Silverlight

Cover of "Natural User Interfaces in .NET"It’s a work in progress, but it’s an important one: Manning Publications’ Natural User Interfaces in .NET, written by Joshua Blake. It’s a primer on creating natiral user interfaces — NUIs — using Microsoft technologies such as WPF 4, Surface 2 and Kinect.

Here’s an excerpt from the publisher’s description:

Natural User Interfaces in .NET is a hands-on guide that prepares you to create natural user interfaces (NUI) and great multi-touch experiences using the WPF and Silverlight multi-touch APIs. This book starts by introducing natural user interface (NUI) design concepts that everyone needs to know. It then quickly moves to the WPF Touch API and Surface Toolkit guiding the reader through a multitouch NUI application from concept to completion. Along the way, you’ll see where these concepts can be extended to Silverlight via its touch interface.

Today only — that’s May 16, 2011 — you can get the MEAP (Manning Early Access Program) preview PDFs, which are updated regularly and the final print edition of the book for a mere USD$25.00 (that’s $24.23 Canadian)! Just enter dotd0516 in the promotional code box when you check out at Manning’s site.

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HTML and Silverlight are Friends with Benefits

by Joey deVilla on November 2, 2010

Cana

For those of you who are still wondering about where Silverlight stands in the face of Microsoft’s increasing support for HTML5, I point you to this video which I recorded earlier this year: HTML5 and RIAs: Friends with Benefits. Bow-chicka-wah-wah!!!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Bob Muglia: PDC and Silverlight

by Joey deVilla on November 1, 2010

silverlight logoThis article was written by Bob Muglia, President of the Server and Tools division at Microsoft. It was posted on the Silverlight Team’s blog, and I’m reposting it here verbatim.

Last week, we held our PDC conference on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. We also streamed it online using Silverlight (with both live and on-demand sessions). Already, more than 100,000 developers have watched the event, and the feedback on the streaming experience has been phenomenal. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the sessions yet, I encourage you to do so: http://microsoftpdc.com

During the conference, I gave an interview where, among other things, I talked about the great work we’re doing with Silverlight – in particular, support for Windows Phone 7, which we featured heavily at the conference. The interview was accurately reported. I understand that what I said surprised people and caused controversy and confusion. As this certainly wasn’t my intent, I want to apologize for that. I’d like to use this post to expand on what I said, and talk about the very important role Silverlight has going forward.

In the interview, I said several things that I want to emphasize:

  1. Silverlight is very important and strategic to Microsoft.
  2. We’re working hard on the next release of Silverlight, and it will continue to be cross-browser and cross-platform, and run on Windows and Mac.
  3. Silverlight is a core application development platform for Windows, and it’s the development platform for Windows Phone.

We haven’t yet publically announced a launch date for the next release of Silverlight, but we’ll talk more about it in the coming months.

Last week, we released some important updates to Silverlight 4, which shipped only six months ago and included major new features and tooling capabilities. Last week’s updates included improvements to WCF RIA Services, as well as the new Portable Library project – making it easier to share assemblies across SL Desktop, SL Phone, WPF and .NET on the server. John Papa delivered a PDC session on building business apps with Silverlight 4, and Shawn Burke delivered a PDC session on the portable library project. I recommend that you take a look at both of these.

Silverlight Strategy

I said, “Our Silverlight strategy and focus going forward has shifted.” This isn’t a negative statement, but rather, it’s a comment on how the industry has changed and how we’re adapting our Silverlight strategy to take advantage of that.

Below are some of the trends we’re tracking and optimizing around.

Customers are demanding the richest possible client experiences, and developers are increasingly looking to build premium, tailored experiences optimized for specific devices. Silverlight provides the richest way to build Web-delivered client apps. In particular, with Silverlight 4, we invested in enabling enterprise application development and now provide an outstanding platform to build rich business applications – both inside and outside the browser.

Customers want to be able to deliver client experiences that are optimized for specific form factors. Silverlight provides a rich UI framework that enables smooth animations and lends itself very well to touch input and embedded devices. At the PDC last week, we spent a lot of time talking about Windows Phone 7 and how Silverlight provides a great developer platform for creating apps for it. With the U.S. launch just days away, already we have more than 1,000 Silverlight apps built for Windows Phone, and consumers of the phone will be able to purchase these apps through an integrated marketplace built into each device. Recently, we’ve also demonstrated Silverlight apps running on Windows Embedded, and Silverlight is a critical component of our three-screen strategy.

