July, 2009

  • DaveDev

    Are you a Developer or Designer in the NY/NJ/PA area using Microsoft Software? Let’s chat!

    • 2 Comments

    It's about the People!

    Our fiscal year at Microsoft ends in June and the new year begins in July.  It is a time of reflection and re-alignment as we look at past successes and how to best serve our customers moving forward into the new year.  For me it also meant being asked if I wanted to take on a new challenge.  Up until this point I’ve been focused exclusively on large enterprise accounts.  Most of what I’ve done shows up in whitepapers or the stuff you see during the MIX keynotes. 

    My main focus this year will be on the people themselves within PA/NJ/NY.  What makes you guys tick?  What are you looking for out of the teams in Redmond? “But Dave you have all this online stuff you do and I’ve seen you at Code Camps!”  True - for those that know me I’m not a big title guy.  I’ve always felt you shouldn’t let your title dictate what you do.  Go out and fill the needs you see and let them figure out your title.  This change is a recognition of that work.  It frees me up so that I can spend more time directly with you – the users of Microsoft software no matter the venue.  Whether you work for a Microsoft Partner, a Corporation, attend a Code Camp, run a User Group, go to a Conference or sit in on a Launch Event I’ll be there! 

    Astronomy Club

    I’ve always been a “community” guy at heart.  Going back to high school I proudly lead the Astronomy Club.  I know – so geeky right?  It didn’t matter.  It was a place for us to relax and learn from each other without worrying about the school’s agenda.  That’s what excites me about the communities I have been visiting these past few weeks – passion.  It takes me back to what made all those high school days so exciting.  People are there because they care about their craft and they care about helping each other learn. 

    I hope you’ll let me be part of that.  I’m listening.

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  • DaveDev

    How do I enable my Silverlight 3 application to run Out of the Browser?

    • 9 Comments

    This question has come up a couple times recently during my presentations and I wanted to point a potential snag you may hit.  In order for Silverlight to run Out of the Browser (OOB) it needs to have an xml manifest file included in your project.

    The file looks like this…

    OOB8

    You can have this file created for you by setting the option inside the Silverlight Project properties window.  Pulling up the properties will give you two new options to select.  The problem is that Visual Studio will not automatically generate this file for you until you click on the “Out-Of-Browser Settings” button.  It is not enough to just click the check box to enable out of the browser.

    OOB1

    So if you are scratching your head and wondering why your getting that nifty manifest file missing error go back in and be sure to click the button so it generates it for you.

    OOB2

    Clicking on the OOB Settings button will give you a bunch of options where you can set the information the window will display and when you hit OK it will generate the file for you.

    OOB3

    That is really all there is to it to enable the OOB functionality in your application.  As long as users already have the Silverlight 3 plug-in they can run both in and out of the browser.  No additional installation or frameworks are needed.  Simply going to a page with an OOB enabled Silverlight control will give the user a new option to install locally when they right click on the control.

    OOB4

    Clicking install will bring up an installation window with the option of creating a shortcut on your desktop or start menu.

     OOB6

    It is important to point out that this does not change the security model of Silverlight either.  It is still completely sandboxed as it would be running in the browser.  If your users have additional questions there is a “More Information” link on the installation prompt that will take them to a Microsoft site with details about what “Outside the Browser” means for them.

     OOB5

    The application can now be run both from your website as well as a stand alone application.  If the user ever wants to remove the local application they need only right click anywhere in the stand alone application or the Silverlight control on the webpage and select “Remove this application”.  Eliminating any need to go to “Add/Remove Programs” through the setup panel in Windows.

    OOB7

    You can also download updated documentation for how to check whether your application has been installed yet locally, is running or out of the browser, as well as if network connectivity is present.

    SL3OfflineDocumentation

     

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  • DaveDev

    Microsoft Silverlight 3 and Expression Studio 3 have launched and there has never been a better time to jump into the RIA space. So how do you get started? Get all the juicy details here!

