Arrangeable FlowLayout Panel

I found this piece of code and when I ran it, I was surprised how usable it actually was.

At the time, I needed something that would allow me to sort an array of things by dragging and dropping.  The things I was working with were photos, but this class handles pretty much everything.

You can grab an item and drag it into a new position.  A caret shows you where the new position will be.  Even better, you can multi-select items and drag them to a new position.  When you need the new order, just iterate through the child controls.

I don’t actually have a use for it right now, but I need to save this so I have it for the future.

Public Class ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel
    Inherits FlowLayoutPanel

    Protected mouseDownPoint As Point
    Protected insertCaret As PictureBox
    Protected isMultiSelectOn As Boolean
    Protected isRangeSelectOn As Boolean

    Public Property AllowReordering As Boolean = True
    Public Property CaretColor As Color = Color.Green
    Public Property CaretWidth As Integer = 3
    Public Property CaretPadding As Padding = New Padding(2, 0, 2, 0)
    Public Property SelectionColor As Brush = Brushes.Black
    Public Property SelectionWidth As Integer = 1
    Friend Property SelectedControls As New Generic.List(Of Control)
    Public Property DragTolerance As Integer = 40

    Public Event ItemOrderChanged(sender As Object, e As EventArgs)

    Public Sub New()
        Me.AllowDrop = True
        Me.AutoScroll = True


    End Sub

    Private Sub Form_Key(sender As Object, e As KeyEventArgs)
        isMultiSelectOn = e.Control
        isRangeSelectOn = e.Shift
    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_ControlAdded(sender As Object, e As ControlEventArgs) Handles Me.ControlAdded
        AddHandler e.Control.MouseDown, AddressOf Item_MouseDown
        AddHandler e.Control.MouseUp, AddressOf Item_MouseUp
        AddHandler e.Control.MouseMove, AddressOf Item_MouseMove
        AddHandler e.Control.Paint, AddressOf Item_Paint

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_ControlRemoved(sender As Object, e As ControlEventArgs) Handles Me.ControlRemoved
        RemoveHandler e.Control.MouseDown, AddressOf Item_MouseDown
        RemoveHandler e.Control.MouseUp, AddressOf Item_MouseUp
        RemoveHandler e.Control.MouseMove, AddressOf Item_MouseMove
        RemoveHandler e.Control.Paint, AddressOf Item_Paint

        If SelectedControls.Contains(e.Control) Then SelectedControls.Remove(e.Control)

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_ParentChanged(sender As Object, e As EventArgs) Handles Me.ParentChanged
        Dim f As Form

        f = Me.FindForm
        If f IsNot Nothing AndAlso Not f.KeyPreview Then f.KeyPreview = True

        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyDown, AddressOf Form_Key
        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyUp, AddressOf Form_Key

        AddHandler Me.FindForm.KeyDown, AddressOf Form_Key
        AddHandler Me.FindForm.KeyUp, AddressOf Form_Key
    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_Disposed(sender As Object, e As EventArgs) Handles Me.Disposed

        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyDown, AddressOf Form_Key
        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyUp, AddressOf Form_Key

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_DragDrop(sender As Object, e As DragEventArgs) Handles Me.DragDrop
        Dim dropIndex As Integer

        For i As Integer = 0 To SelectedControls.Count - 1
            dropIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(insertCaret)
            Me.Controls.SetChildIndex(SelectedControls(i), dropIndex + 1)

        RaiseEvent ItemOrderChanged(Me, New EventArgs)

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_DragLeave(sender As Object, e As EventArgs) Handles Me.DragLeave
        Dim topBorderY As Integer
        Dim bottomBorderY As Integer
        Dim mousePositionY As Integer
        Dim hostForm As Form


        hostForm = Me.FindForm
        topBorderY = hostForm.PointToClient(Me.Parent.PointToScreen(Me.Location)).Y
        bottomBorderY = Me.Height + topBorderY
        mousePositionY = hostForm.PointToClient(MousePosition).Y

