Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Future of Telerik Watch


This post is long overdue. For some time now, many of you have probably noticed that the volume of my blogging on Telerik Watch has started to diminish. In all of 2011, I published only 45 posts, compared to more than 200 in 2007 and 2008.

What's going on? Have I lost interest in the topic? Does the change spell trouble?

It's actually a number of different things that have lead to reduced blogging on this venue, so let me explain.

History of Telerik Watch

In the fall of 2006, I was busy working full-time at a Fortune 200 Enterprise IT shop, pecking away at Unix, Perl, and other forms of "enterprise development." While it paid the bills, it did little to capture my attention. Outside of work, I was pounding away on a small SaaS (though at the time we just called it a website) product for managing job fairs. I had started a company with college friends in 2005 to do this, and we were plugging away, evolving the product and business.

To build this product, we needed tools. We were bootstrapping, so anything that could save time helped us do more for our customers. That's where my relationship with Telerik began.

I became an active and passionate Telerik customer, eventually earning Telerik MVP status. I would spend hours pouring through the Telerik forums helping people use Telerik's tools, and in turn I became deeply familiar with Telerik's product (only one) and operations.

At this time (2006), Telerik did a poor job of communicating around a release. In fact, it was not uncommon for a "release date" to come and pass with no update and no release. As a customer, this was confusing to say the least. Plugged-in customers, those using the forums like myself, could get the back story and updated release date estimates, but the broad mass of Telerik customers had no idea what was happening.

So I figured I would do the Telerik community a service and carve-out my own niche in the blogging world, much in the same way Paul Thurott was at the time the go-to Microsoft blogger.

Born was Telerik Watch, a blog focused on Telerik news (like release dates) and reviewing new Telerik tools.

It wasn't more than 5 months after I started Telerik Watch, though, that I became an employee! I put my SaaS project and business on a shelf and decided to join a team of professionals I'd become very passionate about over the previous 2 years.

The rest is history. I was the first American employee, first (and only) evangelist, and now paid full-time to do things like Telerik Watch.

Five Years Later

I officially received my Telerik "badge" in February 2007, which means this month is my 5-year anniversary at Telerik. I could have never imagined the things that would happen between then and now:

  • Telerik grew from roughly 50 people to nearly 500
  • Our portfolio expanded from 1 product to more than 15
  • I've travelled the globe and met amazing people form Bulgaria to India
  • I've served as Chief Evangelist for years, building a team of amazing evangelists
  • I opened and run a small Telerik office in Houston
  • I gained and lost 40 pounds (that killed my blogging in 2010)
  • My wife gave birth to our first kid (Lindsay, born last year)

It's been nothing short of an adventure. And while I didn't plan on 5-years being some kind of transitional milestone, that's the way it has worked.

At the beginning of this year, I moved from Chief Evangelist to VP HTML5 Web & Mobile Tools at Telerik.

The new role is full of new challenges, and it will represent a shift in my focus at Telerik. Does it mean the end of my blogging, though? Nope. Just some changes.

Blogging In To The Future

As VP HTML5 Web & Mobile Tools, my primary focus at Telerik is Kendo UI. I continue to be a primary voice in the community and industry for Telerik, but more and more of my time is flowing towards HTML5, JavaScript, and Kendo UI.

As a result, Telerik Watch is no longer the most appropriate place for many of my posts. I've started to blog most frequently on the Kendo UI blogs, with some occasional blogging on my other site, htmlui.com.

My plan is to blog most frequently on those two sites, still using Telerik Watch for occasional Telerik and Microsoft specific posts (like my very popular BUILD posts last year). In that sense, Telerik Watch is not dead, just less active, only used for my significant thoughts on Telerik, Microsoft, and .NET.

My hope is to eventually unify all of my various blogging efforts in to single, filterable stream you can subscribe to. Something like "toddanglin.com/blogs," from which you can find my HTML5 blogging, Telerik blogging, and maybe even more general topic blogging. But that's a pipe dream for now, "spare" time being what it is.

So that's it. The full (abridged) story. Of course, adding more daily exercise to my routine, having a baby, and being responsible for more people at Telerik all play a role in reducing my blogging time, but I want you to know I'm not gone or abandoning Telerik Watch.

