MIX 2011 – All good things must end…

Thursday. Last day on the MIX 2011 conference already. Time flies when you’re having fun.

No keynote today… it was packed with sessions. The ones I visited were:

OData in Action: Connecting Any Data Source to Any Device by Mike Flasko. Good session, which gave me a nice update on how WCF Data Services has evolved since its Astoria days. Lots of cool and advanced features were added, which give me much more control, such as hooking into the processing pipeline, change interceptors, more fine grained control of the output… He also demoed an iPhone App in Objective-C, using the OData-ObjC library from Codeplex, to show how you can also hook up other devices to OData. As a MonoTouch fan, I’m very glad to see that Microsoft has open sourced its OData client, which makes it instantly available on Mono.

Mono: The State of the Union by Miguel de Icaza (@migueldeicaza on Twitter): Ever since Mono, and MonoTouch, enabled me to do development for my beloved iPhone, using my existing C# and .NET skills, I’ve been a fan of this open source .NET library. This session covered the current state of Mono. Mono is everywhere. Mobile devices (now even on Android), entertainment devices, cars, Linux servers, Moonlight (= Silverlight on Linux) now even runs on Android tablets! Miguel gave a great session. He has an energetic style and isn’t shy to drop in an F-bomb or two, or even insult Steve Ballmer (“Steve… I don’t mean Steve B., I mean good Steve…”) while he’s at it. I like to see a rough edge like that once in a while. I totally cracked up when he started explaining the philosophy behind the sounds and music in his MonoTouch Twitter app called TweetStation. Lovely rant, you should watch the recorded session to know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, it’s very nice to see that the choices we made with our mobile x-platform efforts are supported by these guys. I totally think it’s the right way to go to embrace the native UI look & feel of the OS to fully leverage the end user experience on that OS, while sharing as much (business logic) code as possible across platforms.

Mind bending UX – UX Lightning. Four speakers, each given 10 minutes to tell their story. The UX Lightning sessions have been a really fun way to get our minds on the design/UX/UI side rather than code and technology. Inspiring talks by all three, and as expected with beautiful PPT slides. Robby Ingebretsen (@ingebretsen on Twitter) had a very nice talk about how ideas come and evolve. Ideas come in hunches… he explained how to deal with those and bring those ideas to life. Nice!

Developing iPhone and iPad Applications That Leverage Azure by Simon Guest: interesting session as well, because of my love for… well, you get the point… He showed how to handle the API for Blob and Table storage on Azure from Objective-C (must be possible from MonoTouch as well), and how you could architect an Azure worker role that sends push notifications to Apple devices. The part I didn’t really like was a demo of putting a web application inside PhoneGap and put it on the iPhone. It’s the opposite of the philosophy I just mentioned in the paragraph about Mono(Touch). PhoneGap is nice, but I feel you’re left with a UI that feels native to none of the platforms you put the app on. If you want a web app, just make it a web app in the browser.

Advanced Features in Silverlight 5 by Nick Kramer: pretty nice session that covered some new features that come in Silverlight 5. There were three that I found particularly interesting: multiple window support for in-browser apps, web browser control for in-browser apps (yes, this sounds like Inception) and the PivotViewer control. Holy awesomesauce, the PivotViewer control is unbelievable. I see a lot of interesting data mining scenarios with this control.

I asked Nick about the support for WS-Trust, WS-Federation, and some of the other more advanced web service scenarios, especially for security. He said that Microsoft aims to put this into Silverlight 5 by its final release. I hope they will!

For those who wonder: SQL CE will not be part of Silverlight, at least not in the Silverlight 5 time frame.

We had one last walk on The Strip, grabbed a bite to eat in an Italian restaurant inside The Venetian, watched one last show of the Bellagio fountains and had a last drink in the Mandalay Bay casino. And that concludes MIX 2011 and our trip to Las Vegas. What an awesome city, and what an awesome conference! We had very nice discussions, got some really nice sessions and gained a lot of knowledge. Tomorrow we’re leaving town.

Just when we land on Saturday, our colleague Marcel de Vries (@marcelv on Twitter) will be flying to Vegas for the VSLive! conference. He has a couple of sessions there. I want to wish him the best of luck for his sessions, and I’m sure he’s going to enjoy Vegas as much as we did!

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