Tuesday, January 30, 2007

asp.net ajax source, new Toolkit controls

Here are a couple of news items from the ASP.NET AJAX front, a front that seems to be generating considerably more buzz than the Vista and Office 12 marketing blitz can muster. Scott Guthrie announced on his blog today that the full source code for ASP.NET AJAX is now available. The client-side code is available with a license that permits royalty-free reuse of the the code in open source and commercial projects, but the server-side code can only be used for debugging and general reference.

Also recently released were three new "controls" in the community supported ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit (four if you count the AutoCompleteExtender that was moved from the official ASP.NET AJAX libraries to the Toolkit last week): Calendar, MaskedEdit, and Tabs. These controls are very similar to telerik's r.a.d.calendar, r.a.d.input, and r.a.d.tabstrip, but they obviously lack the full range of features, commercial support, and out-of-the-box skins telerik's controls provide. Nonetheless, these are great additions to the Toolkit and could be very useful in projects where telerik's controls are not available. Download the latest Toolkit release today to check them out and share your opinions. How do you think they compare to telerik's controls?

Monday, January 29, 2007

WPF/e and usability

WPF/e (or Windows Presentation Foundation everywhere) was released as a CTP in December 2006 and since then I've seen a number of, shall we say, interesting demos across the web showcasing WPF/e's capabilities. I've seen 3D movie pickers, bouncing menu items, movie players, and movie players (did I mention movie players?). Some of these demos present truly compelling improvements in web UX (especially if you choose to ignore the fact that Flash has been delivering these interfaces for years (and yes, I know, the XAML/WPF/e work flow is the real benefit over Flash for Microsoft developers, but that's irrelevant to end user experience)). Some of the demos concern me, though, with animation used in a way all too reminiscent of the early days of Flash.

It may be a good time to refresh ourselves on the appropriate uses of animation on the web (or the desktop with WPF, for that matter), and who better to look to than the king of usability standards, Jakob Nielsen. There is a time and place for animation on the web, and Jakob's guidelines from 1995 remain very true today:

  • Showing continuity in transitions
  • Indicating dimensionality in transitions (such as Zooming)
  • Illustrating change over time
  • Multiplexing the display (such as making an active button glow on mouse over)
  • Enriching graphical representations (such as moving how-to diagrams)
  • Attracting attention (such as briefly highlighting a new message on the screen)

Despite what many developers believe, usability studies show that most people equate animated content with useless content (Nielsen). Like it or not, users have a set of expectations they apply to all sites they visit on the web and if you stray too far from those expectations to introduce your cool new WPF/e interface, users will leave your site frustrated.

So before you start building applications with menus the ripple with each click just because you can, make sure your animation is really adding value to your user's experience. There is no question that WPF/e could open a whole new world of rich cross-platform applications and that telerik will be there to make a new generation of easy to use UI controls. Let's just focus on making applications and controls that are even easier for "normal" users (read: not people reading this blog) and avoid the mistakes we made made with Flash back in the day.

r.a.d.chart survey

Telerik is looking for your feedback again, this time to tell them what you think of r.a.d.chart. Late last year, telerik finally started to invest some serious development time in this long ignored control and the results thus far have been impressive. The Q4 2006 chart release introduced a new Visual Studio WYSIWYG design time wizard that finally made the task of designing charts as easy as adding a chart to an Office document. We also saw the (long overdue) addition of automatic data binding and (as of SP1) native support for rendering shadows (we can finally stop using background images to fake shadows in chart).

So where do we go in 2007? That largely depends on what you tell telerik in the new chart survey. You can access the survey through your Client.net account or via the direct link below. And as with most telerik surveys, you 2500 Telerik Points (which equals $25 in telerik bucks) just for sharing your thoughts.

P.S. Rather than create a separate post for this issue, I thought I'd mention a problem with the chart SP1 released last Wednesday. If you eagerly downloaded SP1 as soon as it was available, you may have noticed that the design time wizard no longer works. The problem has been fixed and a new version of chart was uploaded to your Client.net account on Friday. Download that version to restore the Visual Studio chart wizard goodness.

