Yesterday, during the keynote at the Professional Developers Conference the new Silverlight 4 beta was announced. To tell you the truth I’m really impressed with the number of new features that the team has been able to deliver in beta form just a good 3 months after the release of Silverlight 3 last July. Here’s an overview of the features that for me pop out the most in this new beta.
Please note this is beta release and should be installed only in development environment. There is no go-live license available with this beta release.
To try out the beta you will need Visual Studio 2010 Beta or Visual Web Developer Express 2010 Beta 2. All the links to the tools can be found here: http://www.silverlight.net/getstarted/silverlight-4-beta/#tools
Webcam and microphone support
Silverlight 4 supports webcam and microphone input. This was a very highly requested feature in the past and has now been included in this version.
Check out the very cool PDC keynote demo where you can use your webcam in a Silverlight application to read a book ISBN barcode and automatically retrieve the related Amazon book information. This is also a great example of how fantastic the .NET support in Silverlight is. For this sample they simply used an open source .NET barcode reader library from Codeplex.
Offline DRM support through PlayReady, this applies to out-of-browser Silverlight applications.
IIS Smooth Streaming support for the iPhone
Yes, this is maybe something you weren’t expecting coming from Microsoft. IIS Media Services 4.0 will support streaming to the iPhone. Note this is not Silverlight support on the iPhone, it’s streaming a format that is supported by the iPhone and generating a video tag that Safari browser on the iPhone supports. Point your iPhone to http://www.iis.net/iPhone to try it out. More information at http://www.iis.net/overview/IntegratedMediaPlatform.
The out of browser functionality is now extending further into the system. While Silverlight still runs in it’s security sandbox, trust can be elevated to run as a trusted application. A trusted application can now read and write files to the typical My Documents, My Pictures etc directories (or equivalent on Mac platform).
A Silverlight out of browser application will never run in admin mode, however a user can be asked for extra permissions. This always happens in a standard dialog interface which cannot be manipulated or changed in look and feel by the developer (fortunately so). Some other enhancements:
WPF uses the same UI language as Silverlight, i.e. XAML. However, there are some important differences which make sharing XAML code directly between Silverlight and WPF projects impossible. The convergence of these two technologies is however very important and therefore you can see some evolution in Silverlight adopting implicit styles, WPF 4 adopting the Visual State Manager and animation easing.
Silverlight 4 is now also using the same Common Language Runtime (CLR), which means the same assemblies will work on WPF and Silverlight (binary assembly compatibility). We’re talking about pure library assemblies, not XAML.
WC RIA Services .NET RIA Services has now been renamed to WCF RIA Services. Walkthrough and source code of the keynote demo can be found here: http://jeffhandley.com/archive/2009/11/18/contososales.aspx
You can also let your feature requests be heard at http://silverlight.uservoice.com/pages/4325-feature-suggestions. During the PDC keynote, Scott Guthrie mentioned that about 70% of the Silverlight 4 feature requests are being implemented.
Lots of stuff to dive into, have fun!
The Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI) is a great tool to automate the installation of web developer tools, framework, web server and database. In case you haven’t see this you I encourage you to take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/web. This is also something we showed during the REMIX 2009 keynote so you may want to have a look at the video for part 1 of the keynote.
Installing the platform and the tools is one thing, this includes the full Microsoft stack with IIS, ASP.NET but also PHP 5.2. But next to installing the stack it also offers you the ability to install open source web applications like DotNetNuke, BlogEngine.NET, Umbraco but also PHP applications such as Drupal, Moodle, Wordpress and many others. The application available through the Web Application Gallery (WAG) are all open source and were submitted to the tool. You can also submit your own open source application to be part of the gallery. This requires your application to be packaged using the Web Deployment Tool.
While you can use the Web Deployment Tool used by the Web PI to package and easily deploy your own web applications you don’t get the nice UI given through the Web PI tool.
The good news is now since the Web PI v2 RTM you have some interesting options. One of these options is adding custom XML feeds with your own non-public packaged applications or even extra products (choose the Options link). Katheryne has two nice postings on the IIS.Net site around this feature: “Web PI Extensibility: Custom Feeds – Installing Custom Products” and “Web PI Extensibility: Custom Feeds – Installing Custom Applications”, worth checking out!
Again, you don’t need the Web PI to deploy your own applications and are perfectly able to use the Web Deployment Tool separately but if you like the ease of use of the Web PI tool this is a perfect solution.
