Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Daily Review #10: Build Session transcripts

The Daily Review - 28th September 2011

Build Transcripts

As well as being a C# .NET and Silverlight developer who's looking at Metro and Windows 8, I'm a video guy (you can see some of my videos here, although you might want to avoid the most recent wedding video trailer that heads up the list!)

For the last few years I've been recording video for UK user groups like the Silverlight UK User Group, The Edge User Group and The Azure User Group and even a guest slot for the NxtGen User Group. I'm a big fan of video for capturing good user group talks and making them accessible around the world.

But I know the limitations of video, and to my mind the Microsoft Build Conference videos, just like those of training companies like Pluralsight, and Total Training are of limited usefulness without backup in the form of collateral representing the reference material that was presented. They're missing a trick here!

After all, if you go on an external training course you get a course manual - something to help you refer back to the material that was presented and which you haven't got the time to go back and sit through all over again.

Why should online training - and many of the Build sessions were effectively online training - be any different?

This whole thing about online training and the lack of support collateral is no doubt a subject I'll come back to on Friday when I publish the first official fast and fluid Product Review. This will be for the new Fundamentals of MEF video course put together by Jeremy Likness for Addison-Wesley (Pearson). Like all product reviews it will be a product I've paid for, rather than the sort of 'favour to friends' review that pollutes so many of the blogs these days. That being said, the teaser preview for the full reviews goes something like this: Outstanding!

The lack of summary collateral from any of the online training companies is something I find so irritating that you can expect to see an announcement about some better video online training, WITH SUPPORTING COURSEWARE, from a company not a million miles removed from the one behind this blog ;-) Watch this space!

Anyway to get back to Windows 8 in general, and the Build Conference in particular: At the time of writing MSDN really doesn't have the collateral that Windows 8 developers need.

There are some basic bits there, but lots of holes and gaps, as might be expected for an operating system that's a year away from being stablisied and launched. What's irritating is that there is actually a treasure trove of information to be found amongst several hundred hours of Build videos that nobody in the world has the chance of sitting all the way through, even if you do have the good sense to play them back at double speed.

A few days ago I was watching Krzysztof Cwalina's excellent A .NET Developer's View of Windows 8 Application Development talk and it occurred to me that here was training material that answered pretty much 90% of the questions and complaints and misunderstandings I see being raised and re-raised in my Twitter stream. Small sections of it seemed to provide the source for whole pages of blogs, most of which, as I pointed out rather tersely on Sunday, didn't credit the original source.

It occurred to me that a transcript of a fact-packed talk like Krzysztof's would prove an extremely valuable reference document.

And so began my plan to publish transcripts of the more information packed Build talks.

Page screenshot from the first Fast and fluid Build transcript

The problem was deciding where to start. Krzysztof's talk was perhaps an obvious choice, but there was one Big Overview talk that, although padded out with a lot of repetition and marketing material, was absolutely essential to understanding the background to the new operating system BEFORE starting to dive into the developer essentials.

I then had to choose how to best present the good stuff from these talks. Should I go for short, edited 'key point' transcripts, or should I go for full transcripts which, in the case of long talks like the Big Overview ones, would represent up to 200 pages of transcript - a veritable book that even with a decent table of contents would take some time to pick through.

To avoid accusations of 'censorship', or 'picking the most controversial bits', I decided to go with the full transcript approach, and today sees the first transcript available for download at the Fast and Fluid web site.

Page screenshot from the first Fast and fluid Build transcript

The videos, of course, should be your primary resource.

However the transcripts will hopefully be good reference backups - the missing 'course handbooks' that I feel are needed given the paucity of information about Windows 8 that's available other than from these videos. The transcripts have the advantage of being portable on laptops, netbooks, iPads and even phones if need be, with an index that enables you to dive in to the appropriate section of the talk, and frequent cross-references to the timing of the video so that you can go back and check the original source if you need to. For those talks missing PowerPoint downloads (which annoyingly are not stored anywhere on the associated video download pages, and are missing for many talks) they also offer hard copy of the slides that were projected.

I hope you find these transcripts as useful as I do. The plan is to release Krzystof's talk transcript early next week, with Anders Heljsberg's excellent The Future of C# and Visual Basic to follow shortly after.

