MIX09 recap series part 1, favorite features and announcements

Jaime Rodriguez
On Windows Phone, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight and Windows 7

MIX09 recap series part 1, favorite features and announcements

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I am finally caught up with my family and work stuff , so I want to share my belated recap and my lessons learned from observing and talking to people at MIX09.  Since it is a lot, I partitioned it into three posts:

Part1: Anything that inspired or excited me.
Part2: What we could have done (or messaged) better; future for our desktop client.
Part3: Our mission on the client space: The Microsoft Client Continuum.

Part 1: The good (or great)!

IMO, this was the best MIX to date.  Microsoft was finally able to demonstrate and deliver the vision we have been thriving for in the last few years:

  • User Experience and designers were embraced throughout the conference (in part, by credible, recognized thought leaders from Microsoft).
    • Bill Buxton and Deborah Adler keynotes were great.
    • Expression Blend announced their upcoming features, with disruptive, rapid prototyping features like sketch flow, and strong improvements to the fundamentals with behaviors, design-time data,  better import tools, and source control.
  • Internet Explorer 8 is a strong return back to the web standards world. It is compliant, more secure, fast enough,  and innovative: IE8 brings safety and productivity to its users.  I think we are back in the game (and just on time).
  • Silverlight 3 came really strong on all angles:
    • We continue to innovate and lead on media.
    • We are moving at warp speed to catch up to WPF around fundamentals (like element to element data binding, resources, etc.) 
    • We are moving towards the enterprise and already have a great set of features planned for the .NET RIA Services; this is the beginning of a great business platform.
    • To every one’s surprise, we let the cat out of the browser (literally!)

My favorite features announced through out the conference:

  • Blend behaviors – yes, I know this is not even a new technology feature (we have been able to do them for a while) but I think official support in the tools and pre-canned behaviors in the platform will change how designers create interactivity in applications.   Blend behaviors makes designers more productive and empowers them to do all the things that make me “miss” Triggers when I work on Silverlight.  So I am psyched about behaviors.
    To get familiar with behaviors you should:
  • Sketchflow – has the potential to change conceptual design and end-to-end designer workflow.
    I like the direction on which this is going because it enabled rapid prototyping and potential reuse of these prototypes in the real app.

    To get familiar with sketchflow, you must:
    • Watch Christian Schormann’s Sketchflow session.
    • Wait until ? for us to ship the preview. Sorry!

  • All the Silverlight improvements to get parity with WPF:  Official support for Resource Dictionaries,  Styling improvements, Element to Element binding, etc.   I must say these are probably not crowd favorites either, but they are dear to me because I do write code that goes across both platforms, or often I find myself “missing” a feature that was not there in Silverlight; feature parity between both run-times makes it easier to port code and makes Silverlight better (against other competitors) so it helps us increase our user base.

    To get familiar with these improvements, you need to
  • H.264 Media on Silverlight
    This one is big because it allows us to better serve content providers that had H264 format (mostly due to mobile)  so I had to list, but I have mixed feelings here, I still hear ( and can see from videos I get ) that VC-1 is a better format.  Still I am very excited about the possibilities these offers for us to work with new partners!

Don’t get me wrong, I was psyched about a lot more features than I mention above, but I had to pick a few top ones. If you want the list of other features that really excited me:

  • Silverlight Out of Browser – is very exciting, but I need to see what people do with it.   I have to say it has the potential to be game changing in the long-run (as we grow it).  I will come back to this one in part2 of the series stay tuned for that.
  • New import features in Blend.  Being able to import Photoshop and illustrator sounds very, very good.   I still need to capture feedback from partners on how good it is; if the quality is good, then this will also be game changing.
  • Perspective 3D in Silverlight.  I am still curious where people take this feature too.  I am sure it will be some where great and I will be looking silly for not saying it was game changing ;)

OK. that is a very high level of all the “Good stuff” ..   I do have to give a “Thank You!” shout to the audience and partners that attended.  For me and lots of other Microsoft folks, a huge part of MIX are the hallway and meals or party conversations.   It is great to hear what we are doing right, wrong, and what we should do next.

I also have to throw a shout to the Deborah Adler keynote slot. What an inspiring story.

Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3 in the series!

  • Jaime Rodriguez has just released a fantastic 3-part series summarizing the big things to directly or indirectly come out of Mix09. I highly recommend it for anyone working within WPF and/or Sil ...

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