I attended The MIX09 conference for web designers and developer’s that was held last week in Las Vegas.
There were some interesting sessions and announcements and I’ll comment on a few below, but if you want more detail you can check out the MIX09 site and see the video playback of any of the keynote presentations or sessions here.
Commerce Server 2009
Although briefly, Scott Guthrie announced during his keynote on day 1, the release of Commerce Server 2009. Cactus also gave a session on the topic of a ‘Next Generation’ e-Commerce experience highlighting Commerce Server 2009 as the platform. (See below for more details).
There was a lot of talk about Silverlight throughout the show, including the following items and announcement
- Silverlight 1.0 launched eighteen months ago, and shipped the second release last October.
- There as been already had over 350m installs, and over 300,000+ developers and designers, 200+ partners in 30 countries, over 200+ Microsoft products and websites that are using Silverlight.
- There are tens of thousands of Silverlight sites already out there. Some high profile sites mentioned are Netflix and NBC. Last summer, NBC hosted the largest sporting event ever held on the web, and they chose Silverlight to do this. The next Olympics are the Winter Olympics, in Vancouver, Canada. MS announced during the conference a renewal of NBC partnership with Microsoft for this. This is the ultimate product – fully HD, adaptive smooth streaming delivered at 720p. You’ll get the PVR experience – pause, rewind, super slow motion, high resolution frame capture, metadata overlays, live video alerts and real-time feeds of the latest and most popular clips.
- Silverlight 3 beta is now available for download.
Internet Explorer 8
The launch of Internet Explorer 8 was also announced last week. The following features being the major improvements:
- Visual Search Suggestions
- A component or piece of code that a dev can write that allows for suggestive search directly in IE, returning visual results.
- Wikipedia, Amazon, eBay, Google, Digg
- Web Slices
- Allows you to present a snippit of content from your site and present it in a way that it gets included in the Favorites bar of IE. Users subscribe to this content directly from within a web page and view updates directly from their favorite bar. When new information becomes available, the slice becomes highlighted.
- News, Video, Weather, Traffi
Note: This is by far my favorite thing discovered from the show …
- Allows you to have click sensitivity around content (i.e. right click on a piece of text and expose an accelorator that allows a user to act on that content).
- Users can select a piece of information and quickly do something with it – blog, tweet or email it, map it, etc.
- Accelerators eliminate the need for users to copy and paste content between websites.
- Digg, TinuURL, Live, Facebook, Google
Some other new features to IE 8 include:
- 80% of navigations are back to where the user has been already. That’s why when you go to the address bar or the search box, you’ll see data from previous navigations.
- In the search box, you’ll see “quick pick”. 70% of users have more than one search provider installed, and so they wanted to make it easier for users to access them. Restoring tabs that have been closed is really easy. Another feature that will help users navigate is color-coding and grouping for tabs.
- They discovered that users don’t care about why a browser crashes when it fails, they care about getting back quickly to where they were and minimizing downtime. In IE8, now has tab crash isolation – when one tab of the browser fails, it doesn’t bring down the entire browser.
- IE8 protects against twice as many malware attacks as any other browser.
- IE8 has click-jacking protection, per user ActiveX, cross-browser scripting attack prevention and many other security enhancements that will make end-users’ online lives safer.
Download Internet Explorer 8 here!
In addition to the the above downloads, there several downloads available to check out here.
Some Notable Sessions and Highlights:
Creating a “Next Generation” E-commerce Experience
Jean-Yves Martineau and Scott Cairney from Cactus Commerce gave a presentation to a full audience, on the topic Creating a "Next Generation" E-Commerce Experience.
After an overview of who Cactus is, Jean-Yves covered the Future of e-Commerce, including not only the trends we should be watching, but also some innovative ideas on what the future might bring, such as augmented reality, wearable technology, ultra-mobile computers, digital signage, etc.
He went on to talk about what companies need to focus on and how to be successful in the changing age of e-Commerce (e.g. cross-channel initiatives, web 2.0, customer experience, innovation, etc.).
In an overview of Commerce Server 2009 innovations and a demonstration of the New SharePoint Commerce Services and Web Parts, Scott showed how easy it was to build and extend a web-site that can meet the needs of shoppers, business users and IT professionals.
A final demonstration by Jean-Yves of the Cactus Solution, highlighted how the same bits available and demonstrated by Scott can be interpreted and conveyed in a very rich and engaging user experience.
You can watch the full video of the presentation through the following link Creating a "Next Generation" E-Commerce Experience - MIX Videos
A startup stackoverflow.com that was built by developers for developers on Microsoft technology was demonstrated during one of the keynote presentations. It’s a programming Q&A site, but by demonstrating a theme that cropped up in many of the sessions … 'Good designers borrow; great designers steal’, the site takes the best ideas from other sites that make it somewhat original. By synthesizing aspects of Wikis, Blogs, Forums, and Digg/Reddit, the site can take advantage of voting such that great answers float to the top and less useful to the bottom or the whole thing is a WIKI, so users can edit and make the answers better.
David Anthony from Bondi Digital Publishing and Scott Stanfield from Vertigo demonstrated a new digital digital archive of Rolling Stone magazine that will be launched this summer. This enables you to view and page through articles online just as easily as with a physical magazine. You can zoom in or out using DeepZoom technology, hyperlink through from one page to another, and search for information. Note that the content is highlighted thanks to the bitmap APIs in Silverlight 3; you can also flip the search out of the way using perspective 3D. On a multi-touch machine, you can even use standard gestures like “pinch to zoom”.
The Playboy digital archive launched last week and can be viewed at http://www.covertocover.com/
Be careful if you open this at work!
Interaction Techniques Using the Wii Remote (and Other HCI Projects)
Johnny Lee gave a really interesting session that I think is worth watching if you’re interested in the technology behind augmented reality or collaborative experiences. When watching the video note how long ago some of these Star Trek like projects were actually first developed.
If you don’t know who Johnny Lee is, he’s a Human Computer Interaction Researcher at Microsoft Applied Sciences, but really has become famous on YouTube with his demo of Wii Remote hacks, where he bends the low-cost game piece to power an interactive whiteboard, a multitouch surface, and a head-mounted display.
You can see the full session at http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX09/C13F
Or for the YouTube videos that made him famous, you can view them at this site http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/, or search for Johnny Lee on YouTube for more recent ones.
Information Visualization was a hot topic.
Infographics (short for Information Graphics) are part design, part data visualization. Like generic data visualization tools such as charts and graphs, infographics typically represent some data in a way that a viewer can quickly understand. But infographics are customized specifically to the data, topic, and audience - each infographic is essentially a creative work that gets a point across.
The Way of the Whiteboard: Persuading with Pictures
Dan Roam gave a session about persuading people with pictures. While the ideas seem to be obvious once stated, I think we often miss the simple and basic premises that he covered in this session.
What also was interesting was that the theory is applied to all aspects of business, whether it’s convincing leadership to back a project, getting a VC to fund a business, building consensus on a project team, or selling a new technology platform within an organization, and more recently seen on commercial websites or even our own Soundshift demo site.
See the full session at http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX09/C16F
As mentioned above if you’re interested you can get a full list of the presentations and sessions and/or view the videos in their entirety from the following location, https://content.visitmix.com/2009/Sessions/
My Favorite Quotes From the Show (authors unknown)
Good designers borrow; great designers steal.
The purpose of a business is to bring value to it’s customer, the reward is profit.
The importance of how the pieces come together is greater than any one component.
If Content is King, layout is Queen … but everybody really knows that the Queen rules the King.