The Journey of the Lunch Launcher: Part 1 - The origins of the 'lunch launcher'?

Several years ago, when I first joined the .NET Compact Framework team, we took some time (a week, if memory serves) to play with our product.  We called that our "app building" time.  At it's heart, app building is an opportunity for us to get a feel for the experience our customers will have with our product.  Whenever app building time is scheduled, I'm like a kid in a candy store. :)

During that first app building week, many of us got together to brainstorm cool applications.  One of these we called the "lunch launcher".  In a nutshell, the lunch launcher would be a social application that allowed friends to invite each other to lunch at a specific time and collect votes for the desired restaurant.  Shortly before the scheduled time to eat, a notification would be sent to everyone with the selected restaurant.

Unfortunately, the lunch launcher was an application whose time had not yet come.  It was not technically feasible to write a networked application that communicated point-to-point with other devices to schedule lunch, so we shelved the idea.

Shelved, that is, until we started planning .NET Compact Framework version 3.5...  enter the Windows Communication Foundation.

About two years ago, Roman Batoukov wrote a post titled "Windows Communication Foundation (Compact Edition) and the story of the Lunch Launcher".  As Roman (and later, Mark Prentice) described, version 3.5 adds a subset of the Windows Communication Foundation that was released as part of version 3.0 of the .NET Framework.  While planning the Windows Communication Foundation subset, an epiphany occurred.    Why not implement a Windows Communication Foundation channel that uses email as the transport?  Using email for communications would provide a number of big benefits, most specifically a means for addressing the device, regardless of which network it is currently on, and a way to store messages for later transmission if the device is offline at the time of the send. 

As a member of the Windows Communication Foundation feature team, I started thinking about the lunch launcher again.  When we were preparing for MEDC 2007, I had the privilege of writing and debuting the concept in front of more than 400 attendees and talking about it one-on-one with many throughout conference.  The lunch launcher was finally alive!

For the remainder of this series, I will be talking about my journey of writing the lunch launcher (one that I am still embarked on).  I will start with the original MEDC 2007 demo application and go through the evolution of the application wanted to write when we first dreamt of the lunch launcher.  I hope you will find my tale interesting and informative.

Take care!
-- DK

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
The information contained within this post is in relation to beta software. Any and all details are subject to change.