Sesame Data Browser for OData tour

Lohith G N (aka Kashyapa) has just published a tour of Sesame Data Browser for OData on his blog. He did an excellent job! I strongly advise you to head to his post to learn what Sesame Data Browser has to offer and how to use it.

OData Shared Vocabularies, Annotations, and Sesame

During MIX11 this week, Pablo Castro, Software Architect in the Data and Modeling Group at Microsoft, gave a talk named “OData Roadmap: Services Powering Next Generation Experiences“.

Pablo gave demos of what’s cooking for OData and what to expect over the coming months.

One thing that he demonstrated was extensibility with Shared Vocabularies. This allows tools and applications to offer a richer experience through annotations on OData feeds.

Pablo used Sesame Data Browser as an example of how Shared Vocabularies can be used. With annotations on the MIX11 Speakers and Sessions feeds, Sesame is able to display visit cards (VCards) for speakers and a calendar view containing sessions.

I invite you to watch the video recording on the session’s page. The demo starts at 0:52:34.

Annotations

Annotations

Calendar view

Calendar view

VCard view

VCard view

Vocabularies for OData were introduced on the OData blog. The current stage is exploratory and implementation is open for discussion in the OData mailing list.
Note: this feature is not available in the currently public version of Sesame Data Browser (1.0.7).

Telerik and Azure DataMarket case studies

Some time ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Microsoft and Telerik about Sesame. The results are two case studies.
I was impressed by the job done by the interviewers and the editors.

The first case study covers Sesame Data Browser‘s support for OData and Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket – No doubt… that’s a Microsoft product name. It was called Dallas previously. I just call it Azure DataMarket.

The second case study is about how the Telerik RadControls for Silverlight product was useful for creating Sesame Data Browser.

Sesame update: recent connections, videos, feedback and more

Sesame Data Browser has just been improved with new features.

Here is what you get this time:

  • Most recently used connections remembered
  • Support for videos
  • Complex types are not displayed by default any longer
  • Ability to use with no Internet connection
  • UserVoice forum for feedback
  • Additional sample services suggested
  • Improvements for Azure DataMarket, née Dallas
  • Bug fixes and small improvements, as usual

Let’s focus on the main improvements:

Most recently used connections remembered

You no longer have to enter the same addresses again and again. Sesame Data Browser will now remember the addresses you used and suggest them to you the next time you want to open a connection.
The authentication settings are restored for each address you reopen.

Sesame Data Browser Recent Connections

Hint: pressing the Enter key will make re-opening a connection even faster.

Support for videos

Until now, Sesame offered support for pictures, but not for videos. I’m pleased to announce that videos can now be displayed right inside Sesame.

You can give this a try with the INETA Live service (http://live.ineta.org/InetaLiveService.svc/), for example. If you open the LiveVideos feed and click on the “View Video” button for a video, that video will start playing.

Sesame Data Browser View Video

Sesame Data Browser Video Support

Changes for complex types

Complex types are not displayed by default any longer. A click on a button is now required.
Displaying all complex types immediately consumed to many resources.

If you want to see this change in action, open the Netflix service and select the Titles feed. You will see a View button for the BoxArt, Instant, Dvd and BluRay columns. Clicking on this button reveals the content of the cells.

Ability to use with no Internet connection

Previously, Sesame Data Browser wouldn’t work with no Internet connection because it loaded the OData support from a dedicated package from metaSapiens.com each time. This package is now embedded in the main package, so no additional loading is required when Sesame Data Browser is installed on the desktop.
Of course, this is useful only when you browse local services with no dependencies on remote services or data.

UserVoice forum for feedback

Finally, because your feedback is important for the future of Sesame, you can now use a UserVoice forum to suggest improvements and to report issues.

This feedback forum is also available from the Sesame Data Browser preview page via the orange Feedback button.

Sesame Data Browser Feedback Button

Please try the new version now and let us all know what you think.

OData feeds for Proagora.com

There’s a new OData kid on the block: The data from Proagora.com is now available as OData.

