Tuesday, March 25, 2008

RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX Futures released

The first big release of 2008 (not counting Sitefinity, of course) is just around the corner, and marking its impending arrival is today's RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX (formerly "Prometheus") Futures release. The Futures release can be thought of as the beta version of the controls that will ship for ASP.NET AJAX in Q1. We use the term "Futures" to differentiate from the "beta" tag that has been on the Prometheus suite for the last year. In either case, the Futures release that dropped today is your first chance to start playing with the bits that will officially drop in mid-April. Included in today's build are:

  • New ASP.NET AJAX versions of RadTabstrip, RadToolbar, and RadPanelbar
  • New RadFormDecorator control (based on Skinnable Forms CTP)
  • RadGrid with tons of new features (many which I've already talked about)
  • RadEditor with some cool new features (I'll cover these later)
  • RadChart with new Ajax features (covered here)
  • RadScheduler with new grouping features
For a complete list of the new controls and features in the Futures build, check out the official announcement on the Telerik forums. Needless to say, there is a lot of new stuff going on in this build for you to check out. And since this is a "beta," we want your feedback! Check out the new controls and the new features and tell us what we should fix for the final release in a few weeks.

On a cautionary note, you will need to watch out for a few API changes in the new Prometheus controls that will break with your older implementations. For starters, I believe the new RadToolbar and RadPanelbar have new APIs that are not compatible with the old ASP.NET versions of the controls. The changes have been introduced to ensure the best possible development experience and product performance in the future. Also, a little more serious, the RadSplitter "Prometheus" API will introduce some back-compat breaking changes in Q1. The RadSplitter has been totally refactored to improve performance, and that required a few breaking changes.

We know breaking changes are painful and that every developer hates them. I hate them, too. We try to avoid them at all costs and only introduce them when the long term performance/productivity gains can be achieved no other way. Start playing with the Futures release today, though, and see for yourself how our next generation suite for ASP.NET is once again raising the bar for ASP.NET UI components!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Join me at TechExpo 2008 this week

Looking for another opportunity to hang out with fellow .NETers and meet someone from Telerik? Well, your next chance is upon you as I will be traveling this week to the 1st (annual?) TechExpo in Little Rock, Arkansas. TechExpo 2008 is being put on by the Little Rock .NET User Group and it is expected to attract about 350 people from the Little Rock area. The event is going down this Thursday, March 27th, from 8 AM to 5 PM. There will be three separate tracks running throughout the day, which means there are 18 unique sessions for you to attend.

For my part, I will be delivering two sessions- one covering ASP.NET AJAX and the Future of Web Development, the other an Intro to Silverlight 2. The first talk is one I've done in a couple of places before and it has been very popular; the second presentation is brand new for this event and is a great Silverlight 2.0 primer.

If you're interested in either of these topics, or if you just want to meet and say 'hey', and you're in the Little Rock area, come join me this Thursday for the fun. If you're not in the area, I'll make the slides available after my presentation so you're not totally left out. See you in a couple of days!

Telerik acquires Avaxo Ltd, makers of Bookvar

I have some interesting and exciting news to share with you today. Telerik has just announced that it has acquired small .NET software company Avaxo Ltd, makers of Bookvar. Avaxo, like Telerik, is a Bulgarian company specializing in creating WPF/Silverlight-based mind mapping software. Their Bookvar software enables people to visualize their ideas in a very free-form, interactive way and it also enables people to collectively collaborate on their ideas. Avaxo initially made its mind mapping product available a little over a year ago, with a sophomore edition shipping this past November.

As a part of Telerik, the Bookvar team will be deeply integrated in to Telerik's WPF and Silverlight product teams. They bring extensive experience in information visualization and very senior level development skills, so you should start to see results from the Bookvar talent in the coming Telerik releases. Meanwhile, Telerik will continue to support and enhance the Bookvar mind mapping application, making it not only a stunning integration example of Telerik's WPF and Silverlight controls but also a valuable application unto itself. Join me in welcoming the Avaxo team to Telerik and look forward to impressive results in the future!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Survey Says: RSS still not for everyone

In what may be the most shocking poll results to date, the recent RSS survey has revealed that almost half of you that visit this blog do not subscribe to any RSS feeds! Zip. Zero. Nada. Now as a blog with an RSS feed, this is interesting and concerning news. I assume this news means that the nearly 45% of you that don't subscribe to RSS feeds are manually visiting this site (ahem) everyday to get your updates. Seems like a lot of extra work, but to each their own.

On the flip side, more than half of survey respondents do subscribe to at least one RSS feed. Still, I was surprised that only 36% of you subscribe to 10 or more feeds. I was under the impression that the tech geek crowd was habitually addicted to adding RSS feeds to their readers, but it appears you are much more discerning. To put it another way, 64% of you subscribe to fewer than 10 RSS feeds. Which ones make your elite Top 10?

Personally, I fall in to the "10 - 15" feeds category, though I cheat a little by using Yahoo! Pipes to consolidate many of my related feeds in to a single stream. These survey results open-up a number of potential follow-up questions, but most interesting to me is why so many of you have shunned the popular RSS subscribing behavior. Is it information overload? Don't like the available RSS readers? Sound-off in the comments and help those of us relatively dependent on RSS understand your subscription-less world.

