PDC Day 1 Roundup - HTML 5, IE 9, C# 5

Yesterday was day 1 of Microsoft’s annual Professional Developers Conference (PDC). I was at PDC UK, a parallel event at the Microsoft campus in Reading, UK, featuring live streams of the tracks, and hundreds of developers spending a long evening with the UK evangelism team (and a big pile of pizza).

Once again, IE 9 was headlining the main keynote of the event with some rather spectacular numbers for downloads of its Beta. There has also been another Platform Preview released for developers wanting the bleeding edge to get their hands on.

As Steve Ballmer brought home when he talked at the UK Tech Days event a few weeks ago, Microsoft are making a serious push for the web with IE 9, and taking along with it HTML 5. With Microsoft’s weight behind the HTML 5 push there should be significant uptake for developers in the coming months. There were some special features of IE 9 announced during the keynote too.

One of the other extremely interesting presentations from a developer’s perspective was on what’s coming in C# 5. The team are tackling the asynchronous programming problem head-on and introducing some very clean syntax for quickly and easily dealing with code blocks you would like to handle asynchronously without requiring threading. Interestingly, this functionality can deliver some great speed improvements in ASP.NET web applications too (especially when calling external services) as well as on the client.

The second Windows Phone 7 session was the epitome of a “top tips” session on WP7. Developers from two consulting companies who were commissioned to build the Facebook and Twitter apps for Windows Phone helped out on stage. As the teams only had 2 months to put them together, they learnt a lot about optimisations, best practices, and designing great user experiences while fitting in with the various brands and guidelines involved. It’s well worth checking out the video of this session to get the excellent tips they have given developers. From broad design theory, such as combining the branding guidelines of the Metro user experience with the experience already created and carefully managed by the brands, to tips for optimising your app to make it faster (and seem considerably quicker too) when loading up from being tombstoned, a lot of topics are covered.

The third session in the Cloud track covered AppFabric. AppFabric provides platform-level services to developers, split across AppFabric on Windows Azure and AppFabric for Windows Server. The advantage of the services is that developers don’t need to manage them (for example, managing your own memcache against using the caching AppFabric service, which are entirely managed automatically) and also that they are available to languages than don’t just run on .NETPHP, Java, and other languages can all talk to them.

So there’s one more day of PDC for developers to devour in the US, but UK PDC is over for another year. Thanks to the UK evangelism team for hosting and managing so many developers, and look to Developer Fusion for updates on PDC announcements.

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