Friday, January 26, 2007

r.a.d.chart shadow rendering engine

When Q4 SP1 was released, I remarked that one of the most interesting enhancements was the new shadow rendering engine that has been added to r.a.d.chart. The addition of a major enhancement like this is usually saved for a major release instead of being delivered in a service pack, but with V1 2007 still 3 months away I am happy get the enhancement now. Vladimir Milev sent me the above image to demonstrate some of the capabilities of the new shadow engine. You can see shadows applied to the series, chart title, and legend box with Gaussian blur effect. The shadows add nice depth to the chart (especially as applied to the overlapping series) and should be a welcome addition to all chart users.

The chart online demos have not yet been updated to show off this functionality and the online documentation still makes no mention of the new Shadow Engine features. For now, you'll just have to download SP1 and try it for yourself to discover all that it can do. And with another major version of chart due in V1 2007, it looks like telerik's chart product is quickly starting to mature into a beautiful chart making component.

road map updated, new controls in Q1 and Q2 2007

Telerik updated their Public Road Map today, revealing a number of new details about the forthcoming Q1 (and Q2!) 2007 releases. Well, actually, part of the news is that there will no longer be "Q" releases. In 2007, telerik will be moving to three major releases per year instead of four. This move will enable the telerik developers to deliver a number of more advanced controls (such as the image editing control announced for Q2) than the fast quarterly schedule would allow. Remember, it's not quantity but quality that matters and I think this move will deliver bigger, higher quality releases in 2007. The Road Map offers more explanation, so be sure to read it today.

Now that we've got that covered, let's take a look at the laundry list of new controls we can look forward to in 2007. First up is a new "Manager for ASP.NET AJAX" that will deliver the same level of functionality we've come to know and love with the r.a.d.ajax Manager but built entirely upon the ASP.NET AJAX framework. This should help anyone with a great deal of time invested in learning the telerik ajax framework transition smoothly to ASP.NET AJAX. We can also look forward a handful of new "widget" controls, such as a color picker (!), tooltip, slider, spinner, and split button. It's not clear how these "widgets" will be implemented other than they will be built on top of the ASP.NET AJAX framework.

In a rare glimpse down the long term road, telerik also revealed that a new image editing control will be part of the "Vol 2" release. This has been a community favorite "wish list" item for quite some time, so I expect many people will look forward to this control. V2 will also deliver major version upgrades to grid and editor.

It will definitely be a busy year for telerik, but it appears 2007 will continue to "deliver more than expected" to the r.a.d.control suite. Watch for the Q1 V1 release to drop in April and the V2 release to drop sometime in September. What do you think of the 2007 plans? I, for one, can't wait for April!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

updated machine.config for Q4 2006 SP1

Until the telerik installer learns how to do this, those of us that GAC the r.a.d.controls must update our machine.config (or web.config, if you prefer) with the latest control version numbers. This is not a hard task, but it can be tedious. Call me generous, but I've done the tedious work for you again by creating an updated Q4 2006 SP1 machine.config that contains all of the necessary entries for using the r.a.d.control suite (including r.a.d.callback). The document includes the assembly and control definitions (so you don't have to use any Register tags in your ASPX pages for the r.a.d.controls), HttpHandlers for upload and spell, and the HttpModule for upload. Just copy and paste into your config files and get straight to enjoying the updates in SP1! View the updated config file

Q4 2006 SP1 released today!

Telerik was obviously waiting on the ASP.NET AJAX RTM to release SP1, because less than 24 hours after Microsoft’s AJAX framework was finalized we have SP1 in our hands (and yes, it makes all r.a.d.controls fully compatible with ASP.NET AJAX RTM). SP1 is packed full of enhancements and bug fixes, so this is a service pack you definitely want to test and apply as soon as possible.

