Crikey, it really has been 2 months since the Silverlight UK User Group (SLUGUK) last got together for an evening of Silverlight. I’ve always tried to get presenters and sessions lined up so that we can have a SLUGUK every 6-8 weeks… but they are proving a bit elusive at the moment. Coupled with the fact that we are undergoing flooring repairs at EMC’s Notcutt House this puts the diary under pressure with other hosted events competing for our favoured venue.

In the 3 years that I’ve been organising SLUGUKs, I’ve had presenter droughts before, but this feels strangely different. I’ve gone round the houses a couple of times and finding fresh presenters is becoming tricky – it seems that the next wave of Silverlight innovators are overseas and getting them to the UK is not an easy task with no budget.  For those UK based Silverlight’ers, it’s not that everyone’s quiet… it’s more as if the market has evolved. When Silverlight made it’s foray’s into the bright world it was put to good use with delivering high quality video playback, data visualisation and immersive interfaces. While those capabilities are still Silverlight’s core strengths it seems that the advent of a new HTML5 / CSS3 world is encroaching upon that domain and pushing Silverlight (and WPF) into the world of finance and investment banking where consistency, security, and speed define the minimum requirements. This has produced an unexpected problem – getting willing demos of these reactive financial beasts is untenable due to the intellectual property amassed in these Silverlight applications. Damn.

Microsoft Build ConferenceI suspect that another reason for the unusual quietness of the summer is that everyone interested in Silverlight, WPF, HTML5 and Windows is waiting in anticipation of the ‘Build Windows’ conference coming in September. Microsoft will be showcasing their progress on designing and building the next version of Windows — Windows 8 — which promises some radical rethinking and reengineering of the Windows Operating System we know of today. It is from the snippets of information from official sources and rumour that has led to many a story and comment about the future of Silverlight and WPF, since the  ‘Build Windows’ conference spends more time talking about HTML5, JavaScript and Internet Explorer 10 than the technology that underpins the SLUGUK.

In 1995, Windows changed the PC. BUILD will show you that Windows 8 changes everything.

I remain optimistic though. Indeed, Microsoft are promising a Windows 8 to redefine how we perceive and use computers, making much more use of multi-touch and cloud technologies, with a user interface that is ubiquitous across PC, tablet (slate) and phone. The website may announce a “new app model that allows you to create powerful new apps” and “web-connected and web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript have access to the power of the PC” but we are also promised “backwards compatibility”. I doubt that Silverlight will be relegated to the position of being only a  Windows Phone 7 application platform. I do hope that it is recognised that Silverlight does have a place in the web technology stack and on the on the desktop too –  maybe as some sort of WPF hybrid.

Ordnance Survey getamap The reason for this optimism is that earlier this year, a project that I’ve been part of since it’s inception as the principal architecture authority came to fruition, and the Ordnance Survey getamap website was born to the public. There is only so much I can disclose, but it’s built in Silverlight using the Bing Maps Control, using services from Bing Maps and is a fully featured interactive mapping application (obviously). Silverlight proved to be the best technology for the job not only for the consumer experience, but also in driving down development/testing costs. I’m pretty chuffed at this accomplishment and you can read more in my blog post: “I made this – Ordnance Survey getamap”. I’m also readying a brief technical tour of the project, hopefully for the next Bing Maps UK User Group.

So, as the calendar turns over into September, I continue on my quest to bring some more Silverlight or WPF presenters/topics before you. If you know of someone who is itching to present at a SLUGUK or you’ve seen them on the user group circuit already or have a topic that you want to know more about, then please let me know. Suggestions are always welcomed and whenever possible, accommodated. Send an email to silverlight.usergroup@emc.com or add a comment to this blog post. If the speaker drought looks likely to continue through September, I’ll give a shout to a Silverlight Surgery so that there is a more social evening to get together and discuss the outcome of the ‘Build Windows’ conference.

 

This is a cross post from my EMC blog, mainly for backup duplicity and to aggregate some of my past postings. My EMC blog used to be under the Conchango brand but was acquired by EMC so I’ve also retrospectively refreshed some of the old links and maybe a tweak a bit of content too.
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