Proagora + OData

As on the website, data published as OData is about jobs, companies, and experts.

Sesame Proagora EntitySets

Two feeds are available, one for each of the languages supported by Proagora at the moment:

Of course, you can use your favorite OData explorer to browse these feeds:

These OData feeds exhibit several interesting features of Sesame Data Browser, such as:

  • Rich and easy navigation in data

Sesame Proagora Navigation Company Sesame Proagora Navigation Domain

  • Pictures and Web hyperlinks

Sesame Proagora Pictures and Hyperlinks

Known issue: Columns/properties selection ($select) fails with an error. I haven’t found a solution yet.

Please give this a go and send me your feedback.

Gentle reminder: have you published your profile on Proagora.com? 😉

Sesame: Microsoft Dallas support

With the release of Microsoft Codename “Dallas” CTP3 and the features announced in the previous post, it became easier to add support for Dallas to Sesame Data Browser.
The new version of Sesame published today allows you to browse Dallas datasets, as demonstrated below.

Creating a connection to a Dallas dataset in Sesame is easy. You just need a dataset URL and an account key.

The Dallas portal

In order to get an account key and URLs, you need to visit https://www.sqlazureservices.com and sign in with a Windows Live ID. You’ll then be able to subscribe to datasets, such as AP Online (Associated Press) or business information from InfoGroup:

Dallas Subscriptions

Note: Only CTP3 services are supported in Sesame.

Once you have a subscription, you can visit its preview page. This is where you’ll find the URL you’ll use in Sesame.
Here is for example the page for AP Online:

Dallas URL AP Online

The URL for AP Online is highlighted in blue on the above picture.

Your account key is available on the “Account keys” page:

Dallas Account Keys

Dallas in Sesame

Now that you have an account key and a URL, you can create an OData connection in Sesame:

Sesame Dallas Connection

Here is the result for AP Online if you click on GetBreakingNewsCategories:

Sesame Dallas  GetBreakingNewsCategories

Copy a category ID and click on GetBreakingNewsContentByCategory.
Paste the category ID in categoryId and type 5 for count:

Sesame  Dallas GetBreakingNewsContentByCategory

After clicking on Open, you’ll get data in a grid, as usual:

Sesame  Dallas GetBreakingNewsContentByCategory data

You can also locate the news items on a map:

Sesame Dallas Map

Known bugs

  • A bug in Dallas CTP3 prevents the “Load more” button to work correctly in all cases.
  • Dallas CTP3 does not support all filter operations. Namely, the EndsWith, StartsWith, Contains, DoesNotContain and IsContainedIn don’t work with Dallas datasets.

Please give this new version a try. As always, your feedback and suggestions are welcome!

Sesame: Spatial OData on Maps, Service Operations, HTTP Basic Authentication

Sesame Data Browser has just been updated to offer the following features for OData feeds:

  • Maps
  • Improved Service operations (FunctionImport) support
  • HTTP Basic Authentication support
  • Microsoft Dallas support

Maps

Sesame now automatically displays items on a map if spatial information is available in data.

This works when latitude and longitude pairs are provided.
Here is for example a map of drinking fountains in Vancouver:

Sesame Map Vancouver

This comes from DrinkingFountains in http://vancouverdataservice.cloudapp.net/v1/vancouver, which provides latitude/longitude for each fountain.

Here is another example, without latitude/longitude this time:

Sesame Map Northwind

This is a map of the customers from the Northwind database, which are located based on their country, postal code, city, and street address.

Service operations (FunctionImport)

Support for service operations (aka FunctionImports) has been improved. Until now, only functions without parameters were supported.

It’s now possible to use service operations that take input parameters. Let’s take as an example the GetProductsByRating function from http://services.odata.org/OData/OData.svc.

This function is attached to Products, as you can see below:

Sesame FunctionImport

A “rating” parameter is expected in order to open the function:

Sesame GetProductsByRating

After clicking Open, you’ll get data as usual:

Sesame GetProductsByRating  data

HTTP Basic Authentication

New authentication options have been added: HTTP Basic and Dallas (more on the latter in the next post).

