MIXing It Up: Day Two

Wyatt Barnett

Sorry for the belated post—I got a bit tied up with, well, MIX and couldn’t even start pulling this together until I hopped on the plane. Anyhow, I survived TAO and the horrible dryness of the desert—I can’t sleep past 5:30 am in Vegas it seems—to make it to MIX day two. And what a day it was.

First post-bacon stop was an enlightening panel called “The Open Question” which turned into a very open and rolling discussion between Mike Schroepfer ,(Mozilla), Andi Gutmans, (Zend), Miguel de Icaza, (Novell/Mono/Moonlight), Rob Conery, (Microsoft/SubSonic) about how the world is pushing towards an open model and how intellectual property, developer culture and economics play into this. I can’t really do it justice in prose, you should really check out the webcast if you are at all interested in these sorts of questions.

Next up was a very, very, very interesting keynote between Guy Kawazaki and Steve Ballmer. No, there was not a fist-fight on stage, but Steve did almost smash Guy’s MacBook Air. And—before you ask—Steve did do Monkey Boy part 2. But, compared to Ozzie’s buzzword-laden soothsaying on Day 1, Steve was very, very frank and refreshing while being quite entertaining. The major takeaways from the discussion are that first, Microsoft is dead serious about getting into the search and advertising game big-time. The rationale being that they scale together effectively—more search, more keywords, more relevant ads to serve—and that is where the money is going to be going in the next decade. I would also expect to see some heavy dogfooding of SilverLight at Microsoft in the coming months. Finally, even Guy admitted that “it is a different Microsoft today.”

Far and away the best session I attended this MIX was Scott Hanselman’s demo of the ASP.NET MVC framework. First, Scott is an amazing presenter—if you ever get the chance, catch him. The opening sequence of typing at the audience in Notepad was entertaining and amazingly effective way of quieting the packed house. I would advise checking out the webcast, but in case you aren’t the webcasting type, there were a few major takeaways in this writer’s opinion. First, from a technical angle, the new ASP.NET MVC drop has separated the Routing and the Abstractions bits out from the MVC and into separate assemblies—meaning one could take advantage of them in plain old WebForms projects. And I must say, from the limited bits I saw, the Routing bits have me intrigued for many purposes. Probably more important is that they are going to run this project in a very experimental way. First, releases are going to be iterative and there is a scheme afoot to provide source on CodePlex. Especially in the early going, the source will be invaluable tool to insulate your projects from the churn. Second, and vastly more important is the amount of feedback they are soliciting. This team realizes that they need real-world scenarios they have not even dreamt up to make this new framework live up to its promise, and they are asking all of us to help make it even better.

But far and away the highlight of the day was the drinks/dinner and rolling discussion with some of the sharpest minds in the .NET world. I finally got a chance to hook up with co-author Jon Galloway, as well as have an extended conversation with Rob Conery and Steve Harman. I also got the chance to visit with Joe Hill and Miguel de Icaza from Novell. Those guys are doing some truly amazing stuff with mono, and are all around fine human beings as well.

Finally, all the sessions are up for viewing on the MIX sessions site. Definitely take the time to peruse what interests you—I could only hit a third of what I wanted to see and I was there. I’m going to go and have a nice, relaxing weekend, but I am formulating some summary thoughts. Stay tuned.