This afternoon I did a workshop on Microsoft’s Web Platform & Tools for LBi. I think it went really well, despite the amount of topics the cover and the time constraints. I started to discuss the importance of building better online experiences and how these influence business opportunities. Next we took a dive into the different web technologies.
From the technology side I started with covering ASP.NET AJAX. As most of the developers where already familiar with ASP.NET AJAX and even had some hands-on experience we could almost immediately dive into some examples. I showed some of examples of the AJAX Library, the ASP.NET AJAX Extensions and the AJAX Control Toolkit. While preparing my demos I had to update some of them to the latest bits. This migration guide (RC to RTM) were of great help to get them to work.
Next we had a look at the Windows Presentation Foundation as one of the elements of the .NET Framework 3.0 Framework for building desktop and (Windows) web applications. After looking at the architecture the coding and compilation/XAML parsing model I showed some demos from this list. I also showed how designer and developers can work better together using the XAML collaboration model to design user interfaces. Most developers where impressed when they saw how this worked: creating a XAML based UI in Expression Blend beta 2 – saving the project – opening it in Visual Studio 2005 + Cider – adding some code – etc. In a couple of weeks I’ll be visiting the designers of LBi!
Moving from WPF to WPF/E was a little step but it remains difficult to explain the differences. Hopefully we’ll soon get rid of the confusing codename (WPF/E). I hope the final name won’t get any link to WPF … Main difference is that WPF/E is cross-platform & cross-browser where WPF only runs on Windows because it requires the .NET 3.0 runtime. WPF/E doesn’t need the .NET 3.0 runtime but a lightweight browser plug-in that will be made freely available. It’s currently in February CTP status.
Some examples using WPF/E can be found here. I also showed the WPF/E SDK and the Visual Studio template that comes with it. The programming model even lets you integrate ASP.NET AJAX and WPF/E applications very easy. More on developing WPF/e applications using the SDK can be found on the WPF/E quickstart page.
Finally I explained how Windows Live gadgets and Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets can embrace the technologies above to extend the reach of connected applications. Karsten and Charles have some examples of a Vista gadget using WPF. I don’t have an example yet of WPF/E in a Windows Vista Sidebar gadget, but I’ll have a look at it in the upcoming weeks.
These are the technologies I covered during the workshop. Of course if time would have permitted I could have talked about creating Media Center experiences using MCML. A deeper look at the Expression Tools is definitely something that not only designers should do but also developers. Till today – and the availability of the March CTP of Visual Studio “Orcas” – Cider is just not sufficient for exploring XAML in Visual Studio. And yes, the development experience of WPF/E will only get better when getting closer to a beta stage.