Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MiX 2008 Conference Summary

I attended the MiX 2008 Conference last week. Overall, it was a good conference and I recommend attending it in the future.

The keynote speeches were pretty dry. The best part was the pre-keynote entertainment by Vince Mira. He did an incredible job singing Johnny Cash songs. Ray Ozzie, Steve Ballmer, and Guy Kawasaki were boring. Dean Hachamovitch provided a good overview of IE 8. Scott Guthrie talked about Silverlight, ASP.NET futures, and the Visual Studio 2008/Windows Server 2008/SQL Server 2008 launch. Deep Zoom (previously called Seadragon) looks interesting.

The "Crossing the Usability Chasm - Advanced and Adaptive User Interfaces" talk was well-done. Gil Hupert-Graff provided good advice on user interface development based upon his research.

The "Building Rich Internet Applications Using Microsoft Silverlight 2, Parts 1 & 2" talks provided an introduction into Silverlight 2.0 development. Since I haven't done much with Silverlight this provided me with exactly the introduction I was looking for.

The "RESTful Data Services with the ADO.NET Data Services Framework" and "Building RESTful Real World Applications with ADO.NET Data Services" talks provided a good overview of the ADO.NET Data Services Framework. I liked what I heard and plan on diving into this deeper over the next month.

The "Introducing SQL Server Data Services" talk provided a decent overview of SQL Server Data Services (SSDS). Contrary to the SSDS team's blog the current state of SSDS makes it a very comparable product to Amazon's SimpleDB. I am sure that over time Microsoft will expose more of SQL Server through SSDS and that will allow it to surpass SimpleDB. I am waiting for my account so that I can experiment with SSDS. I am interested in seeing how complex of a data model you can build or how large of a database you can create before it no longer makes sense to use SSDS. Just as SimpleDB, SSDS should be able to satisfy the small, simple database niche well. As Microsoft rolls out more of their Software plus Services offerings I think they are uniquely positioned to benefit from product integration. I wonder how long it will take before we hear more anti-trust complaints.

The "Building Great AJAX Applications from Scratch Using ASP.NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008" talk provided an introduction to AJAX development features in .NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008. Even though .NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 were just released this information has been out in various forums for many months. Since I have already been playing with these bits for a couple of months there wasn't any new information for me in this talk.

The "Cross-Browser Layout with Internet Explorer 8" talk provided a lot of useful information. The most important thing that was discussed (also in the keynote) was the commitment that Microsoft is making to CSS 2.1 compliance. This should calm a lot of web developers down if compliance is mostly achieved. Microsoft seems to be doing a lot to build unit tests to prove compliance. It will be interesting to see how much of the non-Microsoft community contributes to the suite of unit tests. The performance improvements in IE 8 look promising too.

The "Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Model View Controller (MVC) Pattern" talk was probably the best at this conference. Scott Hanselman is always entertaining, but I think the MVC bits are going to be a huge hit for architects. Scott made a point of saying that MVC is optional, but if the MVC bits evolve as I believe they will evolve then there is not going to be much of a reason to develop ASP.NET applications any other way. I am looking forward to digging into the MVC bits.

The "Using an Internet Service Bus to Build Next Generation Applications and Services" talk provided a good overview of BizTalk Services, which is not BizTalk Server. Just like SSDS, BizTalk Services is going to address a niche set of problems. I look forward to playing with these bits.

The "Using the Microsoft Sync Framework and FeedSync" talk provided an excellent overview of the Sync Framework. I think this is going to be a huge hit with developers. I look forward to playing with these bits.


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