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    An Exciting Launch

    This week kicked off the “virtual” Silverlight 3 and Expression Studio 3 launches.  For weeks the SeeTheLight website had a placeholder countdown timer.  As UX Geek and Twitter user it was pretty exciting as we all watch the countdown slowly go down from days to minutes.  “

    “10 minutes left!” came the tweets across my Sobees bDule Twitter client…   “5 minutes!”…  “1 minute”…

    1MinLeft

    “It’s Live!” we all shouted as the countdown timer suddenly changed into a sun lighting up the way to Silverlight and Expression goodness. 

    ItsLive

    How Exciting!  The virtual launched allowed you too pull down information on the new releases, watch how-do-i videos, as well as participate in a funny TV show called “The Visual Kitchen.”  Now that the launch is over the site has been updated with all the content that was shown.  Lots of great stuff to fill your RIA/UX appetites.

     SeeTheLight

     

    So where do I get the bits?

    GetStarted

    Just like all the previous releases you will want to start at the Silverlight.Net websites “Get Started” page.  This page will give you step by step instructions and links on grabbing the files and setting up your development environment.  Silverlight 3, as with prior releases, was created with backwards compatibility in mind.  With a single plug-in you are able to run Silverlight 1, Silverlight 2 and all the new Silverlight 3 features.  So if you haven’t downloaded any of the Silverlight plug-ins yet don’t worry this is all you need.  If you already have the Silverlight 2 plug-in install this will upgrade you. 

    One of the slick new features with this release is the installation.  Silverlight will now use the Web Platform installer!

    Seethelight2

    I previously blogged about the Web Platform Installer during the MIX09 Announcements.  Customers have been asking for a long time to simplify the installation of the Microsoft Web Platform.  ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, IIS, SQL Express, VS Express, DotNetNuke, and more all can be installed and updated from a single small sized download setup package.  Silverlight is now part of that experience giving you a complete end to end one stop shop for all things Web on the platform.

    image  

    As part of this release the teams have also updated the Expression Website.  New features include an Online Gallery of freely downloadable XAML elements, themes, skins, behaviors and all sorts of other goodness for use in your Silverlight or WPF applications.  The site also has a revamped learning section to enable you to find the tutorials and information that is important to you.

    ExpressionSiteRevamp

     

    What’s new in this release?

    I continued to be impressed by Tim.  I first met him at a Silverlight training course given by none other than Shawn Wildermuth.  Wow – two great Silverlight gurus in my second week of working at Microsoft.  If I needed any further proof that Microsoft was serious about RIA development these guys sealed it for me.  Tim continues to be at the top of his game and posted an in depth blog entry on everything new with the release.  Be sure to check it out to get more details.

    TimHWhatsNewSL3

    Who could forget “The GU!”?  Scott posted details as well on this release you should check out.  

    SL3Gu

    If you’re like me you might also want to hear from the team leaders themselves about why this release is so important.  The Gu and Christian Schormann sit down at Channel9 to discuss some of the themes behind this release.  

    GuChristianScott

    How about some in depth free online training around this release?  Look no further than XAML Fest Online.  Kudos to the Microsoft ISV team for putting this one together the content was in depth as was the ongoing Q&A from the audience.  I had the pleasure of leading the Designer track for one of the in person XAMLfests and then getting to proctor the online courses. 

    XAMLFestOnline 

     

    Are there any cool Silverlight 3 applications yet?

    SLShowcase

    As with prior releases the Silverlight Showcase is the place for checking out the latest Silverlight applications. With 600+ entries from over 60 countries there is bound to be something that strikes your interest.  The Showcase was updated for the Silverlight 3 release and includes some great examples. 

    I wanted to point out two Silverlight 3 applications I have been using myself.  For those of you who are following me on Twitter you’ve probably seen me posting from bDule.  Well the guys are at it again and for this launch they ported the client into a Silverlight 3 application.  Now you can get all the great Twitter, Facebook and search functionality you are used to but via the convenience of the web.  They’ve also added a synchronization feature that will enable you to keep all your settings regardless of whether you’re on a pc or pulling up the client from the web.  Because this release is using Silverlight 3 the client will now run on Macs.  So if you’ve been itching to try it out but haven’t yet be sure to Check it out!

