When Written: Oct 2007
Mix:UK – certainally mixed feelings
One of the great benefits of writing for a magazine like PcPro is that you get invites to interesting product launches ( or is it lunches? ) and the occasional conference. These larger events are often very interesting as you get to see what a software house has got planned for the future and also to chat with like minded people about these products. So when I was invited to the Mix:UK the UK version of the larger US event held in Vegas earlier, I was looking forward to see what such luminaries as Scott Guthrie and Angus Logan from Microsoft would have to say about the many emerging technologies of Silverlight and the Microsoft ‘Live’ platform. I came away with several pages of notes, many questions in my head and unfortunately, a slight feeling that it could all have been presented better and in a more relevant way.
I should explain what I mean by that last statement. Bearing in mind that the rooms were full of developers, most of whom were there to see what they should be developing with in the next few months. They, or their company, were paying so as to get an ‘edge’ and keep ahead with development, in their own, very real world, fields. It is difficult enough to keep up with developments and to know what you should be investing your time into learning for the next big step; after all that is why you are reading this magazine aren’t you? So, instead of being shown something that we could all go away and start to develop solutions with, we were shown early Alpha Silverlight 1.1. which was in such an early Alpha state that it had no controls yet, and all you could do was draw simple shapes via code. Demonstrations of this nature really have very little relevance to the real world. Sure we all know people who will talk for hours on the relative merits of a way of coding, but most of us need to produce working code that stays working, and to do this in a realistic time span.
Some of you will remember playing with AJAX extensions for ASP .NET and finally, after a lot of hard work, research and chatting via the forums, getting it to work and perhaps even live. Then when the next version of this extension was released, only to find that your hard crafted code would no longer run, and required a considerable number of changes, to such a point that rewriting the code was easier for me for one. Sure, there were lots of good reasons given for the changes, and the resulting set of extensions were much better but, with an experience such as this behind me and others, there is little enthusiasm for more that a basic look at Silverlight 1.1 as who knows what will have changed when it finally escapes. There were some points mentioned that caught my interest however. For example, Microsoft claim that no feature will be added to Silverlight that will not work on all browsers on all platforms, this is certainly a claim to watch and hold them to and one that could come back to bite them very hard. For the two days of the conference interestingly I found no mention of the accessibility features to be in Silverlight. It was impossible to attend all the talks as they were running simultaneously so one had to choose, but accessibility issues certainly didn’t seem to be top of the agenda with Silverlight code. Let’s hope Microsoft doesn’t make the mistake Macromedia did with Flash and have to ‘bolt on’ accessibility features later.
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton