ScottGu has outdone himself again with a demo series First Look at Silverlight 2 and First Look at using Expression Blend with Silverlight 2.
I’m pretty excited about Silverlight 2, and our group will support at least parts of it, so I feel that now is definitely high time for me to dig in to it and debug the core to get a solid grip on how things work in there.
Democratizing the cloud
When I presented at Oredev last year I got a chance to look at some Silverlight presentations (1.0 at the time) and Matt Gibbs presentation on ASP.NET Futures which was pretty cool, but I also managed to hit one of the more obscure sessions, Eric Meijers Democratizing the cloud.
Why do I bring this up in this this context? Well, the main thing I remembered from this talk was when he talked about grandmas programming in VB, essentially what it came down to is that he thought the tools should make it possible for normal programmers to design, develop and debug complex distributed applications with an unmodified .NET compiler.
The democratizing the cloud speech really struck a chord with me so I went home and created a little game in Expression Blend and Expression Design with my 5-year old. Obviously we didn’t do anything really crazy or complex, just a little app with a kitchen scene, created in Expression design, that asked her to spell words like table and lamp. When she got them right the lamp started swinging and the table started jumping around. What was cool about it is that it took about an evening to do this with no prior knowledge of Expression, XAML etc. The tools and technologies have come a long way since Visual C++ 1.0 :)
As an added bonus she picked up some basic concepts of applications in this little exercise… not saying that she has a clue how a program runs or what code is, but she picked up that someone has to tell the computer to do something for it to actually do something (even that you add conditional statements like if i spell table right, make the table jump), and that real people (like mom and dad) develop the applications. They don’t just appear out of nowhere. She’s a long long way from writing complex algorithms but probably way closer than she would have been if the devtools hadn’t evolved the way they have. (Not just speaking about the Expression suite or even MS dev platforms.)
Btw, I would totally recommend programming with your kids, awesome experience :) but be prepared to be pestered every night with “Mom, can we write another game?” :) If you get really into it there is even something called the kids programming language I haven’t tested it yet myself though.
I think this evening will be devoted to the Silverlight demos in front of the Friday night TV shows, how geeky is that :)