    SobeesWeb

    The second application is a completely functional TED browser.  For those not familiar TED it is an annual conference that focuses on spreading innovation in ideas.  It does this by bringing together top professionals in the fields of technology, entertainment and design.  The talks are also limited to 20 minutes or less forcing the presenters to convey their message in a powerful and connective way.  One of the more high profile TED talks recently was the Bill Gates keynote on world poverty and education.  This was the talk where Bill released the mosquitoes into the crowd.

    TEDPlayer

    With the release of Silverlight 3 Thirteen23 created a stand alone TED browser that lets you search the entire library of talks, view the most popular presentations and watch them instantly.  Because it is Silverlight 3 this application will run on both PCs and MACs as well as in the browser or outside of it.  Probably one of the best examples I’ve seen of the new Out-Of-Browser capabilities in Silverlight.  With one click you can now have the application available from your start menu or desktop without having to install any additional software.  It all runs using the same Silverlight plug-in you already have and yes the Out-Of-Browser functionality works on both MAC and PC too!  Be sure to point your browser here and check it out.

     

    Exciting new technology.  Looks good but how does this make my job easier?

    Having only been with Microsoft now two years I get told time and time again I still think like a customer.  But what does that mean?  For me it is just not only about innovating technology.  It is about releasing that for people who do this as a living we don’t live in a vacuum.  We are part of an eco-system that includes people with various focuses in design, project management, development and IT Skills.  It means having a network we might not have full control over, a desktop that we might not be able to install software on and a team that might be working from parts all over the world.  This was the main reason behind creating the EntDevCon site this year and what I like to say as “Going Beyond Hello World.”

    EntDevCon

    It is with mindset that I come to this release of Silverlight 3 and Expression Studio 3.  This to me is what I had been craving inside my previous organization.  Things like Team Foundation Support in Blend?  We listened – it is in there.  Sand-boxed, secure, Out-Of-Browser application support without any additional installations?  It is in there!

    At my previous job I often dreamed of having a source repository for my UI elements much in the same way most organizations have their classes and frameworks stored.  Being able to target a single API and Platform whether you are making Windows Applications or Web Applications with consistent UI patterns is a powerful thing.  That has now become a reality thanks to the full XAML support across technologies and tool sets.  There is even guidance on differences between WPF and Silverlight and how you can leverage that.  For the first time as a .NET Developer or a XAML Designer you can target Windows applications, Web applications and even stuff like the Surface table all while maintaining a single codebase.  Multi-Touch, Multi-User Twitter client on a surface table anyone?

    SurfaceTwitter2_thumb

    Getting tools that focus on your discipline and trade rather than the technology is important  We know that designers and developers think differently about a problem but it is the SAME problem and technology should be the force that unites them.  If you remember one thing about these new technologies and toolsets it should be this; regardless of the discipline of your team members they can now work seamlessly with each other.  That means allowing things like the importing of Photoshop or Illustrator files directly into blend.  It also means having your designers able to work with design time data that looks exactly as the developer intended it to.  I’ve been there myself, the developer trying to cut up a PSD file to look and behave the way my designer wanted it to only for both of us to end up frustrated.

    Let the healing begin…

     Designer-Developer

    Sketch what?? 

    I just can’t say enough about the Expression Team.  When I first saw the changes Microsoft was proposing to the UI layer a few years back at PDC2003 I had to scratch my head.  XAML was a great idea on paper but with only tools available like the SDK’s XAMLPad or a beta add-on editor for Visual Studio I knew I’d be spending ours in XML just trying to get things to look the way I wanted.  It really wasn’t until Expression Studio was released that the light bulb went off for me.  I could finally “draw” a button instead of coding a button.  This wasn’t the empty promises of years gone passed with Design Time Controls either.  Because these tools were written in XAML themselves and there was now a unified XAML runtime in WPF and Silverlight instead of numerous incompatible web browser doms. What can I say – I got super excited from that day forward and it hasn’t stopped.

