Do you have an application or cool ideas for an application using the Azure Services Platform? You might give the NewCloudApp contest a try. Use Windows Azure as hosting for your .NET or PHP applications, and use the other services such as .NET Services to interact with the cloud. It’s encouraged that you also spend some focus on the user interface by taking advantage of a rich UI in Silverlight for example.
The contest previously only open to the U.S. has now got an international part to it, so go for it!
Submission deadline for your application is July 9th 2009, so that gives you about a month to complete it. Check out all the details of the contest on http://www.newcloudapp.com/
During the last two weeks Microsoft Belgium organized four events at different Vitra locations. Vitra is a well-known furniture brand, which seemed like the perfect location for these informal events. The title was User Experience @ Vitra.
In this post I’m writing my experiences with the event, if you are looking for resources that I mentioned during the demos you might want to skip to the second part of the post.
The goal of the events was to bring together people in the web & marketing world and get them in touch with what Microsoft is doing in this space. Since we wanted an informal event setup we had different product/technology corners. With subjects such as Microsoft Surface (demoing the table), IE8, Windows 7 (touch), Silverlight, SharePoint, and more.
The events were the work of a lot of people and departments at Microsoft, but driven by my colleagues at the Partner group.
In the period of June 2nd to June 11th we held the event at these locations, every time at a Vitra store location in the city: Antwerp, Diegem (Brussels), Gent and Liège.
See for yourself, take a look at the pictures:
Antwerp event pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pietel/sets/72157619149643882/ Diegem (Brussels) event pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pietel/sets/72157619163825755/ All pictures taken by Pieter Baert (@pietel).
What was shown
We had several corners in which there was a chance for people to come around, watch a short demo, ask some questions, exchange ideas and see something new. While some corners were actual technology demos others were simply a chance to get talking about a certain technology.
The start of each event was given by Luc Van de Velde (Director Developer & Platform Evangelism) and/or Tom Crombez. Tom is THE contact person for agencies at the Partner group. We kicked off each event with the showing on the Microsoft Future vision video, and how many of the future technologies shown here are already present and possible today, be it in a different form. Go watch the video, it’s really worth it!
After the introduction the different corners started their demos, with a chance for every attendee to do the tour and spend some time at the chosen corners. Not the typical conference type of presentations but I think this went really well with the type of event.
People could watch, touch and play on the Surface table, go for a demo of some cool Silverlight applications delivered by folks from the Silverlight user group, get some more info on IE8 light-up features, touch some Windows 7 devices, see some SharePoint, have a look at some great cases by the Microsoft Advertising team, talk to Microsoft folks about the web platform, and of course get in touch with the Partner team. Not to forget, drop by the Mojito bar which was very much visited corner ;-)
Folks from the community were also there at the Expert bar, where all questions around the technologies were answered: Gill Cleeren, Kris Van der Mast and Kevin Dockx. I would like to thank the members of the Silverlight user group for their presence as well: Frederik Duchi and Kevin DeRudder.
My corner was around creating a unique User Experience, focused specifically on showing some new Expression Blend 3 capabilities. While 15 minutes is really short to show a lot around this, I chose to show some of the highlights: SketchFlow, importing from Photoshop, new sample data capabilities and styling.
Demos were centered around Silverlight but the goal of my corner was also to talk to people about the XAML + .NET technology stack. By using XAML (which I call the UI language) together with .NET you get to implement to different media:
I think it’s important to highlight the fact that XAML is really used as the glue between all of these technologies, and that even if each of the technologies offers different advantages, from a learning perspective you don’t have to completely start over. It’s always going to be learning the XAML and .NET (no real need to learn .NET if you a are a designer using Blend 3).
Following are some links that give you lots more information around what I presented.
Not to miss is also the site of the MIX09 conference, where all of the sessions are online and free to watch. Specifically for Expression Blend, check out “Sketch Flow: From Concept to Production” and “Creating Interactivity with Microsoft Expression Blend”.
The UX@Vitra thank you page also contains resources around the other technologies presented during the event.
I found a few different posts about the events, also worth a read if you are looking for an attendee’s view on the whole thing. There might be more, let me know if you have one to add here.
And to finish off, these folks from Microsoft Belgium are on Twitter:
And for those who asked, I was using a Twitter client written in WPF before the sessions started: the Twitter client is bDule. Still in Alpha but I love how you can split up your interface in several ways, follow several tags at the same time and even several Twitter accounts. By the way, another cool WPF Twitter client is blu.
