Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Fast and Fluid: A Reboot!


For the past 3 years I've been a Silverlight developer, chasing contract opportunites that somehow never seemed as profuse, long-lasting or just plain enjoyable as the former ASP.NET and general C# .Net ones I'd worked on for the previous decade and more.

Despite the best efforts of the 'Microsoft echo chamber' (I think the phrase "wannabe-MVP circle-jerk" sounds so much more apt!) it seems very few companies bought into the Silverlight/WPF dream.

Those that did, in my experience, chose to ignore the technology's weaknesses (primarily lack of reach, as well as memory leak and performance issues) whilst commissioning over-engineered, difficult-to-maintain applications that didn't play to its strengths (rich UI experience), and then wondered why the customers actually paying the hugely inflated bills that resulted and who'd not been told of any strengths or weaknesses ended up less than impressed.

Not much fun, if all you want to do is create great apps even if (as I am) you're a fan of the underlying technology and its usage where it's appropriate!

But we're in a new world now.

Microsoft have taken a broom and done away with the old (although the echo chamber is still in denial - plus ca change). The more intelligent observers have already spotted that the new tools released in preview format last night, have better support for Javascript than XAML, that most of the demo's are in HTML and Javascript, and that (to quote Rob Eisenberg, author of the excellent Caliburn Micro open source framework for MVVM) 'neither Silverlight nor WPF are available for writing Windows 8 Metro applications'.

On 13th September 2011 Microsoft FINALLY went public on their plans for a 'reimagining' of Windows and software applications of the future: delivering a 'fast and fluid' mantra for building applications for the modern world. Applications that they rather annoyingly call Metro Style Applications (naming things was never Microsoft's strong point!).

A future that supports multiple device form factors and where Touch is the first class citizen - an equal to the mouse and keyboard rather than some half-forgetten relative.

The world of the next version of Windows - Windows 8.

It's early days for this new world and there are still many questions to be answered. As a Silverlight developer and fan, do I stick with what I know (the XAML world) or do I take a step back to HTML, CSS and Javascript (do the consumers of my app care which I use? Of course not - only if it affects the delivered app or its cost of delivery)

Stay tuned for accounts of my experiences in the 'fast and fluid' new world, together with the odd rant or two ;-)

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