Friday, September 16, 2005

PDC Keynote: Eric Rudder

Eric Rudder - Senior VP Server and Tools Business

The main topics for Eric's keynote was Windows Workflow Foundation, Acrylic, Sparkle, and Quartz.

Windows Workflow Foundation
Windows Workflow Foundation blindsided me a little bit and I'm really excited about what this technology is going to provide for the development process.

It is a unified workflow framework that uses a provider architecture for extensibility and extends .Net. It is used to capture the complex workflow in an application and make it easier for developers to visualize and build workflow into their applications. Workflows can be described using declarative markup (XAML), code or a combination of the two.

With WWF, you can use Visual Studio tools to create a flow chart or state diagram and add activities to that diagram. There is a WorkFlow class and an Activity class that relate the diagram to the code. You can set breakpoints on the WorkFlow or activity and you can step through the activities in the work flow in the debugger right in to your code.

So many applications involve work flow that this framework foundation is going to be great.

Acrylic is a graphic design tool that does both vector and raster graphics. "The professional design program that brings together the richness of pixel-based painting and the performance of editable vector graphics". Of course it exports to XAML. They did a demo of the smart select and inclusion tool which made selecting a person out of a photo as easy as a couple of intuitive clicks.

Quartz is Microsoft's new Web Designer. They demo'd the integrated support of style sheets and XSLT where changes in either the designer or the files stayed in sync with each other in real time while having a very accurate design surface. Of course, it also has ASP.Net integration built in.

Sparkle is the XAML based interactive designer that integrates with Visual Studio projects and uses MSBuild. This is the tool you would use to create a next gen WPF UI with rich media. You can build XAML controls and create and hook up animations based on events all within Sparkle.

This was the first public unveiling of Cider. Cider is a XAML design time editor within Visual Studio. Visual Studio will have intellisense on the XAML and will keep the XAML and cider surface in sync. In fact, the internal XAML formatting is also preserved by Cider. This is what a developer would use to build the code behind a XAML UI.

Finally, the last part of the keynote was on Application Customization which was VBA in the past but is moving to .Net technologies.

Lots of great stuff! It was exciting.


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