I'm currently down in Las Vegas at the Microsoft MIX 2009 conference along with a few other folks from Habanero. Day one started with a great keynote. There were a lot of new tools and features surrounding Microsoft's web technologies, including the Silverlight 3 Beta. I'm excited about what this next version of Silverlight — Microsoft's answer to Flash and much much more — has to offer us and our clients.
Here are some of the things from the keynote presentations that really caught my eye:
SuperPreview — this is simply awesome. It gives web developers an easy way to compare a designer provided mockup against the rendered output of our code that we create to turn that mockup into a website. Side-by-side comparison, overlay comparison, and easy visualizations to see where elements are and where they should be. If you don't have all the browsers installed, it will even ship the code up to the Azure cloud to be rendered by the browsers you are missing. This means makes browser testing much easier that it currently is. My self, and the other people from Habanero down here are quite excited about this one.
Microsoft Web Platform Installer — this is a one stop shop to get all things needed by a web developer when it comes to all the Microsoft web technologies. No more hunting for all the software we need and the latest versions.
SQL Data Services — We now have access to the SQL data services through standard ADO.NET methods. This means we can use any data access technologies that we like and treats the SQL Data Services much more like a standard Relational Database running on a local server.
SketchFlow — Sketchflow will allow us to create clickable prototypes and visualize program flow. We can send a self running version of the prototype to clients, they can comment, and send it back. It is really interesting looking and we can't wait for a preview copy, but we'll be waiting a little longer to get our hands on it. Documentation generation — Out of the Sketchflow prototype, we can generate a word document with a base line requirements document. Very cool.
Silverlight 3 — I am very excited about Silverlight 3. Microsoft has concentrated on how to make it easier to create line of business applications using Silverlight, and they have done a very good job. There is a lack of support for printing, but we have some ideas on how we can provide print functionality. Microsoft is also including an out of browser experience for Silverlight applications in Silverlight 3. This will allow you to "install" the application and run it without going to a website. This combined with an offline mode and network connection status change detection will allow us to create some very cool applications that are also very functional. Silverlight 3 will add support for standard video format H.264. This is the same format that iPhones/iPods use, as well as Flash. This means that one video source will now work for all these client devices and situations. Search Engine Optimization in Silverlight — Silverlight 3 allows us to crate permalinks into a Silverlight application, right to a specific data record. We can leverage this to provide SEO optomized applications in Silverlight.
Internet Explorer 8 — IE8 is now available for download! It is much more standards compliant, is faster and has a number of great new features. For most users, the best new feature is that if one of your browser tabs crashes, the others will keep running without issue instead of the entire browser crashing. We are looking forward to testing new and existing sites in IE8 to see how well the rendering stacks up to other browsers. With the IE7 compatibility mode, most sites should be able to be viewed just as they are today in IE7. Microsoft spent hundreds of hours on usability testing to make this the best version of Internet Explorer yet. All in all there have been many exciting announcements and we are looking forward to exploring all this new technology .