Thursday, September 22, 2011

Geolocation in HTML 5

Ok, so it’s not actually part of HTML 5 (the spec), but conceptually at least it’s definitely part of HTML 5 (the brand).

So what’s actually involved. Hmm. OH MY GOD IS IT THAT EASY !?
function showMap(position) {
// Show a map centered at (position.coords.latitude, position.coords.longitude).

// One-shot position request.

[from the W3 geolocation spec]

So you just rock up to and ...

Holy crap. I won’t show you the resulting map because it shows where I live. What’s really freaky about that is this netbook doesn’t have a GPS. So either Windows 7 or IE 9 has fallen back to IP-based location inference, and somehow still got me only one house out.

I’m totally freaked out.

Anyway, the point of all this is that IE 9 is the browser for Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), which – if it actually supports this API (and Wikipedia says yes it does) - means you can write location-aware mobile apps targeting Mango without having to ‘go native’. And for the demo I want to put together, this can only be a good thing...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Windows 8: First Impressions

Q: "Your first impression? Love or hate?"

Well that's a really good question.

I was always horribly dissapointed with my HP TX2 multitouch laptop, and whislt some of that was about the hardware (rubbish battery life, noisy fan), some of it was just how non-touch capable Windows 7 was to actually use. Windows Media Center achieves many of my 'media center kiosk' wants, but doesn't let me Skype or browse the web without dropping back to the desktop and so forth. Then you've got to go and find the mouse and all that crap. I realised that, like Media Center, a different usage type required a very different UI experience.

So in many ways what I was after was absolutely where Windows 8 is going. And (in the 30 mins I've actually played with it) I love it for that.

That being said, they're going to have to be really careful they don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Ok the desktop's still there for 'traditional' apps, but the Start bar is gone, as is apparently ALT-TAB task switching. And without a touch screen, that metro UI really sucks actually.

It'd be more than a shame if embracing a device/cloud future required ditching 10 years worth of desktop productivity, it'd be a Vista-scale corporate-desktop disaster.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yes, Silverlight is Dead

Not exactly quick off the block predicting this, but I didn't want to rush to judgement. But yes, Silverlight is dead, on the desktop at least.[1]

Why? Reach. Silverlight was always going to be playing catchup to Flash, which took pretty much a decade, remember, to get ubiquity. Silverlight just didn't have time on its side. Today if you build an app in Silverlight you can target contemporary browsers on Windows/Mac. By contrast if you build it in HTML you can target Macs, Linux, iPods, iPads, Android, Windows Phone, Kindles, PS3... the list goes on.

To put Silverlight out to all those individual devices is going to take Microsoft a heap of time and effort. By contrast all of those devices have web browsers already, most of them pretty good ones, and getting better all the time.

It's a numbers game. The browsers finally won.

But can HTML realistically replace Silverlight? Absolutely. Not entirely, not today, but surprisingly close, and getting closer by the day. The foundations for mature, maintainable web-client development are finally being put down. And the tooling. Visual Studio 2010's javascript IntelliSense is pretty damn impressive, and already supports jquery for example. Add support for MVVM development (ala knockout.js) and you've got a decent development workflow to rival what you might be used to in WPF/Silverlight/Winforms land (we'll probably see more about this out of Build this week). And don't forget there's a JS version of RX.

Sure, browser-based javascript is somewhat limited compared to the Silverlight runtime. The touch support isn't quite there yet, for example. But it's more than enough to support UI interaction, and the gap's closing awfully fast.

As a developer who started in web, then moved to the desktop I'm really excited about all of this because I can see a future that finally blends the best of both worlds.

[1] I'll clarify before I get flamed: Silverlight is not dead today. I'll be starting a new project using it real soon actually. But the transition is going to be pretty abrupt. I'll be amazed if you start any new Silverlight projects next year.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

#AUTechEd 2011

The condensed version

Updated Links now point to Channel 9 site, where the videos will end up

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