For everyone else (and the non-subscribers, too), be sure to vote in the new poll that is the .NET equivalent of boxers or briefs: C# or VB?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Feedback Wanted: Help improve Telerik skins

It's been a while since I had the pleasure of highlighting an "official" Telerik survey on this blog, but that time has finally come again. This time, we want to know how you use the Telerik-provided component skins, which ones you like (or dislike) the most, and what type of skin you think we should make next. Providing high-quality, relevant skins with our UI components is obviously a key priority for us- and hopefully very helpful for you- so we want to make sure we're addressing all of your needs. There are currently 11 common skins for the ASP.NET controls (meaning the skin can be applied to all ASP.NET controls) and 6 for WinForms. All new skins we develop these days are "common," so as we move in to the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX era, you should no longer see skins that are only developed for a single component.

The survey is relatively short, but there are two versions- one for WinForms, one for ASP.NET. If you're a developer on both platforms be sure to take the survey twice. It's only two pages long, so at most this survey should take you 5 to 10 minutes. In exchange for your feedback and your time, we'll deposit 500 Telerik Points in your Client.net account.

Take the skin survey now

RadChart used for CodePlex Stats Pages

Looking for a high-profile, real world implementation of RadChart? Look no further than the popular CodePlex website, which just launched a new site update that uses RadChart to display summarized stats for all CodePlex projects. RadChart is part of a new feature on CodePlex called "Project Stats Pages" and as the name implies these pages display information about a project, like monthly pageviews, downloads, and visits. Microsoft chose to use an area chart for their CodePlex implementation, and I must admit that it looks very nice. They've even added some custom JavaScript that enables the RadChart to display tool tips whenever you hover over a specific point, which makes it feel very similar to the charts Google uses in its Analytics product.

To see the RadChart in action on CodePlex, simply visit any CodePlex project page and then click on the "Stats" tab. I've linked directly to the xUnit project via the post image, but any project will allow you to see the RadChart goodness as implemented by Microsoft. Hopefully this example will inspire you to do new things with RadChart and, if nothing else, give you a reason to explore the new features on CodePlex.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tons of IE8 details from Microsoft (update)

One of the big announcements at MIX last week was the official release of IE8 beta 1. The beta marks the real beginning to Microsoft opening-up about their next browser version and breaks the painful silence suffered through most of 2007. And now that the seal has been broken, the members of the IE Team are wasting no time in telling you everything about the new features in the browser.

If you're not subscribed to the IE Team Blog (and based on the running poll results, you're probably not), you're missing a lot of info describing IE8's new features like WebSlices, Activities, and LCIE (Loosely-Coupled IE). Since this info should be very important to those of you developing for the web, here are some direct links to posts from the IE Team I think are important to review (in reverse chronological order):

Clearly, no shortage of reading material on the IE Team Blog. One of the more interesting points to note is that IE8 will render in standards mode by default. This is a change from the Team's position several weeks ago (which I blogged about) and it means you will need to make sure your sites work with IE8 standards mode soon. If you don't want to bring your site up to standards mode compliance, you can now use the new X-UA-Compatible meta tag to tell IE8 to render your site in IE7 mode. The passive behavior will now promote standards, which is a good move according many "web expert" opinions. Don't let it catch you off-guard.

So enjoy the beta and make sure you start preparing your sites for the new version of the world's (still) dominant browser. In my casual review of Telerik's ASP.NET components in IE8 beta 1, I do not see any major problems. Telerik will, of course, provide complete support for IE8 when it is released, but even in early beta stages you should find your Telerik controls work well in IE8 standards and IE7 emulation mode. We're just that good <wink>.

UPDATE: A quick correction about IE8 compatibility with the RadControls. Currently, there are a few issues with IE8 standards mode that are negatively affecting RadGrid and RadMenu. These issues are due to missing features of the IE8 table DOM and the bad handling of overlays and animations in IE8. Also, according to Telerik's devs, IE8 seems to have a major glitch with Sys.UI.DomElement.getLocation that is negatively affecting all absolutely positioned elements. All Telerik online demos are currently forcing IE7 emulation mode in IE8, so you won't see these problems online. Hopefully the IE8 team will address these problems in the next beta and we can enable true IE8 rendering support at that time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vote for Telerik in 2008 Readers' Choice Awards

It's March. Do you know what that means? Clocks are "springing forward" around the world. College hoops is well underway. The major Microsoft conference season has started. And it's time for the annual asp.netPRO Readers Choice Awards. That's right, the voting has just opened for one of the most respected and well recognized awards programs in the .NET industry. Last year, Telerik brought home 8 Readers Choice Awards, one for every category in which it was nominated. For that, we continue to owe you- the "readers"- a huge thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for Telerik with the rest of the .NET community.

This year Telerik is nominated once again in a number of award categories. In fact, we've picked-up 3 new category nominations this year, so you've got your voting work cut out for you. And the nominations are (in voting order):

  • Best Charting & Graphics Tool: Telerik RadChart
  • Best Community Resource: Telerik's Community
  • Best Component Set: Telerik RadControls for ASP.NET
  • Best Content Management System: Sitefinity Web CMS
  • Best Grid: Telerik RadGrid
  • Best Navigational Control: Telerik RadMenu
  • Best Online Editor: Telerik RadEditor
  • Best Printing/Reporting Tool: Telerik Reporting
  • Best Scheduling/Calendar Tool: Telerik RadCalendar
  • Best Training: Telerik
  • Best Utility: Telerik RadSpell
And if you make it through all of those categories (making your Telerik votes along the way, of course), you'll be asked last to cast your vote for "Product of the Year." Telerik has about 10 options in this list, so to concentrate our "PotY" votes, let's all vote for the RadControls for ASP.NET as product of the year. Also, in the category of Best Scheduling/Calendar Tool, cast your vote for Telerik here if you like our RadScheduler or RadCalendar. I don't think we can have both products nominated in this category, so you'll have to make a RadScheduler vote a RadCalendar vote.

