Microsoft ArcReady in the Heartland: Architecting for the User Experience

I’m starting the ArcReady tour in the Heartland District (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee) next week.

We are talking about architecting for the user exerience which includes the decisions that you have to make along the way to creating a great user expeience. We will also be covering some of the technologies that Microsoft is producing to create great UIs which is a big part of the overall user experience. These technologies include WPF, AJAX and Silverlight.

I’m on the road for two weeks with ArcReady course of the next month.

Nashville – 5/21/2007

Louisville – 5/22/2007

Cincinnati – 5/23/2007

Indianapolis – 05/24/07

Detroit – 5/25/2007

Then I take a break and hit TechEd. Hopefully I’ll see you there. Come find me if you’re there too.

Then I hit the road again.

Memphis – 6/11/2007

Cleveland – 06/13/07

Columbus – 06/14/07

Grand Rapids – 06/15/07


Link to the official Microsoft ArcReady site 

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MIX07 – Silverlight Community

Need some help getting your head around Silverlight? Check out That’s a full blown community site that has samples, screencasts, forums and a whole lot more. It’s amazing how much content there is out there already.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m pretty geeked about Silverlight and am looking forward to being able to factor it into every browser based application that I work on to see where and when it fits.

Billy Hollis calls HTML the COBOL of the web. There’s a lot of truth to that to be honest. CSS helps. AJAX helps more but you really can’t get to a Rich Internet Application (RIA) with these technologies. Silverlight is Microsoft’s answer to that RIA gap.

Some quick facts about Silverlight:

720P HD Video that is downloaded with the Silverlight runtime

Has a .NET Runtime that downloads with it with a subset of of the Base Class Libraries

Silverlight has fantastic streaming support that integrates well with our new Silverlight Streaming offering. More news coming soon.

It runs on Windows, Mac, mobile platforms and more!


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MEDC Video – Worst practice of presentations

This is a gag video from 4 guys on the mobile team (Loke, Mike, James and Rob Tiffany) showing a lot of the worst practices for presentations. The really sad part is that it’s histerical because it’s true. I’ve seen multiple examples of the worst practices in multiple presentations over the course of time.

Link to Jason Langridge’s WebLog – MR Mobile! : MEDC Video – Worst practice of presentations

Question from Day of .NET

I got a question from an attendee at Day of .NET in email. I thought I’d share the question and answers:

“Please let me know when additional WPF, Silverlight, and WCF info is available. How can I obtain these products?”

WPF and WCF – both of these are out right now at part of .NET 3.0. There is a ton of informtion out about these two technologies at The technologies are free and available on Windows XP and pre-baked into Vista. Tools for code development are available for VS.NET 2005 as free downloads and are baked into VS.NET Orcas. Tools for design for WPF – you can do some in VS.NET but the design time experience is really best with Expression which has just been RTM’d.

Silverlight is freely downloadable plug-in that is still in beta. Actually, the 1.0 is stil in beta (It supports XAML and JavaScript.) but the alpha of 1.1 is already out which supports the .NET CLR. That supports C#, VB.NET and all of the other .NET languages as well as the Dynamic Language Runtime so there’s support for Python and JavaScript with Dynamic VB and Ruby on the way later this year. The tools for development for the 1.0 Beta is any text editor and Expression Blend 1.1 Alpha. The tools for development of 1.1 alpha with .NET support are available as add-ins for the VS.NET Orcas Beta and the Expression Blend 1.1 Alpha.


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New Blogger in the World – Jon Box with Out Of The Box

Jon Box is blogging now! Jon is a fellow Architect Evangelist. He’s a former RD and a prolific author (at least before he joined Microsoft). He’s a fellow mobile fanatic –  he’s even written books on the topic.

It’s great to see my co-workers start blogging. I’ve been encouraging Jon (and some of the others) to start blogging. They keep coming back with questions like “What do I have to say?” and “Where do you get inspiration?”. For me it’s not finding inspiration – it’s finding time. I’m honest with them and tell that it’s hard work and a lot of time to really keep a solid blog going and I don’t do the best job. The real reason that I’ve been pressuring Jon (and some of the others) to start blogging is that I have a tremendous amount of respect for the team and want to hear their thoughts.

The time issue is a big one when it comes to blogging. I don’t know how people like Scott Hanselman find the time do keep up with everything that they do. It’s super human and he must not sleep.

