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April 2006 - Posts

Ben joins Google
Mono's Ben Maurer is starting an internship with Google on its adwords anti-fraud team.. Mono has some of the best coding talent I have ever seen at its disposal and some of the folks are just starting out in there careers but I am sure going to great places. Just another step down that road Ben, congrats.
Nikhils cool Vegas pics
Nikhil has some super cool pics of Vegas that he took while there for Mix, brings back some happy memories.
Cool WPF styling
Some nice styling demos from Robby, really useful for the basis of your own styling journeys.
How about a upgrade from .Text please
This was promised months ago and while I love .Text dearly shes a creaking beast and her kids (subtext and CS) are way, way ahead. I am getting fed up of comment spam (and no I don't want to turn comments off) and would love up to date blogging features, so how about it weblog admins !!
UX into the business mainstream

At the UX workshop I had a chance to talk with UK ISV's and see and discuss there approach into UX. MS are working hard to help them visualize how they can push the UX in there applications with WPF. Sometimes that's hard when you see consumer facing applications like Northface or NASCAR which are intended to push the bounderies of UX. In a business application that can sometimes be quite hard to do, it has a goal and can UX muddle that goal. As Ranjith asks "when is the right time to use WPF?", to answer this question you (when I talked with the various folks there I was able to help them see this) need to look at what area of your application as the most visual appeal and where WPF can help. As Ranjith says

WPF should not be used just to be able to have stylish looking UI with zoomable multi-state 3D buttons (whatever that means). For me WPF solves one of the biggest problems with user experience - data visualization. How can an application present complex data to the user that provides a highly flexible and customizable way for the user to find the right item doing very little work (or clicks) or minimal guidance on navigation.

You can refactor your visuals to make them easier to work with and richer in the information they display. When you look at the Infragistics WPF controls you can see new ways of using grids and utlizing the power of WPF to push how the data is reflected in the grids. Also take a look at this post on new ways of displaying data beyond using grids. One of the great examples of a business application that is pushing the UX is the heath care demo, check out the video. Microsoft are working hard to let you folks see this, Tims post reflects this well.

With WPF, we're already starting to see a new wave of applications that redefine user experience. You can see early examples of these by looking at some of the screenshots Karsten posted in his mix06 trip report, but as WPF starts to hit the mainstream, we're going to need to broaden our team to effectively reach and assist consumer and business ISVs, enterprises, and web content publishers.

Posted: Apr 13 2006, 11:42 AM by astopford | with no comments
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Some great tools from Jay

Jay Flowers gives us some great tools.

Nice one Jay!

Palace of geek in glass and concrete

Being in reading the last two days was a lot of fun. The Microsoft UK HQ is a big place, a palace of geek in glass and concrete :) It's a sort of mini Redmond with its own lake and connections between buildings. Micrsoft canteen is another world, not only cheap but an amazing array of food to choose from. It has US dinner hall style table arrangements (kinda fun to sit next to a gaggle of softies) and a conveyor belt to take your tray away on. It was great to have a Microsoft member from the workshop sit with us to talk more about the day with.

Reading has the same drinking arrangement as Redmond, free softdrinks in coolers but no poweraid drinks of any sort (I guess our hall had no coders in it). It also has loads of coffee bars, this were used by the softies for informal meetings and chats between them selfs and any customers they brought along. They looked very relaxed and a great way of catching up with your team with out the need for a formal meeting, I liked that idea.

The softies as Phil told me are open and friendly and it was good to talk to them and others on the workshop. So all in all if you ever get a chance to go to the Microsoft UK HQ I recommend you do.

Update: I forgot to say that MS UK has no shop, now I really wanted to get some MS T's. I am hoping they add one :)

WPF has a learning curve
Karsten hits the nail on its head with this post about the WPF learning curve. No doubt that WPF is a very powerful framework indeed, when you start simple you feel productive but as you dig deeper and deeper the curve gets steeper and steeper. As he points out a lot of WPF will feel in some ways a lot like what you have used before and in many ways has concepts that are also very new to you. I agree that claims that WPF makes you productive in x weeks when it really takes months to have a solid understanding of WPF. At the moment WPF is so new that it lacks the time to have developed resources in books, articles and websites etc, Chris Sell's book is the exception and I fully recommend it for anyone new to WPF. Tim has a list of WPF blogs that have some great posts on how to do things. Lastly I recommend folks look at tools like Expression Interactive Designer, I learnt to code WPF by hand first and then looked at tools like EID. You can do the reverse however, be productive in EID and look at what code it genereates to get comfy with the concepts and tweaking that code by hand. Sure WPF has some very advanced concepts that will take an advanced WPF book or website to help lessen the curve in that area however I recommend the forums (if your new to WPF I also recommend this) as many of the guru's and Microsoft folks hang out there and will give you a hand.
Posted: Apr 06 2006, 10:19 AM by astopford | with 1 comment(s)
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Adobe and Mix

I have only just found the time to look at the adobe coverage of Mix and I ran into Robert Reinhardts post, Robert is a Flash developer (third party to adobe).

Fortunately for Adobe, I don't think most of the high-profile Flash attendees were wooed by the technology. It definitely helped Adobe's cause to hold Xbox 360 tournaments in a private suite, keeping the Flash folks occupied during session times

Update: Check the comments for a rather interesting debate that followed this post from a Ben (now is that Forta). Turns out that Robert had it wrong and the xbox was an after hours thing. I still wonder what was wrong with the xbox at the show but taking xbox's to shows is something Adobe do so they say.

Architecture insight event
Marc has a link to a revent architecture event that Microsoft UK held, the slides for the event are here. It was interesting to see vista and winfx being talked about at this level.
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