Also, while voting, show some support for our good friends at Falafel Software by voting for their Active!Focus product in the Best Project Management/Defect Tracking Tool category. This is their inaugural year in the awards and I know they'd love to get your support and do well.

With that, I encourage you to vote right now before you forget and then check back in early May to see the results. Thanks in advance for all of your support in these awards and for choosing Telerik as your .NET component vendor of choice!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Skinnable Form Controls CTP updated

As you may recall, Telerik released some fun skinnable form controls about a month ago as a technology preview in our Code Library. These controls enable you to easily style all of the form elements on your page (such as buttons, checkboxes, radiobuttons, etc.) so that they match the rest of your beautifully skinned web application. Since the CTP last month, there has been a huge positive response to the controls and they are now officially planned to be part of the ASP.NET Q1 2008 release. Another good example of how your input and feedback has driven our product plans and priorities!

Since the Q1 release is still five or six weeks away, the ASP.NET Team has gone ahead and released an updated version of the skinnable form controls CTP. The update delivers a number of new features, including:

  • 10 additional skins
  • Hover/Out states for buttons (pure CSS approach)
  • Image caching for IE6 (to eliminate image flicker)
  • CSS for disabled radiobuttons, checkboxes, buttons
Missing from this list is obviously the much desired ability to use your own custom skins, but that is next on the "to-do" list and it will definitely be part of the official release. For now, enjoy the intermediate update, checkout the updated live demos, and keep sending us your feedback so we can get these helpful controls perfected by April.

Sitefinity 3.2 released, available for download

This post is monumental for a couple of reasons. First, this is the 300th post on Telerik Watch since its humble beginnings a little more than a year ago. Hopefully you've enjoyed the perspective I bring to the .NET and Telerik scene via this blog- if you don't, hopefully you're not paining yourself to keep reading. Here's to another 300 entertaining and educational posts.

Second, and more importantly, Sitefinity 3.2 is officially out and available for download! This is a big update to the Telerik CMS system and it's packing tons of new features and enhancements. Many of the new features have been covered before on this blog, so I'll let you review the old posts to see what's in 3.2. As you know, Sitefinity 3.2 suffered a few delays in getting to this point, but the finished product is a great update and well worth the wait. Watch for a SP1 in a few weeks to address any major release bugs and then an updated road map for 4.0 very soon. For those early adopters, what do you think of Sitefinity 3.2?

Download Sitefinity 3.2 Update

Friday, March 07, 2008

Wrapping-up MIX 08

It's really hard to believe it's already Friday and MIX 08 (for me, anyways) has come and gone. It has been a fun week- lots of fun people here to hang out with, lots of fun information being delivered from Microsoft- and it's been an exhausting week. Hopefully you enjoyed some of my live coverage of the keynotes and are taking advantage of the recorded MIX sessions to catch-up on everything else. Now that the week is wrapping-up, though, it's time to reflect on the news and the conversations and start trying to make sense of all the info. This process will probably take some time, so expect posts in the coming weeks to delve in to this topic in more detail as I start to connect the lines between MIX news and Telerik's plans (this is Telerik Watch after all).

Until then, I'll leave you with my general impression of MIX 08. Actually, it's very easy to sum-up MIX 08: Silverlight 2.0. The beta shipped. The big partners (AOL, Olympics, Astin Martin, Hard Rock) showed demos of sites soon to go live. Ballmer even mentioned his excitement for Silverlight in his keynote/interview. While other big news was announced- IE 8, WPF performance pack, a little MVC- Silverlight handily dominated most conversations and a lot of the sessions. There is no question that this is the year of Silverlight and I expect by the end of the year we'll start seeing many web apps running on this sophomore platform.

What does that mean for Telerik? We'll see. The better question is what does this Silverlight news mean to you? Telerik has always been in the business of building the tools you need and want, so make sure you start talking to us loud and clear so that we make the right plans. And with that, I'm off to the airport to catch my 1 AM flight back to Texas and I'll talk to you all next week!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

LIVE from MIX 08 Ballmernote

After a hard night of MIX partying it's time to shake-off the hangovers and get ready for the MIX 08 Ballmernote (that's the Steve Ballmer Keynote for the uninitiated). Today's keynote is comparatively short to yesterday's two and a half hour thriller, but hopefully Steve Ballmer and Guy Kawasaki will bring something new and interesting during their hour "Q&A." Like yesterday's event, you can catch all the action live via the online stream, so this post is for those of you that can't watch the stream at work or those of you that prefer not to listen to Steve Ballmer talk for an hour. And with that, on to the live coverage...

12:52 PM: We're all settled in and enjoying the live Johnny Cash performer again (just learned it's Vince Mira). We're about 30 feet from the chairs where Steve and Guy will be talking, so we've got pretty good front row seats again. Things should get started in about 8 minutes.

1:00 PM: Not running early like yesterday, but we did get the 5 minute warning a few minutes ago. Vince is playing his lost song ("The Rock Island Line") now... MIX guys just told us Vince is only 15! That's incredible.

