Microsoft

10 Things Developers Will Love About Silverlight

On the Silverlight Firestarter Scott Guthrie gave a preview of the new features being developed in Silverlight 5. I’ve written an article on the 10 most important new features Silverlight developers should be excited about. These are the following:

  1. Debug Data Binding Expressions by Using Breakpoints in XAML
  2. Animations Made Easy with Transitions
  3. Navigating Up the Visual Tree in Bindings using RelativeSource and Mode=FindAncestor
  4. Binding View Events to the ViewModel Using Custom Markup Extensions
  5. Changing Styles Runtime By Binding in Style Setters
  6. Networking No Longer Happening on the UI Thread
  7. Vector Based Printing
  8. HTML Content and Additional Permissions Within Trusted Silverlight Application
  9. 3D API
  10. Smaller Enhancements: Text Clarity and Performance Improvements

You can read the full article with details on all of these features on my Visiblox blog.

Ten Cool Visual Studio 2010 Features

I’ve attended an event late March in Glasgow where Scott Guthrie, Microsoft vice president showed off some of the new fewatures of Visual Studio 2010. Based on this talk and my experience using Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and the Release Candidate I’ve collected the ten most useful new features of this edition. These are:

  • Pinning variables when debugging
  • Box selection
  • On-the-fly search
  • Zooming
  • View call hierarchy
  • Sequence diagrams
  • Dependency graphs
  • IntelliTrace and dump debugging
  • Multi-monitor support
  • Intellisense improvements

For a detailed description of each of these features read my blog post Ten Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Visual Studio at my Scott Logic blog.

Slides and code for the presentation “An Introduction to Silverlight”

On yesterday’s Scot Alt.NET meeting I held a presentation (An Introduction to Silverlight) that was aimed at providing an overview of Silverlight and looking at some of it’s most important features. Thanks to the about 30 people who’ve attended and given feedback, I hope you’ve found it useful. For those who have missed out I’ll be writing up some follow up blog posts on the same topic.

Slides & code

The slides and code of the talk are available for download:

Cool Silverlight applications

Some interesting links worth looking at (the ones I couldn’t show at the end of the presentation):

Brief summary of the talk

The structure of the talk was the following:
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Workspace alternatives: a comprehensive comparison

Teamwork isn’t an easy sport: the bigger the team the harder it gets. If the goals/milestones are set clear, one person will probably complete the project just fine. If it’s a team of two they’ll probably split up the work, track each other progress and finish in time. If its one of three, four or five they’ll probably start calling meetings, send emails, update their progress. If it’s a team of over 20, there’ll probably be people working full time just managing the communication between teams.

As the team grows the overhead of coordinating work just increases. I’m sure everyone has realized at some point that emails and Excel sheets are quite limited at managing things as the project grows and sticky notes work good, but not with distributed teams.

Of course lots of others have realized this problem before and created software to aid this process: these tools are usually referred to as project management tools or (virtual) workspace solutions. The idea of these is to have users store and update documents in the workspace, be able to constantly track their and others’ progress and make collaboration easy in this space. There are lots of promising workspace solutions: when first searching I came across at least two dozen seemingly good products/services.

One of the most efficient and popular way to help manage comlpex projects is by providing workspaces to users – a common shared storage area related to a specific task. Users can upload and share documents related to the project to the workplace, collaborate with other users involved in the project and track what is going on in the workspace.

Back in September 2009 while I took up the task to test the major players in workspace management fields so that the company would have a picture of where their workspace module was on the market. This study never got published however while doing the research I didn’t find any useful comparisons that were not funded by some vendor. I’ve left Sense/Net in October 2009 and decided to publish my research as it might be a good guideline for someone looking for a short list of project management tools.

The products evaluated in this comparison are Central Desktop, Huddle, Office Live WorkspacesO3Spaces, ProjectPlace, ProjectSpaces, Sense/Net 6.0 and Sharepoint 2007. Evaluation criteria is detailed and is grouped into general overview, document management, collaboration and content publishing categories.