    In his book Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton points out that real innovation and ideas come from the sketch itself.  It seems like such common sense looking back now to me.  How many times did I just white board stuff out in brainstorming sessions?  Quick, and easily thrown out, these sketches would lead to bigger and better ideas.  They didn’t force you to think it terms of technologies the way UML or Visio did.

    Expression Blend 3 kicked it up a notch with something called Sketchflow.  This is where having professionals on a team with years of interface design comes into play.  How many times have you created mockups whether they were in Visio, PowerPoint or Photoshop only to throw them away when it came to actually implementing them.  From within Blend itself you can now “sketch” fully functional apps and have your users annotate right on them.  Take that a step further and think about drawing this on top of a PC Tablet?  Sounds like Science Fiction right?  It’s not and its here today!  You only need to do a quick search on Twitter to see how its changing the productivity of software development teams.

    Sketchflow1

    Sketchflow2

    Sketchflow3

    Sketchflow4

    Once you see it in action it starts to really make sense.  Check out the MIX09 Session Christian Schormann did here…

    SketchflowMIX

    … and then his blog follow up tutorial here.

    ChristianSketchflow

     

    Pretty Exciting stuff eh?  Go get started today and let us know what you think!  Silverlight 4 is already under development and ready to have the next great feature you are looking for.

    -Dave

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  • DaveDev

    Looking to create a more compelling experience for your users? Silverlight? WPF? Expression? Does it all sound like gibberish? The Mid Atlantic Roadshow is coming to your backyard!

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    Q1MASDRoadShow

    From the Cheesesteaks of Philadelphia to the crab cakes of Maryland my fellow geeks Dani Diaz and G. Andrew Duthie are hitting the road and coming to you!  If you have been curious about the latest releases of Developer and Designer tools from Microsoft but don’t know where to start these events are for you. 

    We’ll be covering eight different cities and will go from using the tools themselves to the patterns and practices people are using to be more productive.  Instead of just throwing a bunch of slides and “Hello World” apps at you we are going to build a working application that will spam across the entire day.  From where to get the bits, planning/designing your application, to building it and finally publishing it out these events will cover it all. 

    Here is how the day will pan out:

    Creating Rich Internet Applications on the Microsoft Platform using Silverlight 3 and Expression Studio 3

    You’re a Developer not a Designer. So how do you shine in this new world of Rich Internet Applications (RIA) while still leveraging your .NET skills? This 2 hour overview will get you up to speed on the latest Microsoft Silverlight, Expression Studio and Visual Studio has to offer. Go beyond hello world and get the latest tips and tricks to make your application shine. You’ll be surprised how easily you can create a working web application that is engaging to your users, and integrates with your existing web architecture.

    Level: 200-300 | Length: 1:45

    Building Composite Silverlight and WPF Applications using Prism and MVVM

    When you have two UI technologies like WPF and Silverlight written in similar languages (XAML) but that run against different assemblies in different situations, it's not unreasonable to want to write a UI once and later be able to choose the best or both options with only a trivial amount of effort. This session will show you how to get the most out of your XAML-based applications and what architectural decisions can help enable these options from the beginning of the development cycle.

    Level: 200 | Length: 1:15

    Introduction to .NET RIA Services

    This session is an introduction on how Microsoft is simplifying the traditional n-tier application pattern by bringing together ASP.NET and Silverlight. Learn about patterns for working with data, implementing reusable and independently testable application logic, and application services that readily scale with growing requirements.

    Level: 200 | Length: 0:30

    Where to sign up?

    Each event is from 1pm to 5pm and will also come after an early morning IT Professional session.  So if you’re curious in learning more about Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 you can come early and stay for the Developer goodness in the afternoon.

    City Date Register
    Total 7 locations!
    Baltimore, MD 8/19/2009  Register
    Washington DC 8/20/2009  Register
    Roanoke, VA 9/10/2009  Register
    Allentown, PA 9/21/2009  Register
    Malvern, PA 9/22/2009  Register
    Norfolk, VA 9/25/2009  Register
    Harrisburg, PA 9/29/2009  Register

    Hope to see you there!

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