Please let me know if there's a particularly strong talk you really want to see in transcript form from fast and fluid, or if you have any suggestions for how future transcripts can be improved, based on your analysis of the first one.

WPF murdered, Silverlight taken into custody

Today's "News" Links

Must Read! Windows 8: Through the Eyes of Consumers (Mashwork)
An analysis of social media and the public reaction to Windows 8. It all looks very encouraging for an operating system that's a year away from delivery.
Good Read! Firefox 7 Now Officially Available. Promises 'Significantly' Reduced Footprint (Donald Menelson, Engadget)
Mozilla are claiming 'up to' 50% reduction in memory usage. This has about as much validity as me claiming that I've improved my productivity by 'up to 95%' when I've barely made any difference at all! Remember when Scott Guthrie told us that Silverlight was installed on 'up to' 60% of all internet connected devices?! See what I mean!
Good Read! Microsoft releases security advisory on SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 (Jerry Bryant, Microsoft)
There's a problem, but apparently it's "industry-wide" with "limited impact".
Good Read! Adobe VP on HTML5 and Why He's Not Giving Up On Flash Yet (Austin Carr, Fast Company)
He likes HTML5 but thinks Flash is faster to innovate!

Today's "Opinion" Links

Good Read! 10 Days with Windows 8 Developer Tablet: "Too Early To Tell" (Patrick Moorhead, Techpinions)
Patrick highlights some important issues around his first 10 days (as a non-developer) using Windows 8 on a tablet.
Good Read! Build Conference Developers Have Decisions To Make (Takeshi Eto, Discount ASP.NET)
Apparently Microsoft has not really taken something away, just given us something new to develop on. Hmmm. So removing plug-in support from Metro is not really taking something away, huh? My bad! </sarcasm>
OK! So I Was Wrong About Silverlight on Windows 8 (Jon Davis)
"Think of Metro as Silverlight's Windows counterpart rather than as Silverlight's would-be host / container.", says Jon. Sounds about right to me.
OK! Windows 8 & Windows Live Id: Microsoft's Privacy Policy (Todd Bishop, GeekWire)
"A recap of yesterday's announcement from Microsoft.
OK! Did Microsoft Employees Really Walk out on Ballmer at Microsoft's Annual Meeting? (Preston Gralla, Computer Weekly)
Basically the answer is "Nobody knows."
Meh! A Gentle Comparison Between Windows 8, 7 and Vista (Praveen, Daily Blogging)
Gentle??!? More like 'extremely thin'.

Today's "Technical" Links

Watch It! .NET 4.5 Portable Libraries (David Kean & Marcea Trofin, Channel 9)
Channel 9 (50 minute video) walk us through the Portable Libraries in .NET 4.5. A bit long and meandering, but there's good information in there. They neglect to mention that you need to be an MSDN subscriber though since the Portable Library project template isn't in the Express edition SKU of Visual Studio 11.
Good Read! INotifyPropertyChanged Woes? Too Much Ceremony? (Matt Duffield)
Matt introduces the INotifyPropertyWeaver project to remove all that databinding fluff from your viewmodels.
Good Read! Windows 8: "All You Want to Know" Help Guide (BitHacker, Webscopia)
If you're struggling to find your way around the new Windows 8 UI, this should help.
Good Read! Windows 8: How to Close Tile Apps and How do They Work? (PureInfoTech)
Short and sweet comparison between Metro and Windows 7 closing of applications.
Good Read! Day 2: Building a Metro App with Visual Studio Express (Stephen Forte)
Stephen's written his first 'Hello world' Metro app and even has a video of the finished results for you to watch. If you haven't yet dived into Visual Studio 11 you might find this a fun place to start.
Good Read! WPF 4.5 Part 8: Finally I can Use the WebBrowser Control (Jonathan Antoine)
Part 8? How did I manage to miss parts 1 to 7? Click on the Home page link to get to the other parts if you're using WPF on Windows 8.

Today's "Fun Stuff" Links

Good Read! Microsoft Sends an Ie9 Cupcake to Mozilla For Shipping Firefox 7 (Tom Warren, WinRumours)
Actually I'm not sure this should be filed under 'Fun Stuff' rather than 'Extremely Childish Stuff'. As my old schoolteacher used to say 'First time was't laff. Second time was't bore. And third time was downright rude'!

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