Upcoming Area Events

by dboynton 10/31/2008 12:30:35 PM

It's been awhile since I posted about the many local events being offered by Microsoft in this part of the country and, frankly, they've kind of piled up on me.

The topic for this quarter's ArcReady is Professional Patterns on the Job and will focus on soft skills that good architects need everyday on the job. Here is an excerpt from the event description:

You're smart. You deliver. What more could your company want from you?  Why don’t they come to you for the big technical decisions? Why won’t they listen to your proposals? It seems like everyone has an agenda and they’re doing everything they can to kill your great ideas.

Join us this quarter as we focus on the soft skills that architects need to master. Learning these skills will boost your emotional intelligence and help you become a more professional, well rounded contributor. You’ll gain insight into the architect’s role as leader, influencer, and business professional and learn how to leverage your position to become a positive force within your organization.

ArcReady is offered throughout the central part of the country by the Microsoft DPE team. You can register for your local event at www.arcready.com. The following lists the cities and dates for ArcReady this quarter, with cities in the North-Central district in bold red:

11/04/08    Omaha, NE
11/06/08    Des Moines, IA

11/11/08    Bloomington, IL
11/12/08    St. Louis, MO
11/13/08    Overland Park, KS
11/13/08    Waukesha, WI
11/17/08    Knoxville, TN
11/18/08    Franklin, TN
11/19/08    Downers Grove, IL
11/20/08    Minneapolis, MN
11/20/08    Indianapolis, IN
11/20/08    Dallas, TX
11/25/08    Southfield, MI
12/02/08    Houston, TX
12/02/08    Mason, OH
12/03/08    Independence, OH
12/04/08    Austin, TX
12/04/08    Columbus, OH
12/09/08    Chicago, IL

MSDN Unleashed
On this current tour, MSDN Unleashed will be focusing on what's new in SQL Server 2008 for developers and building applications with the newly released Silverlight 2.0 RTW. Here is the schedule for this event over the next month:

10/27/08 Marshall, MN

11/13/08 Overland Park, KS

11/19/08 Downers Grove, IL

11/6/08 Des Moines, IA

11/13/08 Waukesha, WI

12/3/08 Independence, OH

11/11/08 Bloomington, IL

11/17/08 Knoxville, TN

12/9/08 Chicago, IL

11/12/08 St. Louis, MO

11/18/08 Franklin, TN


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Expression Encoder 2 SP1 Available

by dboynton 10/31/2008 10:04:44 AM

MicrosoftExpressionEncoderBox With all the video editing and publishing I find myself doing these days, I have to tell you that Expression Encoder is becoming one of my favorite applications. I actually use Sony Vegas Pro to edit and construct my videos, but then I use Expression Encoder to convert the raw video output into HD streaming format and, using an awesome plug-in available from the Expression web site, I can publish my content directly to my Silverlight Streaming account in the cloud. It's quick (possibly the fastest encoder I've used) and super easy to use -- exactly the way it should be.

The product group announced Tuesday on their team blog that Expression Encoder 2 SP1 would soon be available for download and laid out the key capabilities available via SP1, namely:

  • Full support for Silverlight 2 applications
  • New Silverlight 2 templates which include rich functionality such as DVD-style chapter navigation, subtitles and metadata
  • Encoding support for H.264/AAC video
  • Publish content to IIS and other servers that support the WebDAV protocol for use with IIS Smooth Streaming

To this last point, IIS Smooth Streaming is the new name for what had previously been called "adaptive streaming" for Silverlight. Essentially, Smooth Streaming enables video playback to dynamically assess changing network and PC load conditions during streaming and make adjustments to the bitrate on the fly, creating a seamless viewing experience for the user. IIS Smooth Streaming will be included in the upcoming IIS Media Pack.

Expression Encoder 2 SP1 became available for download yesterday from here. If you're a frequent user of Encoder like I am, I encourage you to pull it down and install it today. The new Silverlight 2 templates are very cool and worth the installation alone.

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Silverlight 2.0 RTW and Expression Blend SP1

by dboynton 10/14/2008 2:07:00 PM

Unless you've been under a rock or too preoccupied watching your retirement fund dwindle away to what used to pass for gas money, you know that the big news out of Microsoft today is the release-to-web of Silverlight 2.0. I know for many of us, this has seemed like a day that couldn't arrive too soon. It seems like a long time, but when you stop to consider that Silverlight 1.0 was released just over a year ago, the product team really did a fantastic job getting this done.