This year I did not have the opportunity to join the Microsoft PDC event personally but I did manage to follow most part of the keynotes. Keynotes were streamed live both on November 17th and November 18th. If you would like to watch them on-demand they are being made available on the www.microsoftpdc.com site soon.
The PDC is historically quite important for announcements, this year was no different. Here’s an overview of what was announced (note: personal list, no guarantees it’s an exhaustive list).
Speakers for the first keynote were Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect at Microsoft and Bob Muglia, President Server & Tools.
Windows Azure & SQL Azure
Windows Azure release schedule was announced, the services are free to evaluate through January 2010. We will begin charging customers on February 1st, 2010.
Learn more, download the tools: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/
Microsoft Pinpoint Pinpoint can be viewed as a marketplace to find partners with whom to work for your projects, giving you access to specialized service providers and support.
“Dallas” the commoditization of data. OK, that’s my own personal way of seeing it (not any MS official wording) but that’s really one way I’d put it. I see the use of this for statistical data, meteo, postal information, and much more. Check it out and request your trial token: http://blogs.msdn.com/dallas/archive/2009/11/17/a-quick-overview-of-dallas-for-developers.aspx
Dallas also works together with Pinpoint, which can be seen as your marketplace for data providers.
Seesmic for Windows Loic LeMeur, founder of Seesmic went on stage to present the new Seesmic for Windows. This version is built in WPF and can be downloaded from the seesmic.com site. At the same time he also showed a Silverlight version of the application (note: currently the Silverlight version is not available yet).
Visual Studio 2010 – no new announcements but a nice demo:
Download the full source of the demo application shown during the keynote, Tailspin: http://tailspintravel.codeplex.com/
ASP.NET MVC 2 Beta
The next version of ASP.NET MVC is available in beta. Check out Phil Haack’s post on this. This beta release contains a go-live license.
Windows Server AppFabric (previously Velocity & Dublin codenames)
Windows Server AppFabric and Windows Azure platform AppFabric include the capabilities from projects “Dublin” and “Velocity,” as well as the Service Bus and Access Control services that were formerly under the “.NET Services” brand (today, these services are now called Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus and Windows Azure platform AppFabric Access Control services).
Steven Sinofsky, Scott Guthrie and Kurt DelBene were the top speakers announced for this keynote.
Silverlight 4 Beta
The stuff put into Silverlight 4 is incredible, that’s what you’ll hear from anyone that watched the day 2 keynote. New features like elevated trust and notifications for out-of-browser Silverlight applications, but also webcam and microphone support, print support, and much much more.
Silverlight 4 Beta is available now, Tim Heuer has great post with all the links and starter demos and videos for you - http://timheuer.com/blog/archive/2009/11/18/whats-new-in-silverlight-4-complete-guide-new-features.aspx.
Official Silverlight.net page on Silverlight 4 Beta: http://silverlight.net/getstarted/silverlight-4-beta/
There is also a new section on Channel 9 with Silverlight 4 training: http://channel9.msdn.com/learn/courses/Silverlight4/
WCF RIA Services
Previously called .NET RIA services, the beta version was announced. Check out Brad Abrams’ blog http://blogs.msdn.com/brada/archive/2009/11/18/welcome-to-wcf-ria-services-beta.aspx
Microsoft Office 2010 Beta – SharePoint 2010 Beta
Kurt DelBene talked about the new features of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and announced the availability of the public betas for:
Download your version at http://www.microsoft.com/2010
Also announced: PowerPivot for Excel 2010 – CTP version is available - http://www.powerpivot.com/
One last thing: if you haven’t watched the keynote, take the time to watch it soon because I promise, it’s worth it. As Silverlight is one of my focus points I can recommend you to watch the Silverlight 4 part at the very least.
On December 4th we have a top speaker and .NET guru visiting Belgium: Scott Guthrie is doing a full afternoon at Kinepolis. This is your chance to attend a live session, be quick to register before all places are taken. The event is filling up really fast.
What will Scott Guthrie talk about?
Bringing you a full afternoon of technical content, Scott will start with an overview of the new features in Visual Studio 2010 and web development, also addressing ASP.NET MVC 2. In the second part of the session Scott will focus on the new features in Silverlight 4 beta, released just last week at Microsoft PDC.
There is also an opportunity for a Q&A at the end of the event. If you have questions for Scott be sure to send them upfront to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is a joint organization by Microsoft Belgium and the Visual Studio User Group (VISUG).