        Do While mousePositionY >= bottomBorderY ' Below bottom of control
            If Me.VerticalScroll.Value <= Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange + Me.VerticalScroll.Maximum Then
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value += Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value = Me.VerticalScroll.Maximum
            End If

            mousePositionY = hostForm.PointToClient(MousePosition).Y


        Do While mousePositionY <= topBorderY ' Above top of control
            If Me.VerticalScroll.Value >= Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange - Me.VerticalScroll.Minimum Then
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value -= Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value = Me.VerticalScroll.Minimum
            End If

            mousePositionY = hostForm.PointToClient(MousePosition).Y


    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_DragOver(sender As Object, e As DragEventArgs) Handles Me.DragOver
        Dim ctl As Control
        Dim dropControlPosition As Point
        Dim dropIndex As Integer

        If e.Data IsNot Nothing Then
            e.Effect = DragDropEffects.Move
            ctl = Me.GetChildAtPoint(Me.PointToClient(New Point(e.X, e.Y)))

            If ctl IsNot Nothing AndAlso ctl IsNot insertCaret Then
                dropControlPosition = ctl.PointToClient(New Point(e.X, e.Y))

                If dropControlPosition.X <= ctl.Width \ 2 Then
                    dropIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(ctl) - 1
                    dropIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(ctl) + 1
                End If

                If dropIndex < 0 Then dropIndex = 0

                If Not Me.Controls.Contains(insertCaret) Then
                    insertCaret.Height = ctl.Height
                End If

                Me.Controls.SetChildIndex(insertCaret, dropIndex)

            End If

        End If

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_MouseDown(sender As Object, e As MouseEventArgs)
        If e.Button = System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons.Left Then
            mouseDownPoint = e.Location
        End If

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_MouseUp(sender As Object, e As MouseEventArgs)
        Dim ctl As Control
        Dim startIndex As Integer
        Dim endIndex As Integer
        Dim newCtl As Control

        If e.Button = System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons.Left Then
            ctl = DirectCast(sender, Control)

            ' Choosing individual items or the first of a range
            If isMultiSelectOn OrElse (isRangeSelectOn And SelectedControls.Count = 0) Then
                If SelectedControls.Contains(ctl) Then
                End If


                ' Choosing the end of a range
            ElseIf isRangeSelectOn Then
                startIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(SelectedControls(SelectedControls.Count - 1))
                endIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(ctl)

                For i As Integer = startIndex To endIndex Step CInt(IIf(startIndex < endIndex, 1, -1))
                    newCtl = DirectCast(Me.Controls(i), Control)

                    If Not SelectedControls.Contains(newCtl) Then
                    End If


                For Each c As Control In Me.Controls

            End If ' single or multi-select

        End If ' Left button only

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_MouseMove(sender As Object, e As MouseEventArgs)
        Dim ctl As Control
        Dim rect As Rectangle
        Dim rectPoint As Point

        If AllowReordering AndAlso e.Button = System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons.Left Then
            ctl = DirectCast(sender, Control)

            ' create a range before dragging activates
            rectPoint = New Point(mouseDownPoint.X, mouseDownPoint.Y)
            rectPoint.Offset(0 - (Me.DragTolerance \ 2), 0 - (Me.DragTolerance \ 2))

            rect = New Rectangle(rectPoint, New Size(Me.DragTolerance, Me.DragTolerance))

            ' See if we've dragged outside the tolerance area
            If Not rect.Contains(e.Location) Then

                ' dragged item is not in selection, include it if ctrl is held
                ' otherwise, clear the selection and only use the dragged item
                If Not SelectedControls.Contains(ctl) Then
                    If isMultiSelectOn Then

                        For Each c As Control In Me.Controls

                    End If ' Ctrl held down

                End If ' Not in current selection

                Me.DoDragDrop(SelectedControls, DragDropEffects.Move)

            End If ' Outside drag buffer area

        End If ' mouse button down

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_Paint(sender As Object, e As PaintEventArgs)
        Dim ctl As Control

        ctl = DirectCast(sender, Control)

        If SelectedControls.Contains(ctl) Then
            ' Draw outline
            e.Graphics.DrawRectangle(New Pen(Me.SelectionColor, Me.SelectionWidth), Me.SelectionWidth \ 2, Me.SelectionWidth \ 2, ctl.Width - Me.SelectionWidth, ctl.Height - Me.SelectionWidth)
        End If

    End Sub

    Private Sub CreateCaret()
        insertCaret = New PictureBox
        With insertCaret
            .Name = "caret"
            .Height = 1
            .Width = CaretWidth
            .Margin = CaretPadding
            .Padding = New Padding(0)
            .BackColor = Me.CaretColor
        End With

    End Sub

End Class

The Minimum For Integration Logins

When you want to have your site support login from other services like Google, Facebook, or Microsoft, you use the Owin libraries.  The base MVC template sets all this up for you, but it also has a lot of stuff that your site probably already has, like login and a user database and whatnot.

