|By Kevin Hoffman||
|March 18, 2010 10:08 AM EDT||
Windows Phone 7 Series (hereafter I'll just call it WP7) debuted a while ago at a press event but it's true coming out party was this past week at MIX 2010. This conference is a designer-developer hybrid conference and, of all the Microsoft development conferences I've ever attended, this has consistently been the most informative and exciting of the bunch.
In case you've been hiding under a rock this past week, Microsoft has been showing off WP7 and the development experience for it. I'm going to oversimplify here, but this is the basic idea: You can choose to either develop for the platform in Silverlight or you can use the XNA toolkit normally used for building XBox and PC games in C#. WP7 has all the trimmings including push notifications, rich GUI (hardware accelerated), rich audio, the full power of Silverlight's media control, and it even has Xbox live integration allowing you to unlock achievements by playing games on the phone. Development tool is standard Visual Studio and for the Silverlight model you can use Expression Blend 4 to build you GUI (and there are some fantastic new improvements in Blend 4).
I'm going to talk mostly about the Silverlight experience here since the last time I used XNA it was in beta and XNA has come a long way since then and I couldn't possibly do it justice. Your application is made of up pages (this concept should be familiar to SL3 developers), with each page acting like a specialized SL user control. These pages can have an application bar, which is similar to an iPhone tab bar control. The difference is that when you tap the elipsis ("...") on the WP7 app bar, the app bar expands without you losing context while the iPhone tab bar "more" button transitions you to a fairly bland table view controller. At this point you can do pretty much anything you would normally be able to do in Silverlight, but you also get things like raw access to audio from the microphone, pickers for all native types of data on the phone like contacts, etc and the ability to send e-mails and SMS - all the stuff you'd expect to have.
So, how does it feel to code for this thing and, more importantly, how does it compare to writing iPhone apps? First, let me preface this by saying that I've been writing iPhone apps off and on since before the SDK came out and we had to "fake it" with clever CSS and HTML and for the past few months I've been seriously writing heavy duty iPhone apps for real businesses. On many occasions over the past few months, I've said that developing for the iPhone was 'fun' and 'what coding should be like'. That said, I have also forcibly rammed my head into my desk out of frustration with certain aspects of the iPhone development process.
Writing apps that look and feel like iPhone apps that look just like every other iPhone application is a task that takes little to no effort. I can go from empty project to a data-driven table view controller on the iPhone in pretty much no time at all. I can also do the same thing on the WP7 tools in about the same amount of time. Where the two begin to diverge is when I want to start customizing. I won't go into painful detail here because I plan on making a bunch of blog posts about WP7 and comparing it to the iPhone later. There are a few points that I want to make, however:
As I said, I plan on delving into individual topics as I blog more about this, but I wanted to bring this up specifically. Dealing with the App Store and with the Developer Portal in general on the iPhone is a headache at best. When you add into it the juggling, management, and eventual botching of certificates and provisioning profiles, the mess gets even worse. Now you add into it the debacle of getting certificates based on provisioning profiles that are used by your servers to send push notifications to registered iPhone devices and it can bring the strongest of men to weeping on his knees. From firsthand experience, the act of getting your first push notification to work on an iPhone/iPod touch application is akin to climbing mount everest and when you get to the top you're thinking, "#@*! I have to do this again!?" With Apple, the phone contacts Apple to get a notification token (assuming the application is using a provisioning profile configured for notifications), the token then has to be sent by the app's code to the app owner's server for storage. That server needs to be configured with the right certificates to that it can send a proprietary binary package of goo containing the notification to Apple's servers, which will eventually make its way down to your app. Trust me, getting this to work is a victorious moment, preceded by weeks of eye-gouging pain.
Here's how it works with WP7: App gets a unique notification URI that represents notifications for that app on that device. App sends the URI to the app owner's server. When you want to send a notification, HTTP POST the contents of that notification (XML payload) to Microsoft's notification server. That's it. Done.
Small side note here: I like that you can send unobtrusive toasts with WP7 far better than sending modal dialog boxes with iPhone, they feel more like the Palm Pre notifications than iPhone dialogs. There are no certificates and private keys to manage, there are no provisioning profiles to deal with, there are no certificates required to be present on the notification sending server and there is no management portal you have to go to in order to maintain this stuff. For the first time recent history, Microsoft took the "it just works" approach whereas Apple's is hideously and unnecessarily complex.
I alluded to this earlier in the post. If what I want to do is display two rows of textual information in a table view cell, then the iPhone gives me that out of the box and my application will feel perfectly at home on the device. However, when I want to mix in some icons and some other gauges and indicators that might not fall into the existing line-up of controls, I quickly drop from feeling safe and secure to feeling like I'm back in the low-level Windows programming days of yore where everything I do needs to be a custom view with a custom render/paint method. It gets tedious, difficult, and time-consuming FAST.
Because WP7 lets me do all this stuff in Silverlight, I can use the advanced, composited, declarative UI to do truly remarkable things in very little time at all. I could make the cells in my table view (list view or grid in SL) have three rows and put whatever controls I want in there. Creating a type of UI that doesn't exist in the stock toolbox in Silverlight is easy... doing the same in the iPhone feels positively primitive by comparison.
As you'll see in the blog posts I'm planning on doing, WP7 development is like a breath of fresh air. It's funny, because I remember saying that when I first got my hands on the iPhone SDK and I was comparing iPhone development to Compact Framework for Windows Mobile. Cast aside all your preconceived notions about all previous versions of Microsoft mobile OS development - this is something entirely new. Also, keep in mind that when you build your mobile app in Silverlight, if you do it with a little forethought, you could potentially share 90+% of your code for an app that works on WP7, on a PC, and on a Mac.
I will still build apps for the iPhone, but only because people continue to want to pay me to do so. From now on, my mobile development for pleasure is going to be entirely WP7 based.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Nov. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 483
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 29, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 348
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Nov. 29, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 416
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 29, 2015 12:30 PM EST Reads: 423
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 525
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 29, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 324
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 29, 2015 09:45 AM EST Reads: 451
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 29, 2015 09:15 AM EST Reads: 344
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 29, 2015 08:45 AM EST Reads: 218
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 29, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 272
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 29, 2015 07:00 AM EST Reads: 499
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Nov. 29, 2015 06:45 AM EST Reads: 742
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 29, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 555
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Nov. 29, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 375
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Nov. 29, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 460
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Nov. 29, 2015 04:30 AM EST Reads: 484
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Nov. 29, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 377
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Nov. 29, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 597
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Nov. 29, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 339
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Nov. 29, 2015 02:45 AM EST Reads: 427