Counting Down to Seven: The Windows Phone Sessions at MIX10

Explore the software that powers the Windows Phone 7 Series. Free development tools and support for all MIX10 attendees.

"Counting Down to Seven" badgeWelcome to another installment of Counting Down to Seven, a series of articles about mobile app development that I’m writing as we count down the days to MIX10, when we reveal more about the up-and-coming Windows Phone 7 Series.

For the longest time, the sessions listed under “Windows Phone” at the MIX10 conference (taking place in Las Vegas from March 15th through 17th) have had no details – just a “more details coming soon” message. That changed yesterday, and now the sessions have full names and abstracts, which I’ve listed below in chronological order.


Changing Our Game: An Introduction to Windows Phone 7 Series
Joe Belfiore
Monday, March 15th
11:30 a.m.
Major changes are coming to Windows Phone! This session goes in-depth on the design and features of Windows Phone and gives a comprehensive picture of what’s coming in this exciting new release.

Joey’s note: Joe Belifiore is the VP Windows Phone 7 Program Management and the guy giving Laura Foy a walkthrough of the features in Windows Phone in that first Windows Phone video that got released during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Overview of the Windows Phone 7 Series Application Platform
Charlie Kindel
Monday, March 15th
2:00 p.m.
The new Windows Phone is coming! Get a high-level overview of the new application platform and a complete picture of the developer story. Learn about the developer tools, the application frameworks, the support for Silverlight, and the support for XNA.

Joey’s note: Charlie isn’t exaggerating in his Twitter profile when he says that the future of application development for Windows Phones is in his hands.

Windows Phone UI and Design Language
Albert Shum
Monday, March 15th
3:30 p.m.
Windows Phone constitutes a dramatic new user experience paradigm. This session will provide prescriptive guidance, tips, and techniques on how designers & developers can build beautiful, compelling user experiences that are consistent with the built-in Windows Phone 7 Series experiences.

Joey’s note: Albert Shum is Director of Microsoft’s Mobile Experience Design Team. If you want to find out more about him, check out my article Albert Shum on Windows Phone 7.


Microsoft Silverlight “Media”: Moving at 60fps
Eric Schmidt
Tuesday, March 16th
11:00 a.m.
From HD delivery to dynamic advertising models, Silverlight has rapidly become the industry leader for enabling rich, interactive media scenarios. This session will review the media focused technology strategy behind Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft Silverlight Media Framework, IIS Media Services, Microsoft Expression and Windows phone. Highlights for this session include: efficient media player development, 3-d rendering, real-time ad injection, leveraging multi-cast, managing large media delivery farms, choosing the right content protection strategy, real time media pipeline monitoring and a drill into what’s new in Silverlight 4. If you are building or want to build video based Silverlight applications this session will provide technical guidance and give you an opportunity to voice your needs about the future of media and Silverlight.

An Introduction to Developing Applications for Microsoft Silverlight
Shawn Oster
Tuesday, March 16th
11:00 a.m.

New to Silverlight? This is the session for you. This session will cover: how to get started building your first application, tooling, extensibility and deployment. We’ll also highlight the capabilities of Microsoft Silverlight on the PC, as well as support for Windows Phone.

Joey’s note: Shawn Oster is a Program Manager at Microsoft who works on Silverlight. One of his current projects in the Silverlight Toolkit, a way to give users new controls, fixes and updates at a rapid pace.

Building Windows Phone Applications with Silverlight, Part 1
Mike Harsh
Tuesday, March 16th
1:30 p.m.
Together with part 2, these sessions give an overview of the functionality for Silverlight applications that is unique to the Windows Phone application platform. Part 1 will cover new input paradigms including multi-touch, software keyboard, accelerometer and microphone, as well as the APIs to leverage phone applications like email, phone dialer, contact list and more.

Joey’s note: Mike is a Program Manager at Microsoft working on Silverlight.

Unit Testing Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 Applications
Jeff Wilcox
Tuesday, March 16th
2:05 p.m.

Learn how to create and maintain Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 Series applications using the Silverlight Unit Test Framework. See what tools are available to easily validate controls and application interfaces, add automatic testing to builds, and gain a solid understanding of test principles to deliver great experiences for your clients and customers.

