Free Chart Control. About time!

I am sure all developers in the past have attempted to create their own bar or pie chart using .NET’s System.Drawing methods. However, I never been able to match a high quality finish similar to what you would expect from third party charting software. You can see my charting attempt in my post: Outputting Custom Made Charts.

As much as I would like to use .NET charting solutions from the likes of DotNetCharting and FusionCharts, they are just too expensive to buy. I have downloaded trial versions and been thoroughly impressed with their range of charts and functionality.

But it seems I have been quite late in noticing Microsoft have released their own range of chart controls to easily create rich professional looking visual data. Having had a play around in Microsoft Charts earlier this week, I have to say I am a big fan. Its a shame I hadn’t found it earlier.

From looking around that net, there are many articles and blogs on how to use Microsoft Chart so I am not going to write another. Ha! But in the next day or two, I plan to blog on how I implemented Microsoft Chart as a web part within my Report Center in SharePoint 2007. So watch this space.

In the meantime here are some useful links I have used to get started in Microsoft Chart:

How To Ensure A Refreshed Web Page Is Not Cached?

BrowserRefresh Being a fellow Web Developer, you would probably agree with me when I say that the “Refresh” button is the most used button in your browser. I can’t even consider about counting the amount of times I hit the “Refresh” button while creating a web page.

On the odd occasion when I am having a really bad day and nothing seems to be going my way. I am bound to be irritated even further because my browser is being really stupid and does not allow me to see the changes I have made to a web page I am working on. Its almost like the browser is trying to mock me and make my web developing life and living HELL!!!!!

So I carry out the following methods to get my page to refresh.

Force Refresh

In many cases in order to see changes on your page you would press the “Refresh” button (or F5), which simply reloads the page without clearing the cache. So you will have to carry out a Force Refresh by pressing Ctrl + F5.

Clearing Cache In Settings

If the Force Refresh does not work. You will have to carry out some serious cleaning by going into the browser settings.

  • Mozilla FireFox – Tools > Options > Privacy > Private Data section > Settings
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer – Tools > Internet Options > Temporary Files > Delete Temporary Files

Adding “?” To End of The WEB address

This is probably my most favourite method of ensuring a page you are viewing is not cached. All you need to do is add a “?” to the end of the web address. For example:

?

The browser thinks that you are requesting a new page. This works great if all else fails! You can even add another “?” to the end of the web address to carry out another non-cached refresh.

Adding An XML Sitemap to a Website

In 2005, the search engine Google launched the Sitemap 0.84 Protocol, which would be using the XML format. A sitemap is a way of organizing a website, identifying the URLs and the data under each section. Previously, the sitemaps were primarily geared for the users of the website. However, Google's XML format was designed for the search engines, allowing them to find the data faster and more efficiently.

Even the most simple sitemap to a website is quite important in order to allow search engines such as Google and Microsoft Live Search to crawl your website for any changes. The following example shows what a basic XML sitemap contains:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> 
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9 http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd">
<url>
<loc>/blog/</loc> 
<priority>0.5</priority> 
<changefreq>weekly</changefreq> 
</url>
</urlset>


As you can see the sitemap contain the following:

  • <loc> = Location of the page
  • <priority> = The priority of a particular URL relative to other pages on the same site. The value for this tag is a number between 0.0 and 1.0, where 0.0 identifies the lowest priority page(s) on your site and 1.0 identifies the highest priority page(s) on your site. The default priority of a page is 0.5.
  • <changefreq> = This value indicates how frequently the content at a particular URL is likely to change.

Thankfully, there is a site that will automatically generate an XML sitemap for you: http://www.sitemapspal.com/

I have written a blog post a little while back on how to manually submit your sitemap to search engines which proves to be quite useful if you find that your site has not been crawled for a long time. You can find that blog post here.

Adding Google Sitemap To Blogger Account

After my last blog posting (Google Is Better Than I Thought!!!), one of my mates said that he was unable integrate the Google Sitemap facility to his Blogger.com blog since there we could not find a Sitemap file. You can create a Google Sitemap for your Blogger.com site by carrying out the following:

  1. Login to your Google Sitemap account.
  2. Soon as you login you will be able to add your blogger site. In my example, I am creating a fictitious blog called "someblog.blogsite.com".

  1. Once you have added your new site you will get a message saying that your new site was added successfully.
  2. Now you will need to verify that you are the owner of the blog you have submitted (you wouldn't want anybody to track your site would you? :-P). You have two options here. You can either use a HTML file (which cannot be used on Blogger blogs) or META tag. Select META tag.

  1. A unique META tag will be generated for you:

  1. Login to your Blogger.com account and edit your Blog Template. Insert your generated META tag straight after the <head> tag and Save your template.
  2. In the Google Sitemap account click on the "Verify" button and if everything goes to plan you will be able to create a Sitemap file.
  3. Click on the "Sitemap" link from the left navigation and then click "Add Sitemap".
  4. From the Drop Down List select "Add General Web Sitemap".


10) The Blogger RSS feed will be used as your Sitemap. So enter the full web address of your RSS feed. For example: http://someblog.blogsite.com/feeds/posts/ and press "Add General Web Sitemap" button.

That should be it. It may take up to 24 hours for Google to crawel through your blog depending on the amount of content on your site.

UPDATE:

It looks like  there are 4 possibilities for referencing your Blogger Sitemap:
> someblog.blogsite.com/rss.xml
> someblog.blogsite.com/feeds/posts/full
> someblog.blogsite.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
> someblog.blogsite.com/atom.xml

Google Is Better Than I Thought!!!

google-as-a-giant-robot I decide to test how well my site postings was being tracked on Google and I was quite surprised that my site had not been tracked for over a month, which meant that all my recent posts were not submitted to the search engine. However, I found that you can manually tell Google to update your website through XML sitemaps. Pretty much all well known blog formats have sitemaps functionality. For example, http://blogs.sampleblog.co.uk/sitemap.axd. As you can see the .axd page is the XML Sitemap file.

Using Google's manual update is as simple as going to the following web address: http://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=[sitemap URL]. Once you have carried this out Google will display a link to check your tracking status and gives you additional information on when your site was last tracked. Amazing!

From carrying out further research on the Internet, Microsoft Live Search has incorporated the Sitemap ping back service in the exact same way. Instead you will need to go to the following web address: http://webmaster.live.com/ping.aspx?siteMap=[sitemap URL].