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.

Sesame update du jour: SL 4, OOB, Azure, and proxy support

I’ve just published a new version of Sesame Data Browser.

Here’s what’s new this time:

  • Upgraded to Silverlight 4
  • Can run out-of-browser (OOB), with elevated permissions. This gives you an icon on your desktop and enables new scenarios. Note: The application is unsigned for the moment.
  • Support for Windows Azure authentication
  • Support for SQL Azure authentication
  • If you are behind a proxy that requires authentication, just give Sesame a new try. Silverlight 4 offers improved support for proxies.
  • An icon and a button for closing connections are now displayed on connection tabs
  • Some less visible improvements

Here is the connection view with anonymous access:

Sesame anonymous access

If you want to access Windows Azure tables as OData, all you have to do is use your table storage endpoint as the URL, and provide your access key:

Sesame Windows Azure  authentication

A Windows Azure table storage address looks like this: http://<your account>.table.core.windows.net/

If you want to browse your SQL Azure databases with Sesame, you have to enable OData support for them at https://www.sqlazurelabs.com/ConfigOData.aspx.

I won’t show how it works because it’s already been done in several places over the Web. Here are pointers:

You can choose to enable anonymous access or not. When you don’t enable anonymous access, you have to provide an Issuer name and a Secret key, and optionally an Security Token Service (STS) endpoint:

Sesame SQL Azure  authentication

Excerpt from Jack Greenfield’s blog:

To enable OData access to the currently selected database, check the box labeled “Enable OData”. When OData access is enabled, database user mapping information is displayed at the bottom of the form.

  • Use the drop down list labeled “Anonymous Access User” to select an anonymous access user. If an anonymous access user is selected, then all queries against the database presented without credentials will execute by impersonating that user. You can access the database as the anonymous user by clicking on the link provided at the bottom of the page. If no anonymous access user is selected, then the OData Service will not allow anonymous access to the database.
  • Click the link labeled “Add User” to add a user for authenticated access. In the pop up panel, select the user from the drop down list. Leave the issuer name empty for simple authentication, or provide the name of a trusted Security Token Service (STS) for federated authentication. For example, to federate with another ACS based STS, provide the base URI for the STS endpoint displayed by the Windows Azure AppFabric Portal for the STS.
  • Click the “OK” button to complete the configuration process and dismiss the pop up panel. When one or more authenticated access users are added, the OData Service will impersonate them when appropriate credentials are presented. You can designate as many authenticated access users as you like. The OData Service will decide which one to impersonate for each query by inspecting the credentials presented with the query.

Next time I’ll give an overview of how Sesame Data Browser is built.

In the meantime, happy data browsing!

Sesame OData Browser updated

Since the first preview of Sesame was published, I’ve been working on improving it with new features.
Today, I’ve published an update that provides the following:

  • Support for hyperlinks (URLs and email addresses)
  • Improved support for the OData format. More OData producers are supported, including Netflix and vanGuide, for example.
  • Fixed display of images (images used to appear mixed up)
  • Support for image URLs
  • Image zoom (try to hover over pictures in Netflix’ Titles or MIX10’s Speakers)
  • Support for complex types (test this with Netflix’ Titles and the OData Test Service’s Suppliers)
  • Partial open types support
  • Partial feed customization support (Products.Name and Products.Description are now displayed for http://services.odata.org/OData/OData.svc for example)
  • Partial HTML support
  • Query number is now unique by connection and not globally
  • Support for query continuation (paging) – See the “Load more” button
  • Partial support for <FunctionImport> (see Movies, Series, Seasons, Discs and Episodes with Netflix)
  • Version number is now displayed
  • More links to examples (coming from http://www.odata.org/producers) provided in the connection dialog

You can try all this at the same place as before. Choose Netflix in the connection dialog to see most of the new features in action and to get a richer experience.

Sesame Image Zoom

Sesame Complex Type

There is a lot more in the pipe. Enough to keep me busy for a few more weeks 🙂

Announcing Sesame Data Browser

At the occasion of MIX10, which is currently taking place in Las Vegas, I’d like to announce Sesame Data Browser.
Sesame will be a suite of tools for dealing with data, and Sesame Data Browser will be the first tool from that suite.

Sesame Logo, Data, your way

Today, during the second MIX10 keynote, Microsoft demonstrated how they are pushing hard to get OData adopted. If you don’t know about OData, you can visit the just revamped dedicated website: http://odata.org. There you’ll find about the OData protocol, which allows you to publish and consume data on the web, the OData SDK (with client libraries for .NET, Java, Javascript, PHP, iPhone, and more), a list of OData producers, and a list of OData consumers.
This is where Sesame Data Browser comes into play. It’s one of the tools you can use today to consume OData.

OData Browser

I’ll let you have a look, but be aware that this is just a preview and many additional features are coming soon.
Sesame Data Browser is part of a bigger picture than just OData that will take shape over the coming months. Sesame is a project I’ve been working on for many months now, so what you see now is just a start 🙂

I hope you’ll enjoy what you see. Let me know what you think.