1:04 PM: MIX 09 dates announced: March 18 - 20 at The Venetian again.

1:06 PM: Steve and Guy taking the stage and their chairs. We're on our way. Things are starting weird. Guy (in jest) suggested that Steve didn't hire him back in the day becuase of race...err...

1:07 PM: Guy: "Steve, why do you want to buy Yahoo?" Really?! That's the first question. Answer: Advertising on the Internet is the big thing and the next super big thing. Search is the killer online app for advertising. Steve says Yahoo! can accelerate Microsoft's search/ad business.

1:10 PM: Guy told Steve not to throw any chairs at him or to go monkey on him. Priceless. Question 2: "What about Google?" These questions are really putting Ballmer on the spot. Ballmer reiterates that online advertising is key and the next super big thing and that's why MS wants a bigger piece of the pie.

1:12 PM: Ballmer says Google is nowhere in desktop competition. MS is nowhere (more or less) in online competition. Ballmer pledging to fight to his last breath to make MS successful online. Agrees that MS is the underdog online.

1:13 PM: Ballmer just barked. Literally. It was in response to being asked by Guy if Ballmer thought Apple was a little dog MS just ignores. Ballmer said Apple does a good job, wasn't too harsh on Apple.

1:14 PM: Facebook. More talk about how it plays in to MS' desire to have more online advertising.

1:18 PM: What drives Ballmer? He loves what Microsoft does. Loves Silverlight. Thinks they're at the forefront of changing the world. He love working with Microsoft's customers. Thinks there is a lot of energy in the software industry. Finally, he enjoys challenge and thinks software industry provides a lot of competitive challenges.

1:20 PM: What does Ballmer do during the day? Three kinds of days: 1) Out all day, flying around, meeting customers. He finds it energizing. 2) Doctor in office day. Meetings all day, back-to-back, exhausting. 3) Think and research days. Time to write, research, think. Only gets 60 to 70 pieces of email a day! Really. No assistants filtering. Guy is shocked, can't believe it.

1:23 PM: Time to talk about Bill and his exit. Ballmer says he's not sure what a "part-time" Bill looks like. Says most great innovations at MS don't come from Bill, come from people in Microsoft. Building case for the fact that Bill is not what keeps MS moving.

1:25 PM: Now talking recruiting. How do you recruit young people to Microsoft? Ballmer says recruiting hasn't changed much despite new companies like Google and Facebook. Says they go after people that are very talented and interested in changing the world. Ballmer reminded Guy that most startups do fail. Ouch.

1:27 PM: Guy tells Ballmer Microsoft needs to do a better job of informing young people that Microsoft makes cool products like Xbox and Halo. Steve says the goal is to just keep outputting outstanding products. Says he wants all Microsoft users (1 billion+) to be as passionate users in the Xbox Live community.

1:30 PM: Silverlight talk. Ballmer's turn to talk about the plans for Silverlight. Says that Silverlight is trying to eliminate the compromises developers have to make when choosing between desktop and web development. Quotes the 1.5 million downloads per day stat. Claims WPF is on a "high number" of desktops.

1:32 PM: What's the deal with Vista? Steve disagrees there is an issue. Calls it the second most popular operating system in history. Guys are sidetracked by Guy's MacBook Air. Steve is on the ground looking for the DVD drive in the Air. Funny. Finishes by saying is Tosh is lighter and more powerful than the Air.

1:35 PM: Talking about how Microsoft will stay relevant in future. And we're back to Vista. Guy's not letting this go. Ballmer talking more seriously now about how Vista is better than XP and conceding that they made some choices that hurt compatibility. Overall, thinks Vista complaints are just from a few vocal people.

1:38 PM: Now we're talking Firefox and IE. Ballmer mentions that IE still has lions share of browser market share. Says we should expect a lot of browser innovation from Microsoft. Says it is a core focus for Microsoft. Guy asks where IE for Mac is. Ballmer says it's not a high priority focus- in other words, they ain't goin' there again anytime soon.

1:40 PM: Social networking. What does Ballmer thing of it? Steve doesn't think social networking is a fad. Thinks it is a fundamental change in how people communicate. Doesn't think any one company or product can "perfect" social networking. Thinks continual investment in social networking is key to remain relevant. Views Xbox Live, MSN Communities, and other MS platforms as their push in social networking.

1:42 PM: Guy says Microsoft of today is a different Microsoft. Calls it the "new Microsoft." Giving Steve a rare moment of praise. Says MS has really improved image in Silicon Valley by opening offices there.

1:43 PM: Time for questions from the floor.

1:44 PM: What about Adobe? Ballmer says they're clearly competing on the Silverlight/Flash front, but generally they plan to continue to support and work with Adobe as a Windows ISV.

1:45 PM: Someone wants to know why IE wasn't developed with .NET. Ballmer basically saying IE got lost in the plans for Longhorn whereas .NET had its own development path that wasn't bogged down by the OS. Says they've learned from their past and plan to do better decoupling browser from OS and delivering faster updates.

1:47 PM: A Yahoo! question. What will happen to the PHP apps? Ballmer says clearly some apps will have to be killed. Doesn't make sense to have two of everything. Some will come from Yahoo!, some from Microsoft. Popular apps that are in PHP will probably stay that way for a while. Says he's fine with Microsoft being a PHP shop and a .NET shop. Wants Windows Server to be the best place for running PHP apps in the future.

