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November, 2009 - Katrien's MSDN Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
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    MS Web Platform Installer & Gallery – extensibility for your own non-public apps and products


    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 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.

    Web Platform Installer screen

    Installing non-public web applications and products

    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.

    Further reading

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Silverlight 4 Beta – Overview of the new features


    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.

    How to get it.

    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:

    Overview of new features


    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 iPhoneSmooth streaming 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 to try it out. More information at

    Out of browser

    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:

    • Notifications API
    • COM automation support such as accessing devices
    • Interact with desktop applications (send mail, launch Excel, etc)
    • HTML support within the oob application.
    • Control over the window chrome and positioning
    • WebBrowser control and HTMLBrush so that you can use the contents of a web page as a brush.

    Business applications

    • Printing support through the new PrintDocument class
    • Commanding support
    • Bi-di and righ-to-left text
    • Enhanced data binding features (IDataErrorInfo, binding to non FrameworkElement elements)
    • Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) support
    • Mousewheel support for a set of default controls like lists
    • Clipboard access
    • Right-click mouse event support so that you can create your own context menus

    WPF convergence

    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:

    Feature requests for Silverlight 4

    You can also let your feature requests be heard at During the PDC keynote, Scott Guthrie mentioned that about 70% of the Silverlight 4 feature requests are being implemented.

    Learning and tutorials

    Lots of stuff to dive into, have fun!

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    UX@Vitra November edition – Slides and links from “Experience Continuum” talk


    On November 25th we organized another User Experience at Vitra event.

    vitra 4134661738_0eff1bb45d_o 4133909631_9ba927bc6d_o
    (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!

    Experience Continuum talk and short sessions links

    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:

    • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and how it integrates for a better experience with Windows 7
    • Silverlight
    • Microsoft Surface and Natural User Interface
    • The tooling for all three of these: Visual Studio for development and Expression Blend for interactivity and UI

    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.

    Windows Presentation Foundation demos

    Jing – a small little free screen capture and recording tool by TechSmith.

     image image

    Seesmic – Twitter client for Windows. My new favorite one actually.

    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.

    image image

    WPF and integration with Windows 7 features

    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.

    image image image
    Thumbnail buttons in the preview thumbnail. Notifications in the taskbar program icon: in my case 3 new notifications. This is done through icon overlay. Jumplists – notifications show up as jumplist items

    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 demos

    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:

    • TED video player – sample by thirteen23, out-of-browser Silverlight application
    • Sobees web client – in and out-of-browser Twitter client

    Microsoft Surface and the Natural User Interface

    Video mentioned in the talk:

    The tooling: Microsoft Expression Blend 3 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008/2010

    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).

    To end, some link love

    If you have also written something about the UX@Vitra event let me know and I’ll add a link here.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Microsoft PDC 2009 – the announcements at the keynotes


    Find out what's nextThis 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 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).

    Keynote Day 1

    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:

    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.

    Codename “Dallas”

    “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:

    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 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:

    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).

    • For Web applications, AppFabric provides caching capabilities to provide high-speed access, scale, and high availability to application data. This feature was previously codenamed "Velocity".
    • For composite applications, AppFabric makes it easier to build and manage services built using Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation. This feature was previously codenamed "Dublin."

    Learn more:

    Keynote Day 2

    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 -

    Official page on Silverlight 4 Beta:

    There is also a new section on Channel 9 with Silverlight 4 training:

    WCF RIA Services

    Previously called .NET RIA services, the beta version was announced. Check out Brad Abrams’ blog

    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:

    • Microsoft Office 2010 Beta
    • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Beta
    • Microsoft Project 2010 Beta
    • Microsoft Visio 2010 Beta
    • Office Mobile client for Office 2010 beta – available through the Windows Marketplace

    Download your version at

    Also announced: PowerPivot for Excel 2010 – CTP version is available -

    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.

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    Come see Scott Guthrie talk on Visual Studio 2010, web development and Silverlight 4


    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.polo 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

    The event is a joint organization by Microsoft Belgium and the Visual Studio User Group (VISUG).

    Practical details:

    When: December 4th, 2009 – 13h30 - 17h00
    Where: Kinepolis Brussels
    More information on MSDN site.
    Twitter tag: #scottinbelgium

    See you there, register now!

  • Katrien's MSDN Blog

    SQL Server Day 2009 – now with a full developer track


    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.image

    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.

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November, 2009