Joey’s note: Jeff is a Senior Software Development Engineer at Microsoft, working on the Silverlight Toolkit. He is the creator of the Silverlight Unit Test Framework.

Building Windows Phone Applications with Silverlight, Part 2
Peter Torr
Tuesday, March 16th
3:00 p.m.

Together with part 1, these sessions give an overview of the functionality for Silverlight applications that is unique to the Windows Phone application platform. Part 2 will cover the new application model, updated control templates, themes, and services available to applications, including new Windows Phone web services.

Windows Phone Application Platform Architecture
Istvan Cseri
Tuesday, March 16th
4:30 p.m.

Windows Phone 7 Series represents a significant change from the past. The entire stack, starting with the operating system, user experience, and the application platform have been engineered to build a new class of phone that users will just love. This session will go under the covers and describe how to think about applications and games from the perspective of user experience, security, packaging, cloud services and performance. Details on the new application model, device capabilities, location, sensors, and other platform capabilities will be covered.

Silverlight Performance on Windows Phone
Seema Ramachandani
Tuesday, March 16th
4:30 p.m.

Learn how to optimize your Silverlight code for Windows Phone. This session will discuss common bottlenecks using the graphics and managed stacks, and will highlight how to optimize startup and reaction time.


Development and Debugging Tools for Building XNA Games for Windows Phone
Cullen Waters
Wednesday, March 17th
9:00 a.m.

This session covers tools available to the developer for building XNA games including debugging, emulation, and performance. Special emphasis is placed on best practices for managed code performance and .NET profiling tools you can use to optimize your games for Windows Phone.
Distributing and Monetizing Windows Phone Applications and Games
John Bruno and Todd Biggs
Wednesday, March 17th
10:30 a.m.

Windows Phone Marketplace will revolutionize distribution of Windows Phone applications, games, and content, and is designed to solve the two largest problems of the Windows Phone consumer-focused developer community: distribution and monetization. This session will provide application developers with the insights, tools, and processes necessary to begin distributing and monetizing their applications on the Windows Phone platform.

Building Windows Phone Games
Michael Klucher
Wednesday, March 17th
12:00 p.m.

With the release of Windows Phone, game developers will be able to create amazing content rapidly through the power of Silverlight and the XNA framework. This talk will outline the basic application model of Windows Phone, enumerate Windows Phone core device characteristics, and walk through highlights of Silverlight and XNA Frameworks on the phone.

Building a High Performance 3D Game for Windows Phone
Shawn Hargreaves and Tomas Vykruta
Wednesday, March 17th
1:30 p.m.

This session will detail how to use XNA to develop 3D games for Windows Phone, with a special eye towards the special characteristics of Windows Phone application platform. Special attention will be placed on optimizing high-performance managed code games for the platform, to help you squeeze out every last drop of performance.

Joey’s note: Shawn’s a developer on the XNA team and a character-at-large in the XNA Creators Club forums. Tomas is a Senior Software Development Engineer with Microsoft’s Advanced technology Group and a Senior Xbox Engineer.

Designing and Developing for the Rich Mobile Web
Joe Marini
Wednesday, March 17th
3:00 p.m.

The Mobile Web has been a long time in coming, and now that it’s here, it’s a force that you and your business can’t afford to ignore. What has made all of this possible is the combination of ever-more-powerful devices, fast network connections, and highly capable mobile browsers. In this session, you will learn how to build sites that work well and look great on Windows Phone and across mobile devices. We’ll cover the core mobile Web scenarios, preparing content for mobile, and tips and techniques for debugging and testing your sites.

Joey’s note: I would argue that the mobile web has been around for a couple of years now, but it’s nice to see it done properly on a Microsoft platform at long last.


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


TWC9: MIX10, Tweets from Your TiVO, Touch UI Gesture Icons and More

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imageThis Week on Channel 9, or TWC9 for short, is a weekly digest show hosted by Microsoft’s Dan Fernandez and Brian Keller covering the developer community news they find most interesting after sifting through hundreds of blogs, videos and announcements. It’s aimed primarily at .NET developers, but if you have any geeky tendencies at all, chances are they’ll cover something that appeals to you!