1:49 PM: Another Yahoo! question. What are the synergies between MS and Yahoo? Ballmer says scale is key in online advertising and search. Gives lip service to the talent at Yahoo!, but clearly the main synergy is the scale factor that a combined Yahoo! and MS would have.

1:51 PM: A Fast Search question. How does the acquisition impact Microsoft's plans? Ballmer says he likes the tech a lot and the company. Can't say much because AQ isn't done, but it sounds like Fast will end-up mostly in Enterprise environments.

1:52 PM: Next is a question about severs and ability to use Windows to compute in the cloud. HUGE allusion to a forth coming announcement about some new Windows cloud support, but won't say anything today.

1:55 PM: Will there be Silverlight on the iPhone? Says there has been a lot of talk about it internally but Apple is not particularly welcome to the idea. Steve doesn't think Apple's approach of charging developers to run apps on the iPhone is a good business model and doubts it will be very popular.

1:57 PM: Another Silverlight question. When will Microsoft start using it more for there own apps? Ballmer says that we'll start seeing it used in coming months, years even. Says it only makes sense to move apps to Silverlight when new versions are introduced. All apps that "make sense" will eventually be running on Silverlight. Live Messenger, Hotmail, etc.

1:58 PM: Healthcare question. Don't think this one will interest many people. Ballmer is excited to talk about how Microsoft will embrace and support the medical industry, but...whatever.

2:00 PM: Bluray question. Will it come to the Xbox? What are MS' plans for bluray? Ballmer says MS will support it in Windows (obviously) and says the world just moves on. Will support bluray in ways that make sense. Ballmer supports the MS conspiracy theory that MS wants download movies to win by saying in 5 years discs may not matter at all.

2:03 PM: We get a little audience requested monkey boy. Web developers, web developers, web developers! Video captured and will share it later.

2:04 PM: Calls social networking in young stage in Enterprise. Not much interesting on this question.

2:05 PM: How will MS move past Dream Spark to support students with infrastructure? More allusions to a Microsoft cloud service for hosting applications. No announcement today, but it's pretty clear some announcement is coming soon.

2:06 PM: iPhone again. How does Microsoft react to Apple's licensing of ActiveSync for the iPhone to deliver Exchange support? Ballmer dismisses it as just another licensing deal. Thinks it makes Exchange more valuable.

2:07 PM: Last question. How will Microsoft work with Ave8 Razor Fish (advertising firm)? Ballmer says it's a hands-off ownership approach.

2:10 PM: That's it. They've left the stage and we're on to more sessions!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

MIX 08 Keynote Recap

Day one of MIX 08 is almost in the can and in its wake are a number of announcements from Microsoft. Many of the announcements were simple formalities, confirming what everyone largely knew and expected to become "official" news at MIX. Others were a little more surprising, even for Microsoft insiders like Telerik. You can find many of the announcements in my complete live coverage of today's keynote, but if you're looking for the Reader's Digest version, here is a short summary of what was announced:

  • SQL Server Data Services beta launched today (think Microsoft's version of Amazon S3 data service)
  • IE 8 Beta 1 available today
  • OpenService protocol going to be open sourced (used by IE Activities)
  • IE 8 WebSlices protocol going to be open sourced
  • Silverlight 2 beta 1 available today (non-commercial go-live license)
  • Microsoft partnering with Move Networks to offer Adaptive Streaming in Silverlight
  • Silverlight Advertising Templates shipping with beta (wizard for making ads with Silverlight)
  • Microsoft partnering with DoubleClick to enable DC ads in Silverlight (due in Q2)
  • All built-in Silverlight controls from MS will be released as open source tools with license allowing modification and resale!
  • Silverlight 2 Testing Framework shipping with beta
  • Deep Zoom (SeaDragon) being included in Silverlight 2 (called it)
  • Deep Zoom Composer preview also available today
  • WPF "service pack" announced - due this summer
  • Silverlight for Nokia S60, S40, and Internet Tablet announced
  • ASP.NET MVC Preview 2 available today
As you can tell by the length of this list, there were a lot of announcements packed-in to the two and a half hour keynote this morning. I think the Silverlight 2 and IE 8 betas were the most predictable (and very welcome) announcements, while the Nokia and DoubleClick partnerships were the most surprising. What did you think of Microsoft's announcements? Did they leave anything out that you were hoping to see or have they made you even more excited about Silverlight 2?

There's still one more keynote to go- the Ballmernote tomorrow at 1:00 PM. I'll try to provide some "live" blog coverage again for those that don't have access to the video feeds, and hopefully MS has saved some juicy secret for Ballmer to reveal at tomorrow's event. Surely Microsoft wouldn't send their CEO out on stage without anything exciting to announce at MIX! Would they?

LIVE from the MIX 08 Keynote

The time has arrived. MIX 08 is officially about to get underway with the big Scott Guthrie keynote starting in 20 minutes. I'm all settled-in with front row seats to the action and prepared to bring you "live" updates from the keynote as the big nws is unveiled. Now, of course, I realize that a "live" update blog is not really necessary when a live streaming feed is also available, so think of this as more of my live notes from the keynote. When the dust settles, this post will be among the first outlining the news Microsoft delivers this morning.

So with that, open this page in a browser window on the back of your desktop (you are working this morning, aren't you?) and stay tuned for updates once the speakers take the stage.

