Microsoft #shape conference

.NET, Blend, Silverlight, Technical stuff, Work, WPF
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The Shape conference is a new web technologies oriented conference organized by Microsoft Switzerland. It is held in Zurich Oerlikon, and has two tracks, one design-oriented and one development-oriented.

Best of Swiss Silverlight award

The Best of Swiss Silverlight awards are rewarding the best Silverlight applications developed in Switzerland this year. The winners are:

  • 3rd place: Siemens with an application to optimize energy efficiency in buildings. Very happy about that, because I have been a contributor to Siemens adopting WPF and starting to think more about new UI technologies, and it makes me very happy to see them adopt Silverlight now!
  • 2nd place: The hospital of Solothurn, Switzerland, for a medical application.
  • 2nd place too: The Swiss post, for an e-business web application

Interestingly, with these 3 applications,  the jury rerwarded some Line-of-business type applications, where Silverlight is used to enrich the content and the interaction.

  • 1st place goes to Sobees for their Silverlight-based Sobees Web. This client can be used in and out of the browser, to access Twitter and Facebook accounts (including posting status updates, search, etc…).

I am really happy for Sobees and want to congratulate them very warmly to this award. It is more than deserved. I know the Sobees team since 2007 and have followed their history, and was happy to help them with a couple of technical issues. The comparison in the challenges they faced while developing their richer application in WPF, and the lighter application in Silverlight is very interesting. Especially the problem of the deployment was interesting to face, as the “full .NET” 3.5 SP1 is not available on some of their target machines (XP, Vista) and needs to be installed, which is a relatively heavy download, even with the client profile. On the other hand, Silverlight is often already installed, and even if it is not, it is easy to download and fast to install.

Since Sobees Web can be installed out of the browser (a feature I have been begging Microsoft to implement already in 2008 ;) it can be used very much like a standalone application, with minor restrictions. I am really happy to see this innovative application rewarded, a very well deserved step for Sobees!

Design thinking

Ruedi Alexander Müller-Beyeler

Designers are still misunderstood by the clients.

  • Designers are responsible for colors.
  • Designers are artists but content and ideas comes from us, the client.

Design should be more than this.

  • English meaning of the word (Entwerfen).
  • Designers should be closer from developers, especially in software.

Talks about his experience in re-designing the news at the german TV channel ZDF, and the different experiences and challenges faced.

Compares design process to software development process: Iterative, we never know exactly when we will be done, we are anyway never completely done.

Funny note: HDTV is also influencing the way that news studios are designed: Presenters will not agree to be filmed as close as in normal definition, because HDTV will show all their flaws. This plays a role already now in the way that TV studios are designed.

Introduced some fake virtual 3D models in the studios (blue screen technology with 3D models, mostly pre-recorded) that the anchors can interact with. This was a wish from the anchors themselves, who would have wanted full 3D, but the technology is not quite ready yet.

The Internet changes the game, especially in the way that multimedia elements interact together. However the demographics for TV news is not always used to the internet (seniors), so this must be taken in account too.

Anchors and other technicians needed to be trained for this new design, early interaction with the people is needed to train them.

Conclusion: Design is more than just design :) Design should be “design thinking”, meaning that everyone involved, even non-designers, must learn to think more about design, and design should be more integrated in every steps of the process. On the other hand, designers must learn to “open their black box” and communicate more during the design process with the client and other persons involved.

And more…

I don’t have a report for the next sessions I followed, but they were pretty cool. The sessions were filmed so I am pretty sure they will be available online soon. Some of them are in English, most of them in German, so pick the ones that interest you and enjoy! In the morning I followed the designer track (with sessions about Expression Blend and SketchFlow). In the afternoon, I followed the sessions about RIA Services and Azure. All the sessions were very interesting and I can definitely recommend checking the videos if you are into this kind of things ;)

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