mr mann's mishmash

it's just a game of give and take…

/BUILD/. Now wasn’t that a conference of suspense! Wow. Windows 8, redefining our interactions and embracing not just the traditional computer, but tablets and other touch devices too. I have not seen such a bold statement of intent since PDC2000 when Microsoft announced it’s plans for a revamp of it’s code/application subsystem – .NET!

My tweet during Build Now there has been a lot of debate before, during and after /BUILD/ about Silverlight and WPF – people still seem to be looking for confirmation that these are dead technologies? I watched the keynotes and some of the sessions and quickly came to the conclusion – No.

Sure, emphasis has been given to Windows 8 and the greater adoption of HTML5 but if you ignore the new Metro style features, Windows 8 is still a Windows operating system. This is borne out of the one of the two most frequently quoted slides from /BUILD/ – the Metro vs Desktop runtime slide (see below). There is still nothing stopping you from developing and deploying a WinForms, WPF or Silverlight application on Windows 8. If you want your application to take part within the Metro-style framework, then you’ll have to expend a little bit of effort converting it over to the WinRT framework.

Windows 8  application frameworks

Honestly, Silverlight 5 was made release candidate a couple months ago so there is still commitment from Microsoft that the Silverlight runtime and tooling will continue. Windows 8 is still in preview and while most people seem to be treating it as a solid, fully functional OS, it is not.. and won’t be till release! Things can and most probably will change before it’s shipped. Consider then, that most organisations who are currently upgrading from Windows XP/Vista can only jump to Windows 7 at the moment – plus a significant number of them won’t jump to Windows 8 straightaway. So, despite Windows 8 backward capability, many organisations will remain on Windows 7 till it runs out of Microsoft product support on it’s 10th birthday (or thereabouts) so dare I say, we’ll have about the same longevity in our Silverlight or WPF applications.

I could go on, but I’ll save it for a Silverlight UK User Group night! I was not one of the fortunate people to attend /BUILD/ in person. Instead I had to watch the keynotes over the web – which gave some but not all the story or atmosphere of hype and anticipation. Thus I wanted someone who attended, to bring back and disseminate the knowledge of /BUILD/. Step in Derek Lakin from Pixel Lab. He’ll give us a round-up of the pertinent parts of /BUILD/ whether it was the keynotes, demos or the shiny new Samsung Windows 8 tablet that was given away as the free gift (or that the conference fee subsidised!).


Date: Wednesday 12th October 2011
Time: Registration @ 18:15, Kick off @18:30 – please don’t be late! Till about 20:30
Where: EMC Consulting 
Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9EU.

Registration is required, so please register by sending us an email.
Registered attendees will be notified with any final details by Monday 10th October. If you change your mind and decide on not coming, please be considerate of others and let us know in good time so that we can release the space to someone on the waiting list.



Registration @18:00

Welcome/Kick off @ 18:30

/BUILD/ Conference Roundup & First Hands On WinRT
with Derek Lakin from Pixel Lab

Since Derek went to /BUILD/ who better to give a roundup of the conference… the hype, the buzz, the sessions, the demos… the free gift! Giving his own personal thoughts and opinions to the event, Derek hopes to impart some of the more important and lighter parts to the conference. Since Windows 8 played a large part of the announcements, Derek will also perform his own demo to show the re-purposing an existing Silverlight application (from his website) into a Windows 8 Metro application on WinRT using the preview.

End. (officially the end, but no doubt we’ll find a nearby bar to continue any discussion!)


About Derek Lakin

Derek Lakin 

Derek Lakin is the Senior User Experience Developer at Pixel Lab. He has been writing desktop and web-based client applications using the Microsoft technology stack for over a decade. He is a talented developer with the ability to deliver high quality visual and interactive experiences. He has co-written training courses on client technologies such as WPF and Silverlight for Microsoft product groups and Microsoft Learning. He currently maintains the blog Windows Phone From the Trenches.

Derek Lakin’s blog | Twitter: @dereklakin | LinkedIn Profile

Many members of the Silverlight UK User Group are on Twitter, thus both myself and Michelle use it as our primary method of getting the relevant community or technology news out to the masses. So follow us if you like or take a look at the twitter hashtag we adopted, so that all the Silverlight UK User Group related stuff is neatly huddled together:

Please register and I hope to see you there!



 Want to join the discussion?
The event is geared to please/interest/inform both developers and designers alike, so if you are interested in coming along then please contact us and we will be glad to add you to our events mailing list.

Want to present or showcase?
We are always on the lookout for presenters for future sessions – whether it be a high or low level coding walk through, a workflow perspective or showcase demo. If you think that you have a topic/presentation that ought to be shared with the community then please contact me and I’ll see if I can get you scheduled in!


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.
permalink to the original post here

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 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.
permalink to the original post here

I’ve been using AutoMapper on a number of projects for a number of years now and it’s always been a love/hate relationship. AutoMapper is a great  little .NET class library that takes the pain out of mapping one class to another but sometimes it makes me nervous when I just trust the magic and wonder what it’s really doing because although it hides the chore of reams of mapping code, is it also hiding mismappings? Just to prove this point, I discovered an innocent misuse of the AutoMapper configuration in my current project…

For some bizarre reason, the timestamp property on one of our C# classes seemed to be stuck in the past – across all instances it was the exactly the same time, rather than updating to the current time. The only place where the time was set, was in the following AutoMapper profile declaration:

Mapper.CreateMap<LoginPostModel, LoginAuditDetail>()
    .ForMember(dest => dest.OccurredAt, opt => opt.UseValue(DateTime.UtcNow));

Reason is because, UseValue is a static, so it’s set once when the MapProfile is instantiated and all subsequent .Map() invokes will use the same static value. Hence the sticky time value.

Mapper.CreateMap<LoginPostModel, LoginAuditDetail>()
    .ForMember(dest => dest.OccurredAt, opt => opt.MapFrom(src => DateTime.UtcNow));


So when would you use UseValue ? Using a static value would be more applicable when setting up fixed Enums or custom values that are dependent on the mapping. For example:

Mapper.CreateMap<Account, CurrentAccount>()
    .ForMember(dest > dest.InterestCalculated, opt => opt.MapFrom(src => InterestCalculatedEnum.Daily));

Mapper.CreateMap<Account, SavingsAccount>()
    .ForMember(dest => dest.InterestCalculated, opt => opt.MapFrom(src => InterestCalculatedEnum.Monthly));

Mapper.CreateMap<Account, BondAccount>()
    .ForMember(dest => dest.InterestCalculated, opt => opt.MapFrom(src => InterestCalculatedEnum.Annual));


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.
permalink to the original post here