In this week’s episode, they cover the following topics, summarized in the handy-dandy table below:

Topic What it is or why it’s interesting
Mike Swanson’s MIX10 Recap MIX10 is going to be big this year, especially with Windows Phone 7.

Coding4Fun: Tweevo, a free, open source application to have your TiVo tweet what you’re recording

It’s nice to know what your TiVo is doing while you’re at work.
LINQ to SQL Profiler It lets you see the SQL being generated by your LINQ queries.

Silverlight 4’s TCP Sockets Video It’s part of Mike Taulty’s 8-part series on networking with Silverlight.

S. Somasegar’s Key Software Development Trends
(I covered it in this article)
It’s interesting to see what Microsoft’s brain trust sees as important, and it’s also good to see testing treated as a first-class citizen.

Gesturecons, a set of free icons to describe touch gestures For touch interactions, a picture is worth a thousand words.

System.Uri For URIs, you really should be using System.Uri instead of strings.

Code Project: How to Automate Software Using WPF UI Automation An underused but incredibly handy feature that lets you automate testing an application’s UI.

Mercurial Integration with Visual Studio A step-by-step guide to using CodePlex’s Mercurial integration inside Visual Studio.

How to Use Selenium and NUnit Together Selenium’s a good, free option for web app testing.

60 .NET Libraries Every Developer Should Know What, you’d rather not know?

Silverlight Augmented Reality Toolkit Dude! Augmented reality!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone 7: Challenge Accepted!

Hands holding Win 7 Phone that reads "You'll find out at MIX10! (Mar 15)"

"Counting Down to Seven" badge Over at Wired’s Gadget Lab blog, there’s an article titled Microsoft’s Challenge with Windows Phone 7 is Wooing Developers. They saved the most important line for last, and in case you missed it, I’ll repeat it here:

The company plans to preview its development tools at its MIX developers conference next month.

If you can wait three weeks, you’ll get a fuller story. If you attend MIX (Monday, March 15th through Wednesday March 17th at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas), you’ll even get development tools and support!

I agree with the title of the article. Complete changes of direction and the circumstances that dictate them are never easy (but then again, that’s why I signed on with Microsoft: for the challenge). We will have to work hard to gain mobile developers’ interest and trust, and it’s quite clear that we’ll have to reach out to the same sort of independent developer coding away at a kitchen table, cafe or converted warehouse office – the kind who made the apps that made the iPhone what it is today. From what I’ve seen of the developer outreach plans for Windows Phone 7, I think it’s doable.

I’d take the quotes from the people interviewed in the article with a big grain of salt. The writer took the “cover all bases given your deadline” approach and quoted a whopping three people whose collective opinions cover the full spectrum of reactions: one positive, one negative, and one (mostly) neutral. None of their titles suggests “developer”: two are CEOs and one is a COO. The negative guy completely misses the point in his remark about hubs and a cool-looking UI, and the neutral guy seems to be drinking deeply of the anti-RIA kool-aid, dismissing technologies like Flash and Silverlight as made for desktops and not for mobile, while forgetting that other technology now considered to be mobile – like browsers and operating systems — have the same supposed limitations. They were, after all, originally made for the desktop.

I accept the challenge of wooing developers. I know what it’s like, speaking as someone who left Microsoft development in the wake of the dot-com bubble burst for other tools and technologies. But what brought me back were signs of a sea change at Microsoft, from the Xbox to SDL to its initiatives to better “get” the web to dynamic languages and much more, and I think that Windows Phone 7 is part of it.

In the end, the developer whose opinion matters most is you. To that end, I plan to use every resource at my disposal to get the toolkits, tutorials and techniques necessary for Windows Phone 7 development into your hands. I’m going to support your development beyond just the “download this, and here’s the code for Hello, World!” – expect stuff on how to build great mobile experiences, what people are looking for and how to sell your mobile apps. (And hey, if you have any ideas or suggestions, I’m open to them – drop me an email, a tweet or a comment).

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Are You Going to MIX10?

