Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mix 09 Day 1

Welcome to the second post in Mix 09 set, Here is what happened on the first official day of the event.


After breakfast, we headed into the main hall at the Venetian for the day one keynote. While we were waiting for the session to start, we were entertained by DJ Riz (who is a famous DJ in Seattle so I am told) while some impressive visuals were being shown on the big screens. One of these was a really cool idea – a game of Tetris with each of the falling blocks being a recent tweet that was tagged with #mix09. I tried to take some photos of people who I recognised, so check out the flickr feed – it has to be seen to be believed.

At 9am, out came the legendary Bill Buxton who delivered a very energised talk on industrial design and how companies are now not just selling software, but also the user experience that goes along with them.

Scott Guthrie was then introduced (using a very funny video available here) and delivered the more specific information on the new versions of the upcoming products.

Expression Web 3 is getting an exiting new feature called SuperPreview. This allows you to compare your sites in other browser rendering engines using them as an overlay. This gets cooler still as there is even a cloud service that will download preview data for browsers that you don't have installed locally. You can even use this service to see what your site will look like in IE 6,7, 8 etc.

If you’re an ASP developer, you may already know that MVC V1.0 was shipped recently. This was talked about briefly before a talk on ASP.NET 4 and VS 2010. Here, a feature termed  “Velocity” (distributed caching) will be included in the platform and it will also get the dynamic routing engine built originally for MVC.

The Web Platform installer is getting an update to keep you up to date with all the latest stuff going on in the web world. This installer will also keep you updated with bits that ship separately from a main product as well as all the latest beta versions that happen to be available. Support for the Web Application Gallery has also been added to enable you to keep updated with other applications such as Wordpress.

The Azure Services Platform is also getting PHP support and the ability to run full trust applications. SQL Data Services is also exposing a Relational data model and .NET Services is supporting additional web standards. 

Some additional (really cool) Silverlight controls are coming up for the Virtual Earth service and the WorldWide Telescope. No dates were given but the demos looked awesome.

Kevin McEntee, VP of Web Engineering for Netflix talked about his experiences of using Silverlight to deliver movie content in the browser using adaptive streaming. This enables a users stream to change dynamically to give them a better user experience.

Silverlight 3.0

Silverlight 3 is introducing some cool new graphical features to the core platform. These include GPU acceleration and hardware compositing (on both PC and Mac), perspective 3D support, bitmap and pixel APIs, HLSL-based pixel shader effects and some DeepZoom improvements including the ability to use a hardware-accelerated, larger collection of images

Deep linking is also coming for ease of navigation and search engine optimisation. This enables you to directly link to and bookmark a place within an application.

David Anthony from Bondi Digital Publishing and Scott Stanfield from Vertigo introduced a new Silverlight 3 masterpiece. This is in the form of a magazine viewer that enables you to search through and read the thousands of Rolling Stone back issues. This is due to go live in the summer but a preview edition with some back issues of Playboy is online now.

Tom Mara, Executive Director of KEXP came on stage to show the stations Silverlight application and how it interacts with users. More importantly, this demonstration shows the new “Out Of Browser” feature that allows you to install a Silverlight app locally. This is all done from the right-click context menu without the need to Add/Remove the application like a standard piece of software. Installing works a lot like ClickOnce if you are familiar with that. 


Expression Blend 3 was then announced which adds a plethora of really cool and useful features to the product.

SketchFlow is the largest of these and this make it possible for designers to concentrate on the flow of the application. This uses a mind map type control to create rough states and link them together. The interface can then be drawn out using silverlight controls with a special “sketch” template added to them to draw attention away from the way it looks and concentrate more on how it works. Support for importing image assets from Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, behaviours, dummy data, source code control, and IntelliSense all make an appearance in this version.

The Sessions

The sessions i attended on Day 1 were “What's new in Silverlight 3", “Microsoft Silverlight Media” and “Mesh Enabled Web Applications”. Needless to say they were all very informative and the sessions are all online now here 

The Party at TAO

The TAO night club is Las Vegas was a very nice place – Microsoft always know how to throw a good party and this one was no exception. I was even lucky enough to meet and have a conversation with Bill Buxton about Design, Expression and the UK of all things

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