So, what’s the minimum amount of code you need to add to handle the extra login sources.  You need two things: a class to initialize Owin and an MVC controller to handle the login redirect and the login response from the external site.

This is the class to initialize Owin:

Imports Microsoft.Owin
Imports Microsoft.Owin.Security
Imports Owin.Security.Providers

' Nuget Packages needed:
' Owin
' Microsoft.Owin
' Microsoft.Owin.Security
' Microsoft.Owin.Security.Coookies
' Microsoft.Owin.Host.SystemWeb
' Microsoft.Owin.Security.Facebook (for FB Login)
' Microsoft.Owin.Security.Google (for Google Login)
' Microsoft.Owin.Security.MicrosoftAccount (for MS Login)
' Owin.Security.Providers (for many other Logins)

<Assembly: Microsoft.Owin.OwinStartup(GetType(Startup))>
Public Class Startup
    Public Sub Configuration(app As Owin.IAppBuilder)
        Dim opt As Cookies.CookieAuthenticationOptions

        opt = New Cookies.CookieAuthenticationOptions With {.LoginPath = New PathString("/Account/Login")}

        Owin.CookieAuthenticationExtensions.UseCookieAuthentication(app, opt)
        AppBuilderSecurityExtensions.SetDefaultSignInAsAuthenticationType(app, opt.AuthenticationType)

        ' Google - Signup
        Owin.GoogleAuthenticationExtensions.UseGoogleAuthentication(app, New Google.GoogleOAuth2AuthenticationOptions With {.ClientId = "", .ClientSecret = ""})

        ' Facebook - Signup
        Owin.FacebookAuthenticationExtensions.UseFacebookAuthentication(app, New Facebook.FacebookAuthenticationOptions With {.AppId = "", .AppSecret = ""})

        ' Microsoft - Signup (RedirectURL in app settings must be 
        Owin.MicrosoftAccountAuthenticationExtensions.UseMicrosoftAccountAuthentication(app, New MicrosoftAccount.MicrosoftAccountAuthenticationOptions With {.ClientId = "", .ClientSecret = ""})

        ' Yahoo - Signup (not working; 401 errors) 
        Yahoo.YahooAuthenticationExtensions.UseYahooAuthentication(app, New Yahoo.YahooAuthenticationOptions With {.ConsumerKey = "", .ConsumerSecret = ""})

        ' Flickr - Signup
        Flickr.FlickrAuthenticationExtensions.UseFlickrAuthentication(app, New Flickr.FlickrAuthenticationOptions With {.AppKey = "", .AppSecret = ""})

    End Sub

End Class

And this is the controller class to manage the logins:

Imports System.Web.Mvc

Namespace Controllers
    Public Class OwinController
        Inherits Controller

        Function Login(provider As String, returnURL As String) As ActionResult
            Return New ChallengeResult(provider, Url.Action("Callback", "Owin", New With {.ReturnURL = returnURL}))
        End Function

        Function Callback(returnURL As String)
            Dim userID As String
            Dim email As String

            ' capture credentials
            With DirectCast(My.User.CurrentPrincipal.Identity, Security.Claims.ClaimsIdentity)
                userID = .Claims.Where(Function(x) x.Type.EndsWith("/nameidentifier")).DefaultIfEmpty(New Security.Claims.Claim("", "")).First.Value
                email = .Claims.Where(Function(x) x.Type.EndsWith("/emailaddress")).DefaultIfEmpty(New Security.Claims.Claim("", "")).First.Value
            End With


            Return New RedirectResult(returnURL)

        End Function

        Private Class ChallengeResult
            Inherits HttpUnauthorizedResult

            Public Property LoginProvider As String
            Public Property RedirectURL As String

            Public Sub New(provider As String, url As String)
                Me.LoginProvider = provider
                Me.RedirectURL = url
            End Sub

            Public Overrides Sub ExecuteResult(context As ControllerContext)
                Dim prop As New Microsoft.Owin.Security.AuthenticationProperties With {.RedirectUri = Me.RedirectURL}
                context.HttpContext.GetOwinContext.Authentication.Challenge(prop, Me.LoginProvider)
            End Sub

        End Class

    End Class

End Namespace

The Callback method in the OwinController is where you would look up the user by their provider/nameidentifier combination or store that info in an existing logged-in user profile or create a new user profile for the new login.