In addition to the anticipated fixes I mentioned last week, telerik has done a lot of work on r.a.d.grid (19 bugs addressed) and r.a.d.calendar (10 bugs addressed and 3 enhancements added). r.a.d.chart received what is perhaps the most interesting new feature in this release with the addition of a brand new “Shadow Rendering Engine” for Pie, Gantt, Bubble, Line, Spline and Bezier charts. Curiously, bar charts were not mentioned in the release notes.

Download SP1 today from your Client.net accounts on telerik.com. With Q1 2007 due sometime in April, I expect there will be a SP2 (and possible SP3) for the Q4 release, so stay tuned for updates on when those will be released.

Special Note: I apologize to those of you who had trouble accessing Telerik Watch or posting comments today. Telerik Watch runs on Google’s Blogger service, which was down for several hours today undergoing “unscheduled maintenance” (a.k.a. they broke it). Hopefully Google will let us know what happened…

Edit: Thanks to a comment from Vladimir Milev at Telerik, we get a little more clarification on the capabilities of chart's new Shadow Rendering Engine. All chart series, axis, labels, and the data table have the new shadowing capabilities. I will try to post some sample screenshots of this new functionality soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

asp.net ajax 1.0 released!

The ASP.NET AJAX RTM has finally been released! If you read my post last week, today's release date should not be a surprise, but it is a welcome event none the less. The freshman version of Microsoft's official AJAX framework is a 1.4 MB download that has been highly anticipated since the original bits were previewed in November 2005, and I expect this release will finally get the attention of developers who have been reluctant to code against a rapidly evolving beta framework.

The official ASP.NET AJAX website (http://ajax.asp.net/) has been updated with new release content and a fresher look. Several documents have also been created to help developers migrate CTP and RC applications to the RTM (you'll need to make some Web.Config changes and update any pages that use the AutoCompleteExtender to move from RC to RTM).

This release marks the beginning of a big year for ASP.NET with LINQ, WPF/e, and the "Orcas" Framework update all yet to come. The release also means telerik should be able to deliver the r.a.d.controls for ASP.NET Q4 2006 SP1 by the end of the week. If you watch Telerik Watch then you're among the first to get this news as most of the other major blogs (including Scott Guthrie's) have yet to run this story. So spread the news and have fun with the new bits!

r.a.d.controls for WinForms not free after February

When telerik first introduced the r.a.d.controls for WinForms last year, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that my existing r.a.d.controls for ASP.NET Developer Licenses included the WinForms controls for "free". Overnight my component toolbox doubled in size and I suddenly had some amazing "Office 12 esque" controls to spruce up my WinForms applications. But how could telerik afford to give me so many controls for less than a $1000 when other vendors are selling ASP.NET and WinForms component libraries for over $1200 each?!

The honeymoon for the WinForms controls ends in March. At that time the WinForms and ASP.NET controls will be separately licensed and priced as separate packages. It is unlikely that this change will have a negative affect on too many developers since we usually tend to specialize in Windows or Web development (if you haven't gathered from the blog by now, I lean towards the Web). Controls for the environment we don't live in are probably collecting dust in our toolboxes anyway.

If you are an ambidextrous programmer and you do use both r.a.d.controls for ASP.NET and WinForms, make sure you prepare for a little price increase in March if you want to get the 2007 r.a.d.control updates. And trust me, you want the 2007 updates...

Monday, January 22, 2007

r.a.d.controls for WinForms SP1 released

While telerik didn't ship the expected r.a.d.controls for ASP.NET SP1 last week, they did manage to get SP1 for the Q4 2006 WinForms out the door. SP1 delivers many performance improvements and bug fixes for the WinForms controls and continues to build on the big Q4 release (which included 2 new controls and many new features). Full release notes for this service pack are available here.

Telerik's WinForms controls don't get nearly as much coverage on Telerik Watch as they should, but the industry is still taking note. Vassil Terziev, Telerik Co-CEO, announced on the telerik blogs today that the WinForms controls have been nominated as finalists in the 2007 SIIA Codie Awards in the "Best Software Development Solution" category. If you do any WinForms development, you should definitely give the r.a.d.controls for WinForms a test drive (you might even win a trip to Hawaii)!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

asp.net ajax RTM and Q4 2006 SP1

After reporting last week that the telerik Q4 2006 SP1 would be available this week, it appears that telerik has changed their plans. Many telerik developers have been expectantly waiting on the laundry list of fixes due this week, but "delays" in the official release of ASP.NET AJAX may be affecting the telerik schedule.