I hope you'll keep your RSS readers connected and keep-up with my updates in the future. Who knows, my focus may one day shift back and Telerik Watch may once again see more than 200 posts in a year! Until then, standby for my next great thought on the world of Microsoft and Telerik, and join me for frequent postings on KendoUI.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Q1 2012 Webinar Week, Prizes

I know it seems like I just blogged about the Q3 2011 Webinar Week, and in some ways you're right. The Q1 2012 release is coming a bit earlier this year, so that means it is time for another week of info-packed webinars and prizes.

Following the success of the Q3 2011 format change, we will once again be hosting multiple events each day during the Webinar Week. This helps us get as much information as we can distributed to you so you can jump-in to the release bits. The week of web events will kick-off on Monday, February 20th.

Here's the overall schedule:

Date Time Topic
Monday, Feb 20 9:30 AM XAML (Silverlight & WPF)
  11:00 AM Test Studio
  12:30 PM Data Tools
  2:00 PM WinForms & Reporting
Tuesday, Feb 21 9:30 AM AJAX & MVC
  11:00 AM Tools for Better Code
  12:30 PM Windows Phone
Wednesday, Feb 22 9:30 AM Kendo UI (HTML5)
  11:00 AM Sitefinity 5.0
  12:30 PM TeamPulse (Agile Project Mgmt)

That's a lot of content! As usual, you can easily sign-up for one or all of these events using the Telerik simplified webinar registration form. Just check the boxes next to the events you want to attend, fill-out the simple form, and sign-up.

For most events, we will raffle one Telerik Ultimate Collection ($1999 value) to the live attendees. The more events you attend, the more chances you have to win. Bribery? Sure. In the name of having fun with another loaded Telerik release.

The Sitefinity, TeamPulse, and Test Studio events will separately raffle licenses for those products. Same rules apply, though. Must be present to win.

That's about it. Register today! We're only two week away from the Webinar Week, so register now before you forget.

Register Now for the Q1 2012 Release Webinar Week

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Shift in 2012 Telerik Release Schedule


That's the sound of me blowing the dust off of my old friend, Telerik Watch. For my loyal audience, many of whom joined me in 2006 before I joined Telerik, thanks for sticking around! I'm preparing another blog post that will go live soon explaining what's happening with my blogging, but many of you may be able to connect the dots if you're astute Telerik watchers. Until then, we have some business to address.

Telerik will be delivering all DevTools releases 1 month earlier in 2012, a permanent shift in our 3-release schedule.

In 2011 (and 2010, 2009), Telerik delivered its major releases with precision cadence in March, July, and November. This worked well, but we found that our summer and winter releases were hitting at less than ideal times of the year. July is peak of summer vacations, which hurts your ability to keep-up with our release news. And November is right-up against holiday vacations and end-of-year project freezes.

To fix this, we'll be shifting all releases back a month in 2012.

In 2012, the release cadence will be February, June, and October. Same interval, same great releases, just a month earlier. Of course, that means Q1 2012 will be shipping this month, just 3 months after our Q3 2011 release. But our teams have been busy adding new functionality and features, so this will still be value packed update (don't forget, we used to do 4 releases every year!).

So, update your calendars and start planning on new bits arriving from Telerik a bit earlier this year. We can't wait to deliver our 2012 roadmap, the first part which will ship in a few short weeks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Q3 2011 Webinar Week, This Week!

I know. I've been a bad steward of TelerikWatch this year. Well off my normal pace of 200+ posts per year, TelerikWatch has been silent much more than normal. That's not for lack of activity and change at Telerik. Far from it! In fact, it's precisely because there is so much happening at Telerik that TelerikWatch has suffered. That said, let me address the news of the moment...

The Telerik Q3 2011 Webinar Week begins today!

