Finding what you need in the Microsoft® Visual Studio® documentation, which has over 200,000 topics, can be a daunting task. The Doc Detective is here to help, utilizing his investigative skills to probe the depths of the documentation.

Can't find what you're looking for? Just ask-if it's in there, I'll find it for you; if it isn't, I'll let you know that as well (and tell you where else you might go to find it).

Have a question for the Doc? Send your questions for future columns to me at

Dear Doc Detective,

I use ASP.NET and I've been hearing about something called MVC (model-view-controller?). I'm confused about this-is this the new way to do ASP.NET? What do I have to learn now?

  • Wigged-out in Winnemucca

Dear Wigged-out,

You can keep your hat on. Yes, MVC is a new development model that uses a different (some of course would say better) pattern than the ASP.NET you're used to, which uses the Web Forms model. Everything you know and love about the Web Forms model still works fine (better, even, in ASP.NET 4!). MVC is an alternative that separates the code for presentation (UI) and business logic. MVC features are included in ASP.NET 4, and you can also download an MVC package to use with ASP.NET 3.5.

To find out more about MVC, have a look at the topic "ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC)". That article provides links to topics about MVC, to tutorials, and to videos and blog entries that go through MVC with a fine-tooth comb. So to speak.

  • Doc D

Dear Doc Detective,

I build custom solutions for several of my company's SharePoint sites. Our management has asked us to find a way to bring data from various databases and Web Services into lists and Web Parts on our sites.

I am aware of the Business Data Catalog service (now called Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service). I have also used SharePoint Designer to create a data model for the BDC, but I can only do this at the site level. I want to create the model once and deploy it to all sites on the server.

Also, I want to mash up data from multiple data sources so that some comes from a database and some of it comes from a Web Service. I know it's possible to manually author an XML file and go through lots of pain to deploy it. Is there an easier way to do this? Perhaps I am asking too much.

-Mashed in Mishawaka

Dear Mashed,

When it comes to Visual Studio, you can never ask too much. New BDC features in Visual Studio 2010 enable you to visually create models that can mash together data from multiple data sources. Another new feature also provides easy deployment to server farms.

Once you've created the model, you can then use the data in lists and Web Parts by using UI features built-in to SharePoint. The topic “Integrating Business Data into SharePoint” will get you started.

  • Doc Detective

Dear Doc Detective,

I'm getting tired of writing data binding code in my WPF applications-it's a lot of work and I frequently make mistakes. Why can't I use drag and drop to create bindings like I can do with Windows forms?

  • Peeved in Pe Ell

Dear Peeved,

Ask and you shall receive. The new WPF Designer in Visual Studio 2010 gives you a number of new gestures for binding data.

If you need to bind data from a database, check out the topic “Binding WPF Controls to Data in Visual Studio”. If you need to bind to other controls, see “Walkthrough: Creating a Data Binding by Using the WPF Designer”. If you want to bind to a business object, then the topic “Walkthrough: Using a DesignInstance to Bind to Data in the Designer” is for you.

Read through these, and you can drag 'til you drop.

  • Doc D

Dear Doc Detective,

This may seem like a small issue, but I'm tired of looking at the Visual Studio Start page with links to events that happened several months ago. I know I can switch to a different RSS feed, but I'd really like to completely redesign my Start page and make it my own. Is this possible?

  • Bored in Boring

Dear Bored,

It's not only possible; it's limited only by your imagination. The Start page in Visual Studio 2010 is based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), so pretty much anything you can do with WPF is within the realm of possibility.

You can modify your own Start page, download a third-party Start page from the Online Gallery section of the Extension Manager, or even share your custom Start page with others. The aptly-named topic “Customizing the Start Page” provides an overview of how to do this and more. And, if you want to put a picture of the good Doc on your page, please feel free.

  • Doctor D

Doc's Doc Tip of the Day

The online version of the MSDN Library recently went through a major redesign with a new look and feel. You can now choose between three views: the familiar “classic” view, a low bandwidth view that disables scripts, and a new “lightweight” view that matches the offline documentation.

You might also want to check out the Start (default) page for the library. It now contains a Feature Spotlight section with tips on using the library, as well as a frequently updated Featured Content section with links to hot topics.

Found a topic in Help that doesn't help? Tell the Visual Studio documentation team about it by clicking on the “Send feedback” link in local Help topics, or the “Click to rate and give feedback” link in online Help.