Sesame HTTP Basic

HTTP Basic authentication just requires a user name and a password, and is simple to implement.

Microsoft Dallas support

All of the above features enabled support for Microsoft Dallas. See this other post about Dallas support in Sesame.

Please give Sesame Data Browser a try. As always, your feedback and suggestions are welcome!

Sesame improved: now signed, with auto-updates

A new version of Sesame has been uploaded. It contains several fixes and adjustments. The fixes concern mainly the filtering row.
This new version also introduces client-side paging, signed bits, and auto-updates.

Client-side paging

A new client-side paging feature has been activated. Sesame will now retrieve 15 items by default for each query, and 15 more each time you press “Load more”.
This will result in improved speed.
For example, now that Netflix returns 500 items by default instead of 20 previously, the new client-side paging is even more important. To give you an idea: 500 Netflix titles weight more than 3MB, while 15 titles is just about 95KB. No need to say that there’s a big difference in speed and resource consumption between the two!

15 items is enough in most cases. In the future, the size of the data pages will be customizable.

Code signing

Previously, when you tried to install Sesame on your desktop, you saw a confirmation dialog that looked like the following:

Sesame without signature

Not very engaging…
Starting with this new release, Sesame binaries are signed. This results in this new dialog box:

Sesame with signature

Less frightening than the “unverified” message, isn’t it? This proves also that you’ll be using genuine software.

Auto-updating

Another advantage of having Sesame signed is that it allows Sesame installed on the desktop to automatically update when a new version becomes available.

Note: To get the current release, however, you’ll have to use the “Remove this application” command in the context menu of the desktop app and then “Install on desktop” again in your web browser.

Next time a new version of Sesame is published, you’ll see the following dialog box appear:

Sesame updated

And next time, for even more exciting features

That’s it for today. Next time I’ll introduce the provider model on which Sesame relies, and I’ll show you how this enables to browse more than just OData.
You’ll see that this will enable a whole new set of possibilities!

Back from the OData Roadshow

I’m just back from the OData Roadshow with Douglas Purdy and Jonathan Carter. Paris was the last location of seven cities around the world.
If there was something you wanted to know about OData, that was the place to be!

These guys gave a great tour around OData.
I learned things I didn’t know about OData and I was able to give a demo of Sesame to the audience.

More ideas and use cases popping-up!

Sesame Data Browser: filtering, sorting, selecting and linking

I have deferred the post about how Sesame is built in favor of publishing a new update.
This new release offers major features such as the ability to quickly filter and sort data, select columns, and create hyperlinks to OData.

Filtering, sorting, selecting

In order to filter data, you just have to use the filter row, which becomes available when you click on the funnel button:

You can then type some text and select an operator:

The data grid will be refreshed immediately after you apply a filter.

It works in the same way for sorting. Clicking on a column will immediately update the query and refresh the grid.
Note that multi-column sorting is possible by using SHIFT-click:

Viewing data is not enough. You can also view and copy the query string that returns that data:

One more thing you can to shape data is to select which columns are displayed. Simply use the Column Chooser and you’ll be done:

Again, this will update the data and query string in real time:

Linking to Sesame, linking to OData

The other main feature of this release is the ability to create hyperlinks to Sesame. That’s right, you can ask Sesame to give you a link you can display on a webpage, send in an email, or type in a chat session.

You can get a link to a connection:

or to a query:

You’ll note that you can also decide to embed Sesame in a webpage…

Here are some sample links created via Sesame:

I’ll give more examples in a post to follow.

There are many more minor improvements in this release, but I’ll let you find out about them by yourself 🙂
Please try Sesame Data Browser now and let me know what you think!

PS: if you use Sesame from the desktop, please use the “Remove this application” command in the context menu of the destkop app and then “Install on desktop” again in your web browser. I’ll activate automatic updates with the next release.