The Return of Developer!Developer!Developer! for 2020!

DDD Logo
DDD Logo

We had planned to run a DDD in October, but due to illness, this didn’t happen (we are all well now, phew!). With Christmas so close, hadn’t expected to have time to run a DDD, but with the world being as it is, we wanted to do something to bring some cheer to the Dev and IT community.

Therefore we are running DDD (virtually) on 12th December! We are still formalising the details, but wanted to get the message out there, and looking forward to all the submissions!

Since opening up the Call for Papers on Sessionize yesterday, we already have 12 sessions from 9 speakers! Thank you all so much 😀


Crowd scene for lunch at DDD in Reading
Lunchtime at DDD at Microsoft HQ in Reading.

Back to blogging…

I have been wanting to return to this blog for some time, but a combination of things kept me busy. Not least of which, was a period of illness for me at the beginning of Spring, and for family at the start of September. All good now, and glad to be OK!

Plus, I’ve been keeping myself busy producing articles over on LinkedIn, as well writing a series of White Papers (6 down, more to come!), but I’ll blog more about those over the next few days.

It’s been an interesting year all around, Black Marble still busy, on-boarding new staff, and many new customers, a vast improvement to the start of the year!


Build Day One Recap and Analysis

Day one at Build brought a lot of anticipated announcements with a great mix of surprises and totally awesome demo’s.

The main overall push was the One Microsoft, in essence Microsoft has managed to bring all of their eco-systems into sync, the bottom line developer code can be used and reused across Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox One. While this may not seem a major thing to happen and to some a question of why it wasn’t like this to start with, either way it means that the entry for corporate customers to deliver Windows and Windows Phone applications is now MUCH lower and I predict the support costs will be much lower as well.


So what were these announcements ?


Windows Phone 8.1

The wait for Windows Phone 8.1 is nearly over (next Wednesday for Developers, carrier dependant for mortals)

Lock Screen – the lock screen has been opened up by a new set of API’s, these API’s are not public yet, but some trusted developers will be producing a first round of non Microsoft lock screen experiences. I have always said that one of the great things Microsoft do, is to open up the platform to allow developers to hook in using rich and well tested API’s and the results of the Lock Screen efforts look well worth while.

Nokia – Nokia announced the 630 and 635 (dual sim and 4G) cost effective devices and the new flagship phone the 930 which I hope at some point soon I will be able to review.

APPX – Windows Phone now supports the AppX format.

Cortana – the singularly most anticipated feature on Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft’s new Personal Assistant. Microsoft have gone above and beyond with Cortana, the expected Natural Language recognition is supplemented with knowledge of past actions and a wealth of data from Bing. Microsoft are allowing developers to provide data to Cortana to provide a seamless cross application assistant. Jen Taylor who voiced Cortana in Halo will be the voice we will all come to know and love. As an interesting side note, Microsoft had planned follow its standard policy of cool code names leading to very dull release names, but after a public petition the code name was kept and i think it will help a lot.

Enterprise – with Cortana being the most anticipated feature, Enterprise grade features are the most needed on the platform and Microsoft have delivered on the Enterprise vision with an easy to manage, easy to engage secure model for Enterprise working. Enterprises now can choose a phone based on features and also allow BYOD, once enrolled into the Enterprise, IT managers can control which applications are used and how they are used with some fine grain control. Enterprises can deploy their own applications out without the need for store ingestion and if the device is removed from the Enterprise, all settings, applications and secure data are wiped from the unit. Other Enterprise features such as VPN round off the offering nicely.

Nice Bits – Windows Phone 8.1 now has the ability to project the screen either by Miracast (630 and 1520 only) or via USB to another display or projector to allow Demonstrations Smile

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 Update 1 (8.1.1 to upset Microsoft Marketing people) is now available for developers and next week for Mortals and I urge you to get it on your machine as soon as possible. Many people were saying this is how Windows 8 should have been launched, I kind of see their point as it is very rounded but I don’t think Microsoft could have ended up directly with 8.1.1 without 8.

The changes are varied but the most noticeable is the support for right mouse click to get context menus, yes they are back. close X on windows store apps is understandable but i think a mistake

The ability to go straight to the desktop again I think is actually a retro step but ….

For enterprises a new Enterprise compatibility mode (IE8 mode to you and me) is now available to help enterprises move forward.

A final nod is that Store applications can now be pinned to the desktop task bar.

Xbox One

The announcements on Xbox One were for the future but were mainly around the final push to synchronise the Microsoft Platforms.

Universal Applications

So this is the big one, updates to Visual Studio 2013 Update 2(RC) allows developers to jointly target Windows Phone and Windows in the same project, with amazing changes to the base controls one app can be built for both or have specific code/Xaml for each platform.

Now that Windows Phone supports AppX we are now able to deliver one application for Phone and Windows ( you might not want to in all cases )


So A great day and a great future for the Windows platform, now looking forward to Day 2 and the joys of Azure and Visual Studio.








I am so pleased to be renewed as a MVP this time for the Connected Systems Division (CSD). My deepest thanks to the great guys in the CSD group and the UK MVP team for making this happen. This is my third year as a MVP and during the last two years (and a day) , I have been a BizTalk MVP twice and an Architect MVP twice and now a CSD MVP. I think it is time to settle down with the CSD group 🙂

it is a continual privilege to be a part of such a great group of people whose prime objective is just to help people, and I look forward to another year of helping others.



I am no longer an Architect MVP, I have been an Architect MVP twice now and my passion for architecture is still strong but I am spending more time with M(Oslo) and engineering presentations in my community work than Architecture.

I am still an Architect by day but by night I still fight as an developer.


Top Architects , Top Conference , Top Speakers

The 4th annual Architect Insight Conference has just been announced and this year I am happy that Black Marble is helping make it happen.

I will be presenting on Microsoft’s Vision of modelling using “M” , I think M has a huge future in architecture and while it is only available in it base level , it is important to understand the potential.

I look forward to seeing everyone down in London.


Microsoft Architect Conference
May 8th, Microsoft Offices Cardinal Place, London

Marketing Speak

I love travelling and going to conferences, seeing friends both new and old. Normally the kind events that I attend are technical , architect and developer focused.

Now and again I bump into the wonder that is Marketing and Sales who take our beloved technology and add their own terminology, very occasionally I end up in an off wall non-technical presentation and sometimes a mix of the two.

I was very happy to attend a session on Eco Computing and implications for Architecture, it was deeply interesting (no really) which I hope will be made more generally available to the public.

Back to the point , Today’s Markety word was “Green Wash” the process by which a company will make a situation look more eco friendly.


MVP summit

I am just back from the MVP summit, this is my second time and interestingly I am attending sessions by both the ever lovely Connected Systems Division and the Architects group. it was great to see friends and colleagues both new and old.

Mike Nash has posted a “I’m a PC with MVP video” taken at the summit , if you look real careful in the first shot of MVP’s you can make out Richard, Rob Miles and myself.


Richard is an MVP

I know it is on his blog but Richard is an MVP, it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. I am also pleased that Kevin Ball was renewed and Andy Westgarth is also now an MVP. it was nice to see all of the above at our event today.

congratulations to all the new and renewed MVP’s