The seagulls were swooping past me this morning through the briny mist as I walked to the Brighton international conference centre about to start Microsoft Remix 2008 – the question on everyone’s lips being, “Does Microsoft tell a credible web design and construction story?”
It is oft argued that the problem RIAs appear to be having at the moment is perhaps one of image and perception more than anything else. Developer scepticism appears to be centred around the limited systems resources RIAs have access to from the sandbox environment they run in. Again, the question is – will our mind be put at rest over these next two days?
There’s some eminent speakers lined up, Dr Neil Roodyn for one. I’ve worked with him down in his native Australia and what he doesn’t know about MS code development is probably not worth worrying about. Paul Foster is down here too, another chap who speaks without any corporate twoddle and someone I’ve known for years. Finally, Monsieur Silverlight Scott Guthrie is here too – I think he prefers Microsoft VP, but either way it’s an interesting line up.
Back to the misgivings about these Microsoft technologies though… complexity and security of applications have also been cited as concerns, but the most fundamental apprehension among users and developers alike is a reliance on a web connection. While some aspects of this technology extend to the ‘occasionally connected’ space, wireless broadband everywhere is not quite here yet so there are still limitations brought about by connectivity.
Although Microsoft does have solutions to this problem (the Sync Framework for example) – today, they don’t seem to be available in Silverlight. Though it does have the ability to read local files via a user controlled open file dialog and a basic model for saving data locally using secure isolated storage. Some say this puts it ahead of Adobe’s AIR and Flex technologies in terms of security considerations.
This is my prediction for where Microsoft will try and win us over – they know that they can tell us the strength of the Silverlight approach is that it leverages the existing .NET developer community - and Silverlight 2 includes a version of the .NET Framework. There is arguably not much to argue about on that point. But is it enough? We shall see.
I’m used to Vegas and Florida for most developer conferences - so Brighton is something of a change. Rather than having the Grand Canyon an hour away, we had a pleasant drive through West Sussex yesterday afternoon on the way down. Rather than the option visit the Everglades when the conference is over, we might just take a ramble up over Beachy Head and look over the fine views of the white cliffs. Most likely I’ll be reliving everyone’s favourite scene from Quadrophenia though, our hotel is just near Brighton’s Lanes area after all!