I'm getting on a plane at 8:00 Pacific Time to head for Las Vegas and Microsoft's MIX conference. With the rumors swirling around about what is going to be announced, this should make for a very news-heavy conference. And even though the most prominent RIA company (Adobe) isn't involved, I can't help but thinking that this is going to be a bit of a coming of age party for Rich Internet Applications.
A ton of time and effort went into the MIX conference. In just a couple of iterations, this has become a big conference for Microsoft with heavyweights like Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie involved. But this isn't your typical Microsoft conference, it's focusing on things like experience, design and 'devigner' workflow. It's talking about technologies like Silverlight, Windows Presentation Foundation and ASP.NET AJAX, all some form of Rich Internet Application technology.
MIX is partly Microsoft's call for designers. But it's also a call to Microsoft's own developers that this stuff is here and it's important.Adobe and Macromedia always had designers, and when RIAs started to take off, they were able to use that designer base to create some great experiences. But Microsoft has developer numbers that Adobe can't match. For the first time we're seeing the lines between those two groups blur and Microsoft and Adobe are reaching into each others camps trying to grab resources. There's a battle for developers going on, but there is also a battle for designers and a battle for the best workflow. When those areas all come together, we can build some great applications.
MIX is partly Microsoft's call for designers. But it's also a call to Microsoft's own developers that this stuff is here and it's important. In some ways Microsoft is taking a risk by talking to its large developer base about cross platform web technologies like Silverlight. If those developers don't like the Microsoft solution, Adobe will be happy to tell them about others. In the end, MIX is going to bring together a new group of people and get them talking about better software and better experiences. I'll drink to that.