When you want to offer external logins, you call the Owin controller:

@Html.ActionLink("Google Login", "Login", "Owin", New With {.Provider = "Google", .ReturnURL = Url.Action("Secure")}, Nothing)
<br />
@Html.ActionLink("Facebook Login", "Login", "Owin", New With {.Provider = "Facebook", .ReturnURL = Url.Action("Secure")}, Nothing)
<br />
@Html.ActionLink("Yahoo Login", "Login", "Owin", New With {.Provider = "Yahoo", .ReturnURL = Url.Action("Secure")}, Nothing)
<br />
@Html.ActionLink("Flickr Login", "Login", "Owin", New With {.Provider = "Flickr", .ReturnURL = Url.Action("Secure")}, Nothing)
<br />
@Html.ActionLink("Microsoft Login", "Login", "Owin", New With {.Provider = "Microsoft", .ReturnURL = Url.Action("Secure")}, Nothing)

This assumes there is an action named “Secure” that you want to come back to.

Outlook Rules Utility

Way back in 2013, I was getting annoyed with the rules manager in Outlook.  See, I have many rules.  I have one folder for every person in my inbox.  The rules move their messages to their respective folders.  So at work, I have 67 rules.  At home, I have 267 rules.  I like to keep my rules sorted, so I can find one quickly if I need to.  So if I add a rule for, I have to click the “move down” arrow hundreds of times to get to the bottom of the list.  There has to be a better way.

I focused on the rules export, which creates a binary file of all your rules.  I just had to reverse-engineer the file structure and I could create an app to modify the order of the rules.  Over a span of time, I figured out what I needed and the results were somewhat workable.  I uploaded the source code to CodePlex and didn’t really use it much after that.

Two and a half years later, I was annoyed at my rules again and fired up this code to fix my rules.  I discovered the code didn’t work like I expected, so I set to work fixing the problems.  Once it was working properly, I decided that the CodePlex project deserved to have a binary for download.  It wasn’t doing a lot of good to people who weren’t programmers and who could compile the code on their own.

After that update, I did a quick search to see if anything new had been learned about the Outlook rules file since I last worked on it.  Nothing.  But what I did stumble on was a post asking how to parse the rules file.  In the post, the author explained where the rules file was stored in the mail store file.  Taking that information, I was able to add the ability for my utility to read and write the rules directly from Outlook.  No more export/import hassle!  That is a huge step forward.

This unexpected progress has inspired me to work a little harder on the project.  There are random bits of code and comments that handle the different criteria and the different actions.  These need to be clarified and once that is done, this utility could be an entire replacement for the Rules Manager in Outlook.

The project is at

GrooveManager 1.0 Release

I’ve been posting for a little while on Groove Music’s database.  While investigating, I wrote up some test utilities to read and write to the Groove Music database.  These utilities have been combined and simplified into a utility called GrooveManager.

At this point, the utility is extremely limited.  It will only edit Artist names and the Artist image.  And the Artist image feature itself is limited in that you can’t use external images.  It has to be an artist with a profile on Xbox Music.  That limitation aside, there are still times when you have a legitimate need to use an artist that isn’t spelled the same as you have it in your collection.  For example, Sergei Rachmaninoff seems to have many different spellings and variations.

The project page is at and has simple documentation on the website.

Groove Metadata (database)

Here’s some more info on the structure of the Groove Music database.


As mentioned the database is in ESE format.  The tables within are pretty much just like any other database.  And in Groove Music’s case, you have the expected elements of Artist, Album, Tracks, and Genre.  Most of the fields are what you would expect them to be.  Here’s a brief analysis on some things you might be curious about.