An unconfirmed rumor from an unnamed source in Microsoft suggested that the ASP.NET AJAX team wanted to release the RTM this Thursday, but last minute quality issues stalled the release. Steve Marx, an ASP.NET AJAX Evangelist from Microsoft, further confirmed for me yesterday that the ASP.NET AJAX release is "quality driven, not date driven", so it will be out when it is good and ready.

Then a tip from the ASP.NET forums lead me to the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit Codeplex site, which has finally shed some light on the ASP.NET AJAX RTM release date. According to that site, the first production release of the Control Toolkit will occur on January 23rd to "coincide with the ASP.NET AJAX release". Could this comment have slipped the RTM date into the wild? It would appear so.

There has been no word from the telerik team regarding an official delay in the Service Pack that was previously slated for this week, but my guess is we're going to have to wait for ASP.NET AJAX RTM before we SP1 hits the streets. At least we now know that won't be too much longer.

add Windows icons to your web app

Whenever you build a file explorer interface for a web application (such as telerik's File Explorer demo), you almost always face the tedious task of finding or creating all of the "icon files" you need for the file types you expect your explorer to handle. You try to use Snag-it and Photoshop to create image files of the icons you see in your Windows file explorer, hoping that you catch most of the obvious file types and leaving the rest to display your fancy "generic" file icon. Why can't we just use existing Windows icon files in our web applications?

Now you can. Mike Volodarsky, Microsoft Program Manager for the IIS7 web server engine, has created a demo project that uses a custom HttpHandler to serve up PNG versions or any icon on your Windows machine. You simply supply the handler with a file type (such as ".ppt") or a filename and the handler returns the PNG version of the icon associated with that file type.
While the project makes it much easier to get icons for all file types into your web file explorer, you must remember that it can only load icons that exist on your web server (which very often does not have productivity software like Office installed). In those cases, you'll still have to use the old fashion static image files to get the job done.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

r.a.d.color in Q1 2007?

In a blog post this Monday, Martin Ivanov of the telerik UX (User Experience) team revealed a new color picker control that will be part of Sitefinity 3 when it is released on February 28th. There has been cry from the telerik developer community for quite some time to have telerik introduce a usable, cross-browser, color picker control, but up until now we have seen no indication that they were preparing a control to fill this need.

The control revealed will be standards compliant, light-weight, and feature a 48 color "web safe" palette. It appears that a number of client-side events are being built into the control (such as OnLoad, OnKeyUp, and OnBlur), but there is no indication of what (if any) server-side properties and events could be added.

The control will come with Beginner (color picker only) and Advanced (color picker and textbox for entering custom colors) modes, but it will not ship with an "advanced" color picker that will allow users to picker a color the much wider palette of colors than can be safely displayed on the web. This is a bit strange since most color pickers available today offer some form of advanced palette color selection, but for most scenarios the smaller palette should be fine (especially if developers can define the colors on the default palette).

Telerik has yet to comment on whether we'll be seeing a version of this control in the r.a.d.controls suite (maybe as r.a.d.color or r.a.d.picker or r.a.d.colorpicker?), but the foundation for the control seems to exist. And if you've already got the foundation, why not make many developers happy and throw it in to Q1 2007? If only it were that easy...

IE7 quickly replacing IE6

In an excited post from the IE Team, we learn that IE7 has been installed more the 100 million times and already represents the second most popular browser on the web (second to IE6, of course). If you're a web developer- and you probably are if you read this blog- this is good news because it means IE7 is being adopted very quickly and our years of hacking away at IE6 to get pages to display correctly will be over soon eventually.

