BUILD 2015 – day 1

Phew, day one of BUILD 2015 has passed and it was a blast. Here we’ll summarize our general impressions, and takeaways from the sessions we saw.

Keynote

A lot more developer focused than we had thought! How about Scott Gu talking about 500+ Azure releases in the past 12 months or Russinovich showing Docker deployment to both Windows and Linux? Hanselman took it away with the entire PLM cycle in Visual Studio Online and a brand new IDE for Linux and OSX: Visual Studio Code.

Things went on with Office 365 APIs that have now been aggregated to one single API for Office docs, OneDrive, Exchange data, etc. Office 365 extensions, built using Javascript and HTML5, run on all platforms including web, Windows, Android and iOS.

Now, onto Windows apps. Microsoft is targeting 1 billion devices running Windows 10 in 2-3 years, and of course needs apps on the platform to do that. Four new ways of creating apps for the Windows Store were revealed: Existing web sites, .NET/win32-apps, re-compiled Android and iOS Objective-C apps. A lot of focus today has been on scaling to different screen sizes and devices, and it all started with Joe Belfiore demonstrating continuum, switching between tablet and PC-mode. He also demonstrated it on Windows Phone,  docking to a screen and keyboard getting the desktop experience. This requires new hardware though, so it won’t be available when upgrading to Windows 10 from today’s range of devices.

And finally, HoloLens. This is a really interesting piece of technology. Nothing really new from what’s been said before, but some cool, inspirational demos.

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Introducing the Windows 10 App Model (2-617)

Nice overview of the new concepts available to Windows 10 apps, and how they relate to earlier versions of Windows and Phone. Since apps are now always resuming by default, a way to return home is needed. On Windows, in tablet/mobile mode, a back button will be added to the bottom area, but the back stack ends with the current app, not as on Windows Phone where you back between apps too.

Apps have new ways of talking to each other. Foreground to foreground has been extended so that an app can ask for a return value, hence the app answering to the share contract does not have to explicitly call the calling app, that is handled by the system. An app can also register a background tasks that other apps talk to, this is used eg between the people hub and the Twitter and Facebook app. The team is also looking into opening direct access to contacts, calendar, email and messaging.

Highly recommended for an overview of the app model.

What’s New in XAML for Universal Windows Apps (2-629)

Most important takeaway here: Windows 10 and it’s apps are themselves built on the XAML stack. Eg the new taskbar calendar view exists as the control CalendarView. Lots of new controls were demoed on Xbox, Pc, tablet, Phone and Raspberry Pi 2. Existing apps will be faster, but even faster after being re-targeted to Win10.

Some new concept are available to create responsive designs: RelativePanel and AdaptiveTrigger. Data bindings have a new compile-time checked cousin in {x:Bind ..}, which is also a lot faster.

Recommended for all XAML developers.

Windows Design for Developers: An Executive Panel (2-778)

Starting out with a presentation by Operating Systems Group Design Lead, Albert Shum, and ended with a Q&A design panel. Interesting discussion on where the Windows design has come from, and where it’s heading – with emphasis on that it really is an iterative process, and that the design is never finished, it will keep evolving.  The panel got into the balance between .NET/win32-apps and modern apps that will now run side by side.

Recommended for anyone interested in design.

Design: UX Patterns and Responsive Techniques for Universal Windows Apps (2-658)

Patterns and methods for responsive design in apps. Design-focused session, very little code. Interesting distinctions between reflowing content vs re-architecting.

Project Oxford: adding smart to your applications (2-613)

Project oxford is the code name of a series of services built with machine learning. You can use these services to find out things from your media files. Such as age and gender of a person in an image, text from a receipt.

Perhaps the coolest thing shown in this session is LUIS (Language understanding intelligent service), which is a text parser of sorts. It takes a sentence and returns the intent of the user, with possible entities such as numbers and the like.

The service is highly evolving and they are looking for your input!
During preview you get 5000 free requests/month, head to http://www.projectoxford.ai/ for more information and demos.
To summerize the summary. If you are looking for inspiration on how you could build awesome into your app, look no further!

What’s New in F12 for “Project Spartan” (3-638)

The new debug tools in Microsoft Edge has gotten a small overhaul since IE11. Now we got more of the things that we expect from the other browsers, making the spartan a more viable first hand dev-choice than before.

One of the new things in the developer tools is how we now can debug async calls. Instead of what we are used to, namely only seing the scoped variables we get a more synchronous-like callstack. So that we for example can see the variables used when we created the web request that now is failing.

In the QA section we were shown a few javascript methods that you can use to apply this call stack building method to your code if needed. If that sounds like your kind of fun, dont forget to check the QA part of the session!

Surviving Success: Architecting Web Sites and Services for Rapid Growth (2-642)

In this session we might not learn anything revolutionary, but the information is good to know and is presented in an amusing and easy going way.

“Why did we crash in production?” This question and how you could try to architect your solution without going overboard is discussed. Highly reccommended!

Here you can find a bunch of anti patterns, some of which are mentioned in this session: https://github.com/mspnp/performance-optimization

HoloLens Demonstration

A limited group of people were given an extra demo of the HoloLens in action. A live skype call  between a PC and HoloLens was shown, and it looked to be working really well. The PC person sees what the HoloLens-wearing person sees, and they can interact. We saw live that the PC person sent 3D objects to the HoloLens space, and drew things as well.

I also had the luck of getting selected to for a user testing session where I got to wear the actual thing and try some gestures. All under NDA, but I can say that I’m impressed with the thing and looking forward to the future!

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