On Monday I gave an hour long presentation to a standing-room-only room at the Microsoft Mix conference in Las Vegas about the new Microsoft Silverlight Analytics Framework. I knew there was interest in this but I was overwhelmed by the amount of interest. I did the presentation in a Microsoft Expression Blend SketchFlow player and posted it online on my personal web site at Charette.com/saf. Luckily the session was recorded and you can watch it now here. Alfonso Corretti from Nedstat joined me on stage as well to explain how they were starting to use the new framework with their customers. My friend Peter Kellner was there as well and took a photo of the session.
Microsoft could not have done this alone and we reached out to many of web analytics vendors across the world to design the framework as well as build vendor-specific components for it. We even enlisted design talent from Archetype to design some cool icons for the behaviors. We have a growing list of analytics vendors and seven contributed components to be included in the installer for the framework that you can download on http://msaf.codeplex.com, under the OSI-approved Microsoft Public License. You can see their icons in the asset pane in Blend once the framework is installed and enabling one or more of them is as simple as dragging the behavior into a Silverlight application and setting account information in the property pane.
Other analytics vendors have committed to building components for the framework and we hope to have many more components included in the framework. They include Anvato, Conviva, Coremetrics, Nielsen, Skytide, Visible Measures, WebTrends, and Unica (see press release). If you don’t see your favorite analytics vendor here, please point them to the framework so we can start a conversation with them ASAP.
As you can see, the framework is made up of a collection of behaviors that designers would drag and drop into their designs in Microsoft Expression Blend, the design tool for Silverlight:
We just released the framework for Silverlight 3 (Visual Studio 2008+Expression Blend 3) as a Beta to get additional feedback from designers and developers who start using it. The entire source code for the framework is available under the MS-PL open source license at http://msaf.codeplex.com. You can start using the framework today in your Silverlight 3 project. There is an SDK for the Silverlight 4 Beta (which will get updated very soon to the latest Visual Studio 2010 and Silverlight 4 Release candidate) also available on the CodePlex site. With some of the new functionality in Silverlight 4, we will want to add new event handlers to the framework, relating to new controls like the Pivot Collection and features like webcam/microphone, printing, and elevated trust. We now are at a great time to ask developers and designers what events are important to track in Silverlight 4. If you have an idea for an event, add it to the Issue Tracker so we can consider it. We want to release the Silverlight 4 analytics framework around the release of Silverlight 4 – so stay tuned – if you want to include your analytics service in the framework installer for Silverlight 4, please contact me ASAP.
We have also included behaviors for WPF applications so you can add analytics to your desktop rich client applications – this was done at the last minute in a few hours with about 99% of the code shared between Silverlight and WPF. We still have to adapt the design-time assemblies for the framework behaviors and rebuild the analytics vendor components. Our partners and customers who are building Surface and kiosk applications are especially excited about this.
We also want to build the framework for Windows Phone 7 Series and want input from the community on what are the events, scenarios, controls, and analytics services that need to be supported for this framework – put your input and suggestions in the project’s issue tracker.