Mix UK 07 Day One

I went along to the UK Mix with a degree of trepidation. There I’d be as a Mix newbie amongst seriously devout Microsoft devotees. Dare I mention the F word (Flash) or the L word? Would I be spotted as a less-then-100% committed-to-Microsoft person? I think sometimes I let my imagination get a little carried away. As far as I could gather, this was the first ever UK Mix event, so everyone was a newbie, and apparently Microsoft are now really into talking (rationally) about Flash and Linux.

So on to the event itself. My first impressions weren’t that good. The initial keynote speeches were dull and contained nothing particularly new. I suspect this is an affect of blogs though: Silverlight 1.0 was released last week, so announcing it at the Mix seemed like repeating old news.

A couple of the presentations in the keynote bucked the trend and were interesting. There was a “scrum wall”application that dotnet Solutions had developed using Silverlight. It was good to see another company using scrum, as I’ve become a big fan recently. The other impressive demo was by Sage and was a demo of a tax return. Yes, you read that right: a tax return. Windows offers the option to print a PDF to a file of XPS format. It turns out that XPS is a subset of XAML. Whilst not identical to Silverlight’s subset of XAML, its pretty close. So a PDF form can be readily turned into a web app without having to redraw a complex form. Very nice.

One of my aims at this event was to get answers to two questions I find important:

  1. When will Silverlight appear for WinCE?
  2. Why isn’t Microsoft better supporting JScript.NET for those trying to migrate from ActionScript to Silverlight.

A gent by the name of Scott Guthrie (I gather he is a bit of a Microsoft bigwig on account of having managed the teams that wrote/ are writing .NET and Silverlight!) put in appearances throughout the day. I was able to pose my questions to him and thus got answers from the horse’s mouth as it were. It appears that WinCE support should be available by the time Silverlight 1.1 is released. Silverlight 1.1 is due for release sometime next year (so it could still be a year or so before WinCE support appears). The answer to the other question was more revealing. The new Managed JScript ought to be fairly close to ActionScript in order to support the OO features of .NET. This doesn’t sound right to me, but time will tell. More interestingly though, Scott predicted that someone (which won’t be Microsoft, they’d prefer others did it) will likely write a ActionScript DLR compiler to allow ActionScript to be used directly(ish) within Silverlight. I hope he’s right on this.

So all in all a great first day at this event. I’ll finish with a photo (taken via a N800 webcam, so its poor quality) of Scott talking about Slverlight and .NET. More tomorrow.

Scott Gutherie

Finally, you can read about day two of the event here