Devreach 2009

Great to get back to DevReach again.. On my last visit in 2006  I took some pictures of Sofia and I was looking forward to revisiting those spots for use in my latest Silverlight application (

** STOP PRESS: just uploaded a few Sofia examples, particularly like the one of the TSAR Liberator! **


NB Steps to View:

1. Load up the site, Zoom out (Mouse Wheel, CTRL+Click or use the slider) to the World,
2. Zoom in to Bulgaria, then Sofia,
3. Mouse over the black icons & click the TSAR Liberator Square info icon.
OK a few people have asked me what I am doing at DevReach (as opposed to a more local conference – I live in Gloucestershire after all).  The reality is that a number of factors came together to make it worthwhile for me: 
1. Great speakers (check out the Bios at
2. Great VFM (apart from anything else I can get here cheaply – £55.93 return this time around – important as I’m not working at the moment!
3. Great excuse to revisit Sofia and update with pics of Sofia.
4. My wife said I could (nuff said).
NB  Q: Are we just a couple of weeks away from a new announcement concerning Silverlight 4 to include great multi-touch support?

Day One


Keynote (Chris Sells)

Chris began by giving an overview of VSTS database edition "Data Dude" showing some of the useful features that are buried within this ‘specialised’ edition, (apparently in 2010 some of the more useful features will be included in the more ‘standard’ editions of VSTS).  He then moved on to give an overview of the Entity framework – neatly showing how useful this can be if it can be incorporated into the development process. ADO.NET Data Services ("Astoria") provided opportunities to expose much of the features that Chris had already implemented this morning, showing the ATOM (RSS on steroids) features to good effect (effectively allowing any proprietary data source to be exposed in a generic way to any other interested candidate technologies).  It was very cool to see the switch between the standard back end and the Astoria based ATOM interface which required no changes to the (already coded) Entity framework code. In theory any of these changes can then also be monitored or viewed using any standard RSS/ATOM reader. Needless to say that Chris also touched on other new technologies including SQL Azure and OSLO (more of which was promised in Chris’ second talk later today).

Keynote: Connecting to the Clouds: The Azure Services Platform (Luka Debeljak)

Great overview of Windows Azure – Luka made it more spicy by using a WPF client application that demonstrated boring textboxes and shapes bouncing around in a physics rules environment that he had created.  After showing us the native app the whole scenario was moved seamlessly to the cloud using Azure.

Another great demo was shown from Switzerland showing the Alps using DeepZoom (zooming in from a Vista view into climbers on the mountain!!)  
The key message here being the enablement of seamless movement between a localised and cloud based platform,   Cool.
Luka then moved on to discuss Identity Software and services (Geneva Server and associated Framework).  Not something I have really looked at so useful overview building some of the ideas that were behind the defunct “My Services” ideas to provide a more rounded approach to so called ‘federated security’. 
This logically followed on to a discussion of ‘Live Services’ (another theme of “My Services”, but lets not linger on that) and
Luka tied everything together with a mention of Microsofts’ ongoing commitment to interoperability, which has definitely been a recurring theme over the last year or two.


Building RESTful Applications with Microsoft Tools

by Stephen Forte

Stephen began with an overview of REST then quickly proceeded to set up a demo using ADO.Net Data Services (“Astoria”) and the Entity Framework to show one way of implementing REST services using current Microsoft technologies.  The key to this process was in the configuration to define which aspects of functionality to expose as REST – pretty straightforward thanks to the frameworks involved.  Stephen went on to demonstrate the flexibility of the technologies, touching on security, use of LINQ, data binding and REST access from Silverlight.  He also showed us his LINQ Async utility which provides a useful means of managing async calls in one place – useful for managing data binding in Silverlight when the data comes from an async source. 
Lots of demos, nice. 


ASP.NET 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010

Robert Boedigheimer
Pretty much what it said on the tin, Robert demoed the many new features in the forthcoming new versions of ASP.Net and VS2010  (NB see here for a list of links).