Silverlight 2.0
microsoft_silverlight ScottGu posted on the release this morning, so I'll refer you to his post for all the delicious details about the final set of features that made their way into the RTW of Silverlight 2.0. For my part, I'll repeat the major developer-centric features Scott talked about for you here:

  • WPF UI Framework: Silverlight 2 includes a rich UI framework that makes building rich Web applications much easier.  In includes a powerful graphics and animation engine, as well as rich support for higher-level UI capabilities like controls, layout management, data-binding, styles, and template skinning.  The WPF UI Framework in Silverlight is a compatible subset of the WPF UI Framework features in the full .NET Framework, and enables developers to re-use skills, controls, code and content to build both rich cross browser web applications, as well as rich desktop Windows applications.
  • Rich Controls: Silverlight 2 includes a rich set of built-in controls that developers and designers can use to quickly build applications.  The Silverlight 2 release includes core form controls (TextBox, CheckBox, RadioButton, ComboBox, etc), built-in layout management panels (StackPanel, Grid, Panel, etc), common functionality controls (Slider, ScrollViewer, Calendar, DatePicker, etc), and data manipulation controls (DataGrid, ListBox, etc).  All Silverlight controls support a rich control templating model, which enables developers and designers to collaborate together to build highly polished solutions.
  • Rich Networking Support: Silverlight 2 includes rich networking support.  It includes out of the box support for calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS, and standard HTTP services.  It supports cross domain network access (enabling Silverlight clients to directly access resources and data from resources on the web).  It also includes built-in sockets networking support.

  • Rich Base Class Library: Silverlight 2 includes a rich .NET base class library of functionality (collections, IO, generics, threading, globalization, XML, local storage, etc).  It includes rich APIs that enable HTML DOM/JavaScript integration with .NET code.  It includes LINQ and LINQ to XML library support (enabling easy transformation and querying of data), as well as local data caching and storage support.  The .NET APIs in Silverlight are a compatible subset of the full .NET Framework.
  • Rich Media Support: Silverlight 2 includes built-in video codecs for playing high definition video, as well as for streaming it over the web (including both live and on-demand support).  Silverlight includes support for adaptively switching video bitrates on the fly based on network conditions (enabling users to avoid seeing the dreaded "buffering..." message), placing and metering ads within video streams, as well as enabling content protection. 

And most impressively, all of this comes in a download package just 4.63 MB in size. That's  really amazing stuff. I encourage you to download and install the RTW package today.

Expression Blend 2 SP1
blend For many of you, Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 CTP has been key to building your Silverlight 2.0 application for the past several months, myself included. In order to support the RTW release of Silverlight 2.0, the Expression team released Service Pack 1 for Expression Blend 2 today as well. This will update the current version of Expression Blend to support Silverlight 2.0 design and development. Also, if you are using the trial version of Blend, you can install SP1 to update your trial software. In addition, SP1 will extend your trial period an additional 60 days.

Beyond enabling Silverlight 2.0 projects, SP1 enables two key new features in Expression Blend 2: Control Skinning and Visual State Manager.

Control skinning gives designers the ability to visually customize controls to enable them to exactly fit the function they play within an application, while the ‘Visual State Manager’ gives a flexible and visual way to control precisely how each element of a control will behave and look in a given state. Whether an element in a control snaps into position or glides, moves in a linear fashion or with inertia, the designer has the freedom to quickly and accurately experiment with different interactions before finely tuning and finalizing the user experience of the application.

To begin building your Silverlight 2.0 applications in Expression Blend 2, download it here.

So, it's been a big day of releases and there even more to come. As you may recall, there is this little conference call the Professional Developers Conference in LA at the end of the month. I see Silverlight playing into a lot of the other big announcements that are going to be made that week. Will you be there? I will. If you'd like to synch up while we're in LA, please leave me a comment on this post and we'll see about chatting at PDC.

Have fun Silverlighting.

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RIA | Silverlight | Expression Blend

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Denny Boynton Denny Boynton
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