Unlike the Webinar Weeks from the last few releases, this time we're doing things a little differently. With more than 12 products to talk about, we needed a new format that would let us cover more topics in fewer days, so with Q3 2011 there will be multiple webinars today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. The full schedule for the week looks like this:

Date Time Topic
Monday, Nov 28 9:30 AM Kick-off, Webinar Week Overview
11:00 AM Silverlight & WPF
12:30 PM Data Tools
Tuesday, Nov 29 9:30 AM Windows Phone
11:00 AM AJAX & MVC
12:30 PM Tools for Better Code
2:00 PM Test Studio
Wednesday, Nov 30 9:30 AM Preparing for Windows 8
11:00 AM Putting It All Together
12:30 PM Sitefinity 4
Thursday, Dec 1 11:00 AM Kendo UI Launch Webinar
(All times Eastern Standard Time)

To register for any (and all) of the webinars, just visit Telerik.com and use the super-simplified registration form. One form submission is all it takes to register for the entire week (if you have the time).

Since the schedule is kind of complex, and since a few of these events need some more explanation, you should plan on joining me, this morning (Monday) at 9:30 AM Eastern. I'll cover the entire schedule and explain in more detail how the week is going to work.

Each webinar will also raffle away one Telerik Ultimate Collection ($2000 value)! The more webinars you attend live, the more chances you have to win. We'll email winners within 24hrs of the event and post the winners to Twitter (@telerik).

That's pretty much it. Of course, all of this is happening because of the Telerik Q3 2011 release two weeks ago (which I assume you've downloaded by now!), and I'm very sorry I haven't blogged more about that yet on TelerikWatch. Make sure you catch all of the release coverage on the Telerik.com Blogs.

For now, we've got a full week of live web events for you to enjoy. It's not too late to register or to attend more webinars for more chances at prizes. I hope to see you online this week!

Register now for the Q3 2011 webinars

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When Should You Use Metro, Version 2


During my busy week at the Microsoft BUILD conference, I cranked-out a quick and rough decision tree designed to help you decide which Microsoft platform you should use for app development: Silverlight/WPF, HTML5, or the new Metro/WinRT. The chart proved to be very popular, so I thought I'd revisit the decision tree and with the benefit of more time to reflect, produce a new, more complete version.

Thus, I present version 2 of the "How to Pick Your Platform" chart.

What's Different?

In the original chart, the first question I made you answer was, "Do you need to support Windows 7?" It's a fair place to start given that everything new introduced at BUILD is Windows 8 only. There is no path for Metro back to Windows 7 (or Vista and XP, for that matter).

But in today's world, Windows is not the only relevant OS in town. We've been trained through years of Windows dominance to think building for Windows is building for the biggest audience, but we need to update our thinking.

Yes, Windows remains the dominant desktop OS. The problem is that many people are now doing more "computing" on non-desktop devices, like iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and (for now) Blackberry. In this realm, Microsoft (and Windows) is just one OS choice among the pack.

So the first question shouldn't be about which version of Windows you want to support, it should be about your desire to build software that targets the broad marketplace of devices and operating systems.

With that change, if you answer out-of-the-gate that you want to build an app that can reach iOS, Android, and Windows, the decision is easy. Use HTML5 and JavaScript for your frontend (perhaps using PhoneGap to leverage more native device features), and any server technology you prefer for your backend (including ASP.NET). (This is the type of app scenario perfectly served by the JavaScript/HTML5 Kendo UI framework.)

Silverlight, WPF, and WinForms

In the first version of the chart, I oversimplified the choice of Silverlight/WPF if you decided to build Windows apps that support all versions of Windows. I've expanded that decision tree in version 2.

As part of that expansion, I also reintroduced WinForms as valid platform choice (because it is).

I was reminded during the BUILD week after visiting with a customer that WinForms is still hugely active as a Windows development platform. Of course, I knew that from Telerik's own experience with growing WinForms popularity, but it doesn't get talked about often enough. We've all be talking XAML for the last 3 or 4 years, but WinForms has continued to get work done. It was good enough to solve business problems in 2001. It still remains good enough to solve many business problems in 2011.

So while Microsoft is spending time with Windows 8 trying to win the minds of consumers, the business app story marches on with Silverlight, WPF, and WinForms. Pick between these platforms the way you always have and the apps will work Windows 8 through Windows XP.

