Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Microsoft’s Mix ’06 Conference

Category: .NET, Mobile, Toolkit, UI

>The Ajaxians are at Microsoft’s Mix conference this week. Mix is a new event for Microsoft, designed to target those folks who aren’t the typical attendee of a Microsoft show. The content is basically a primer of what Microsoft is up to, focusing on IE7 and Avalon (WPF). Plenty of other news outlets are covering Microsoft’s announcements at the show, and frankly, most of the content isn’t new material, but there are a couple of items we want to highlight:

First, Microsoft announced the release of a “go-live” license (effectively immediately) for Atlas to accompany the latest beta (“CTP” in Microsoft-speak) release, making it legal to use in production and bringing it one step closer to final release.

Second, today Microsoft gave out more information on their “WPF/E” (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere) product, the portable subset of Avalon (i.e., WPF) that is positioned as a Flash-killer. Here’s what we learned:

  1. WPF/E allows a subset of XAML to be rendered in a browser on IE and Firefox on Windows and Safari (Firefox?) on OS X (Linux and Solaris support uncertain).
  2. This subset consists of a pretty impressive set of functionality, including: 2D vector graphics, advanced text rendering, audio/video playback, imaging, animation, and advanced composition of graphical elements. In short, all of the pretty eye-candy coming in the new WinFX APIs with the exception of 3D graphics and the Metro document rendering (i.e., MSFT’s PDF killer; my my, they are really going after Adobe, aren’t they?).
  3. WPF/E will also include a standard controls library as well as layout managers. Controls will be extensible; custom layout managers will likely not be supported.
  4. WPF/E is targeting a beta release for 3Q 2006 and a final release in the first half of 2007.
  5. WPF/E includes a port of a portion of the .NET run-time, meaning it can execute C# and VB.NET on platforms other than Windows. This is interesting news for folks clamoring to have .NET ported to non-Windows platforms. However, because WPF/E does not include the standard .NET run-time class libraries, its ability to execute .NET code is fairly inhibited. WPF/E will ship with a specialized small set of class libraries designed just to serve the needs of WPF/E development.
  6. WPF/E supports seamless integration of JavaScript with the WPF/E environment, just like the Ajax/Flex bridge we covered a little while ago. Browser JavaScript can interface directly with the WPF/E DOM, and vice versa. Pretty neat. Microsoft gave several demos of animation controlled by JavaScript as well as other sophisticated JavaScript-controlled interactivity.
  7. The anticipated size of the WPF/E run-time will be 2 MB or less. Microsoft side-stepped questions about their distribution plans for the plug-in; their only real statement on the subject was that they hope the plug-in achieves ubiquity (no kidding).
  8. Someone asked about SVG and WPF/E, but Microsoft side-stepped the question entirely.
  9. WPF/E uses its own video playback engine for video-related content; it does not rely on Quicktime on the Mac or Windows Media Player on Windows.
  10. A mobile devices version of WPF/E is targeted for 2Q 2007.

The demos of WPF/E were very impressive. On both Windows and OS X (and in multiple browsers) Microsoft showed video content and interactive 2D vector content being rendered quickly and smoothly — the rendering performance seemed at least as good as Flash.

With Microsoft’s new suite of designer tools targeting XAML as an output format, and WPF/E as a cross-platform, cross-browser delivery platform for that content, it will be interesting to watch how Ajax versus Flash versus WPF/E plays out in the marketplace, and how all these technologies are used to complement each other as time marches on.

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Posted by Ben Galbraith at 8:15 pm
17 Comments

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Someone asked about SVG and WPF/E, but Microsoft side-stepped the question entirely.

fuckers.

Comment by Hubris Sonic — March 21, 2006

[...] Meer informatie hierover vind je op bij Ajaxian.com. [...]

Pingback by Scriptorama » XUL, XAML en WPF/E — March 23, 2006

Great blog post on WPF/E

There have been a few blog posts popping up about WPF/E, but Ben Galbraith’s over at Ajaxian is…

Trackback by Mike Harsh's Blog — March 23, 2006

“This subset consists of a pretty impressive set of functionality, including: 2D vector graphics, advanced text rendering, audio/video playback, imaging, animation, and advanced composition of graphical elements.”

