February, 2008

  • DaveDev

    An exciting first look at Silverlight 2.0 with Scott Guthrie



    Scott Guthrie has done it again and posted an amazing first look at Silverlight 2.0.  Make sure to hop on over to his blog and check out the detailed tutorials he has on what to expect in Silverlight 2.0.

    Some highlights in this updated release of Silverlight will include:

    • WPF UI Framework: Silverlight 2 includes a rich WPF-based UI framework that makes building rich Web applications much easier.  In includes a powerful graphics and animation engine, as well as rich support for higher-level UI capabilities like controls, layout management, data-binding, styles, and template skinning.  The WPF UI Framework in Silverlight is a compatible subset of the WPF UI Framework features in the full .NET Framework, and enables developers to re-use skills, controls, code and content to build both rich cross browser web applications, as well as rich desktop Windows applications.
    • Rich Controls: Silverlight 2 includes a rich set of built-in controls that developers and designers can use to quickly build applications.  This upcoming Beta1 release includes core form controls (TextBox, CheckBox, RadioButton, etc), built-in layout management panels (StackPanel, Grid, Panel, etc), common functionality controls (Slider, ScrollViewer, Calendar, DatePicker, etc), and data manipulation controls (DataGrid, ListBox, etc).  The built-in controls support a rich control templating model, which enables developers and designers to collaborate together to build highly polished solutions.

    ·         Rich Networking Support: Silverlight 2 includes rich networking support.  It includes out of the box support for calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS, and standard HTTP services.  It supports cross domain network access (enabling Silverlight clients to directly access resources and data from resources on the web).  Beta1 also includes built-in sockets networking support.

    • Rich Base Class Library: Silverlight 2 includes a rich .NET base class library of functionality (collections, IO, generics, threading, globalization, XML, local storage, etc).  It includes rich APIs that enable HTML DOM/JavaScript integration with .NET code.  It also includes LINQ and LINQ to XML library support (enabling easy transformation and querying of data), as well as local data caching and storage support.  The .NET APIs in Silverlight are a compatible subset of the full .NET Framework.

    As an example, he creates a Silverlight 2.0 application using just a few lines of C# and XAML code that uses the Digg.com's (Shout out to Alex and Kevin - I've watched you guys since TechTV thanks for all the great podcasts!) REST API to show how  easy it is to pull data from any source on the web and show it in a really rich way.  Not only that, it is running in Safari! 

    Check it out here!

    Expect to hear more exciting things in the days ahead with just 10 days left to go till MIX08!

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  • DaveDev

    Putting on a different Skin - why XAML rocks!



    One of the points I stress in my talks about Silverlight and WPF is that there is true separation now between the look and feel of your applications and the functionality of it thanks to XAML.

    Think about the Tree view control in Winforms you may have used.  In the past all of the events and properties that that control would trigger were bound to how it would look and act in the UI.  You had to think in terms of what that control looked like when you were programming its functionality.  This is not the case with XAML!

    As long as you implement the correct interface (IList or IEnumerable) on your data objects you can have them look and behave any way you want.  And you change all of this in the XAML markup language itself.  You can even do it in tools like Expression and have it generate the code for you!  Once you get used to the way XAML handles things (Triggers are events, etc..) the sky really is the limit.  You want your Tree view to suddenly pop up in 3d? Or move sideways instead of vertical?  Just apply a different XAML template to your data object and you are all set!

    I can't tell you enough how liberating this is as a .NET Developer.  Every element on my UI - listboxes, radio buttons, tree views, tabs can be changed simply by updating the XAML.  Not only that XAML is the language used across the entire platform now.  So the same applies to Silverlight.

    We recently ran a contest on the MIX site.  The challenge?  Take the current functionality of the website but apply a different skin to it.  The results were amazing!

    Check out the winners here.

    One of my Favs is the MIXOS - this totally looks like my desktop - LOL.  Notepad open, a browser and IM sessions.  Check out the URL too?  Notice it is the same Visitmix site, just with a different skin?  Great stuff!

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  • DaveDev

    Dreamspark - Full versions of Windows, Visual Studio, Expression and SQL Server FREE for students!


    This is an awesome program and something a lot of us inside Microsoft have been pushing a while for.  Looking back at my own career as a developer I never really had exposure to Microsoft Dev Tools until after college when I was working for a Solutions Provider.  I got my first copy of VB5 off via an MSDN Subscription and then Visual Interdev not long after.  In college I was forced to work with Turbo Pascal on DOS and a C++compiler  in a VAX/CMS session.  This is a great program and if you are current student interested in technology I recommend checking this out.  These are full blown versions (not express editions) of Windows, SQL Server, Visual Studio and even the new Expression Studio that you can start using at no charge.

    Here is a breakdown:


    Microsoft developer tools. Visual Studio is the Swiss Army knife of computer programming. These professional-grade products provide a security-enhanced and reliable environment, enabling students to program everything from a cell phone to a robot or to create their own Web page. Students will also be able to invent compelling new gaming content and make their dream game a reality by porting their creations to their Xbox 360 console.


    Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition


    Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition


    XNA Game Studio 2.0


    12-month free Academic membership in the XNA Creators Club


    Microsoft designer tools. This ultra-versatile suite of tools will enable students to vividly bring their creative visions to life in vibrant new Web site designs and more effective digital content, including animation, imagery and photography.


    Expression Studio, including

    Expression Web

    Expression Blend

    Expression Design

    Expression Media


    Microsoft platform resources. The foundation for development and design platforms, these products deliver a security-enhanced, reliable and manageable environment for students to more quickly turn ideas into reality.


    SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition


    Windows Server, Standard Edition

    Read the full press release here.

    Watch the video interview with Bill Gates about why Microsoft is doing this here.

    Get registered and start downloading the software today here.

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  • DaveDev

    Lessons learned from a father of two...



    Well, I am back to work today.  =) One of the great things about working for Microsoft is that they give fathers a month off paid leave for having a new baby.  I was nervous about doing this - how I was going to handle a 3 year old all day long let alone a newborn? It has been a month since my second daughter was born - and I have no regrets taking off the time, although I could have used a little more sleep.

    Lessons Learned:

    · My wife is amazing, I truly understand what she will have to deal with now on a daily basis and am in awe.

    · I could never be a full time mom

    · My 3 yr old does not have an off switch

    · I thought I would be able to get some work done - e-mail, blogging, Silverlight videos, etc. over the leave.  I was wrong - my kids consumed every moment I had unless they were asleep and then I was too tired to do anything anyway. =)


    · My daughter asked if she could have her own computer.  I hooked up an old laptop and put windows on it.  She was on NickJr and clicking away with the mouse on games, videos, you name it.  I was so impressed – expect a video on Facebook soon.  She is definitely daddy’s girl!

    · Being able to calm my newborn every night at 3am without any bottle (my wife is breastfeeding so no bottles for dad yet)

    · My oldest holding the baby and telling me how happy she is to finally have a sister

    I have a photoset on Flickr here and you can view some videos I took on my Facebook profile here.

    I'll be catching up on e-mails and such over the next few days and posting here as I found stuff I think would be interesting.  There should be some really exciting news coming out of Redmond soon as we move into Mix08 in just 2 weeks as well!


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