Bill Buxton: The Future of Web Design and User Experience

imageAre you Canadian and going to the MIX10 Conference?

If you’re going to MIX10, let me know, either in the comments or via email. A number of us from Microsoft Canada will be there and we’d love to catch up with you!

Among the Canadian contingent going to Vegas are:

  • Gladstone Grant, Developer and Platform Evangelism Lead
  • Allan Hoffman, ISV Group Manager
  • Paul Laberge, Web Platform Evangelist
  • John Oxley, Director, Audience Marketing and my manager
  • Mark Relph, Senior Director, Windows Ecosystem (and former Developer and Platform Evangelism Lead)
  • Jamie Wakeam, ISV Architect Evangelist
  • Yours Truly, Joey deVilla, Developer Evangelist and guy with accordion

Hope to see you there!

What is MIX10?

Scott Guthrie: MIX10: Where Designers and Developers intersect to make the web a great place

MIX10 is the 2010 edition of MIX, Microsoft’s most “right-brained” conference. Its area of focus is on the web and other technologies that aren’t the desktop, which is traditionally where Microsoft “lives”, as well as on design, usability, information architecture and user experience. Silverlight made its first appearance here, under the less-wieldy name of WPF/E (“WPF Everywhere”), as have improved versions of Internet Explorer. Expect some interesting stuff at MIX this year!

Here’s a list of the topics that will be covered at MIX10:

  • .NET
  • AJAX
  • AppFabric
  • Bing
  • Business
  • Cloud
  • Embedded
  • Expression
  • Identity
  • jQuery
  • Languages
  • Media
  • Mobile
  • Multi-Touch
  • MVC
  • MVVM
  • OData
  • Open Call
  • Open Standards
  • REST
  • SharePoint
  • Silverlight
  • SQL Azure
  • Surface
  • UX
  • Visual Studio
  • WCF
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Azure
  • Windows Azure Platform
  • Windows Phone
  • Workshop

    The Full Monty on Windows Phone Development

     Windows Phone 7 Series generic phone

    Glaringly absent from yesterday’s Windows Phone 7 Series announcement made at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona was the “how”: that is, how do you develop apps for Windows Phone 7?

    Explore the software that powers the Windows Phone 7 Series. Free development tools and support for all MIX10 attendees.

    That question will be answered at MIX10 (March 15th – 17th in Las Vegas) in a number of ways.

    If you go to MIX10, you will get the following:

    • Access to a track dedicated to Windows Phone 7 Series platform
    • An introduction to Windows Phone 7 Series’ development platform
    • Tutorials on how to work with the Windows Phone 7 Series’ development tools
    • A tour of the Windows Phone Marketplace
    • And last – but certainly not least — access to the Windows Phone 7 Series developer tools!

    The Hallway Opportunity

    Be inspired. Exchange ideas with fellow developers, designers and industry thought leaders.

    I’ve always believed that one of the marks of a good conference is the hallway. By “hallway”, I’m talking about the opportunities to meet people in those times and places between and after sessions. There’s something to meeting people in person that you don’t get online; hence the often-used saying “you had to be there”. MIX promises to have good hallway, partly because of the Microsoft teams who’ll be presenting some interesting new stuff and partly because the crowd is going to be a mixed bag of developer types, designer types and the type of people who like to straddle both worlds (I like to think of myself in that category).


    MIX10 takes place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, from Monday, March 15th through Wednesday, March 17th. If you register before February 21st, you’ll get a $200 discount off the MIX10 admission fee. Do it now!

    This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


    Colin Melia’s Pitch for His MIX10 Presentations

    vote for colin meliaOttawa-based developer Colin Melia has been a big help to me with TechDays. He presented at TechDays Ottawa, helped organize Demo Night in Canada, and posted a simple Windows Azure deployment exercise that I’ve found quite helpful and useful.

    I’d like to return the favour by promoting the three sessions – that’s right, three – that he submitted to MIX10 in their open call for content. They are:

    1. Everything You Touch Turns to Azure
      Feel the rush of power as you learn how to wave your hands and connect directly to your throne in the heavens – OK well you may have to settle for learning about Windows Touch in WPF/Silverlight and the Windows Azure Platform.  This is the future – make sure that everything you touch can turn to Azure.