This table holds the Artist info, but it’s more than just the band name.  It also includes credits in each song’s ID3 tag, like composer, artist, albumartist, etc.  This means you’re going to have a lot more “Persons” than bands in your library.  Especially when dealing with compilation albums.  Other fields:


This table is the list of albums in the library.


This table lists the songs.  There’s lots of interesting info in here that needs more exploration.  I have three albums in the cloud.  Two I purchased back from the Zune days, and one I just uploaded to OneDrive from my hard drive.  I’ll reference these in the interesting fields.

  • CloudCollectionContentId – This seems to be a guid to use in a link to an online file.  This is populated for both my purchased and uploaded albums
  • BlockFromCloud – Always true
  • ActionableMediaId – I assume this is a Guid that points to a matched online track. It’s blank on my more obscure albums.
  • InCloudCollection – True for the three albums I have in OneDrive and Store-purchased
  • CatalogId – The same as ActionableMediaId, but there are more CatalogIds than ActionableMediaIds.  Maybe ActionableMediaId means it can be used online instead of just having information?
  • AlbumImageId – A Guid that is used to get the album art from web services
  • AlbumImageSource – A number that likely represents the URL to get the image from (zuneimages,, or
  • UniqueFileId – These values are similar to what Windows Media Player used to store in the ID3 tag when it would apply its metadata from its store.

So still, plenty to learn about this database.

Groove Metadata (album art)

As a previous post mentioned, the metadata for Groove is in an ESENT database.  One of the big questions is where does it get its artwork from?

Album Artwork

Groove will get its album artwork from one of two places: from the file metadata or from xbox catalog web services at  (probably former Zune services).  It does not use folder.jpg, nor does it use ZuneArt_{guid}.jpg.  It will only access the web services if you have the Media Info option set to automatically retrieve missing metadata.

In order to get good album artwork, your metadata needs to be pristine and has to match what’s in the xbox metadata services.  That’s unreliable at best.  The best solution is to embed your artwork in your media files.

If you want to wipe out your library and rebuild from scratch, you can rename the randomly-(or not)-named folder in:


Why wipe out the library?  If you have a massive amount of artwork that originally was downloaded from the xbox services and now you have all that artwork in your media files, it’s faster to let Groove rescan your library than to update each album’s artwork.

As Groove is collecting the album art, it keeps a cache of the images in:


It doesn’t seem to matter if the image comes from the file or from the web services.

Artist Images

How, when and where does Groove get its artist info?

Although the ID3 specification does provide a way to embed an artist image, there isn’t currently a common utility that lets you do it.  Doesn’t matter anyway since Groove doesn’t read the metadata fro artist images.

Like the album art cache, artists are stored in:


And the way Groove gets the artist images is by searching the site based on your metadata.  If there’s no match,m or if doesn’t have that artist in the marketplace, that’s about where it ends.  There doesn’t appear to be a way to override this yet.

Editing SharePoint Pages Using Visual Studio And WebDAV

I blog in a few different places.  I have my personal blog, my professional blog, and I maintain a blog at work to inform and educate co-workers.  At work, the blog is hosted on the company’s SharePoint server, which is fine.  I am still able to use Windows Live Writer and with it, the Insert Code plug-in.  My other two blogs use WordPress.

The Insert Code plug-in is invaluable to me because it does nice color coding of the text.  As part of that feature, it inserts a CSS style block into your post.  SharePoint doesn’t play well with this.  It tries to, but fails.  The intent is good.  SharePoint wraps your whole post in a div and gives it a class with a random name, then it rewrites the CSS styles so the classes will be scoped to only that containing div class.  Pretty smart way of encapsulating the styles.

Unfortunately, it fails on two points.  First, the containing div’s class is not like class=”123456789abcd”, it always precedes the class name with “ExternalClass”, so you get class=”ExternalClass123456789abcd”.  The rewritten CSS does not have any mention of “ExternalClass”.

The second mistake is in the rewritten CSS.  Your post will have a style block rewritten similar to:

123456789abcd h1 {color: red;}
123456789abcd h3 {color: green;}
123456789abcd .bold {font-weight: bold;}

Do you see the problem?  The class is 123456789abcd on the div (actually ExternalClass123456789abcd), but the stylesheet doesn’t scope it to that class.  Those are html tags it’s defining.  The stylesheet is looking for html tags of <123456789abcd>.