9:20 AM: People are still filing in while we're being entertained by a Vegas-style Johnny Cash performer. Definitely a unique way to do pre-keynote music. It's actually nice to hear something different from the "traditional" high-energy keynote warm-up music.

9:22 AM: Official 5-minute warning just sounded. Guess things are going to start a little early...

9:28 AM: And we're on our way. Ray Ozzie is taking the stage...

9:29 AM: Ray is running down all of the things that MS has shipped in the last year (an impressively long list). Confirmed that IE8 and Silverlight 2 are big focuses today. Calling MIX a major "launch milestone." Is going to spend time giving us the "big picture" that guides Microsoft's plans.

9:33 AM: Saying advertising will be primary way to make money on web for Microsoft and all web developers in the future. Basically said that the reason MS wants Yahoo! is to buy their users to drive their ad business.

9:40 AM: Ray says "transparency, standards, and interoperability are key" for all future MS development. Talking about building interactive UIs that work on multiple platforms. Going to start talking specifics about Microsoft's 5 key "connected" platforms, starting with "Connected Devices."

9:46 AM: Introducing something soon that will make it easy to manage all devices in a "connected device mesh". Ray's alluding to some announcement about a new connected platform for devices that may get revealed later today or maybe at tomorrow's keynote. Covered "Connected Entertainment" and now talking "Connected Productivity."

9:50 AM: Talking about "Connected Business." Mentioned Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, both available in open beta this week. Just announced "SQL Data Services Online" that will provide developers SQL Data support in "the cloud."

9:52 AM: Ray's finishing-up. Is going to let ScottGu talk about "Connected Development" next. Nothing too surprising from Ray. Let's see what Scott brings...

9:53 AM: Scott is introduced and said to be bringing some "great surprises." Slide deck indicates the agenda will be Web, Meida, RIA, and Mobile. Mobile Silverlight?

9:56 AM: Dean Hachamovitch, IE Team Lead, just took stage to introduce IE 8. Going to show-off IE 8 for first time and talk about IE8 road map.

9:59 AM: Eight topics Dean's going to cover: CSS 2.1, CSS Certification, Performance, HTML 5 support start, Developer Tools, Activities (integrate with the web), WebSlices, and one blank serect.

10:01 AM: IE 8 demo time. Showed IE 8 rendering a page that renders correct in FireFox and Safari that didn't render in IE 7. Yay...IE 8 renders correctly. Interesting observation: IE 8 seems to be "graying out" the "http://www" prefix for URLs in the address bar. In fact, it's graying out everything but the primary domain name. Interesting end user feature.

10:06 AM: IE 8 supporting HTML 5 hash functionality. Fixes Ajax back button problems at the browser level. Very cool! No more Ajax back button hacks (I wish...). Supporting HTML 5 connection events, DOM storage. Going to enable very interesting offline scenarios.

10:10 AM: New developer tools built-in to IE 8. Script debugging added. Looks just like VS debugger tools (Add Watch, Immediate Window, etc.). CSS tools to analyze how rules are applied to elements on page. Cool new "Trace Styles" tab helps you figure out what rule is being applied to element by examining CSS properties. It's FireBug+ for IE.

10:12 AM: Interesting new "Activity" context menu shows-up when text is highlighted in browser (similar to Office 2007 formatting). Developers can use by simply writing some XML. The OpenService Specification that powers feature being made Open Source by MS today.

10:14 AM: WebSlices are like Apple's web snippets (forget the name): select some part of a web page and bookmark the part. Going to be based on a standard Microsoft is making Open Source.

10:17 AM: IE 8 Beta 1 available today after the keynote! That's the "big secret." As if we didn't know...Now Scott's back on the stage to talk about Silverlight.

10:22 AM: Silverlight plug-in deployment at 1.5+ million installations per day. Seems to be good adoption speed. Announcing right off the bat, too, that Silverlight 2 beta 1 is available today for download.

10:28 AM: Silverlight 2 Media first topic. Silverlight going to provide "Adaptive Streaming" to make video experience better. Will automatically adjust bitrate of video based on CPU usage and changing network bandwidth. Can dynamically change as video is playing to deliver best bitrate possible based on resources. Move Networks partnering with Microsoft to provide Move's adaptive streaming tech in Silverlight.

Talking TCO for hosting media with Windows Media Services. Not particularly interesting to me, but looks to have some cool features to help save money if you're hosting video directly.

10:30 AM: Jon Harris is now on stage to demo how Silverlight supports rich advertising. New Silverlight Advertising Templates being provided to make it easy to create Silverlight-based ads. Think a wizard for creating Silverlight versions of all the Flash ads you've seen and been annoyed by on the web. Does provide cool boilerplate code for animating ad and tracking click-throughs.

Showing new Atlas AdManager (not sure where this came from, he's moving fast) that helps automatically track the performance of the Silverlight ad. Silverlight ads have the ability to track how much of a video has been watch for more detailed reporting. Cool.

Playlists in IIS 7 make it easy to insert ads in-front of Silverlight video. For overlay advertising on Silverlight video, Encoder 2 provides visual tools that enable you to add timed overlays. Cool factor is that overlays can be pure XAML with animations.

10:40 AM: Scott's back on stage to next...introduce Ari Paparo, VP Advertiser Products at DoubleClick. Going to talk about how you can integrate DoubleClick ads in Silverlight. Announcing official support for DoubleClick InStream ad platform in Silverlight 2. Very comprehensive API that enables developers to take a lot of control over how ads are displayed and how to handle user interactions with ads. DoubleClick integration will be available in Q2- not right now.