When: December 4th, 2009 – 13h30 - 17h00 Where: Kinepolis Brussels More information on MSDN site. Twitter tag: #scottinbelgium
See you there, register now!
On November 25th we organized another User Experience at Vitra event.
(See all the pictures - by Pieter Baert)
This time there were two different events: afternoon sessions of 45 minutes around Silverlight 4, SketchFlow, SharePoint and Experience Continuum; in the evening the more typical Vitra showroom setting with corners around Microsoft Advertising, Silverlight, Windows 7, Expression SuperPreview and IE8, WIndows Live, Surface. Partners were present showing off some cool stuff: These days and Digipoint, The Creative Stores were also present with their Surface application created for AB Inbev. Zendster was there with the satellite truck for the uplink and show their Smooth Streaming solutions. The Belgian Silverlight User Group was again this time present with demos of Silverlight (version 4 included of course) and SketchFlow.
I would like to thank all participants, partners, colleagues and of course a special thank you to the unstoppable Tom Crombez for driving the whole event!
This time I did not go for Expression Blend with SketcFlow demos as last time but rather for an overview talk around the Microsoft user interface technologies and the experience. Abbreviated to Experience Continuum I addressed technologies that offer possibilities to create experiences for client, web and devices (like Microsoft Surface).
This was not a typical technical/developer presentation but rather an overview of the technologies and demos on each of them. Since the attendees were a mixed audience this seemed like the right approach. Showing what is possible gives ideas right?
In the Experience Continuum, also called the Client Continuum I addressed the following technologies:
The important thing that links these technologies is not only the capability to develop a good user interface but also that they are linked by the usage of .NET and XAML. This makes reusing at least parts of design and code much more possible than with disparate technologies for web, client and devices.
Jing – a small little free screen capture and recording tool by TechSmith. URL: http://jingproject.com/
Seesmic – Twitter client for Windows. My new favorite one actually. URL: http://seesmic.com/
Blu – Also a Twitter client that shows off some very nice WPF interaction features. Just watch the startup animations, they’re so nicely done! This is a demo application by thirteen23. URL: http://thirteen23.com/experiences/desktop/blu/
Want to learn how to take advantage of the new Windows 7 features in your own projects? There are several good resources to help you:
Fishbow Facebook client The Fishbowl application was first shown during PDC 2009 and is delivered by Microsoft as a sample application built on .NET 3.5 SP1, using WPF for the UI and integrating with the Windows 7 OS features through the Windows API Code Pack for .NET. The next version of WPF will allow direct integration with Windows 7 features without the download of extra libraries. The application also uses the newly released Facebook SDK for .NET, for easy integration in WPF and Silverlight. It has some interesting features like drag & dropping photos from and to the Windows Explorer into Facebook, but the features that I preferred to show were those that take advantage of Windows 7 taskbar enhancements.
Check it out for yourself, download the client for Windows 7 or download the full source code from Codeplex.
For more information about this application see this post: Fishbowl for Facebook Using the Windows 7 Taskbar for Extra Spice at Windows 7 Developer blog.
Side note: Windows 7 Themes One person also made the comment that it was interesting how the Jing tool was changing the desktop wallpaper image. However this was a coincidence since this feature is part of Windows 7. By the way, my current favorite wallpapers (and Windows theme) is the Bing’s Best theme.
Silverlight is another technology in the same stack: .NET + XAML. Since separate sessions were available on this topic I did not spend a lot of time or demos on this. Some of the demos were:
Video mentioned in the talk:
As the continuum between these technologies is .NET + XAML it’s important to also address the tooling for both developers and interaction designers (or front-end developers or WPF/Silverlight integrators, whatever your favorite term here).
If you have also written something about the UX@Vitra event let me know and I’ll add a link here.
The SQL Server Day, taking place on December 3rd in Utopolis Mechelen is a full day dedicated to SQL Server 2008 content. Driven by the SQL UG, they have now added a full developer-focused track.
When: December 3rd 2010, keynote starts at 10 AM. Where: Utopolis Mechelen
Content to expect: check out the full agenda with three separate tracks (Business Intelligence, SQL Data Platform and Development). Sessions include ‘What’s new in Report Builder 3.0, Tracking Changes and Data Movement in SQL Server, Handling XML in SQL Server, Entity Framework in Visual Studio 2010 and more.
If you haven’t registered yet, don’t wait too long!
See you there.