Media delivery across the Internet continues to accelerate dramatically. Customers want HD, studio quality, premium media content. Silverlight has and will continue to be a pioneering technology that makes it possible to deliver the best media experiences anywhere. Whether it’s the Olympics, Netflix, or many other media experiences, we have and will continue to invest in it. Silverlight and IIS Media Services are the choice for premium media experiences with features like HTTP adaptive streaming, DECE-approved content protection, and offline media applications. In addition, IIS Smooth Streaming enables media delivery to a wide variety of devices, including devices where Silverlight isn’t supported.

Lastly, there has been massive growth in the breadth and diversity of devices made by a wide variety of vendors providing both open and closed systems. When we started Silverlight, the number of unique/different Internet-connected devices in the world was relatively small, and our goal was to provide the most consistent, richest experience across those devices. But the world has changed. As a result, getting a single runtime implementation installed on every potential device is practically impossible. We think HTML will provide the broadest, cross-platform reach across all these devices. At Microsoft, we’re committed to building the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 for devices running Windows, and at the PDC, we showed the great progress we’re making on this with IE 9.

The purpose of Silverlight has never been to replace HTML, but rather to do the things that HTML (and other technologies) can’t, and to do so in a way that’s easy for developers to use. Silverlight enables great client app and media experiences. It’s now installed on two-thirds of the world’s computers, and more than 600,000 developers currently build software using it. Make no mistake; we’ll continue to invest in Silverlight and enable developers to build great apps and experiences with it in the future.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Scenes from TechDays Vancouver, Part 4: Go DevMENTAL

by Joey deVilla on September 20, 2010

Go DevMental: Our event for students

What is Go DevMENTAL?

Since TechDays – Microsoft Canada’s cross-country developer and IT pro conference visiting 8 cities across Canada this fall – is a two-day event, we’ve got the venues for the entire 48-hour period, including evenings. Rather than have the session rooms (which are already set up for an audience, complete with A/V and seating) lie fallow, we decided to put them to good use and hold free community events in the evenings. One of these events is Go DevMENTAL, where we show college and university students what they can build using Microsoft’s tools and technologies and give them a lot of free stuff.

Go DevMENTAL is a two-track conference, with one track devoted to web design and development using WebMatrix, Expression Blend and Silverlight, while the other covers mobile development for Windows Phone 7 using Silverlight and XNA. At the end of the evening, we give the students a token for DreamSpark, our program that gives them free Microsoft development tools and operating systems and a DVD full of goodies so they can start coding right away.

If you’re a college or university student and would like to have an informative and entertaining evening where you learn cool new things, get free cool stuff, connect with industry people and get some help with your career, register for Go DevMental!

Where is Go DevMENTAL?

We’ll be hitting these cities on these dates:

City Where When
Edmonton Shaw Convention Centre October 5
Toronto Metro Toronto Convention Centre
South Building
October 27
Halifax World Trade Centre November 2
Ottawa Hampton Inn Ottawa
(200 Coventry Road)
November 9
Montreal Palais Des Congres November 23
Winnipeg Winnipeg Convention Centre December 7
Calgary Round-Up Centre
(Calgary Stampede Park)
December 14

What Happened at Go DevMENTAL Vancouver?

Go DevMENTAL Vancouver took place on Tuesday, September 14th in the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre, a gorgeous venue (for more, see this entry).

I was helping out with the Phone track, so I only managed to get photos for its sessions. My colleages in Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, Christian Beauclair and John Bristowe, took care of the Web track, while Mark Arteaga of Redbit Development and I ran the Phone track.

Here’s Mark setting up for his presentation, as the students and a number of professors milled into the room. We had some drinks and snacks set up in the back; that’s what the line at the back of the room is all about:

Photo of the session room, with Mark Arteaga setting up his computer in the foreground

And we’re off! Mark did the first presentation, which focused on app development with Silverlight.

The audience in the Phone track at Go DevMENTAL Vancouver

By the end of his session, he had a working, skinnable Magic 8-Ball app that responded to the user shaking the phone. The app was flexible enough so that it would be really easy to repurpose it as a fortune cookie app, the Wisdom of Master Yoda app and so on, without having to touch any code.

Mark Arteaga makes his presentation

Mark’s session was followed by a break, which concluded with a quick accordion performance by Yours Truly:

Joey deVilla plays accordion at Go DevMENTAL

Followed by a quick word from Andrew Gottlieb, a Microsoft recruiter who works the UBC campus looking for the next great Microsofties. If you’re looking for a job at Microsoft and you’re a student in the Vancouver area, you’re going to want to drop him a line.

Joey deVilla plays his accordion at Go DevMENTAL as Andrew Gottlieb stands beside him

Then came my presentation, a live-coding exercise in which we start with “File –> New Project…” and in 45 minutes, put together a game in which you get to smack Justin Bieber around. Let it never be said that I let professionalism stand in the way of a good coding presentation‘

Joey deVilla makes his presentation, holding up a piece of paper

Live coding in front of an audience is not for the weak of heart, and you’d better really know your stuff. But when you do it right, it’s fun for both you and the audience.

