID
            INNER JOIN
        @Tags t
                et.TagID = t.TagID
INSERT INTO @Entries (EntryID) SELECT EntryID FROM Entries WHERE MatchCount = @TagCount

What is this code doing?  Well, first, it's doing a count on the tags that were passed in (again, from XML turned into a temp table) and storing it in a variable.  Then, it creates a Common Table Expression or CTE around a query that returns all the entries that match the tag list and how many of those tags it matches up with.  If you're not familiar with CTEs, they're basically a wrapper around a query so you can write a query against it.  Kind of like a subquery, but much more organized.  Recursive CTEs are particularly powerful and cool, but that's another blog post.  So then after creating the CTE, fill another temp table with everything from the CTE where the MatchCount equals the count of how many tags were passed in originally.  This means that the entry returned had ALL the tags passed in associated with it.  So this will now only return entries that match ALL of the tags from the list that I passed in (stored in @Tags).  I hope this helps someone.  🙂

UPDATE: Check out the first comment from Bryan.  He points out a slightly better implementation.  Thanks, Bryan!

Robert Fripp on Channel 9 Again

This is really great.  The way they went about making the sounds for Windows Vista is really cool.  There are some really great ideas in this video like having calm music (you have to listen to the video to hear them) in the background while installing Windows Vista.  It's sad that it didn't make it into the final product.  Maybe they'll come out with some music from this we can buy.  Check it out…

Making Windows Vista Sing: Robert Fripp and the Vista Melody