Mix it up

Channel 9 have posted a great set of videos from Mix 11 covering a range of subjects from Javascript to Windows Phone to HTML 5.

Doug Crockford covers the new ECMAScript 5 standard and then takes part in a panel discussion on Javascript. The latter contains some good discussion on the direction that the language should take in the future. One future extension will definitely be a notion of a module – currently, people end up using functions for encapsulation, leading to the rather odd looking pattern where a function is defined and then immediately applied.
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Two other related talks are one on the Rx extensions for Javascript, in which a team has taken Rx, a library which makes it easy to deal with asynchronous events, and ported it to work in Javascript, and a talk on Script#, a project which compiles a subset of C# into Javascript. For the latter project, the author argues that C# is a better language for programming the large, and says that several Microsoft projects have used Script# to get the benefits while still generating code that runs natively client-side in the browser. My worry about such tools is that there is no debugging support, so you start with code that is written in C# but end up debugging it as code that is written in Javascript. To make this practical, the transforms that happen as part of the translation need to be easy to understand to allow the person doing the debugging to understand how they relate to one another.

Miguel de Icaza discusses the Mono variants than run on iPhone and Android. C# is definitely a well designed programming language that makes it easy to write complicated applications in a managed environment, and it seems to be a good idea to make it available on various portable devices. Currently there doesn’t seem to be a unifying GUI framework (such as Silverlight) across the two platforms, so you end up getting a C# wrapper around the native libraries, but this seems to be a great way to improve productivity when writing for these devices.

HTML5 is going make the browser a much richer platform for client side application development. One of the important technologies is certainly Canvas, and there’s a good discussion of this here. Canvas may well make it possible to avoid the need for Flash or Silverlight in the future, and there’s a good talk contrasting the two here. SVG is another useful part of the new offerings covered too at the conference.

IE now has some debugging extensions that look a lot like those of FireBug.

Now that people want to access data from many different places, Identity is becoming a very important issue. Mix had a talk on identity in the extended web.

One other set of talks was on the future of Windows Phone. The most interesting was on the architecture of the phone, which also covers the extensions that are going to be made available in the next release, “Mango”. This release is going to offer fast application switching – when an application is terminated, it will not necessarily be flushed from memory, but will be left around in case the user switches back to it, at which point it can be quickly restarted. Windows Phone applications already get notifications that they are about to be terminated at which point they persist their state (tombstoning). This is a simple extension to the initialization mechanism where an event argument is passed telling the application that the current instance is simply restarting and hence may not need to reload all of its state. This talk covers this aspect in more detail. There were some other really interesting talks on Windows Phone at TechEd which I’ll cover in more detail in another post.

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