Steve Marx recently joined my team to focus on "Atlas" evangelism. He came from the Windows Code Excellence group, and if he ever gets a chance to talk to you about his history, you'll find that it's quite varied (including coming in 35th in the 2005 World Series of Poker). Anyway, Steve has been digging-in to the technology over the past few weeks, and he's already written his own Atlas-powered blogging engine. He'd like you to know that it's still early code, so you can expect a few bugs and rough edges, but otherwise, I'd encourage you to check out what he's building over at www.smarx.com. I'm sure he'd love your feedback. Great stuff, Steve.
While I'm plugging team members' blogs, I should point these out too (frankly, don't know why I haven't already done this):
Grant Hinkson, a member of the Visual Design Team at Infragistics, has written a freely-available exporter that adds a custom panel directly within Fireworks that enables you to export your designs to XAML. You simply select the items you want to export, choose from a few simple options, then click a button to copy the XAML to the clipboard. From there, you can paste it into your tool of choice. Very slick and easy.
I also like the list of current features, their limitations, and what is planned for upcoming versions. Even better, you can send your feedback directly to their design team. Great job, guys!
While we're on the topic of exporters, I'd like to remind everyone of the permanent article I've planted on my site to collect all of these useful WPF Tools and Controls. If you're aware of any WPF-related tools or controls that I'm missing, please contact me directly. The page has become a very heavily trafficked resource, and it'll only grow as we get closer and closer to launch.
Remember the photo of the mystery actor from my post a month or so back? Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, it's Tom Skerritt. If his name doesn't ring a bell, I'm sure you've seen one of the many, many projects he's been involved with: MASH, Alien, Top Gun, Contact, and one of my personal favorites, A River Runs Through It, just to name a few.
Most of the work we do as Technical Evangelists involves partnering with companies who are taking a very early bet on our upcoming technology. It's our job to help them understand what we're building, why it does (or doesn't) make sense for their project, and to lead them from design through implementation, to testing, and finally, to RTM. In the process, we get a lot of great real-world feedback about how to improve our products, our customers get to create innovative solutions that are released ahead of their competition, and we both generate "evidence" in the form of case studies, videos, and web sites like www.seewindowsvista.com.
Since my readership is generally very technical, I'll warn you ahead of time that the site is intentionally non-technical in nature. It's meant to illustrate the kinds of applications that can be built on top of Windows Vista, but it doesn't dive into the details. Think of these as short video "teasers" that inspire, not advertisements or instructional videos. That said, there is a lot of expertise that has gone into these applications, and this is only a small subset of the great work that's going on. Believe me...I've seen some very cool stuff, and you'll get to see more and more of it as we get closer to launch.
Almost all of the applications use the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) for their visuals. Many of the applications also use the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to send and receive data over the network. For workflow, the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) is used, and InfoCard comes into play too. Don't think of these technologies as the only way to create applications like this; rather, think of them as a way to drastically amplify your development productivity and at the same time, benefit from their tight integration with Windows Vista.
Kudos to these early partners for their fantastic work! By the way, you can already download and play with the iBloks application that is featured on the site.
If you've been itching to try Windows Vista, you can now download Beta 2 of the 32- and 64-bit English, German, and Japanese releases via the Community Preview Program. You can either download the appropriate ISO file and burn your own DVD or order the physical kit. Before doing either of these, though, it's worth finding out if your PC is Windows Vista Capable.