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Just a quick shout-out to congratulate the latest Silverlight MVPs to the program.  The Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program is a recognition program that is in place to recognize and reward those individuals who have been identified by individuals (peers, Microsoft staff, etc.) as experts in their technology field and global contributors to the technology. 

Microsoft MVP logo

As of today (01 OCT 2009) we welcome some new folks to the Silverlight group:

All of these folks are great participants in the Silverlight ecosystem and I congratulate them for their efforts.  Be sure to check out all the Silverlight MVPs and subscribe to their blogs!  Thanks to all of you for helping make a great developer ecosystem!

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The big news in the Silverlight developer world today is the release of Prism v2 (also called the Composite Application Guidance).  So what is this?

Prism guidance is a set of tools, samples, references and written guidance to help you more easily build modular applications.  Generally the “modular” application will feature several screens, flexible user interaction and role-based behavior.  Composite applications using these patterns are meant to be loosely coupled and contain independently evolving pieces that can work together.  So in the Prism 2 release you are provided:

  • Composite Application Library
  • Reference Implementation (Stock Trader application)
  • 9 Quick starts
  • 26 How-to’s
  • Documentation and written guidance on the UI patterns and client architectures you may face

There has been much talk about the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) pattern for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)and Silverlight development.  The Prism release adapts this model (refers to this as the presentation model to match what some other pattern documentation in the greater technology world uses) in the reference implementation of the Stock Trader application.

NOTE: The Stock Trader application is a reference implementation of the composite application guidance.  It isn’t meant to actually server real stock trading, but was inspired by those similar scenarios.

Prism 2 is an evolution from a July 2008 release that was primarily for WPF applications.  This new release brings updates and those concepts to Silverlight, including an implementation of commanding in Silverlight as well as demonstration of the use of input validation using these concepts.

For a walk through of some of the concepts and a brief discussion from the Patterns and Practices program management team, watch the latest Continuum show about Prism with Blaine Wastell.  This is a great development evolution for line-of-business application developers.  Check it out!

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My friend Joel Neubeck is doing a survey on his site about what patterns people prefer for Silverlight development.  I’m very interested in these results as well, so if you have 2 seconds, please post your vote:

Link: Poll: What separation pattern do you prefer in Silverlight development?

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Had enough media players, games, and animated shapes with Silverlight?  How about integrating into some line of business applications?  Microsoft produces an application called Microsoft CRM, now in it’s 4th release (those closer to the CRM information can correct me if I’m wrong…I’m actually not too familiar with the roadmap/releases of CRM).  What is CRM?  What you’d expect, a customer relationship management system…define your use of those systems as you wish.  There are many CRM systems out there, but what struck me as interesting about MS CRM is based on a demonstration I saw about a year ago when v4 wasn’t yet released.

The presentation was from David Yack, a Microsoft MVP and Regional Director, during a meeting in the unbelievably gorgeous mountains of Aspen, Colorado.  David is a smart dude, but among his technical prowess I believe CRM sits pretty high up in his knowledge.  He’s built a company around CRM consulting and such and I’ve not come across people in my paths that have spoke with the type of authority that David does with regard to MS CRM.  In this meeting David actually didn’t focus on CRM as a product, but as a platform.  The way it is structured (you really have to experience it and I’m not going to do it justice by trying to describe it here) enables it as a developer platform, providing flexible entity models on the back end with great end-user customization on the front-end (read: no coding to change data models and interaction with certain data).  In his hour discussion I came to appreciate his knowledge even more about presenting CRM as a .NET developer platform above the product features it provides.

A few months later at MIX08, David sat me down and showed me some stuff he was tinkering around with regarding Silverlight 2.  This was < 1 day after Silverlight 2 Beta 1 was released at MIX.  Sitting on some bean bags in the open space area, he had created a Silverlight interface to CRM data.  Turns out, CRM provides a pretty extensive service layer for developers.  Of course he did hit some snags along the way given that the CRM services implement some features not supported by Silveright 2.  Have no fear though, it still is possible!  How?  Well, David’s done a lot of the work for anyone wanting to access CRM services using Silverlight in his book CRM as a Rapid Development Platform.  In his book (chapter 7 specifically) he talks about building different user experiences for CRM, one of which is Silverlight.  The companion source code for the book provides about a 20K library to access the CRM service features from Silverlight, taking the hard work away from you and providing you with the already-implemented work-arounds to access the services. 

If you are involved in customizing or even understanding Microsoft CRM as a developer, this is a must-have resource.  I was fortunate to have been provided a code that I could share with you here to get you $10 off the current price for the first 20 readers here to buy the book.  Does this sound like a commercial?  Well, sorry if it does, but I know David, I’ve read portions of the book (as I mentioned I don’t work in the CRM world, so some of it doesn’t make sense to me as the API isn’t something I work with daily), and I’ve seen him speak about the developer platform capabilities.  This is a must-have resource for CRM developers.  So go to www.thecrmbook.com and use code “timheuerblog” for the deal.  Thanks to them for hooking me up with the code.

Related material:

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Are you a Netflix customer and have a Media Center PC?  Check out what one of our Media Center MVPs re-birthed.  Anthony Park, a Media Center MVP, has regenerated a project from back in 2004 (originally developed by Ryan Hurst) and released MyNetflix v2.1.

I'm not a Media Center nor Netflix user but the user interface is impressive and done very well to look like a part of the overall Media Center experience.  Here's a view of your Netflix queue:

You can see other screenshots of browsing 'top' categories, movie details and he's also now incorporated 'watch now' information as well.

Great work on extending and keeping MyNetflix alive Anthony!