May, 2007

Nigel Parker's Outside Line

Juxtaposing the web, media and mobile for New Zealand developers.
  • Nigel Parker's Outside Line

    MIX07 Your Product is a feature of the Web!

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    It is now Sunday the 6th of May and I want to do my MIX wrap before I return to the office on Monday morning. Well Wednesday isn't too bad ;)

    First of all I just want to say "Wow"... last year MIX put a line in the sand marking Microsoft's strengthening commitment to the Web... this year we built on it in a big way with Silverlight's coming out party!

    It was awesome to have User Experience, Design and Development represented so well at one conference and NEVER before at a Microsoft conference have I seen Mac's on stage in keynotes, used in ~ 1/4 of the sessions and available for attendees to drive themselves in the hands on labs.

    The day 1 keynote featured Scott Guthrie. Scott pulled out Visual Studio and doing what he does best showed edit and continue debugging a Silverlight 1.1 application running on a Mac! Does anyone remember Scott's Silverlight (WPF/E) Vegas dice demo from Tech.Ed in Auckland last August? Well we've come a long way since then!

    What was Scott Guthrie's comment during last weeks keynote?

    "Now, not only do we support running applications on the Mac, we also support debugging the applications on the Mac. So, for example, we'll go here in Visual Studio now, and one of the things you can see that's kind of cool is we have a feature called Attach to Process. And you'll notice we now have a new option here called CLR Remote Cross Platform Debugging. You can tell that a dev actually named that feature. (Laughter.)

    But you can see here you can go ahead and point at a machine, and in this case here I'm pointing at my Mac. We'll show you all the processes that are running on the Mac. Let's go ahead and attach to that Safari process, set a break point. Now let's go back to my Mac and push this again. So, you can see the debugger just broke. (Cheers, applause.) In case this wasn't obvious, this was really hard to do. (Laughter.)"

    There are still plenty of skeptics out there regarding Microsoft's commitment to build world changing solutions for the web that run outside of Windows and Internet Explorer and time will tell now well we deliver. The teams inside of Microsoft (Silverlight, Dynamic Languages, Tablet PC) that have been working on these platforms have been absolutely buzzing over the last few days. I have spent valuable time with these individuals up in Vegas and earlier this year in Seattle... they are technologists... they love the global potential of their work and MIX for them (and for so many others) is their coming out party!

    Ryan Stewart, Scott Guthrie and then Scott Barnes did a great job summing up Silverlight so I'm not going to cover that off here but there is one point I do want to quickly address. There is a bit of FUD online about Silverlight being a "Flash Killer". Silverlight is not a rip and replace technology and can happily co-exist on the same page as Flash, AJAX and HTML leveraging the best features of each platform (as I showed in my session at Connect back in March). That said there are some very cool things that people have been building using full blown WPF and more recently the Silverlight 1.1 alpha... take a look at this 1 minute mashup video I built from my favourite demos from these downloaded sessions.

    Back in December last year we did our first UX tour where we presented on some of these technologies to New Zealand Web/ UX Designers. Although the event was generally very well received one comment stuck with me from that tour. The comment was as follows... "A pretty lame pitch that your finally doing what Flash has done for 10 years (except 3D)."

    There is a lot of "opinions" out there and it often hard to find "independent" reviews of the technologies in this space. All I will say on this topic is that if you are a flash designer/ developer take a look at what Silverlight can offer you. One of the most compelling demo's for me is the Chess Game where you can play Silverlight JScript (view source enabled ;) vs compiled .NET Silverlight and also the Dynamic Language Runtime Console written in Silverlight 1.1 check out John and Jim's Just Glue it Video to learn more about this one.

    If you are a developer I recommend taking a look at the Silverlight 1.1 Developer Reference poster. When I first saw this a couple of days before MIX there were a couple of  things that lept out at me...

    1. The poster announces Silverlight 1.1 support for Windows 2000 and Opera as coming soon... very cool!

    What about Linux desktop? Well this is from the Silverlight FAQ's

    "Microsoft is gathering feedback from customers like you on Silverlight and to help determine which platforms should be supported in the future."

    Miguel thinks it will happen!

    A while ago I got very excited about inking in WPF. I did not expect this to be ported to Silverlight the way it has been! The text recognition built into Vista is incredible (I used it to handwrite this entire blog post) and I thought there was NO WAY this could be ported into Silverlight since it is so embedded in the platform... but I didn't think of the alternative. Incorportate XAML inking support into Silverlight then use the ASP.NET Futures AJAX features to pass the XAML of the ink stroke asynchronously to the server for recognition... very cool! If you are interested in this the inking in Silverlight code and demo is available here.

    Now the other thing to mention is that MIX was by not just a technology conference there were a number of very inspiring thought invoking speakers involved as well.

    Lou Carbone grabbed me and held me for his entire presentation and Kelly Goto was at her quirky trendy best (1,2) stuckunstuck anybody?

    Well that is all for me for now... there is plenty of stuff in here to get a hold of and starting playing with in more depth.

    Remember that the WPF Family Show project is available with full source (266kb)for you to learn from. As is the Silverlight Airways sample from the keynote.  The amasing Top Banana Silverlight Video Editor shown in the keynote will soon be available with complete source code... all 50k of it!

    Also don't forget Kevin's Updated WPF Bag-O-Tricks (Very Cool FlipTile3D piece) and IdentityMen comics!

    Tags: MIX07

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

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