The only new "edge" for Silverlight is that your skills building those apps will more quickly translate to Metro if you decide to build Metro apps in the future.

Metro App Types

Another "enhanced" decision point in the chart is around deciding if your app belongs in Metro or in the "standard" Windows desktop mode (assuming you're already targeting Win8). With the support of a great new blog post from Telerik EVP Doug Seven, you can now decide if your app fits one of the five Metro app scenarios:

  • Data Snacks
  • Social Networks/Mash-ups
  • Content/Media Apps
  • Casual Games
  • Graphical Games

Metro in Windows 8 is not appropriate for every app.

Clearly, missing from Doug's classification are any business app scenarios. This is intentional. Business apps still belong in desktop Windows, even with Windows 8. And if you start building for the desktop, the platform decision is back to Silverlight, WPF, and WinForms.

Three Flavors of Metro

Finally, assuming you answer all of the questions correctly to lead you towards building Windows 8 Metro experiences, I expanded on the process of selecting the proper "flavor" of Metro. Generally speaking, there are three flavors of Metro, all underpinned by Windows Runtime (WinRT):

  1. XAML + C#/VB WinRT
  2. HTML + JavaScript WinRT
  3. DirectX + Native Code WinRT

You can theoretically use any of these options for building any Metro app, but realistically, some are better suited for certain tasks than others.

Most obvious, native code and DirectX. I guess you could build a Twitter app with Native Code, but why would you? You'll waste way more time coding than you'll gain in performance, so probably not the best choice. Instead, this raw, on the metal option is generally best reserved for rich, immersive games.

After that, it becomes more a matter of choice.

Blend 5 and Visual Studio vNext provide similar design and debugging experiences for .NET and JavaScript, so at some level it comes down to your preferred language and team skills. Microsoft is writing many of the built-in Metro apps with HTML/JS (like the Windows Store and Metro Mail), but my guess is that the community at-large will do lots of Metro development with XAML.

Don't Get Overwhelmed

Choice is good to a point. Too much choice is paralyzing.

With the introduction of three new ways to build apps for Windows, you may feel like you're trying to pick between a billion new and "old" ways to build for Windows. Don't panic. Just use my simple chart, and your decision is easy. And no matter which decision you make, Telerik will continue to make you a .NET Ninja Rockstar with industry leading tools and support.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Pick Your Platform: Silverlight, Metro, or HTML5

While Windows 8 is ushering in an exciting new model for Windows development called "Metro style apps" that run a new "unified" Windows Runtime (WinRT), it's not necessarily the right choice for all new Windows software development. In fact, there are a lot scenarios where it's not a good choice.

In this over-simplified decision tree, I try to provide some crude logic for how to pick between your platform options. Clearly, there are many nuances not covered in this tree, but I'll work on expanding the "logic" to make it more bullet proof in the coming weeks.

The first decision is the most important, though: Do you need to continue building apps that work in Windows 7?

If your answer to this question is "Yes," Metro style apps and WinRT should not be on your radar. These are Windows 8 only technologies, and there will be no backport layer that will let you run Metro apps on Windows 7.

That means any project that has as a requirement "Support Windows 7 clients," should only be considering WPF, Silverlight, WinForms, and "web" technologies (HTML/JavaScript + their server-side counterparts, like ASP.NET). It's that simple.

IF, however, you want to put apps on the Windows Tablets that will start shipping late next year, and IF you accept that these apps will only run in that Windows 8 Metro environment, then you should start digging-in to and learning WinRT.

For everyone else, don't lose sight of reality. And reality in a Windows 7 world (that will still work in a Windows 8 world) means Silverlight, WPF, and HTML5. (And, of course, Telerik is already armed with all of the tools you need for today's reality, and we're preparing tools for tomorrow's Metro option.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Still Missing In Action at BUILD (Day 2)

Yesterday I summarized a few important topics that were auspiciously missing at Microsoft's BUILD conference after the first day of sessions and keynotes. Now as Day 2 nears its end, I thought I'd revisit some of yesterday's observations and see if those topics are still missing. With both keynotes now done, it's pretty safe to assume missing topics now aren't going to get much attention at BUILD 2011.

