MDC 2010 Takeaways

I attended the Minnesota Developers Conference (MDC 2010) yesterday in Bloomington, MN.  A nice dose of conference-motivation–some good speakers talking about great technologies.  In the FWIW category, here are my lists of takeaways for the talks that I attended.

1.       Keynote – Rocky Lhotka (Magenic)

General overview of development landscape today, especially focused on cloud computing and the use of Silverlight.  Takeaways:

  • We’re finally getting to a point where we can keep stuff in “the cloud”, access anywhere, from any device
  • Desire to access application data in the cloud, from any device, applies not just to consumer-focused stuff, but also to business applications
  • Smart client apps, as opposed to just web-based, are important/desired – intuitive GUI is how you differentiate your product and what users now expect
  • HTML5 is on the way, will enable smart client for web apps
  • Silverlight here today, enables smart clients on most devices (not iPhone/IOS)
  • Silverlight/WPF is ideal solution.  You write .NET code, reuse most GUI elements on both thick clients (WPF) running on Windows, and thin clients (Silverlight) running web-based or on mobile devices
  • I didn’t realize that I have in common with Rocky: working on teletypes, DEC VAX development, Amiga development. :O)
  • http://www.lhotka.net/weblog/ , @RockyLhotka (Twitter)

2.       WPF with MVVM From the Trenches – Brent Edwards (Magenic)

Practical tips for building WPF applications based on MVVM architecture.  What is the most important stuff to know?  Excellent talk.  Takeaways:

  • MVVM excellent pattern for separating UI from behavior.  Benefits: easier testing, clean architecture, reducing dependencies
  • MVVM is perfect fit for WPF apps, very often used for WPF/Silverlight
  • MVVM perfect fit for WPF/Silverlight, makes heavy use of data binding
  • Details of how to do data binding in MVVM, for both data and even for command launching
  • How to use: data binding, DataContext, Commanding, data templates, data triggers, value converters.  (Most often used aspects of WPF)
  • Showed use of message bus, centralized routing of messages in typical MVVM application.  Reduces coupling between modules.  (aka Event Aggregator).   Used Prism version.
  • Slide deck – http://www.slideshare.net/brentledwards/wpf-with-mvvm-from-the-trenches
  • http://blog.edwardsdigital.com/, @brentledwards (Twitter)

3.       Developer’s Guide to Expression Blend – Jon von Gillern (Nitriq)

Demoing use of Expression Blend for authoring UI of WPF/Silverlight apps.  Also demoed Nitriq/Atomiq tools.  Takeaways:

  • Blend not just for designers; developers should make it primary tool for editing GUI—more powerful than VStudio
  • Lots of tricks/tips/shortcuts – he handed out nice cheatsheet – http://blog.nitriq.com/content/binary/DevelopersGuidetoBlend.pdf
  • Very easy to add simple effects (e.g. UI animations) to app elements to improve look/feel, just drag/drop
  • Nitriq – tool for doing basic code metrics, summaries, visualize code, queries that look for style stuff.  (Free for single assembly, $40 for full )
  • Atomiq – find/eliminate duplicate code, $30
  • http://blog.nitriq.com/, @vongillern (Twitter)

4.       Introduction to iPhone Development – Damon Allison (Recursive Awesome)

Basic intro to creating iPhone app, showing the tools/language/etc.  From a .NET developer’s perspective.  Takeaways:

  • You have to do the dev work on a Mac—no tools for doing the work on Windows
  • The tools are archaic, hard to work with, much lower level than .NET.  (E.g. no memory management)
  • In many cases, consider creating web-baesd mobile app, rather than native iPhone.  But then you wrestle with CSS/browser issues
  • Worth considering creation of native iPhone app for the best user experience
  • Lots of crestfallen-looking .NET developers in the audience
  • http://www.recursiveawesome.com/blog/ , damonallison (Twitter)

5.       A Lap Around Prism 4.0 – Todd Van Nurden (Microsoft)

Showing Prism—a free architectural framework written by Microsoft, came out Patterns and Practices group.  Good for creating extensible apps, with plug-in model.  Takeaways:

  • Leverages MEF (Microsoft Extensibility Framework)
  • Good for apps where you have the idea of a lot of “tools” that plug into main application architecture.  Or for applications made up of various building blocks.
  • You write application modules that are decoupled from main app framework, loaded on demand.
  • Prism on Codeplex – http://compositewpf.codeplex.com/
  • http://www.spoke.com/info/p5rAVze/ToddVanNurden
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