Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Build Conference Day 1 Keynote

Well the keynote is over, but things are still pretty muddy with regard to exactly what 'XAML support' (no mention of 'Jupiter' at all) there is going to be in the next version of Windows.

As predicted, the Silverlight shills in the Microsoft echo chamber are all loudly declaring that today's keynote proves Silverlight is not dead. To me, this all reminds me of the time VB6 programmers celebrated VB6 not being dead when .NET was announced even though the emphasis was clearly on the new language C#. At the .NET launch Microsoft even claimed in management briefings that .NET came with millions of programmers who used the world's most popular language, as if a VB6 programmer was the same thing as a VB.NET programmer. Laughable! Silverlight is NOT just XAML people and clearly HTML5/CSS3/Javascript is Windows 8's equivalent of C# where Silverlight is VB6.

In perhaps the most 'echo chamber' moment of all, there is much excitement on the Twitterstream over the news that the next version of Expression Blend will support HTML and CSS. Hoorah! Our skill sets are still valid. We look so much better than those puny HTML/CSS/Javascript guys <snort>

Let's be clear here: takeup of Blend has been pitifully low, despite all the nagging, free licensing and free training incentives from Microsoft. Even the 'You can't be a serious Silverlight Developer if you don't learn Blend' mantra has had little impact.

For good reason.

It's a clunky mess of an IDE. I've worked at enough serious Silverlight development shops now to know that full-time Silverlight developers avoid it like the plague, using it only when they have to (to re-template controls or plot animations, but then cutting and pasting the raw XAML into Visual Studio).

So the idea that this Frankenstein's moster of an IDE can magically transform itself into something elegant, usable and popular, just by shoe-horning HTML5 and CSS3 into it on top of all the other gubbins is plainly ridiculous.

There are LOTS of great HTML5 and CSS3 tools out there - why on earth would you want to use or have to learn Blend instead of one of them?

UPDATE: The free Windows 8 slates given out at the conference come with a copy of Blend that only supports Javascript NO XAML! I think the Microsoft priorities are clear!

The new tablet device (a year away and already wider and fatter than an iPad) looked nice in that it could take a keyboard and drive dual monitors, and featured near instant-on and instant-off. Finally! But what about battery life? Microsoft were unusually silent on this point. There's usually a reason for that!

Then there's the whole 'first class citizen' thing with XAML support (but not .NET/SL, relegated to a legacy 'Desktop apps" box in Microsoft's own architecture diagram). Notice that I said "XAML" and NOT Silverlight because the two are NOT the same thing.

Taking a very simple Silverlight 2 (yikes! What happened to Silverlight 5?!) application and changing a few lines to make it run on Windows 8 is NOT the same thing as taking an Enterprise application in SIlverlight 4 or Silverlight 5 built around the MVVM pattern using PRISM, MEF etc and having it run nicely on this new 'WinRT' platform.

We've all seen Microsoft 'drag and drop' demo's before, and we know how much they have to do with the real world of enterprise development! It's depressing to see so many developers get excited over such a poor, unrealistic marketing demo as if it reflected any kind of reality.

Hopefully some real detail, instead of a 10,000 feet marketing slide with the word XAML above WinRT on it, will emerge over the next few days.

In the meantime I can't resist re-quoting some of my favourite "laugh out loud" tweets of the day that appeared before and after the Build keynote.

@MossyBlog RT @DotNetGlobalPR: This friday we will be giving free phones to people that have deployed Silverlight applications. All 43 of you.

@MossyBlog RT @DotNetGlobalPR: I am really looking forward to tomorrow morning's keynote and my retirement party tomorrow night.

@dotMorten My second #bldwin prediction: VB.NET gets killed of and replaced by the superior punch cards

@Teleriker I <3 alec #bldwin but why is he all over twitter today? :-)

@edmontalvo First slide at Build: "You really need to be at our next conference. It will be epic"

@SteveHebert Build upside down is "plinq". Coincidence? I think no.

@IdeaKitchn I heard at #bldwin the attendees are getting a half Courier

@Zunetracks Holy crap. There's a girl at #bldwin ?

@cuancalgo I see dead languages

@GoldenTao So when does Disney on Ice start?

@martin_evans Feeling embarrassingly geeky watching the #bldwin keynote. If my wife comes in I'll have to alt-tab to some porn.. #ClosetGeek

@Erik_Mork I'm not hearing about the ribbon

@escoz All the 5 people who have touchscreen PCs will be delighted with Win8

@Mathiasshapiro "Today is the day we change everything" Except the way we do keynotes.

@RabidLionGames "Oh Lord. It's like watching Eurovision".

@SittenSpynn "Wow. Look at all those fingerprints"

@AlanNorthern "Did she just whisper 'Don't touch me'?"

@IDispose "Anyone wanting to present should watch Steve Jobs. 10 times."

@MossyBlog "@DotNetGlobalPR Tomorrow's session 'The Future of Silverlight' will be held at 3PM in parking space 33B.""

@MossyBlog I often compare event attendee's as 18yr kids attending their first rave while on ectasy.. at the time it was awesome..then photos emerge.

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