Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Impressions of MIX 2011

Bing sent me to MIX as an attendee this year and so far it has been a blast.  It’s great to be able to listen to customer concerns and take the temperature of a technology by checking out how many people show up to a talk.  Most of all it’s fun to talk to the people who own the technologies I care about (especially the developers).  It’s also nice to occasionally get props for my contributions to Silverlight even though I’ve since left the team. Smile

The feedback from customers continues to be concern about the future of Silverlight and all I can do is reference the blog post “Standards-based web, plugins, and Silverlight.”  It also appears that many developers are somewhat wary of exploring HTML5.  It’s my feeling they might be more enthusiastic if the toolset were comparable to what Microsoft currently offers to Silverlight developers.  In a perfect world the release of IE9 would be accompanied by a Javascript unit testing framework built into Visual Studio, comprehensive Blend support for HTML5, SVG, and jQuery templates, a Visual Studio update providing ES5 intellisense support, a jQuery plug-in for data-binding, and support for writing server-side code using the IE9 Javascript engine.  Instead web developers got yet another templating engine for ASP.NET MVC (Razor) which - although very nice – doesn’t really solve any new problems.

One of the key reasons our developers are so loyal is that we provide them with such excellent tooling for our platforms.  IE9 has some great debugging and diagnostic tools but that’s not enough.  Developers need development tools and libraries that will fill the gaps they’ll encounter when they leave the warm embrace of the CLR and enter the realm of the browser.  The Javascript version of Reactive Extensions is a good start.

I know the transition from Silverlight to HTML5 can be painful as I made the switch myself when I joined the Bing team.  The good news - and it’s something I think we can do a better job of emphasizing - is that by cobbling together frameworks like jQuery, jQuery templates, and Knockout.js it’s possible to follow a development model similar to Silverlight and consequently achieve similar levels of productivity. 

Looking forward to tomorrow’s talks!

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I'm a software developer who started programming at age 16 and never saw any reason to stop. I'm working on the Presentation Platform Controls team at Microsoft. My primary interests are functional programming, and Rich Internet Applications.