Many new things came out before the actual keynote, like ASP.NET MVC RTM, Silverlight 3.0 Beta 1 (with Blend for SL3 and its VS2008 tools), RIA DataServices. Not sure if it was something they planned or an error by someone that forgot that 9AM in Las Vegas happens 8 hour after 9AM in Europe, but that’s what we’ve got.
The Opening keynote by Buxton
I would have never expected such an awesome keynote by Buxton: it was about user experience designer, about UX in MS, about the importance of sketching. Buxton is a researcher, but it was one of the most amazing keynote I ever watched, even more than Steve Jobs ones.
And then came ScottGu wearing his red shirt (this time long sleeved), talking about the new Expression Web 3, and its SuperPreview, which allows you to overlay browser rendering of the same page, even for browser that runs on the Mac. And SuperPreview is available as standalone product (this time only to compare different version of IE).
He than quickly went through the announcement of ASP.NET MVC RTM and some of the features that will come with ASP.NET 4.0 and VS2010.
Listen to Phil Haack talking about ASP.NET MVC v1 on Channel9.
Allowing easier installation of web applications
The next big thing is the Web Platform Installer and the web application gallery. Both allow to easily install applications and dependencies from a single point. And Subtext is on the web app gallery as well.
Scott Hanselman has a great post about how the web application installer works, and how to package your application to be on the Web Application Gallery.
Then StackOverflow on stage, to talk about their experience as .NET startup, and how they built their “modern web2.0” standard based site using the latest web technologies on .NET and using the Bizspark program that Microsoft created to allow startup to build their business lowering the costs of licenses.
And then came Silverlight, the big thing of the day. Started with a talk of Netflix and how Silverlight helped them great a better experience for users and then moved to Silverlight 3 new features:
- improved media experience, new codecs, IIS Media Services, and SmoothStreaming for live content and improved experience for users (pause live stream, replay live stream, slow-mo for live stream). Seems pretty amazing. (Demo by NBC)
- enhanced Graphics, GPU hardware acceleration, perspective 3D support, physics, shaders. (Demo by Scott himself)
- Support for deep-linking, navigations and SEO support, Clear Type, multi-touch, 100 new controls, library and control caching. (Demo by Vertico on RollingStone)
- DataBinding improvements, data push, binary compressed xml and the RIA DataServices(demo by Scott again)
- Silverlight outside the browser (both on Windows and Mac), runs on a sandbox, has autoupdate support (seems to me like Adobe AIR) and enables online/offline scenarios.
With all these new features how big is Silverlight 3? Actually, 40k smaller than Silverlight 2.
And will be released before the end of the year.
Expression Blend 3
And finally the development experience, with more integration with Adobe products (import from Photoshop and SketchFlow, a kind of mockup tool with integrated flow designer. Just like Balsamiq with integrated flow and the ability to make the sketches interactive.
You can download Blend Preview 3 here.
From that I can understand from the demo, it’s a library that spans both server side with ASP.NET and client with Silverlight. You can create a data service on the server, and on the client automatically create a proxy to access the data services on the server. Seems like a great accelerator for building data based applications on Silverlight. But still makes the “too much abstraction” approach. Time will tell if this is a leaky abstraction or not.
Great technologic announcements, but apart from this, I like to see that Microsoft is taking a big step toward helping “real” web development and helping developer thinks about more User Experience. And he is trying to push .NET adoption for the market that are usually not likely to use Microsoft products, like startups and PHP developers.