Last week we had the Windows 7 for .NET developers webcast, where we showed .NET wrappers that are available to access Windows 7 features otherwise only available to managed code developers. > For the slides download see at the bottom of this post.
Update: recordings of the webcasts are now online on the Chopsticks site: - Dutch: Windows 7 voor .NET ontwikkelaars - French: Windows 7 pour développeurs .NET
While addressing many of the Windows 7 features will be possible in .NET 4.0, where for example WPF will surface the touch features, taskbar integration and more, none of this is available today. However, there are already today some options for .NET developers.
Windows API Code Pack (now v0.90)
The Windows API Code Pack is a managed code library giving access to a bunch of Windows 7 features. Just two days after the webcast the API code pack was updated, version v0.90 is now available with quite some new APIs exposes, updated samples and bugfixes.
Current version exposes these APIs:
The library also contains all source code for the wrappers as well as sample projects.
Download the API Code Pack on MSDN Code Gallery
Other managed code libraries
Some functionality does not yet today make part of the Windows API code pack. Two other libraries are “Windows 7 Multitouch .NET Interop Sample Library” and “Windows 7 Taskbar and Libraries .NET Interop Sample Library ”.
Check out these videos on Channel9 around these libraries:
Download webcast slides
Yes, you are reading the title correctly! We have put all video recordings of the TechDays 2009 sessions online and free for you to watch. With more than 70 developer and IT-Pro oriented sessions, you can now watch everything at your own pace.
Check out sessions like “The Daily Scrum” “The Future of C#”, “Pex – Automated White Box Testing for .NET”, “.NET Common Language Runtim 4”, from speakers like Ingo Rammer, Bart De Smet, Christian Weyer, Stephen Forte and many many more. The pre-conference sessions focusing on SharePoint 2007 with .NET Framework 3.5 (WCF, WF, LINQ, Silverlight) are also available.
During the event we also did some interviews with the speakers and the user groups present at the Community booths: http://www.microsoft.com/belux/techdays/2009/track.aspx?tid=msdn_interviews&engine=MSDN
An extra feature this time is that we are also giving you a link to download the session videos for offline viewing.
It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on what new videos have been added to MSDN Chopsticks, so here is a list with the most recent additions.
MSDN ALM Roadshow The MSD ALM Roadshow took place in May 2009 at different locations. Presented by Pieter Gheysens in Dutch and Vincent Fievez in French, all Dutch recorded sessions are now online.
ALM Roadshow - Broncontrole op de juiste manier met Team Foundation Server (deel 2)
ALM Roadshow - Uw code op verschillende manieren testen en de kwaliteit ervan verbeteren (deel 3)
Community: Serge Luca has created a set of screencasts on SharePoint
Overview of Visual Studio Extensions for SharePoint 1.3 CTP
MSDN Webcasts These are recordings from live webcasts we did in the past weeks.
VISUG sessions (Visual Studio User Group)
SQLUG (SQL Server User Group)
SQLUG: Overview of Visual StudioTeam System 2008 Database Edition
SQLUG: The Azure Services Platform and SQL Services
Last week I invited David Sleeckx, the technical architect behind Vidyano, to give us a demonstration on what he has been working on. Vidyano is a tool that is tightly integrated with Visual Studio 2008 to help with the (rapid) development and architecturing of windows applications using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) in the presentation layer and LINQ to SQL, Entity Framework or even something custom data access layer for the model.
Ever since I got to see the first demo of this tool, I was impressed with the capabilities and decided it was time to get a demo on video. David joined me last week to explain the concepts of the tool as well as give a demo from the ground up.
We decided to create two videos, one in Dutch and one in English. Here are the links to the videos:
As you will see in the video(s), David builds a new application from the ground up to show how the Vidyano tool works. One very important point to note is that by the fact that the tool uses XAML for the presentation layer and these views are in a complete separate project, they can be passed on to a designer to edit the look and feel through Expression Blend.
Check out the video in your preferred language, knowing that the Dutch version is longer and contains more demos. David also shows two projects they did using the Vidyano tool for their own clients, both are for the medical industry and what surprised me most was the amount of time it took to develop them.
In case you would like to try the tool, download the free trial and check out the step by step tutorial to create a project. The tutorial explains the process of creating a LINQ to SQL model, creating the Vidyano module, adding pages with a chosen layout structure, and running the project.
Vidyano is created by Rhea (a member of the Visual Studio Industry Partner Program) and you can find the product on the Visual Studio Gallery.