I finally got back into user group management after 2 years away from leading the Dallas C# SIG. Now I’m having fun getting a Silverlight/WPF user group going strong for the Dallas / Ft. Worth community. Our first meeting was March 3rd at the Improving Enterprises offices in North Dallas. We had about 25 to 35 attendees in the first meeting and it went well. We covered the most important topic that everyone should understand well – data binding.
So I chose the XAML user group so we can get together for a common group improvement in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area and learn cross-technology information that we can use now. It is not a lecture hall. The great thing is that we’ll provide hands-on experience with most every meeting. The goal is to get the experience that we can use the next work day. I unfortunately broke that rule by speaking all through the first meeting, but next month is part two with more hands-on data binding.
The differentiation is this group concentrates on XAML, not Silverlight or Windows Client alone. What we learn in one area, we gain for all areas. That includes the Silverlight for Windows Phone 7 coming later this year. Next year it may be Windows Phone 8, 9, or whatever.
I started developing WPF seriously almost a year ago. I experienced the painful learning curve. Anyone who reports that there isn’t a big learning curve either thinks in XAML before it was developed, is on the Silverlight or WPF development team, or has already conquered the learning and forgot the pain. So I wanted to share the pain or make it easier for others – same thing. I have found that the more I learn and use good disciplined techniques, the more interesting and rewarding development is again.
A few months ago, I was sitting in the iPhone development session at the Dallas C# SIG. After the meeting, the audience was polled for future topics. After a few suggestions, Silverlight got the big hands up. That makes sense because it’s still the hot topic for many Microsoft developers. So I surfed around and found that there aren’t enough user groups to help in this area. I polled a few local group leaders and did the work to start the group. This week I got a telerik controls licence and improved the site with some great controls, namely the RadHtmlPlaceholder control. It provides a Silverlight control to show HTML in an IFrame-like area. On DallasXAML.com, the newsletters and resource pages display in HTML because Silverlight just isn’t there yet. I’m looking forward to a Silverlight XPS viewer with flow documents. There are some good commercial version available, but this is a non-profit group.
The DallasXAML.com site points to many other resources such as podcasts and webcasts. I would rather give them the credit than try to out-do them. So check out the DallasXAML user group site and attend our meetings if you can. We meet the first Tuesday of the month.
DallasXAML User Group Leader