Digging deeper into WebSideStory's site (the publishers of Internet browser stats), I uncovered an old press release from June of 2006 that gave the full breakdown of browser usage stats by country. At that time, FireFox usage on average was 14%, Opera/Netscape/Safari usage was about 4%, and IE usage sat at 83%. The latest news doesn't change the distribution picture much, but it does mean that an increasing chunk of that 83% share will represent a (more) standards compliant browser.

If you're a r.a.d.controls developer, though, you can take this news with a grain of salt since all r.a.d.controls are cross browser compatible. It just means everything else we style with CSS will start to work across browsers as easily as our r.a.d.controls already do.

Friday, January 12, 2007

r.a.d.control tips: global skin and single assembly

Even if you've worked with the r.a.d.controls for years, there are always little tips and tricks waiting to be discovered. This week I ran into a couple of tips that you may find useful in your own projects:

  1. Global Skin: Have you ever wanted to set the Skin for all of the r.a.d.controls in your application globally? It may be easier than you think. If you add the following code your Web.Config file, you can easily pick a Skin that applies to all of your controls: <configuration>     <appsettings>        <add value="Office2007" key="Telerik.WebControls.Skin">     </appsettings> </configuration> Your r.a.d.controls will automatically detect this AppSetting and apply the correct Skin (unless you've explicitly defined the Skin property on a control instance). Just remember to use a Skin that has styles for all of the r.a.d.controls!
  2. Single Assembly: Some of the largest, most "passionate" forum threads I've been involved in on telerik.com have revolved around the issue of the r.a.d.controls multiple assembly model. One side, you have the people that would prefer to deploy one huge assembly that updates all r.a.d.controls at once, and on the other side you have people that prefer discrete assemblies so they can delay upgrading specific controls have more control over applying hotfixes. Both approaches have their merits and both have their "my way or the highway" supporters. Telerik has decided to stick with the multi assembly approach for now because it is the established distribution model, but there is a possible solution for those who want the mega r.a.d.control assembly. Microsoft created a free tool called ILMerge in 2004 that can merge multiple .NET assemblies into a single DLL. Ryan Means mentioned the tool on the telerik.com forums and early feedback from telerik seems to indicate that the tool will work with the r.a.d.controls. Telerik's work with this tool may indicate that a merged assembly could be included in future r.a.d.control releases. If you're dying to reduce your assembly count, download ILMerge and satiate your need for simplicity today.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ASP.NET AJAX RTM due "a little later this month"

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's General Manager over ASP.NET (and many other products), revealed in the comments of his most recent blog post that ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 RTM "is not too far away - a little later this month will be the golden date." This is not shocking news as we all expected to see the ASP.NET AJAX RTM in January, but it is confirmation that the software giant is on track to deliver on that time table.

While you're there, check out the great ASP.NET AJAX PDF cheat sheets that Scott was actually blogging. Between the cheat sheets and the just released IE Developer Toolbar Beta 3, you'll have everything you need to start building ASP.NET AJAX applications. Well...everything except your r.a.d.controls, of course!

Q4 2006 SP1 due next week

According to Georgi Tunev (and a handful of other telerik team members), the first service pack for the Q4 2006 r.a.d.controls will be available sometime next week. Not much is known at this point about what the service pack will address, but here are a few things you should expect to find:

  • Several major fixes for r.a.d.editor:
    - Issue where AJAX spellcheck causes scrollbars to be shifted down two-lines will be fixed
    - Issue with AJAX spellcheck that can cause spellchecked text to disappear and be replaced with old text should be fixed
    - RealFontSize tool will be added to editor (it didn't make the Q4 release as planned)
    - Growing editor issue caused by switching from Edit mode to HTML mode should be fixed
  • The ability to format time in the r.a.d.calendar TimePicker will be addedCode introduced to r.a.d.ajax in Q4 to support Server.Transfer will be removed due to problems it caused in existing scenarios
  • A problem with r.a.d.splitter's SaveLoadStateOnServer implementation that can cause panes to "break" after a PostBack will be fixed
  • A bug in r.a.d.treeview that broke the ability to retain scroll position will be fixed

