Synetrix Real World Experience


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My slide deck from the Silverlight Insight talk at Birmingham University. The day was intended to give academics and lecturers an insight into what Silverlight was all about.

My talk at the end of the day was an example of how Silverlight is being used in the real world.

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  • IntroName & roleSynetrix - managed services provider of applications & infrastructure solutionsFor Clients in the UK Public Sector and EducationTalk about the Learning Curve in action – the story of the design and development of our Silverlight based Virtual Learning EnvironmentY = KnowledgeX = TimeFrom first principles, to current level of expertise
  • The BriefLeeds Learning NetworkInternet Services Provider Over 400 learning and education centres and 120,000 users in LeedsIncreased functionality for managing courseworkUsing Microsoft Learning Gateway (SharePoint based learning platform)SharePoint Learning Kit & Course managerTranslated: A VLE?Extra functionality, communication and collaboration – with an improved common user interface = a VLE requirement
  • FOWD London 2008 Silverlight Aston Martin Configurator – Splendid Example of what could be done with Silverlight, confirmation that it was all that Flash and other leading RIA technologies could offerRelease of Expression Blend 2.5 and Silverlight 2 BetaPrevious Month at MIX 08 in Las VegasWorkshop on Silverlight given by the guys at TrickyBusiness.Insight into the working process and capabilities of BlendHow a designer actually go about creating elementsAnd incorporate them with developers’ code
  • Adoption / penetrationEarly days – little support or knowledgeLow market share compared to Flash which due to penetration had become a de facto standard.StandardsNot an Open Web standard.Company backgroundProprietary technologyAccessibilityCompared to straightforward HTMLCustomer reticence to go with a less established platformPressure on us to justify its use – easier to go for something well known; less risky
  • Skill-set and resource matchC# .NET DevelopmentSharePoint Deployment and CustomisationInterface DesignCustom Application developmentOnline Learning ExperienceCustomer’s existing technology stackSharePoint ArchitectureMS Tech based – known quantityDesire for rich user experienceEasily achievable cross browser, platform independent solutionEarly interface conceptsA rich interactive and immersive experience. An interface outside of the norm. Most VLE interfaces, if browser based have tended to be fairly dry, and putting the information ahead of the user experience.
  • Making the decision to use SilverlightProject goalsA rich interactive and immersive experience. An interface outside of the norm. Most VLE interfaces, if browser based have tended to be fairly dry, and putting the information ahead of the user experience. Our skillsC# .NET DevelopmentSharePoint Deployment and CustomisationInterface DesignOnline Learning ExperiencePromise for the futureAccessibility through UI AutomationMore tools and resourcesFar reaching roadmapSupport and Weight of Microsoft
  • MS supportPromise for the future...Accessibility through UI AutomationMore tools and resourcesFar reaching roadmapSupport and Weight of MicrosoftPower and FlexibilityC# processing power over JavaScript/ECMAScriptSupport for dynamic scripting languages via the CLRBecause...To have the opportunity to develop in a promising emerging technology is exciting, and offers the chance to be at the cutting edge of web development.  Which then offers the company something of a USP as an early adopter / practitioner and service provider. It’s nice to be different sometimes; but not just for the sake of it...
  • Starting from scratchHit the ground runningInvest the time before hand to enable a productive startEnsure we have the right people, in the right balanceAdopting Agile methodologyNew way of working, with its own challenges.Perfect fit for the way we needed to develop the AppDifficult to estimate something you’ve never done beforeLearning new technologiesSilverlight 2.0 BetaXAML, Styles, User controls, Custom controls, Resource Dictionariesfinding metaphors for things you could relate to in previous experienceLanguage Integrated Query (LINQ )- Separate data-access layer; data from different sourcesWindows Communication Foundation(WCF) – inline with the current stack contemporary with existing technology. Wanted REST difficulties integrating... but lighter weight than ASMX
  • The Learning ProcessTransferable skills HTML and CSS – XAML and stylesC# .NET development experienceTimeline based animation in FlashDesigner developer workflowDesign processCustom Controls – code and skinProject complexityExpression Blend & VS2008How best to use them together
  • Steep curveHard to get traction at firstDifficult to know best way of doing somethingLots of hoursBeta platformMoving goalposts at each updateLack of support inside and outside MS (those in the know were still developing it!)Adapting and refactoring from WPFFun & ExcitingWhy we do this jobJust can’t leave it aloneSmall Victories – big eventGreat energy in the office
  • ProgressAcceleration in productivityFewer false startsExperience grows, Knowledge sharedTurnaround much fasterGrowth in Silverlight Community and resourcesblogs from Messrs Guthrie, Heuer, Liberty et al, code samples3rd party components, CodeplexTeam finding their placeSpecialisms & preferences emergeFinding their flair – the lines between logic and behaviour become blurred at timesPairing Developer and Designer
  • Synetrix Real World Experience

    1. 1. Silverlight InsightReal World ExperienceThe Learning Curve in action<br />Nick Harewood<br />Synetrix / i2Q<br />
    2. 2. The Brief<br />The customer: Leeds Learning Network<br />Increased functionality for managing courses<br />Translated... A VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)?<br />
    3. 3. First exposure<br />FOWD London 2008<br />Release of Expression Blend 2.5 & Silverlight 2 Beta<br />Workshop on Silverlight from TrickyBusiness<br />
    4. 4. Against Silverlight<br />Low adoption and market share<br />Web Standards<br />Customer reluctance<br />
    5. 5. For Silverlight<br />Match for existing skill set & available resource<br />Customer’s existing architecture<br />Desire for Rich User Experience<br />
    6. 6. Making the decision to use Silverlight<br />Meeting Project Goals<br />Utilising our skills<br />Promise for the future<br />
    7. 7. For Silverlight<br />Microsoft support & momentum<br />Power and Flexibility<br />Because...<br />
    8. 8. Starting from Scratch<br />Hitting the ground running<br />Adopting an Agile methodology<br />Grasping New technologies<br />Silverlight, LINQ, WCF<br />
    9. 9. Gaining traction<br />Applying Transferrable skills<br />Designer – Developer workflow<br />Expression Blend & Visual Studio 2008<br />
    10. 10. Ups & Downs<br />Steep Curve<br />Beta platform<br />Buzzing!<br />
    11. 11. Progress<br />Acceleration in Productivity<br />Growth in Silverlight community & resources<br />Team finding their place<br />
    12. 12. DEMO!<br />
    13. 13. Achievement<br />Overcoming project obstacles<br />Delivering it at all<br />Being there first<br />
    14. 14. Hindsight<br />Wait for RTM before diving in too deep?<br />A better overview of the entire project scope<br />Better management of controls and styles<br />
    15. 15. Silverlight 3<br />Out of browser<br />Pixel Shading & Perspective 3D<br />Enhanced Data Support<br />
    16. 16. Silverlight 3<br />Enhanced Media capabilities<br />Advanced Accessibility Features<br />Improved productivity<br />
    17. 17. Expression Blend 3<br />SketchFlow Prototyping<br />Sample Data integration<br />XAML & C# Intellisense coding<br />
    18. 18.
    19. 19. Questions?<br /><br /><br />