General overview
Central Desktop Huddle Office Live
Work
spaces
O3
Spaces
Project
Place
Project
Spaces
Sense
/Net 6.0
Share
point
2007
SaaS solution Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Self Hosted No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Price estimate for small team (3-10 people,3-10 workspaces) $25-50/month $15-38/month Free with MS Office license €15-65/month (€177-790/year) $80-270
/month
$79-129
/month
Free (open source) $4800+
one-time
fee
Price estimate for mid-large team (50-150 people, 50-150 workspaces) $500-1500/month $200+/month, price provided upon request Free with MS Office license
Workspaces
€250-1000
/month (€2950-11850
/year)
$1100-3500
/month
$399-749
/month
Free (open source) $9500-
19500+
one-time fee
Detailed pricing See details See details See details See details See details See details See details See details
Company response time for e-mail inquiries * Within days Within days Within hours Within hours Never Within hours Within hours Within days

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First place on the Innovation Accelerator in the Silicon Valley!

It’s been a week since we’ve come home from the Innovation Accelerator in Mountain View. This is the trip that we’ve won on the Microsoft Imagine Cup in Paris, last summer, as special prize. It’s been a great week – we’ve attended numerous priceless sessions and gained a peek into the entrepreneurial life in Silicon Valley. In the end of the week all the teams presented their projects to three venture capitlists – and of the six participant teams (Australia, France, Germany, Slovakia, South Africa and us, Hungary) we were the ones receiving the highest ratings!

Among the sessions were presentations on startups Liftopia, Ribbit, Zoosk, 3Scale and some others. We visited the Plug & Play Centre – an incubator for about 200 startups – a place that seems like lots of fun to work at! Of course there were some Microsoft sessions as well, we had a networking event and all key phases of starting up a company were covered in a presentation series. It’s incredible how much I’ve heard over the week..!

The Hungarian Team on the Innovation Accelerator

The Hungarian Team on the Innovation Accelerator

Innovation Accelerator participants with the three venture capitalists

Before the Innovation Accelerator we’ve taken a week long road trip in California and Nevada. If you’re interested, you can read our blog in Hungarian on the trip here.

How good will the next Microsoft search engine be?

During my stay in Silicon Valley I had the chance to chat with Steve Newcomb, the founder of Powerset. As he explained Powerset is a search engine that is based on linguistics and AI. During its development they gathered the top AI people to build a tool that would deliver better results than Google.

Steve said that the first prototype of Powerset returned more accurate results than Google. And shortly after that, on August 1st, 2008 Microsoft acquired them. When I asked Steve whether their technology is already used in Live Search or somewhere else he said he is not authorized to say anything about this.

It is commonly spread news that MS is testing a new search engine codenamed Kumo. My guess is that the core of Powerset will be integrated in this new engine in Kumo (if not renamed until launch). It will be exciting to see.

First trip to Silicon Valley

In summer 2008 me and three friends representing Hungary as team DigitalMania took part in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competiton in the software design category – one of the largest student technology competitons in the world. The task was to design an implement a solution regarding an environmental issue. We focused on the water problem and created the prototype of a system that aimed to reduce water used for irrigation by taking account various factors such as soil moisture, weather forecasts and custom user defined rules. We used custom hardware (controlling the pipes) and .NET, ASP.NET and Silverlight to for the user interface while developing the solution.

90_0_2654065312_d8f1f1fa74_b

To test how the system would work in real life we first constructed a mathematical simulation and – after we’ve calculated that savings would be 10-15% even to the soil mositure monitoring system and far more for automatic systems we built a simulation table to monitor and demonstrate the same think in a micro environment.

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Imagine Cup Worldwide 3rd Place and Innovation Accelerator Award!!

I still can’t believe it but it’s true: with team Digitalmania, Hungary we’ve won 3rd place on the Microsoft Imagine Cup world finals in Paris and were one of the 6 teams to receive the Innovation Accelerator prize in the main category, Software Design!! It’s amazing… we are also the first Hungarian team to make it to the top 6 teams on the world finals as well!

7_finalsPresenting at the finals, in the Louvre

The whole competition started a few months ago when we’ve decided to enter the Imagine Cup competiton. We’ve managed to win the Hungarian national round which made us qualify for the world finals among with 60 other teams across the globe. The world finals took place for 6 days. The firs few days there were qualifiers from where 12 teams advanced to the semi-finals. After another round 6 of the 12 teams were selected for the grand final. The qualifiers and semi-finals were closed to the audience, whereas the grand final was in front of about 2,000 people in the Louvre! I never expected to be presenting in front of this many people!

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