Not Missing Anymore
A few things that were missing yesterday did make appearances today:

  1. WPF
    Half of the existing XAML story started to pop-up today. While it didn't make the keynotes, Soma and ScottGu talked about WPF and pending improvements coming in .NET 4.5 during Channel 9 interviews. So rest easier. WPF is not dead and not stagnent. It's evolving along with .NET.
  2. ASP.NET
    While I didn't list ASP.NET yesterday, the astute commenters pointed-out that ASP.NET didn't show-up yesterday. That changed today, along with the appearance of ScottGu during the keynote. Lots of ASP.NET MVC demo love shown today, so again, rest easy ASP.NET (MVC) developers.
  3. Steve Ballmer
    Steve was almost a no-show again today, but in what was one of the bigger "surprises" of the week, Ballmer showed-up at the end of the keynote to finally lend the needed "weight" to Microsoft's announcements this week. (Meanwhile, no Steven Sinofsky today.)
Still Notably Missing
While a few things did show-up today, many important topics are still missing in action:
  1. Silverlight
    WPF showed-up today, but Silverlight is still painfully absent. True, Silverlight 5 is still coming and Silverlight will continue to work in Win8 via (non-Metro) IE10. But little is being said about what happens after SL5...
  2. Partners
    The only partner to make a keynote "appearance" in 2 days of keynotes was Viper SmartStart, and even this was via Microsoft proxies (and it didn't really involve Win8). It's plain to see that the Microsoft Win8 "cone-of-silence" reached far and wide, but hopefully Microsoft re-engages partners more deeply now that the Win8 cat is out of the bag.
  3. Windows Phone
    Still no focused Windows Phone talk today. Ultimately, it's only disappointing because it means the rumored idea of writing one app for Windows Phone, Windows Tablet, and maybe even Xbox is still just that: rumor. WinPhone does get some session coverage this week, but no major announcements or changes to the story.
  4. Nokia
    If there is any hardware device vendor you'd expect Microsoft to be working super closely with for both phones and tablets, you'd probably think Nokia. Unfortunately, not only did Nokia have no presence at BUILD, but the Developer Preview hardware was delivered by Samsung, not Nokia. Sure, Nokia is probably heads-down on making successful WinPhones, but an exciting Nokia device would have really helped put the BUILD enthusiasm over the top.
  5. Guidance
    There is a LOT of new stuff for developers this week, but at the same time, none of the old stuff is obsolete. You can still use the WPF and Silverlight you know and love in Windows 8, side-by-side with the new WinRT model. When should you use one or the other? What type of XAML is Microsoft going to evolve long term? That's up to you to figure-out this week. Fortunately, when it comes to tools, Telerik is prepared to support any future path you choose. And we're already starting to help you with guidance, too, with posts like this from Telerik EVP Doug Seven on Silverlight and WPF.
And, of course, all of the other things I listed yesterday remain MIA: Office in Metro, acknowledgement of XAML for older versions of Windows, plug-ins for immersive IE, shipping timelines, and Xbox.

Answers and Questions
For all of the answers BUILD provided to long running summer questions, it also created many more. Additional answers will continue to flow from info shared during BUILD this week, but this is just the beginning to a long journey. 

Windows 8 and the related Metro style apps are in Developer Preview today. We are many months away from BUILD technologies even being officially available, let alone broadly deployed.

So, take a deep breath! Remember that this is a future focused conference. Your world does not change.

Over the next few weeks and months, Telerik will work hard to help you understand the Windows 8 information, but we will also help you continue to focus on the here-and-now. You have software to write, you need tools, and that doesn't change while Win8 continues to bake. Stay tuned to Telerik and we'll help you be successful today and tomorrow.

BUILD Day 2 Keynote: What You Need to Know

With the California sun now rising in the sky, it's time for another fresh day of BUILD and the all important Day 2 keynote. Like yesterday, rather than compete with the live video stream, I've real-time condensed today's keynote in to the key moments you need to get the overall jist of what Microsoft shared. This isn't a blow-by-blow blog of the keynote, but if you spend 5 minutes reviewing this post, you'll know what you need to know from the second BUILD keynote.