10:46 AM: And Scott's back on stage to...introduce yet another guest, Perkins Miller, Sr. VP Digital Media at NBC Sports & Olympics. Going to show-off for the first time the 2008 Olympics site and how Silverlight is being used.

Very cool level of interactive data being pumped over the 2,200 hours of live Olympic coverage using Silverlight. Even though the stream is live, you'll still be able to rewind! PIP support demoed! You'll be able to watch one live feed and then pick another feed for PIP display. I don't think I've seen anything like this done with Flash video...

10:55 AM: And Scott's back again, this time to stay to talk about Silverlight 2 RIA. Silverlight 2 has full WPF UI Framework, data binding support, rich styling/skinning system, robust networking stack (w/ cross-domain networking), integrated data support (LINQ, local storage, high performance, and all in small 4.3 MB download.

10:58 AM: Built-in controls like Slider, Calendar, DataPicker, DataGrid being provided in Silverlight 2 beta 1. BIG NEWS: All controls being shipped are being shipped Open Source! Can be used, adapated, resold, all for free. Also shipping a new Silverlight 2 test framework today to make it easier to do TDD with Silverlight.

Shipping VS and Expression designer support, but clearly Blend is the recommended tool for styling/designing Silverlight applications/controls.

DEMO TIME: Showing off a couple of Silverlight 2 apps, starting with new Silverlight-based mail client from AOL.

11:05 AM: AOL takes the stage. Saying they picked Silverlight for performance over their current Ajax/DHTML version. Using local storage for intelligent caching- 2x - 3x faster than current Ajax version. Taking advantage of template control system to provide customization- basically entire app can be easily re-skinned in Silverlight 2.0.

11:10 AM: Next up, a new user experience called Deep Zoom (based on Sea Dragon). HardRock is the demo client for this feature.

Showing how Deep Zoom can be used to expose Hard Rock's media collection online (http://memorabilia.hardrock.com). 2 billion pixels of data being "displayed" and then zoomed and panned smooth as butter.

Scott says shipping today is a tools package that will allow you to select images and build the necessary image tiles required to support Deep Zoom. Deep Zoom browsing support built-in to Silverlight 2.

11:18 AM: And yet another guest, Mark Reichman, Design Director for Aston Martin. He's taking the stage to show-off a new Aston Martin site based on Silverlight. Showing a browsable 3D model of an Aston Martin on the homepage. Using Deep Zoom to provide detailed look of car. Seems to be a full site based on Silverlight 2 and it's supposed to go live this week.

11:25 AM: Scott's back. Announcing SharePoint extensions that enable Silverlight to be embedded in Web Parts. That should be helpful. Transitioning now from showing-off B2C apps to LOB apps. Another guest...Krista Monson from Cirque du Soleil, Head of Casting.

11:30 AM: Krista talking about Cirque du Soleil's need to maintain a huge database of potential performers. Showing-off a WPF based app that helps collect performer data in the field. Now Krista has walked to a Mac and she is showing an application that looks a lot like the WPF version is Silverlight (in Safari).

11:36 AM: Talking about improvements coming to WPF later this year. Showing graphics improvements that are impressive and well tuned for performance. Stressing the hardware acceleration WPF provides that helps you keep CPU time low for very complex media effects. Updates to WPF will come in a service pack later this summer.

11:40 AM: Time to talk mobile!

11:42 AM: Darren David, CEO of Stimulant, on stage to show off MIXr, a mobile social networking application. Going to show how Silverlight can be used on his Windows Mobile phone (demoing on a HTC Touch, for the record). Very iPhone-esque user experience. Cool application, though the real power of this demo would be to see how it was built, debugged, and deployed.

11:47 AM: Scott back. Announced a partnership with Noika to deliver Silverlight on select Nokia platforms (S60, S40, and Nokia Internet tablets). He also mentioned that they want to "support Mac." Silverlight on the iPhone? That would be cool!

11:50 AM: New guest. Tamir Melamed, VP of Engineering WeatherBug, on stage to show Silverlight application running on Nokia S60. Showing same app running on Windows Mobile, Nokia S60, and the web (http://silverlight.weatherbug.com). UI is pretty basic (not as impressive visually as MIXr demo), but it is nice to see the same code running on all of this platforms. Showing animcations working on Nokia, but they are terribly slow. Not sure if that's the animation or the performance....

Tamir left the stage by dissing Flash Lite, saying it was much too hard to use for developing cross platform mobile apps.

11:55 AM: Scott's back for a re-cap. IE8, Silverlight 2 beta, new MVC refresh, all available today. New Expression designer website online this week, too.

11:57 AM: That's it! Time for the break-out sessions.

MIX getting started, New Silverlight 2.0 book announced

I'm here in sunny Las Vegas (at least, it was sunny earlier today) with a small contingent from Telerik Bulgaria "preparing" to kick-off the MIX 08 conference tomorrow. And in MIX terms, of course, "preparing" means attending a few parties with Microsoft and .NET community big wigs to talk about the fun that lies ahead for the rest of the week.

