Thursday, 15 September 2011

First Impression of the Build

Just before the build started I had a chance to talk to a user experience MVP and to a company that has made some compelling applications for Health care and emergency services. This was quite fortunate because the majority of this conference is all about a revamp of the way that the user experiences Windows. Basically over the coming years there will be a shift towards touch based applications. The vision is that all screens will be touched enabled and the ones that are not will feel antiquated when used.

It was very interesting talking to Christian Moser before the conference. He is writing a book on User Experience where controls are represented by a kind of design pattern. For a control to be successful it’s use must be intuitive which means that it’s use should be common knowledge. This means that you should think twice before inventing a new way of interaction. In the context of Windows 8 this is going to be interesting because there are a new gestures that have been invented. Also the concept of having a less cluttered desktop with active tiles has an impact on the design of applications. I heard a lot the buzz word of “Re imagine your application”. There are a lot of sessions around this Metro style. It was also emphasized that for some applications the chrome style is simply the most appropriate UI and that this will be continued to be supported. While I was talking to Christian he mentioned that in his book he will be describing some aspects of expert users. Before the build the example on an expert user was the airline booking system which is a command line interface that requires a lot of training but is super efficient. I could imagine that the difference between metro and chrome would go down the same lines. Chrome seems to be based on the philosophy that “Less is more”, according to my friends at BlackMarble most users really appreciate something like this.

In the key note it is really sure that Silverlight is definitely not dead. In fact MS has been working on making it possible to program the UI in languages programmers might choose. This includes the HTML5/Java script as well as C++. Performance and energy saving has become a key factor in the design of Windows 8.

Before the conference I was talking to some friends at Black Marble about how an application can determine where it is. For example in a hospital application your device should know what other devices are nearby. This can be done in several ways. One way is to use the SID of the wireless network. This works quite well but there can be problems of leakage of signal from one zone to another. Another method that could be used is GPS repeaters. This is essentially like setting up a GPS satellite within your building. This could be particularly interesting for emergency services in conjunction with some mapping on a Surface 2 system to keep track of where there fire fighters are etc.

Part of the Windows 8 slate included a touch sensor. The concept is that two people are using an application and what to collaborate. So they physically touch there slates and an electronic handshake occurs that enables further communication over Bluetooth etc. This also works with sensors which I believe work by induction and need no battery. Another example is a business card that when touched opens a web browser to a website. Another example starts an application that if not present will install it first then run it.

There is really a lot going on. I have met up with some HPC / Azure MVPs and discussed some of the problems that I encounted when making my cat model in the cload. Basically my problem was that I was not able to transfer a 60 GB VM into the cloud including a local SQL Server. The suggestion was to use SQL Azure and transfer data via blob storage. Also to think about TriadLinq which is a way to spread out queries onto multiple VMs. The thing is Azure is simply way cheaper than using in house servers. So I will attend some sessions that will look at these in a little more detail. On the Slate PC is a pre beta version of Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2011. I have also got an evaluation version of the SaaS version of Team Foundation Server 2010 which contains a lot of Application Lifecyle Management features that are all a part of professional software engineering.