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

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(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.
URL: http://jingproject.com/

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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/

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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.

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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.