One such party I had the pleasure of attending tonight was the O'Reilly authors party at the Venetian. You may recall that I (with a lot of help for the Telerik Silverlight Team) wrote a Silverlight Short Cut for O'Reilly several months ago, so that's how I got my invite. At tonight's event, O'Reilly officially introduced their new "Stay Up-to-date" Silverlight 2.0 book. This new "book" is more like a binder that enables you to replace the pages with more current versions as the Silverlight platform matures. The upgradable book is a brand new concept from O'Reilly, so time will tell if this is an idea people like. In fact, given this description, sound-off in the comments in let me know what you think of an upgradable book and I'll pass your feedback right on to O'Reilly.

One thing that is particularly cool about the new Silverlight 2.0 book is that the first chapter was written by yours truly. The chapter was borrowed from the Short Cut we wrote last year, but it is still a good general introduction to the Silverlight platform. I am happy that our work is finding new purpose this many of months later and I hope it continues to help people learn the Silverlight platform.

And that's all for Day 0 at MIX. Check back tomorrow for more updates as the real fun begins with the keynotes and break-out sessions.

Monday, March 03, 2008

O/RM Survey Results, No clear winner

After a couple weeks of open voting and a fairly good sample size, one conclusion is clear: there is no single winner in the .NET O/RM space. Running away with 32% of the vote is the ambiguous "other" category, which means respondents use one of the (seemingly) hundreds of .NET O/RM tools not listed explicitly in this survey. But more on that later. What I found most surprising in these results is how popular LinqToSql and SubSonic are versus old vanguard NHibernate. By all measures, NHibernate- which has its roots in the Java Hibernate project- has more features and power than LinqToSql or SubSonic, but clearly those features aren't winning as many users as I would have guessed. The fact that SubSonic and LinqToSql polled so highly indicates to me developers are more interested in tools that make O/RM easy versus providing every configuration point possible.

Also interesting in these results is the fact that only 15% of respondents chose to do O/RM work by hand. That means the other 85% of you chose some O/RM product or another to help you manage your data access and business objects. That begs the question, "Why do 15% choose to code their O/RM by hand?" Price of O/RM solutions? Available features? Stubbornness? Whatever the case, if you're hand coding your O/RM, you're in the minority.

Finally, the "other" category opens up an interesting area for follow-up. Which .NET O/RM products are you using that I did not include in the survey? I'd be very interested to hear in the comments from those of you that voted "other" telling us which .NET O/RM you use. I doubt the full 32% in this category are using the same .NET O/RM, but it would be interesting to see if another popular choice is buried in these results.

Sound-off in the comments with your .NET O/RM choice du jour and then vote in the next poll on RSS subscription habits.

Telerik at MIX this week

In a few hours, I'll jump on a plane headed to Sin City for this year's highly anticipated MIX 08 conference. I'll be in town through Thursday and I'll be joined by a crew of about 7 from Telerik's home office in Sofia, Bulgaria. The representatives from Bulgaria will cover a lot of Telerik's new product lines, including devs from the Silverlight and WPF teams. Needless to say, if you're going to be at MIX too, definitely drop me a line and let me know so we can try to meet at one of the many MIX parties. We love meeting fans customers at these events and putting faces with names!

Otherwise, stay tuned this week for some "live" MIX updates. I'll try to post some extra info after we start getting the big news at the keynotes on Wednesday and Thursday as I expect there will be plenty of interesting things to talk about. Last year's MIX brought us the first alpha of Silverlight 1.1 (and the Silverlight name), news of the cross-platform CLR, the infamous ".NET Wins" Silverlight chess demo, and the introduction of the DLR. I expect this year to again focus largely on Silverlight, though all indications are that we should also be hearing more about IE8 and ASP.NET MVC. By the end of the week, I predict we'll have betas (or announced beta dates) for Silverlight 2.0, IE8, and Expression Blend 2. An ASP.NET MVC beta is probably further off.

So if you're not going to join me in the desert, keep your RSS readers locked-in and I'll help add to the flood of news sure to begin this Wednesday.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

RadGridView for WinForms gets significant performance boost, beta

For those of you developing WinForms applications, this announcement should be great news! On Friday, the Telerik WinForms team released the long awaited (and slightly delayed) RadGridView Q1 2008 beta. This beta is your first chance to start experimenting with the completely revamped GridView control while you wait for the final version to ship in April with the official Q1 release. For the last 3 or 4 months, the WinForms Team has been working almost exclusively on re-engineering RadGridView with one "simple" goal: deliver the best looking and best performing grid for WinForms.

Their months of hard work have paid-off.

In the beta bits released this Friday, you'll discover a RadGridView that is capable of delivering the same rich, WPF-like UI the original Telerik Grid produced without sacrificing performance. In fact, it now delivers that rich UI while beating the performance of almost all other grid products for WinForms. For instance, here are some of the new performance metrics for RadGridView:

  • Average time to load 300,000 records: 340 ms
  • Average time to group 300,000 records: 100 ms
  • Refresh speed improvement over old grid: 150 times faster!
These numbers are the outcome of the painstaking work conducted by the WinForms Team to build a tool that delivers uncompromising performance, and I think you have to agree they've achieved some incredible results. Try the new GridView for yourself and put these numbers to the test. I certainly don't expect you to take impressive stats like this at face value, so grab the bits, give them a try, and then talk about your experience in our RadGridView beta forum.

On a final note, remember that this is a beta. We have a little time to go before our Q1 release, so your feedback is critical to help crush any remaining bugs. We hope you like what you see so far, though, and are as excited as we are to reach this milestone!