So, what can you do about this?  My solution was to put the stylesheet right in the template page so all the posts will be able to use those classes – that’s why I created this post.  The problem is, I couldn’t find anything in the SharePoint control panel to add a custom stylesheet (unlike WordPress, right?).  There was an option to edit the page using SharePoint Designer, so I installed Designer, only to find out the administrator didn’t allow editing using Designer. 

Other places on the Internet suggested adding a Content Editor web part and put the style sheet in there.  I tried it half-heartedly and gave up because it seemed way too “hack-y”.  But while doing so, it reminded me of something I used to know about SharePoint, that you could browse the site’s files using WebDav (assuming you had permissions).

So, what I did was map a network drive (a command found in many places in Windows Explorer) and gave it the URL of my SharePoint site.  Right away, I got an Explorer window with the template files.  I edited Default.aspx and Post.aspx and added my stylesheet.  The formatting was immediately applied.  Then I edited all my previous posts and removed my inline style code blocks to save space and reduce complexity.  Everything works now.

Windows 10 Groove Music – Zune On


With the release of Windows 10 comes a new music application, Groove Music.  Groove Music has Zune DNA, except that it loses any Windows Media Player (WMP) or Zune syncing capability.  The assumption is that the mobile phone is the new MP3 player and file copy is the preferred method of syncing.  For better or worse, this is the new normal.

Groove is much closer to the aesthetics of Zune than of WMP, and aside from the lost syncing capability and the toned-down Now Playing screen, it’s a reasonable Zune replacement – as a music player.  Syncing, well… not as much.  You have your usual views: Artist, Album, Song, Playlists, plus Albums for an Artist.  Genre view is missing.  Typing will expand the hamburger menu and put the text in the search box, proving immediate search.  Of course you have the Marketplace, to purchase and download more content.

Technical Details

Groove is a successor to Zune, although the outward branding does not hint at it.  The code library is called ZuneMusic and is found at %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.ZuneMusic_8wekyb3d8bbwe.  In the subfolder LocalState you will find plenty of runtime details.  LocalState has a folder for the database, which is in ESENT format.  There are the ImageCache and imageStore folders that hold album artwork and artists photos from the Zune web services.

As far as the database is concerned, it seems to be similar if not exact to the old Zune database, which was in SQL Server Compact format.  The most common tables would be: tblAudioAlbum, tblPerson, tblGenre, and tblTrack to hold the music metadata and tblFolder and tblFile to hold the physical file references.

There are utilities and libraries to work with ESENT databases.  One is called ESENT Workbench.  If you do want to play around with the database, you may need to do a repair on it because it may not have shut down cleanly.  You can run the command “esentutl.exe /p EntClientDb.edb” to clean up the files for reading.

The Groove Music app uses another couple of packages extensively: Microsoft.Windows.CloudExperienceHost and Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager, but probably not for primary functions.  The majority of data is likely pulled from the Zune web services, since the entries in the matadata database tables have references to GUIDs that, when used with the web services, retrieve the proper artist or album info.

The database for Groove Music appears to sync between computers, which makes a lot of sense for cloud-based music, but may get hairy when different machines have different local files.

Extension Ideas

What can be done with having access to the music database?  My impetus for this research was trying to change the Now playing slideshow to use all the artist pictures like Zune does, instead of a single album picture.  I haven’t gotten that far yet.  But some ideas for apps would be:

  • Statistic app showing most played artists, albums, songs, genres
  • Smart playlist generator based on statistics
  • Statistics on files: sizes, bitrates, dates, and something intriguing called FingerprintData
  • Utility to clean, purge, delete, export library
  • Post Now Playing, Recently Played to social media
  • Create a smart sync utility that utilizes the library’s metadata with file copy

MSBuild error MSB4057: The target “Package” does not exist in the project.

Every three weeks we release an update to our websites and web services.  To make this release easier, I created a batch file that would build the projects and deploy each one to our four web servers.  The last few times I tried this, my batch file failed running this command:

c:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe C:\Projects\Portal\Portal1.vbproj /nologo /verbosity:minimal /t:Package /p:Configuration=Release

C:\Projects\Portal\Portal1.vbproj : error MSB4057: The target "Package" does not exist in the project.