This is definitely not a full list of the issues that will be addressed by the service pack, but if one of these issues is affecting you, rest assured a fix is on the way. As soon as the service pack is available, I'll post a link to the full list of issues it addresses.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

telerik wants your input on .NET 1.x

In a recent post, co-CEO and telerik co-founder Vassil Terziev asked the telerik developer community for feedback on telerik's future support of the .NET 1.x version of r.a.d.controls. Now before you start firing off angry emails about how many legacy applications you support that still run on ASP 3.0 and .NET 1, note that telerik is only asking in the context of adding new controls the .NET 1 version of r.a.d.controls for ASP.NET (telerik does not support .NET 1.x at all with its r.a.d.controls for WinForms). They will continue to support and update existing controls in the .NET 1 r.a.d.controls suite for the foreseeable future.

The trade-off, as Vassil puts it, is the choice between faster evolution of the r.a.d.controls toolset with only .NET 2 support OR slower evolution with continued support enhancements for .NET 1 and .NET 2.

So what do you think? Do you want lock-in the .NET 1 toolset and allow telerik to be free to develop new controls with exclusive .NET 2 support? It's an interesting question and one that your feedback will ultimately answer. There is no official poll on the telerik site yet, but I expect there may be in the near future (when there is, I'll post a link).

One thing is certain at this point: whatever move telerik makes with regards to supporting .NET 1.x will have a big impact on their control development when the "real" .NET 3 rolls out towards the end of this year (or early '08). The complexity of actively supporting 3 distinct versions of the .NET framework could easily become overwhelming with 18 (so far) ASP.NET controls, 700ish examples in both C# and VB, and the added overhead of two WinForms control versions (.NET 2 and .NET 3).

I'd suggest that telerik actively support and upgrade "old" Framework versions for a year after a new Framework version is released, after which old Framework versions will only receive the necessary bug fixes. That would give developers time to embrace the new Framework, make plans to upgrade, or choose to stay put in the old Framework with whatever tools are available at the end of the year. Telerik can then be free to create new tools that take advantage of the latest Framework improvements without being burdened by the task of porting those controls to older Frameworks.

How does that sound to you?

Friday, January 05, 2007

predicting Q1 2007

Now that a couple of weeks have passed since the Q4 release and the dust has begun to settle, it's time to start looking ahead to the next r.a.d.controls release: Q1 2007. Well, technically the next release will be Q4 SP1 (due later this month), but we'll look past the service packs for now. Telerik has not yet released any official details about what we'll be seeing in Q1, so this is pure (although "highly" educated) speculation based on what didn't make it into Q4 and hints telerik has dropped in the telerik.com forums. Here's what I think we'll see in Q1:

  • r.a.d.input 2.0 This was supposed to make it into the Q4 release, but it got pulled in deference to some big advances in chart, grid, and calendar. There is tons of demand for an improved input control and I can't see this update not making it into the Q1 release.
  • r.a.d.window 2.0 Telerik is planning a major update to window that will introduce many new features and will greatly extend window's server- and client-side APIs. This update should make it much easier to use window in a variety of unique situations.
  • r.a.d.dock 2.0 As far back as October of last year, telerik has been working on a complete rewrite of the dock product. Expect a huge update to dock that makes the product easier to work with and introduces full integration with ajax.
  • telerik Reporting Beta 1 If everything continues at its current pace, we can expect to see the first beta for Telerik Reporting in the Q1 time frame with the final product release to follow sometime in 2007.

