Some notes on Microsoft dev at PDC09

I decided to watch the live PDC09 keynote by spending my evening with other similarly minded developers. Microsfot had invited us down to the Delfina restaurant at London Bridge to watch it socially, with a beer and a chat. Apart from a few issues with not being able to see content designated as US-only (why would they use that for an international presentation?) the evening was full of wonderment as the new version of software were discussed, Windows 7 of course, Silverlight, the web tools and Visual Studio.

Food and atmosphere was good as well. Recommend trying it.

Steven Sinofsky started the ball rolling with Windows 7. Most of the people there had installed it already, so they had a fair idea of what was to be said. What surprised me was how much analysis they had done with the feedback. This is obviously a way to get very fine grained reports of what needs to be fixed. Maybe we should do this more with our software – event logging on every routine. Good job the system produces more efficiient code. They showed Win7 on a variety of different machines and came up with the big ‘surprise’ at the end by giving everyone an Acer laptop. Fantastic. Worth going, especially if the boss paid.

Internet Explorer 9 is now three weeks into devlopment, so they couldn’t say too much (surprise) but they came out with the correct sort of demos to make it look good. HTML5 will be an asset, but no mention of the canvas tag. Good rendering of text and animations; much smoother.

Scott Guthrie talked about Silverlight and how version 3 has come a long way – indeed it’s almost useable. Streaming is still the big advantage, with several major customers having used it. eg Sunday Night Football, Bloomberg. Silverlight 4 will bring many of the Flash type facilities that people have been asking for – media multicast, camera input, audio input, pixel effects, raw signal processing. IIS will now have an addition for smooth streaming, with the Sliverlight Media Framework; this will automatically give an iPhone formatted video. Have a look at iis.net/iPhone

Expression web toolkit has improved as well. It now has some neat tools to help animation and state control. The sketchFlow idea looks good. Demos that I’ve seen make it look straightforward. The Expression encoder has had efficiency improvements and has more output formats. It also has a neat way of sending preview copies to the customer and bring back their comments easily. Quicker turnaround and more agile.

Enterprise developers also have some of their requests, with printing, rich text, dragdrop, clipboard handling, better WCF/REAST, TCP channels and of course some facilities to run outside the browser to compete with Adobe Air. Full screen, networking, COM links, Office access and a location API for the mobile/laptop. Chromeless apps. Microsoft have put a lot of effort in to bring all these facilities and they’ve sped it up by 30% at the same time.

The demos were good. Video textures or brushes allowed a jigsaw parts containing a youTube video to be moved around the screen with a multitouch interface.Brian Goldfarb showed all this and more in a Facebook app. Live media, multitouch, drag and drop from the desktop to the application. Looked great. Good news is that the source code will be available and Silverlight 4 beta is available now at silverlight.net

Just need to make some time to learn all this.

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