In the mean time – let’s welcome Jon to the neighborhood and show him a little blog love… (his term – not mine 😀 )

Link to Jon Box

Ann Arbor Day of .NET

Wow I’ve been swamped. There’s so much to blog about in the past couple of weeks so I’m just going to catch some of the highlights.

Ann Arbor Day of .NET was on 5/5/2007. It was fantastic! It sold out at 250 people and of that there were 210 people show up. That’s actually really good as most free events have a 40% droppoff and they had less than 20% droppoff. The only downside on the day was that with less than a 20% droppoff – pizza was a little short at lunch.

They are actually thinking about going to every 6 months instead of every 12 months. I think this would be fantastic!

I kicked off the day with a session on User Experience technologies at Microsoft. I borrowed from some of the materials that we are putting together for the upcoming ArcReady (Check the site for dates and times across the entire central region – Detroit on 5/25 in two weeks for all those that attended Day of .Net). We dipped into WPF, AJAX and Silverlight. My favorite demo is the Silverlight Airlines Demo. It shows a truly out of the box user experience that’s not all glitz and glammor but a truly solid UI for a true business application. Many of the demos, while showing off the platform really well, are marketing apps that show lots of 3D and animation. My customers often look at the glitzy demos and say that they are not doing 3D so they don’t look at the technologies. What they are missing is that there are real benifits here with enabling truly rich interfaces that go well beyond text and pictures.

I had two more 30 minute sessions. In both of those sessions the overwhelming requests were to have more Silverlight content. I had nothing prepared for these sessions but they went really well. In the first session, I pulled Don Burnett, who started Michigan Interactive Designers, out of the crowd and asked him to do a tour around Expression Blend and Silverlight. He got up, completely unscripted, and did a fantastic job! I will definitely be bringing him in to do more demos and presentations – especially when we have a designer based crowd. It turns out that he used to work with Bill Wagner (my former business partner when I was at SRT Solutions) on the Lion King Animated Storybook.

In the second session, I was on my own but I showed Top Banana, the DLRConsole (python and javascript version – IronRuby will be released as a CTP from CodePlex later this year) and talked about the .NET support in Silverlight 1.1 Alpha. Yes – I actually wrote some Python and did a simple overview for people at the conference. It was a fun day!

Here are some of the resources that we talked about during the three talks:

•Windows Forms @ .NET FX Developer Center

•WPF @ MSDN Developer Center

•.NET 3.0 (WPF, WCF, WF) Community Site


•ASP.NET AJAX @ ASP.NET Developer Center

•ASP.NET AJAX Community Site

•DirectX @ DirectX Development Center

•Microsoft Visual Studio @ Visual Studio Developer Center

•Microsoft Expression


Day of .NET site

Link to Day of .Net in Ann Arbor 2007 – Home

Don Burnett’s write-up of the event.

Link to Don.NET’s WPF Designers Blog: Eastern Michigan Day of Dot Net


MIX07 – Dynamic Languages

I’m sitting in the back of a Dynamic Languages session by John Lam and Jim Hugunin called “Just Glue it! Ruby and the DLR in Silverlight”. John Lam was a recent hire (January) to Microsoft. Prior to this he was working the Ruby CLR. Jim Hugunin is an architect on the CLR focused on DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime). He joined Microsoft specifically to work on Iron Python and make sure that the CLR was one of the best platform for dynamic languages such as Python.

They are showing a ton of very cool stuff. They are doing all of their programming in TextMate on a Mac. The samples so far have been in JavaScript, Ruby, Python and even Dynamic VB.

I recommend that you check out this session on the site when the recording gets up there. They do a fantastic job showing the power and ease of dev as well as poking a lot of fun at each other.

What’s a lot of fun is the interplay between all of the different languages. For example, they created a library in C# that they could pull in and leverage from Ruby and a JavaScript lib that was doing some 3D work that they pulled in and did some quick and easy work.

Link to Visit MIX07


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MIX07 – Silverlight to support Ruby and Python

I know that I already mentioned this – but I thought I’d call it out specifically as it was part of a much larger post.

Silverlight 1.1 Alpha supports Ruby and Python on the client side so people can write their RIA (Rich Internet Applications) in their own language. If you have not looked at dynamic languages – you should. There’s a lot of power there. Obviously, with power comes danger. I’ll be blogging more about Dynamic Languages later.

I ran into David Laribee who wrote about MIX07: Silverlight, IronRuby, and Dynamic Languages. He’s really geeked about Iron Ruby.


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