In these photos, I’m holding up two pieces of paper as a way of explaining collision detection using bounding boxes. It’s not every day you see some goof in an ironic hipster trucker cap talking about videogame fundamentals!

Joey deVilla makes his presentation at Go DevMENTAL holding up two pieces of paper

After the student sessions, I made my way to the faculty roundtable where we chatted with the professors about what Microsoft could do for them.

It was great meeting the students and faculty – I had a great time, and also learned a lot from them. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Go DevMENTAL cities. See you there!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Get “Silverlight 4 in Action” for Half Price!

by Joey deVilla on September 10, 2010

silverlight 4 in actionToday only (Friday, September 10, 2010), you can get either a PDF or dead-tree edition of Silverlight 4 in Action for half price! Just enter the discount code dotd0910 in the promotional code box when you check out at Manning Publications’ online store.

Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

Silverlight gives you entirely new ways to create rich internet applications, and now Silverlight 4 adds many powerful enhancements to the mix.

Silverlight 4 in Action is a comprehensive guide to application building using C#. It goes into action immediately in a thorough introduction. It then follows up with numerous nifty examples to explore flexible layout, control extensibility, the communication and binding models, rich media, animation, and much more.

This book explores practical questions in patterns, testing, and performance optimization throughout. No previous experience with Silverlight is required.

Remember, it’s half price just for today! With the discount, the ebook edition becomes USD$14.99 and the paper book version (which also gives you the ebook edition) drops to USD$24.99.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Today Only: 50% off Manning’s Silverlight Books

by Joey deVilla on August 11, 2010

manning silverlight books

Manning Publications’ deal of the day for today, Wednesday, August 11th, is 50% off the electronic and dead-tree versions of their Silverlight books:

Silverlight 4 in Action and Hello! Silverlight are “MEAP” books: that’s “Manning Early Access Program”, which gives you early access to preliminary versions of a book as it’s being written (and yes, the final version as well).

To get the discount, enter the discount code dotd0811 in the “Promotional Code” field when you check out.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp

by Joey deVilla on July 13, 2010

Devvin' for Seven: Windows Phone 7 DevelopmentYou’ve seen the announcement and perhaps you’ve downloaded the beta of the Windows Phone 7 dev tools (if you haven’t, do it now!)

Click here to download WP7 Developer Tools Beta

Now that you’ve got the tools, what’s next? Will they just lie there, dormant on your hard drive, or are you going to use them and be a trailblazer on a brand new mobile platform?

Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp: Montreal (August 23 - 24), Vancouver (August 30 - 31), Ottawa (September 2 - 3), Toronto (September 7 - 8)

If you’re looking for intense training with personal attention by a highly-rated presenter with Silverlight and cloud development expertise, you’ll want to check out DevTeach’s Windows Phone 7 Bootcamps. They’re being presented by Colin Melia, who’s presented at TechDays, wrote the Silverlight demo app that we used for the EnergizeIT tour and is one of our go-to guys for Windows Azure – simply put, the guy knows his stuff.

BootThe Windows Phone 7 Bootcamps are serious courses – two full days of in-class hands-on training in which Colin will explain the Windows Phone 7 platform and especially Silverlight as it runs on Windows Phone, with all the details on Silverlight programming techniques, controls, templates, styling, resources, animation, data binding, navigation, interfaces and all those things you need to know about to build a mobile app. The course will mostly cover the Silverlight side of Windows Phone development, although there will be a section on game development with XNA.

If you’re a busy developer who’s having trouble setting aside time to learn all those separate bits that go into Windows Phone development – Silverlight, calling on web services, the Windows Phone-specific APIs, using information for sensors such as GPS and accelerometers and dealing with the constraints of mobile devices – this course is well worth the money. It’ll give you the kick start you start writing apps and capitalize on the wide-open marketplace of Windows Phone apps.

Windows Phone 7 "People" hubThe bootcamps take place in the following cities on the following dates:

  • Montreal: Monday, August 23 and Tuesday, August 24 at the Microsoft office
  • Vancouver: Monday, August 30 and Tuesday, August 31 at the Sutton Place Hotel
  • Ottawa: Thursday, September 2 and Friday, September 3 at the Microsoft office
  • Toronto: Tuesday, September 7 and Wednesday, September 8 at Microsoft’s downtown office

The registration fee is CDN$999 for the full-day training session, and you can save $100 by using the discount code WP7BOOTCAMP when you register. I repeat:

Save $100 with this code: WP7BOOTCAMP

For the full details on the Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp, see the Windows Phone 7 Bootcamp page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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