The U-G-L-Y story of the Feb CTP

(note from the future:  fixes for below problems described here)

You know that saying about one step forward, two steps back?
For any of you who aren’t masochistic, I’m going to save you from having to read the rest of this entry, and give you the executive summary of my experience with the identity-related bits of the Feb CTP right now:

  • For the digital identities applet to work, you need to install the WinFX runtime on a vanilla OS, I couldn’t get uninstalls of either the Nov or Jan CTPs to work. Even on the vanilla system it takes forever (but at least it works).
  • The infocard client, once installed, won’t import card exports from the last version of infocard. It also throws an error when exporting newly made cards.
  • The Microsoft.Infocards, System.ServiceModel.Design, and System.Security.Authorization assemblies don’t seem to be included in the runtime. I’m not a .NET guru, but I think that’s not right.
  • Windows SDK is a monster download encoded differently than earlier versions, and also doesn’t seem to have the assemblies listed above.
  • As well, the dev extensions (Orcas) do not appear to contain the Microsoft.infocards, System.ServiceModel.Design, or System.Security.Authorization assemblies
  • Without those assemblies, it is tougher to exercise the client in any meaningful way.

Final analysis: If you are interested in Infocard, stick with the Jan CTP. The Feb CTP will get you less, not more. Keep in mind, I’m not pretending to be a Visual Studio wizard, and maybe I have to do something wacky like register the SDK or something. I’m just a user trying to follow instructions and failing.

Runtime Installation

Man, where to start? First of all, the cleanup files just don’t work. You can ONLY install this CTP on a vanilla OS if you don’t want to see a little popup window that says the digital identity control panel applet failed to start. I don’t know what they forgot to clean up, but they definitely missed something.

Client Usage

Once you actually get the runtime components installed, and the digital identities icon actually pops up, you see a few new things:

  • a link to add provider cards (now all we need is a provider)
  • a link to preferences (which doesn’t go anywhere)
  • a link to import previously saved cards (that fails when I try to import cards saved from my Jan CTP client)
  • a link to export cards (that also fails with an data store error)
  • a link to create/manage self-issued cards (which works well)
  • a link to Site Usage (that will probably stay empty, see dev section below)

I know this sounds very critical. I’m sorry. Out of anyone, I’m excited to see this technology succeed, but you gotta throw me a bone here! People out there are spending their time to set up this CTP and eagerly see what’s new. They need to know what they are going to get.

Development Environment

Next I tried to run my infocards solution from the last CTP (this is the code that I barely cobbled together from the long-defunct identity resource kit). Nope. That didn’t work either. I’m missing System.ServiceModel.Design, Microsoft.InfoCards and System.Security.Authorization. Shouldn’t these be part of the runtime? Maybe not, this could just be my .NET and/or Visual Studio immaturity showing through.

I vaguely remember a painful process involving .img files from my November adventures with WinFX. So I download the Feb CTP WinFX SDK. A whole gigabyte of SDK. Just to get 3 rotten assemblies. I finally get this hefty little .img package on my disc drive, open isobuster, and thank heavens the ordeal is almost over…. except — NO! It’s not over yet. The only thing I can extract easily is a file called README.T — and all it says is

“This disc contains a “UDF” file system and requires an operating system that supports the ISO-13346 “UDF” file system” specification.”

This is new. I didn’t have to jump through quite so many hoops last time, I don’t think. Can we make it any more difficult?

Luckily, the application of google to the problem resulted in a link the following blog entry from: Tom Archer’s Blog

Bless you. My hero… if you are trying to install the SDK, just go to that link and follow the instructions.

But it all appears to be for naught if you are trying to run InfoCards development code in Visual Studio. I’ve installed the SDK and the extensions (ie Orcas), and I still can’t find Microsoft.Infocards, System.Security.Authorization, or System.ServiceModel.Design. Now, I’m no visual studio wizard, there is likelihood of some serious PEBKAC here. But maybe not — maybe that stuff really isn’t there. All the information on MSDN about the Microsoft.infocards namespace is gone – nothing left but a broken link, as of March 12 at 8:20am. This also makes me suspicious.

I dunno. I’m stumped. All I can think of to do is to spend another hour on google, mining for any possible pertaining link. I could try and run my infocards server code on the old JanCTP box and then see if at least the client code will run on the new box. But generally, I would have to say that this Feb CTP client is completely, utterly, useless.