What developer technologies are you experimenting with?

I'm curious to hear which developer technologies (both from Microsoft and everyone else) you've checked out recently. 

As you can see from my blog, I spent a good bit of time last month playing with XNA and was very impressed.  I've recently been splitting time between the Windows Live services (Local, Messenger, Activities), and some of what's new in Visual Studio "Orcas" - particularly Linq.

But it's a full-time job keeping up with everything that's new.  For instance, I still haven't done a project with the Expression Blend release candidate, and it looks like the new samples are dazzling.  And there are lots of web technologies (Ruby, etc., WPF/E, and countless others) that are getting a lot of buzz, and I haven't had a chance to play with all of them myself.

So I'd love to hear what you've been exploring yourself, and what your impressions were.

Comments (5)

  1. First, I really like your new logo with the Moose! Excellent!

    In 2007 I’ve been playing with the following technology:

    – Vista Sidebar Gadgets (with .NET Interop)

    – WPF (currently reading WPF Unleashed from MS Press)

    – AJAX (actually been building real apps with AJAX)

    – IIS 7.0 (awsome new webserver, did a series of talks on IIS7 in February)

    – Outlook 2007 Mobile Services (implementing free SMS messages in Outlook 2007 using OMS)

    – C and Microcontroller programming (been doing some old school stuff as well, taking a micro controller course at university building a Pong game in C)

    – Windows Vista Media Center (did some plugins in Reading in january)

    Things I havent played with:

    – XNA (I have some cool ideas, but limited time…)

    – Windows Workflow (I want to do more "real world" stuff, and get a solid understanding on how to use WF)

    – WCF (Still stuck with plain old ASMX’es…)

    – Media Center Markup Language (Only done XBAP inside Vista MCE)

    – Orcas and LINQ (I played with the May 2006 CTP, need to pick it up again)

    Tools I’ve used:

    – Expression Web (Excellent tool for gadget development, blogpost on this comming)

    – NDepend (Excellent tool for static code analazys of assembly dependencies etc. Let’s you write SQL-like queries agains your code. Can for instance make a build fail if you have less than 20% comments etc).

    – Sysinternal Tools (Been doing some "hard" debugging the last couple of months. The sysinternals stuff is just amazing.)

    – SQL Publishing Wizard (Excellent tool to deploy databases)

    Happy easter Rob!

  2. RobBurke says:

    Jonas – thanks for the note and happy Easter to you as well!

    See… the length of your list is *exactly* what I mean… it’s just so hard to get a chance to experiment with everything.

    What’s the Media Center development like?  I haven’t done that yet.  You mention doing XBAP development – can you write WPF XBAP apps that run on Media Center as extensions?  I didn’t know that.

    I am with you on WF – I haven’t found a real-world scenario yet where I wanted to use it.  I thought if I ever did a rewrite of Little Syncr in .NET 3.0 I would use WF in the sync engine.  Never found the evening though.

    You’ve done Messenger bots, right?  Which framework would you recommend using?  That’s one of the things I’d love to try my hand at: Messenger Bot + Messenger Activity.

  3. Hi Rob,

    I did two Vista Media Center plugins during the Imagine Cup Accelerator even in Reading. You bascially can do three types of UI applications:

    – HTML (like MCE 2005)

    – XBAP (WPF Browser Application)

    – Media Center Markup

    There are some "custom" XBAP templates for Media Center you can download as part of the SDK. The main advantage with XBAP is that you can use existing WPF tools such as Expression Blend to build the UI. How ever, the rendering on Mce Extenders (like Xbox 360) is the same as with HTML (bascially remote desktop 15fps a sec). So animations etc is kinda crapy on the extender.

    The main advantage Media Center Markup Language has to offer is built in controls for common MCE elements, and full fidelity on extenders. So if you do MCML the UI get rendered locally on the 360, so you get a _greay_ experience for your custom apps on the 360.

    The other plugin we did was a background plugin (no UI). The plugin was bascially a WCF client connecting to a server, using the duplex binding (so we could push stuff from the server into MCE, instead of polling every x-seconds).

    For messenger bots I’ve used DotMSN, which is an excellent C# library. However It’s not  supported by Microsoft, so If you want to build something official you have three options listed at: http://www.robotinvaders.com/main/default.aspx (it’s a competition site, but they have a link "about the SDK’s" that list the current options)

    I have a blog post about my bot up at http://jonas.follesoe.no/PermaLink,guid,1ed59146-1a84-4e39-882d-5a33ba951893.aspx (currently has 1050 users!)

    Havent looked at the sync engine in Vista, but next time i look at an offline smart client app I’ll condier it.

    I guess the list shows that you cant be on top of _everything_, but then again, this is what drives me as a developers. All this great new technology to play with. I feel that I learn something new everyday.. And most of the technologies we list is so new that It’s going to take some time before you can put them into practical use at customers.

  4. RobBurke says:

    Man, thanks so much for the note and the tips.  OK, I’m headed home and I’ll check out the Bot SDK you mention.  And you’re so right, the list shows you can’t be on top of everything, but it’s not a depressing thought… it just means there are endless projects to embark on!  (Now, if only I could complete the Oblivion Shivering Isles expansion, I’d free up a bit of time to do more of this 🙂 )

  5. Binaryjam says:

    I have been messing with Sharepoint and SAP interop.  I only have access to SPS 2003 and an SAP R3 system, so Im using SAP’s .NET Connector.

    For those looking to integrate SAP business Info into well anything a good knowledge of SAP is required, as I am finding out, luckily for me I am on a SAP project.

    I am finding that any kind of interop is biased towards embedding MS things into SAP things not so much the otherway around, possible but nasty (e.g. iViews into Sharepoint).

    I briefly looked at XNA and WPF, WPF looks most interesting and I want to do more here but having the time is the problem.

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