Key Keynote Moments

  1. Windows 8 Tablet Distraction
    Not explicitly said or part of the keynote, it's worth noting that much of the audience seems to be distracted by their shiny new Win8 tablets this morning.
  2. Devices + Cloud
    Here is one of the "missing" elements from Day 1: extended talk about the cloud. In the opening of Day 2, Microsoft spent some time talking about building apps for Windows devices (Phone, Tablet) that are deeply connected to the cloud (Azure services). But not much Azure really demoed until much later in the keynote.
  3. Visual Studio 11 Features
    As part of Jason Zander's demo of building apps with the cloud, a handful of VS2011 features were introduced, like a new and improved image editor, new baked-in power tools, and improved debugging tools for working with DirectX. (He'll cover way more of VS2011 in his sessions today- find the session recordings.) VS2011 Developer Preview will be available today, along with Windows Azure SDK Toolkit.
  4. Scott Guthrie returns to the stage in trademark red polo
    Scott may now be CVP for Server & Tools, but he's still rocking the ASP.NET demos people have made him popular. Scott showed-off some cool new tooling for ASP.NET MVC 4, such as a "design view" for ASP.NET MVC, auto-minification of CSS and JS, and async features from .NET 4.5. If you missed ASP.NET or .NET 4.5 talk on Day 1, this covers it.
  5. OSX and iPhone emulator take the stage
    Small moment, but it stands out. As part of demonstrating some of the new things in ASP.NET 4.5, like jQuery Mobile, ScottGu did the unthinkable and showed the iPhone emulator running on a Mac. Good to see Microsoft acknowledging the world around them today.
  6. TFS running on Azure as a service
    Like TFS? Good for you. Microsoft showed more today of TFS running in the cloud on Azure. Formally called, Team Foundation Service running on Azure.
  7. Something for Windows IT Pros
    It's easy to forget as a developer that there are non-developers at BUILD. Microsoft addressed this crowd today with demos of new Virtual Machine Management tools and other Win8 server features. But I doubt you're an IT Pro if you're reading this blog...
  8. Windows Azure Credential Service
    Nice easy way to log-in using popular identity providers (Facebook, Google, Live, etc.) with just a few lines of code (seems to require WinRT). Makes single-sign-on across Windows 8 devices "fluid" process.
  9. Viper car security device connected to the cloud
    What makes this demo interesting is that it's the FIRST in two-days that involves an external Microsoft product. No partner on stage, but an external company nonetheless. Demo showed how the car device can send data to the Azure cloud and then visualize on the web and Phone.
  10. West Coast Customs CEO takes the stage
    Microsoft is going to (read: not done yet) build a car with West Coast Customs. It will be part of the TV show, so watch for it in the future.
  11. [THE SURPRISE] Steve Ballmer takes the stage!
    Just when everyone thought the Day 2 keynote was over, Steve Ballmer shows-up and takes the stage. Probably the biggest surprise so far of BUILD! Steve spent about 20 minutes reinforcing the Microsoft big picture for Windows 8, Azure (cloud), and Phone. Steve brought a much needed sense of "reality" to everything being talked about at BUILD, acknowledging that MSFT has a lot of work ahead of it to make Phone and Win8 successful. Good way to end the keynotes.
Who Was On Stage?
Unlike Day 1, where Sinofsky more-or-less ran the entire keynote, today was a revolving door of presenters. For your easy reference, here's who we saw:
Final Thoughts & Reactions
If all of the talk about a new "bold" version of Windows was making your head spin, today's keynote was like Advil, reminding developers that all of the things they've loved about the evolution of Microsoft's server technology and tooling (.NET, Visual Studio, Azure, Win Server) are still happening. While Windows 8 is cool and introduces some interesting new concepts, if you're in an environment locked-in to Win7 (or older), you may have felt a bit left-out on Tuesday. After today's keynote, you should feel better, with familiar faces like ASP.NET, jQuery, and even Windows 7 taking the stage.

Now, off to the overloaded schedule of individual sessions to learn more, get more reactions, and ask important questions.