So then each time, I would have to manually deploy the web sites with One-Click Publish.  Today, I decided to resolve this problem.

Because the Internet has a great memory and because the nature of deploying Visual Studio has changed frequently and recently, it was very difficult to determine what was the current best way to do the automated task that I wanted. 

The first promising solution was to install a project called “CommunityTasks” and import it into your project.  Did that.  Didn’t work.  Read further and learned I needed to install the Azure SDK (This would haunt me for a long time).  Still, none of the example command lines worked.

Then I learned that some publishing settings had been moved from the project file to the publishing profiles.  Fine, I could handle that.  I created a new publishing profile that created a package.  However, I couldn’t figure out how to execute that publishing profile from the command line.

In the end, I decided I would create the deployment packages manually in VS with One-Click Publish, then execute a batch file that would run the package’s deploy.cmd files for each project to each server.  This would actually result in a faster deployment because I wouldn’t have to wait for each project to build in the deployment batch file.  And using the /k switch, I could launch multiple deployments at once.  For example:

start cmd /k "Portal1.bat"
start cmd /k "Portal2.bat"
start cmd /k "Portal3.bat"
start cmd /k "Portal4.bat"

And each batch file for the project would install to each server:

c:\Build\Package\portal1.deploy.cmd /Y /M:http://server01/MSDeployAgentService /U:deploy /P:deploy -enableRule:DoNotDeleteRule
c:\Build\Package\portal1.deploy.cmd /Y /M:
http://server02/MSDeployAgentService /U:deploy /P:deploy -enableRule:DoNotDeleteRule
c:\Build\Package\portal1.deploy.cmd /Y /M:
http://server03/MSDeployAgentService /U:deploy /P:deploy -enableRule:DoNotDeleteRule
c:\Build\Package\portal1.deploy.cmd /Y /M:
http://server04/MSDeployAgentService /U:deploy /P:deploy -enableRule:DoNotDeleteRule

Still Not Giving In

I’m still using MS Money.  And I’ve come across a couple of instances of it beginning to lose compatibility with modern systems.  So now, I’ve actually started creating workarounds for them.

I’ve used a variety of online accounts in my many years.  I’ve used HSBC, Capital One (the non-360 variant), Sallie Mae, and most recently, Ally.  At this point, I’ve decided Ally is getting all my business and I’ve been in the process of moving accounts into new Ally subaccounts, which is very easily done on their part.  Just today, I discovered the transaction download feature.  There’s no MS Money OFX option, but I don’t think Money existed anymore when Ally came on the scene.  Anyway, there is a Quicken download, so that is what I use.

MS Money is awesome in that it supports QFX files, however, the standard format of the file must have moved on in time, so now Money throws up when it tries to process the file.  After a bunch of trial and error, I discovered that the reason for the error is a node in each transaction entry for the check number: <CHECKNUM>0</CHECKNUM>. Once you strip that node out, the file imports just fine. 

In another case, my 401k provider, Transamerica, recently revamped their transaction download and their QFX files have a different problem.  The file headers look like:


But there is a space after the colon, which causes MS Money to report the file is corrupt.  The header should look like:


So I made a script that will alter the QFX file and then launch the Money importer.  All you have to do is drag the QFX file onto the VBS file and you’re good to go.  If you want to get clever, you can put the script in your SendTo folder or map it as a default application.

Without further adieu, this is the content of the script:

dim fso,f,s,shell

set fso=CreateObject("scripting.filesystemobject")

set f=fso.OpenTextFile(WScript.Arguments(0),1)
set f=nothing

set f=fso.OpenTextFile(WScript.Arguments(0),2)
f.Write Replace(Replace(s,"<CHECKNUM>0</CHECKNUM>",""),": ",":")
set f=nothing

set fso=nothing

Set shell = CreateObject("Shell.Application")
shell.ShellExecute "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Money Plus\MNYCoreFiles\mnyimprt.exe",  WScript.Arguments(0)
set shell=nothing

And then, you can import QFX files from Ally or Transamerica (and maybe some others that have the same problems) into MS Money without any errors.