Live from PDC 2009 Day 2

Today it was a Silverlight day for me. I visited and talked to many people almost only about Silverlight 4

But before I dig in to SL4 I want to point out a couple of other cool stuff:

Internet Explorer 9

here you can find a detailed list of some of the new aspect of IE9
but personally the things I like the most are hardware accelerated rendering, because I always find the various browser quite sluggish in resizing, scrolling, etc… and of the better text rendering.

ATI HD 5970 graphic card with 3 ports

During lunch time I had a change to try to run my Deep Zoom Zermatt  on a 3 displays setup driven by the latest 3 port ATI graphic card, supposedly the fastest graphic card in the world at a resolution of 5040 x 1080.
Just amazing performance and immersion. AMD is now using my app as a demo too.


Sharepoint 2010 & Silverlight

Finally it was good to see on the keynote the push for integration of Silverlight and Sharepoint and i really hope to see more and more Office – Silverlight integration.
It seems also that Sharpoint 2010 dev story it is much better and more usable than with 2007.

So what about Silverlight 4?

As a super fan of Silverlight and since SL 2 try to convince every single person in the world, even my wife:-), that Silverlight is a fantastic platform for Line of Business application, after today announcement there is no more excuse for not using it:-)

It is just amazing the evolution and innovation is such short time that Silverlight is having. Her you can find a detailed list of the new features and you can download the beta too:

But I would like to point out some of what I believe are the key features for Line of Business app:

  • Printing
    Printing is absolutely the no 1 feature. The API are fairly easy to use and allow to do pagination and print screen elements but also arbitrary element trees non in the visual tree.
  • Right click support for context menu
    Second most requested feature. To note that you need to build your own context menu. The API enables only to cancel the default SL3 behavior and handle the event.
  • Richtextbox
    Another super requested feature and if you had to do rich text work in SL2 or 3 you know why is so good to have it.
  • Clipboard support
    Although it was possible through JavaScript is now easy and fully available from managed code.
    Cool is now that you can copy & paste multiple rows in the DataGrid and even to and from Excel.
  • String formatting on DataBinding
    A small but very useful feature is the possibility to specify string formatting on the binding eg: {0:F}. No need to write a converter every time.
  • MouseWheel Scrolling support in the important controls like DataGrid, Listbox, etc..
  • Same compiled code to be run on the desktop and Silverlight without change
    Very useful to share Business logics across tiers and apps.
  • COM automation enables you to run other desktop programs such as Office, for example requesting Outlook to send an email, send a report to Word or data to Excel.
  • Implicit styles.
    You don’t need to explicitly declare the style that you want to use in every control but you can now, like in WPF, simply omit the key on the style and it will be applied to all control of that type automatically. Was just about time!
  • Out of Browser Notification Window
    This can be very useful to notify user that they need to work on some new items, like a new orders, etc…
  • Finally the Combobox is now capable to handle IDs for usage as lookup mechanism on foreignkeys.

One thing to point out, that I also got confused, is that the WebBrowser control only works on Out of Browser apps and not in browser.

Also worth mentioning is that all the features, other than obviously COM Interop, work on MAC too and in all the supported browsers that now includes Google Chrome.

The super LOB framework for SL previously known as .NET RIA Services and now called WCF RIA Services is now based on WCF Soap with as default the binary formatter (for perf reason).
This means that you can call the service and get a WSDL file from your service layer and generate proxies for other platforms like JAVA. Quite cool. Plus being completely based on WCF you can, with SL4, use TCP instead of HTTP.

Last but not least the new VS 2010 Silvelight UI designer is quite good. I really like the drag and drop support for databinding and automatically creating bound controls such as listbox, datagrid. Also quite usfull is intellisense on binding expression. Still you would need Blend to create templates, styles and animations. But finally now  there will be less switching back and forth between Blend and VS.

That is all for today

Have fun with SL4

Ronnie Saurenmann

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