But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

TV Mashup

I have had a week of Web 2.0 mashup sites at the MIx07 London event so was interested in a thing on the TV last night whilst watching England's appalling performance against South Africa in the rugby.

eBay ran adverts with a virtually real time feed (20 second delay they claimed) from a live auction. Now I have never seen this before, maybe I just don't watch ITV enough, so this is the first Internet/broadcast TV mashup I have seen. I wonder how much the sale prices of the lucky items featured in the adverts are affected?

Back on the rugby world cup front - I have still seen nothing to change my opinion the semi finals will be all Southern hemisphere - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina - yes Argentina.

MIX 07 Day 2

See I was right, in my post yesterday I said the key role missing in most WPF projects was the 'designer who can cut code' or 'coder with a design eye', the session Silverlight, WPF, Expression design projects - where do we get started today was on just this subject Paul Dawson and Robby Ingebretsen discussed the need for 'producers' who take on this bridging role, with tips on where to find them.

Also went to the IronRuby session, now this is not going to be anything you can use for business use soon, but will in the fullness of time provide a very interesting way to provide domain specific languages. It is sessions like this that I feel has given this conference a bit of PDC feel 'look soon you will be able to do this' as opposed to the TechEd feel of 'wow I can do this now'.

For me today does seem to have been a bit Dynamic Language (DLR) focused. It is easy to get bogged down in the when to use Ruby or Python, but I think the key here is how easy it is to provide a domain specific scripting languages within .NET for line of business application's scripting.

As to the most interesting sneak peek it was another PDC like session, the one by Simon Peyton-Jones of Microsoft Research on Transaction memory - this will be as like changing as virtual memory has been.

So it is the end of MIX07, I'm staying in London for the Office Business Applications Architect Forum tomorrow. I wonder how many other people are going to both events?

End of the first day @ Mix07 UK

So we reach the end of the first day of Mix07 London, what are my thoughts? Well the conference, as conference go, is well organized and I can have no complaint over the quality of the sessions or presenters.

Has it changed how I think about Silverlight? Well I have realised that 1.0 is a very different product to 1.1. Have no doubt this conference is about SilverLight 1.1, and that the 1.1 Alpha release is missing a lot of functionality at present. As a shipping product 1.1 look a long way off, at least a year (which is forever it seems in the world of Web 2.0).

As usual with this type of event the most interesting stuff tends to be in the session you don't expect. As a developer I had focused on Scott Guthrie's sessions, which were good, but fundamentally a walk through SilverLight API. So after lunch I fancied a change so went to the design track session ZAP!, WHAM!, KAPOW! - Killer digital  reading experience in the 21st century. This was about producing a digital comic and gave some nice detail on the pain points in WPF/XAML application development. The main tips were to get the data binding right and to create sensible reusable components, this might sound a bit obvious as a .NET developer but this was the design track!

However one of the speakers, Robby Ingebretsen, talked about the way WPF had allowed left and right brain people (coders and designers, is that the right way round?) to work together to create killer applications. However I do worry that tools and APIs are good but you also need people who can singularly bridge this gap i.e. coders who have a design eye, or designers who can cut code. The history of CSS/HTML web design has shown that this is a rare type of person. I think this is going to be the new resourcing pinch point for projects.

It was interesting that in this design track session a quick show of hands had the audience about 1/3 designers 2/3 coders  What does this say about interest in WPF/SilverLight area of the design side of this industry? Oh and by the way nearly all the attendees were white and male like most technical conferences I have attended. I had expected a more design orientated conference to have different gender mix. As an industry we do not seem to be reaching out to more diverse pool of employees.

So will SIlverLight 'reboot the web' as Robert Scoble said. It will change it certainly, mashup applications look to the way forward with custom clients making 'appropriate' use of web service based data. This also helps to address the key concern, accessibility, where single back-end system can have many clients built to target different user groups requirements such as visually impaired users requiring screen reader functionality. One single client does not have to meet the need of all clients. Hopefully SilverLight and other Web 2.0 technologies make the creation of multiple clients potentially affordable. We have yet to see if it will be socially acceptable.

However will we see rich applications written in SilverLight running inside browsers? I was at a Macromedia launch event some years ago for some version of Flash and they were then hailing the imminent arrival of rich browser based applications with partial post back, it all looked great, but this has not been how Flash has tended to be used. I think the difference now is we have a more mature SOA model behind the scenes and SIlverLight can leverage the power of .NET. These could be the key factors that move SilverLight from a tool to providing some design punch on web  page to being the core of the application functionality.

Where is the beer and sandwiches?

Today and tomorrow I am at the Mix07 conference in London which is being held at the Congress Centre, a building that I knew as the Trade Union Congress building. So given this location I expected a Harold Wilson 'beer and sandwiches' style lunch, but no it was small food (very nice tapas style dishes) and as we all know - if it is small and food it is trendy. You know you are at a design orientated event when the even the food is trendy!

But to more major things, what of the content, it cannot all be designer fluff!

Most impressive thing thus far as the Tax form application in the Keynote, this should great integrated usages of technologies around an XPS document. This alone as certainly get me thinking of interesting strategies for historic problems I have in long running projects.

But time is pressing (and battery is low) so back to the second of Scott Guthrie's sessions now.

It's conference season

I am off to loads of conferences and event in the next few week, you wait all year for one then they all come together.....

Next week

This month

Next month


I aim to blog from all of them WiFi and batteries allowing