And here are a few additional predictions for things we're likely to see in 2007:

  • r.a.d.chart 3.5 In Q4 telerik really brought chart up a few levels by introducing a very helpful WYSIWYG design-time wizard. I look for telerik to build on this momentum delivering smarter label positioning, a refined wizard, and maybe even some 3D charts.
  • r.a.d.ajax 2.0 Much has changed since telerik originally introduced callback ajax, including the introduction of a complete Microsoft AJAX framework that will be built-in to the next version of ASP.NET. The official release of Microsoft AJAX will be out sometime this month and telerik will provide full compatibility with all r.a.d.controls in a mid-release service pack. It will be interesting, though, to see how telerik responds to the final release of Microsoft AJAX and how this extension to the .NET framework influences the ajax product.
  • r.a.d.editor 8.0 I know, I know. We just saw editor 7.0 in Q4. Expect even bigger changes for editor in 2007 as telerik re-works this product to make it more modular and flexible. Much of the editor architecture will have to be redone to eliminate the need for the RadControls folder in editor 8.0, but the end result should be an easier to deploy component that is flexible enough to be used in complex Word-like settings and in simple lightweight data entry settings.

As more official details become available I'll update my predictions so that you know what to look forward to in March. There are still tons of great new features in Q4 that we can explore while we wait for Q1, but it's fun to peer into the future.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

the enchanted office

Unless you live under a rock, if you work in IT you know that the next version of Office is introducing a revolutionary new user interface called the Ribbon. The Ribbon aims to make it easy for users to access the hundreds and thousands of commands available in Office programs by using context sensitive Ribbon Groups instead of the buried menu system in current Office versions.

Last month telerik announced (and I covered) that they would be participating in the official Microsoft Office 2007 UI licensing program. As part of that program telerik will deliver UI components that implement a well defined set of UI rules, such as RibbonBar components for WinForms and ASP.NET.

This is all fine and dandy if you're in love with the new Office UI and everyone in your organization is ready to embrace the significant change to their favorite little productivity app. If you don't fall into that camp, though, you may need to do some more convincing to get people in your organization (maybe you?) to buy in to the new Ribbon concept.

Have no fear, Microsoft has come to your rescue with a new 8-page comic titled "The Enchanted Office: Once Upon a User Interface". The comic tries to extol the values of the new Ribbon UI in lighthearted tale and it even has some humorous moments (such as the tale's princess killing the old Office '97 Clippy). Check it out if you still on the Ribbon fence...or if you're just interested in seeing Microsoft mock their old annoying Office assistant!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

MIX07 registration open

Registration for Microsoft's MIX07 conference, to be held this year at the Venetian in Las Vegas, opened today. The MIX conferences are designed to bring together developers, designers, and business people working with Microsoft web technologies (such as ASP.NET, Expressions Studio, WPF/E, IIS, etc.). This year's event is claiming to present the "next Web now", with keynotes from Ray Ozzie and Scott Gutherie already announced. There will eventually be over 50 sessions at this three day event; you can check out 28 of them now on the online schedule. Some of the interesting developer sessions include:

  • First Look at the Future of IE - they're going to address the future of the browser and layout issues they're working on
  • How to Make AJAX Applications Scream on the Client - optimization talk
  • LINQing Your Web Applications - another conference presentation on LINQ plus previews of Orcas and .Net Framework Next
  • Implementing Rich UI for Web Applications - one of about five WPF/E presentations scheduled so far

Register today and save yourself a couple hundred greenbacks (that's at least 20 cups of Starbucks) and maybe I'll see you there in April.

watching the industry

When you live and work in an industry as fast paced as software development, it can be difficult to stay current on all of the emerging and evolving technologies in the field. Even if you're primarily a Microsoft developer and you don't have to keep up with all of the open source projects in the world, it can be next to impossible to keep track of everything coming out of Redmond these days (such as LINQ, IIS 7, Longhorn Server, ASP.NET AJAX, etc.).

Thankfully the world of blogging has made this task a little easier to manage. By watching a handful of blogs that are at the center of critical technologies (such as Telerik Watch for tracking Telerik or Win SuperSite for tracking Windows) we can catch important technology announcements without the need to dig around for press releases and release notes.

My Google Homepage has an "Industry Watch" tab dedicated to feeds that give me a bird's-eye view of the ASP.NET and Microsoft development technologies world. The information I gather from these feeds allows me to deliver breaking news to you here on Telerik Watch and keep my knowledge on all things .NET sharp. Here are some of the top feeds from my "Industry Watch" tab:

What's on your "Industry Watch" tab?