      The session shows how the building blocks of Windows Touch, WPF/Silverlight applications and the Windows Azure Platform can be brought together to create a small yet engaging end-to-end experience.  Attendees should gain insight into the benefits and design of Touch-aware applications on Windows 7 as well as the benefits of backing user experiences with the Windows Azure Platform.

    2. Get a WIF of This
      Writing services that understand multiple authentication systems is cumbersome and completely yesterday. Claims-based authentication and authorisation is the way to go. We’ll take a dive into how claims work and what Windows Identity Foundation provides by exploring the key components, but more importantly by building our own identify provider, a claims-based service and a Silverlight application that makes use of it.

      WIF recently RTM’d but the identify framework it cements is one of the most overlooked components when it comes to Internet-based application design.  Attendees should leave with a sense of how to create WIF components or WIF-aware components, as well as knowledge of the necessary design considerations.

    3. The Cloud and the Silver Lining
      You need a place to host your Silverlight applications as well as the WCF RIA Services and database that back them.  This session shows you not only that the Windows Azure Platform (featuring Windows Azure, SQL Azure and other services), is a great place to put them, but also how to create the connections between the pieces.

      This session digs into the mechanics of a real-world application using Silverlight and the Windows Azure Platform.  Attendees should leave knowing how to easily test against and deploy to the Azure Platform, as well as how communication takes place between the component layers. 

    I’d like to see Colin speak at MIX10. He’s a good speaker, he’s chosen some interesting and relevant topics, and he’d be a Canadian presence at MIX. If you agree with me, please vote for his sessions on the MIX10 Open Call for Entries site by Friday, January 15th! (If you want to see a list of all the proposed sessions, they’re here.)

    This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


    Jason Alderman’s Pitch for His MIX10 Presentation

    Two days remain for you to cast your vote for sessions at the MIX10 conference, which I wrote about in the previous article. A number of people who submitted proposals for sessions are wooing voters, and one of the best promotions is that of Jason Alderman, who put together this comic explaining why you should vote for his session, titled Guerilla User Research – Carrying Out Missions Behind Enemy Lines to Get the Insight You Need:

    Comic: MIX10 needs a session (or two) on user research and testing!

    This lovely hand-drawn comic is a reminder for me to fire up the scanner I bought for Christmas and get back to something for which I was notorious during my days at Crazy Go Nuts University: cartooning.

    This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


    MIX10 Web/UX Conference: March 15 – 17 in Las Vegas

    MIX10: The Next Web NowI’m going to be at Microsoft’s MIX10 conference, which takes place from Monday, March 15th through Wednesday, March 17th at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, where I’ll be catching sessions and posting photos and reports. If you can spare a couple of days off work to attend Mix10, you should too – and soon, because the early bird discount is going to evaporate very soon!

    What is MIX?

    MIX10: Where designers and developers intersect to make the web a great place

    The email sigs for people involved with MIX claim that it’s a “designer/developer lovefest for the web”, and I think it’s a pretty one-line summary of the event. It’s a conference for people who develop and design for the web, with particular attention paid to user interface and experience. This will be the 5th MIX conference, the first one having been held in 2006.

    What Sort of Sessions Will There Be at MIX10?

    The future of web design and user experience

    Here’s a selection of some of the sessions and workshops at MIX10:

    There are some other cool things happening at MIX10 that I can’t talk about until the conference. Be there, or if you can’t, watch this space!

    You Get to Vote!

    Open call for content voting is live. Vote now for your favortie session submissions.

    You can help choose some of the content for MIX10! We took a number of submissions for presentations in an open call for content, and now it’s time to vote for them. You can see all the submissions here, and voting ends on Friday, January 15th.

    Early-Bird Discount

    Register by Jan. 15th and save: $600 on your pass and a free night at Mandalay Bay

    If you register for MIX10 by January 15th, you’ll save US$600 off the admission and pay only US$795 – and you’ll also get a free night at the conference hotel, Mandalay Bay! After the 15th, the price goes up to a full US$1395, so if you want to go, register now!

    This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.