Umm, sounds like they were showing Flash…

-p

Comment by Paul — March 23, 2006

WPF vs. Flash

Trackback by JCooney.NET — March 23, 2006

MIX 06: Mashing Up Web 2.0 and Live Software

The much-anticipated MIX 06 event finished up yesterday in Las Vegas and I’ve been pondering the meaning of the whole thing since. Without question Microsoft is holding out an olive branch to the concepts in the Web 2.0 practice set (SPARK bein

Trackback by web2.wsj2.com — March 23, 2006

“Umm, sounds like they were showing Flash…”

… except for the part about tools that embrace design and code views. You know, at the same time. For the same elements. Not either / or. Adobe should be scared. If they don’t address the challenge, there is no question what I will be developing with next year.

Comment by Michael Fortson — March 24, 2006

The problem with flash is that its programming model is inaccessible

Comment by Sunshine — March 24, 2006

My understanding on the XAML vs. SVG thing is that it’s not really about the web. XAML was developed primarily for desktop applications, and WPF/E is a subset of that which makes sense on the web.
So the choice was between having two models (one for the desktop, one for the web), or a more unified approach that’s not following the standard (SVG) but is close enough that there are automated translators.

Comment by Jon Galloway — March 24, 2006

Thanks for the writeup, Ben.

Michael, Sunshine, if you’re interested in seeing code while seeing design, check into Flex Beta 2, expected for final release this June. Doesn’t let you draw apples and write C#, but the Eclipse IDE lets you work visually or textually simultaneously.

jd/adobe

Comment by John Dowdell — March 25, 2006

… except for the part about tools that embrace design and code views. You know, at the same time. For the same elements. Not either / or. Adobe should be scared. If they don’t address the challenge, there is no question what I will be developing with next year.

Hello. I’m not sure what you mean by “embrace design and code views… at the same time…” The Flash authoring tool and Microsoft’s (Sparkle) Interactive Designer provide access to code in very similar ways. Flash has a script editor built in. If you’re referring to the underlying file format that MSFT is going to use, XAML, you might want to take a look at Flex and Flex Builder (based on Eclipse) which use MXML – a similar declarative format for building Flash applications.

Comment by Mike Downey — March 26, 2006

The demos of WPF/E were very impressive.

Hi Ben. If you thought animated rectangles with semi-transparent fills floating on top of a stock photo was cool, I have some links to send you. ;-)

Comment by Mike Downey — March 26, 2006

WPF/E brings CLR and .NET Framework to Mac and Firefox

Trackback by Vasanth Dharmaraj's Blogs — March 27, 2006

Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere ( WPF/E ) at MIX06

WPF/E is a cross-platform (POR is windows + mac, linux tbd) subset of WPF that runs in a browser..

Trackback by On .net client stuff.. — April 3, 2006

[...] In my new job I’ve been doing some research on technologies for the next major revision of our products. Vista will (hopefully) be released long before these products go to market and as such it would certainly seem prudent to take a look at WinFX (and specifically WPF) for that work. For those of you who don’t know what WPF is (and I have to ask what rock you’ve been under) it’s the Windows Presentation Foundation and provides Vista with it’s WOW factor. Our products encompass not only the Desktop but also the web so any technology that provides us a way to appropriately leverage it’s technology to both platforms certainly has benefits. WPF has all of the right things for desktop but what of the Web? Well it would seem that MS has answered that with WPF/E (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere). The question is how does this relate to other non-Microsoft browsers like Firefox or Opera (or even Safari) and that’s where the /E comes in. Microsoft has committed to providing plugins for the most popular browsers and a simple API that will allow integration into the less common ones. This means that we could potentially develop our app to run with a consistent user experience for both Web and Desktop. [...]

Pingback by The Goyette Family Blog - WPF/E - The /E is for EVERYWHERE — May 10, 2006

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Comment by Jaime — December 10, 2007

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