MIX09 Day 1 Announcements (Silverlight 3, Expression Blend Sketchflow, SuperPreview)

MIX 09 keynote has just finished, luckly everything was streamed live so that people like myself not lucky enough to be in Las Vegas could also follow. Good news for the rest of the event as well: about 24 hours after the sessions, all is available on demand from the MIX website: http://live.visitmix.com/

Bill Buxton kicked off the keynote talking about design and experience. Next Scott Guthrie aka “The Gu” got the announcements rolling. The on-demand video of the keynote should be available soon at the MIX site.

Silverlight 3 Beta 1

A new beta of Silverlight five months after the Silverlight 2 RTW in October 2008 marks Microsoft’s investment in this technology for sure, and delivers quite some interesting new features.

Running Silverlight apps offline and out of the browser

One of the new features in this beta is the ability to build Silverlight apps that work wherever the user is: at home, at work, be it with or without connectivity. Silverlight provides the ability for app consumers to detach applications for offline use, launch the application locally, and to remove the application later, all the while ensuring the application stays up-to-date. The developer on the other side has the ability to program against the loss of connectivity.

Other features, not an extensive list:

  • Controls and framework
    • Multi-select listbox
    • Web Service credentials support
    • Save File Dialog
    • Multi-touch support
    • Element to element binding
    • Binary XML support
  • Media:
    • Native support for MPEG-4-based H.264/AAC Audio
    • Support for H.264, smooth streaming full HD (720p)
    • Raw audio/video support meaning audio and video can be decoded outside the runtime and rendered in Silverlight, extending format support beyond the native codecs.
  • Graphics:
    • Support for 3D
    • GPU support
    • Bitmap effects
    • Custom animation easing
    • Improved image scaling features
  • .NET RIA Services: Multi-tier data programming model, with caching, validation support


Expression Suite

Blend 3 (preview)

The main new feature demoed was Sketchflow: end to end design experience, going from conceptual models to interactivity to finalized applications. Check out Christian Schorman’s blog post about this feature.
Also worth mentioning: coding C# or VB is now possible within Blend 3.

Download Expression Blend 3 preview
As far as I could find out, Sketchflow was only demo’ed but is not yet part of the preview download.

Note: try installing Blend 3 preview on a test machine or VM, especially if you are working on Silverlight 2 projects. Opening a Silverlight 2 project in Blend 3 will upgrade the project to Silverlight 3 and that’s probably not what you want.

Expression Web – and SuperPreview

One of the announced features of the new Expression Web is something called SuperPreview. This tool allows you to test your rendering using several browsers and browser versions, without having to install the actual browsers on the machine.

Check out the Expression team blog and find the link to the beta SuperPreview dowload: http://blogs.msdn.com/xweb/archive/2009/03/18/Microsoft-Expression-Web-SuperPreview-for-Windows-Internet-Explorer.aspx

Azure Services Platform

Azure Services platform was first announced at PDC 2008, with MIX there are a few new updates worth mentioning:

  • FastCGI support: good news if you want your PHP or Ruby hosted on Windows Azure
  • Full trust applications
  • Geolocation: at this moment there are two US based datacenters to choose from but you get the idea: through the Azure Services Developer Portal you get to choose on which location your apps run. This is utterly important for applications that need to comply with certain geographic regulations for keeping data in a certain location (in a country for example). More on this on the Windows Azure team blog.

Lots more, some recommended places to check out more:

Tim Sneath’s live blogging on the MIX site: http://visitmix.com/Opinions/ – first thing to read for an almost minute by minute keynote transcript.

Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit: http://blogs.msdn.com/angus_logan/archive/2009/03/19/announcement-reach-your-people-everywhere-in-real-time.aspx

Silverlight.net site: Getting started with Silverlight 3 Beta.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer v2: http://www.microsoft.com/web

Twitter: lots of people attending MIX09 are using Twitter, I’m also tweeting tomorrow during keynote day 2. You can follow me at @katriendg.