Microsoft's Web vNext: architectural implications of Web 2.0

I'm here at a panel called 'Web vNext' at the Microsoft TechEd 2006 conference in Auckland, New Zealand (I'm at the conference courtesy of Microsoft NZ). The participants are George Moore (GM for the Windows Live Developer Platform), Ron Jacobs (Microsoft), Rowan Simpson (TradeMe.

I'm here at a panel called 'Web vNext' at the Microsoft TechEd 2006 conference in Auckland, New Zealand (I'm at the conference courtesy of Microsoft NZ). The participants are George Moore (GM for the Windows Live Developer Platform), Ron Jacobs (Microsoft), Rowan Simpson (TradeMe.co.nz), Scott Guthrie (MS Web Dev GM). The idea of the panel discussion is to address the architectural implications of 'Web 2.0' - which Microsoft is calling 'Web vNext' for this purpose.

Will XAML kill Web 2.0?

Someone asks if XAML interfaces will "kill web 2.0", in terms of Scott: it's hard to do richer experiences with javascript. So people will experiment with WPF, Flash, etc usurping ajax development [XAML is the markup language used with code name Avalon, now Windows Presentation Foundation]. Scott says that there are two trends they've seen with ajax - a server-side or html approach where the interfaces are smoother, which he says is fairly easy to do. The other side is sites that create very rich, immersive experiences that push the boundaries of the browser. He gives live.com as an example of the latter - but he says it's really hard to do those richer experiences with javascript (memory limitations, etc). So he says people will experiment with WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), Flash, and similar technologies. But Scott notes that this doesn't replace web 2.0/ajax, but rather gives options for richer apps.

Getting new technologies out to developers quickly

A question from the audience asks how is MS getting new technologies out to developers quickly? Scott says they have CTPs - Community Technology Previews - which get things out to the developer community quickly. With web 2.0 technologies - like Atlas and LINQ - Scott says it's important also to tap into blogs, forums and wikis to make sure they're getting feedback from people.

Scott says web 2.0 developers fall into 2 buckets - those that don't necessarily care about compatibility (i.e. they like/need to experiment, break stuff) and the other bucket is those that do care and don't want to re-design their apps constantly. So Scott says that MS will make it easy for developers to "self-select" which technologies they use, so they know what to expect.

Microformats

Someone from the audience brings up microformats - and whether they'll be important in a Web vNext scenario. Scott addresses how to take technologies like microformats to the masses, which Rowan Simpson noted as a concern around microformats. Scott says microformats will play a role in the democratization of blogging - when blogs go mainstream, they will be written in non-blogging apps like MS Word and read in Outlook, etc.

Fixing the Web of Hacks

A question from the audience says that the Web is currently made up in many ways of hacks - how can that be improved? Scott says that one of the things they've seen from developers is that the first 80% of an app is easy, but the last 20% is hard - due to browser incompatibilities and bugs, etc. So he says that's why popular Ajax frameworks have emerged, like Dojo. He also says that Microsoft wants to create "a native .NET experience running in the browser" - via WPF etc. So he expects the Web to become a richer, more stable developer environment as a result.

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