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MIX06 Day 1 Recap XAML, WPF, WPF/E

Pete Brown - 20 March 2006

Day 1 started with Bill's Keynote and ended with a short trip to TAO (a little too claustraphobic for me), and some time at the slots. Here are the highlights from today:

XAML Flow Documents

One of the less-touted but still very interesting bits of WPF is the new XAML document support. XAML Flow Documents (a type of loose XAML) provide a great way for folks to get document content pushed out within their organization, and also published to the general public (eBooks and the like). The documents support embedded fonts, zoom in/out, cleartype, automatic column breaks and layout, and sophisticated printing.

Unfortunately, Office 12 does not appear likely to ship with any real XAML document support other than fixed-format XPS, so either third parties will have to step in, or people will need to write XSLT against word document XML to transform it to XAML. That's unfortunate, as I believe strong support in Microsoft Office is key to getting this new standard adopted by the masses. Even if MSFT offers an add-in later, it will be too late, as most folks don't download office add-ins.


One of the best WPF applications I have seen so far was the BBC demo in today's keynote. In that demo, the BBC showed how they have created a rich Vista UX using their content servers and a WPF client. The client allows the user to quickly search all of the broadcasts from the last week, download and view them, and share them with friends in their address book. It's very slick, and definitely something to see.

My Yahoo Goes WPF

The folks from Yahoo and MSFT demoed the next version of My Yahoo. This new version is a browser-hosted WPF application which uses all the rich capabilities of WPF to display a more interactive, more customizable, and more performant "My Yahoo" portal page. Not only that, but it uses their existing XML messaging APIs, so they did not have to make back-end changes to support it.

This is yet another example of where the web could go, and is something I am all for. It's a rich client delivered via the browser and retrieving data across the internet.

iBloks WPF App

Another company has put together a great application using WPF - iBloks. This is a commercial creativity application targeted towards teens. An interview and demo may be found here. (The iBloks site was brought up for the MIX demo, and may be 404 by the time you read this.)


Windows Presentation Foundation / Everywhere (WPF/E) was introduced during the PDC this past September. At that time, the references to it were pretty vague. This time around, I was actually able to see a demo of WPF bits running as components on an ASP.NET web page. While this is very promising, it is not my primary interest. I really want to see WPF running on devices. Unfortunately, the web piece will roll out their first CTP around Q3 this year, while Windows Mobile and other device support won't roll out until 2007.

The WPF product manager did commit to having WPF/E running on Linux and the Mac as well as under FireFox on Windows. In fact, one of the demos showed the WPF/E bits running nicely under FireFox on the PC, and also under Safari on the Mac.

WPF/E includes a subset of XAML and uses JavaScript instead of C#/VB.NET for code. It retains the rich 3d, vector and bitmap support from the full version of WPF.

Tomorrow I will attend a dedicated WPF/E presentation and will find out more details.

Media Center

There's a lot of lip service being paid to Media Center and Media Center Extenders (like the XBox 360). A session later this week covers designing for the ten foot interface, and promises to be interesting. Microsoft is really into combining the power of the PC, the fat internet pipe, and our HD TVs all together to provide a real entertainment experience.


After the debaucle with the original centralized Passport service, I'm surprised MSFT has stepped up to end-user credentials management yet again. This time, though, I think they're on the right track. InfoCard is a great way to store snippits of your personal information used to authenticate you to a site. Instead of relying on a centralized (hackable) data store, the information is federated across various sites with which you do business.

InfoCard is not a client-side username/password manager. Instead, it is a first step towards eliminating usernames and passwords as the method by which users are authenticated.

RSS Simple List Extenions

This was demoed today and briefly discussed. It deserves better coverage, so I'll see if I can get into the RSS session.


One thing that takes some getting used to, if you're from Maryland, is the fact that folks can and will smoke everywhere but the elevators. That's a lot of second hand smoke. It's odd to see people light up in the hall just outside of the conference room in between sessions.


You didn't make MIX06? Check out Virtual MIX06. You will see the BBC demo and the MySpace information in the keynote video.

posted by Pete Brown on Monday, March 20, 2006
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