The second session that I attended at the UI Smackdown discussed opportunities for hooking new technologies into an existing application. In particular, one of the participants wanted to hook a WinForms app with a WPF app. While we were there, Drew Robbins from Microsoft demonstrated how to do this, and gave references to some tutorials at msdn.microsoft.com.
One discussion that came out of this session was the idea that the goal in generating user interfaces is to be able to suspend the disbelief of the users that they are actually using software. They need to feel like it's a natural progression toward getting their work done. With WinForms, this is difficult, but WPF improves this experience.
One objection that people face when moving away from winforms is that there is a lot of third party support for it. However, looking at WPF, it's apparent that a lot of these things have been built into the framework, so third party support is not as critical. Rather, the downside of WPF at this point is in documentation (or lack thereof). Once you figure out what to look for, WPF is a lot easier than Winforms.
An aside that came out of this session was the idea that we often look at migrating an application based on what it currently does. Rather, we should consider what the USER is trying to accomplish. This will offer us more of an opportunity to provide a rich web application experience, since we aren't stuck in the mode of what has been done.
Is this wrestling or deciphering software technologies? Definitely the latter!
A few people have asked me about the name we chose for our user interface event on April 4, which will include Flex, GWT, and WPF. Honestly, the name was proposed by one of the participants, and we couldn’t think of one that we liked better!
This will NOT be a confrontational event, and I hope that no one has signed up to witness the World Wrestling equivalent in the software world. Instead, like CodeMash, the idea is to bring together people interested in different technologies and learn an appreciation for what each one provides. We think that this is a huge win for the vendors involved, since it offers an honest glimpse into the perspective that programmers bring to technologies as they evaluate them.
I’m really looking forward to the event. I’ve seen quite a bit of Flex and it’s very impressive. I’ve seen enough WPF to find that compelling as well. GWT sort of serves a different purpose, but we included it because it’s a different approach to the same problem: how do we build user interfaces that customers can use, but that programmers can maintain and understand.
If you haven’t signed up yet, but have been planning to, the time is now (we had some glitches with our registration page, but I moved it to a different site and I think it’s all working now; if you have problems email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you set up). We have had a great response, and we may end up cutting off registrations. The early bird deadline is Monday (March 26), and the fee through Monday is $75. After that, we’re raising the price to $90, but with the rate at which we’re getting signups, I may end up closing registration before we even get to that point. And from my perspective, that’s a VERY good thing. If we need to choose a larger venue for a future event of this sort, that’s just fine by me!