NB Great tip when running web client and server on the same box  = you can trick Fidler into working by setting up a name for localhost in your hosts file that includes a dot in the name EG “Web.Localhost” (this fools the system into thinking that it is an internet address allowing Fidler to kick in).


Building Behaviors in Silverlight 3

by Shawn Wildermuth,

Shawn began with a nice simple behaviour to show a Message Box – not particularly exciting but great to show the basics.  Working mainly in Blend he left me behind a little (not up to speed myself) but managed to sell me on the concept of behaviours -I will be reviewing this presentation when I get home (Maybe after watching Intro to Blend !)

Great presentation – I can see a few areas in my current app where behaviours might add some value (and yes, without being too gratuitous in the process).

NB  This stuff won’t work without the System.Windows.Interactivity.dll, which ships with the Blend SDK (i.e. not with base Silverlight).




Building a Common Data Layer for ASP.NET and Silverlight

by Todd Anglin,

Todd travelled a long way to get here today  – 6k miles from TEXAS  (he must really like the data layer).   He showed us how quickly a simple data layer can be built (just connect to a data source!) then proceeded to show us how that code can be modified and improved upon for different scenarios while still providing a common basis, thereby providing greater flexibility in changing data source, improved maintenance (ie how easy is it to change things if the data structure changes) and, of course, good re-use of code.

Great session that helped me formulate where I might go with the data layer in my current project (where the data is provided in a read-only extended RSS  feed).  My thinking is that version two might use this approach to develop an abstracted data layer, capable of being updated, which then generates the RSS feed (Maybe consider OPML?).  If I ever sell this app then this will give a great deal of flexibility in working within different client server environments.  Thanks. 


Building Data Visualization Applications with the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

by Tim Huckaby

I saw one of Tim’s at Teched last year so knew what to expect – lots of demos designed to show what can be achieved at the cutting edge with current (and future) tools.  (By now I’ve had enough looking at code so this was a great session to come to).  

Some of the stuff he showed us: 

  • 3d Cancer Molecule App (Source available).
  • 3d Medical Heart App. (Touchscreen Drawing tool onto surface of a 3d rendition of a patients heart) – shows interior and exterior views).
  • 3D Collaborator (allows AutoCad dwf 3D files to be opened and manipulated in 3d using WPF).
  • Microsoft Surface  (CME Protein demo video).
  • Surface ‘Health Vault’ enabled Video.
  • Windows 7 launch Video  “History at your fingerprints”.
  • Silverlight version of the above app (cut down demo).
  • Silverlight real time Hospital Management System .
  • EMN8 & REZN8 (Fast Food WPF menu management tool for Jack-in-the-Box kiosk)

and more …

NB Great multi-touch demo at 

Nice idea to have the button flash a little when touched – wonder if i can add that to my current pet app?


Extending Visual Studio 2010 with MEF

by Erjan Gavalci ,

Erjan began by  giving us a demo of snippet creation in VS2010 – perhaps the easiest way to add customisation to Visual Studio, although limited in some ways by their inherent nature (cut & paste base).  He followed with a brief discussion of Macros within VS before moving onto Add-ins and Integration packages.

The VS2010 start page provides another opportunity for customisation and Erjan showed us how easily the start up page can be modified, being a straightforward  XAML page.  (Held under the start pages directory a few clicks below the VS2010 installation directory).

The MEF (managed extensibility framework) provides the professional interface to the Visual Studio IDE and is supported by the source code at  Erijan walked us through a cool MEF for formatting/colourising source code in Visual Studio.


DotNet Rocks


The crew nobly stepped in to fill a vacant slot with an entertaining discussion around programming and the geeky software world.

Check it out here: DotNet Rocks.


What’s New in Entity Framework 4.0

by Branimir Giurov.

Bramimar began with an overview of the many products that have been less than successful in their version 1.0 incarnation, and moves on with the analogy with the first version of the Entity Framework.  Version 2 provides an opportunity for Microsoft to get things right and benefit from the feedback received from the initial version.  Branimar proceeded to give us a fairly detailed, practical presentation on the latest version.


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