April 28 and april 29 we (me and some colleagues from QNH) went to the DevDays in The Hague (Netherlands). I decided to write a small summary about what we saw and to give some resources for further reading. So here it goes:

Azure and AppFabric
There were al lot of sessions about Windows Azure. Everything indicates that the cloud is really taking a flight in 2011/2012. We got an introduction to the 3 different middle-ware services that Azure at the moment offers:

  1. the service bus
  2. access control
  3. cache service (this service went on-line on the 29th of April 2011)

With the use of Azure AppFabric it is possible to build composite applications that make use of each of these services. For more information on Azure AppFabric see: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/AppFabric/Overview/default.aspx. There is also a server version of AppFabric which you can find on http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=467e5aa5-c25b-4c80-a6d2-9f8fb0f337d2. AppFabric builds on top of the “Application server” role of Windows Server.

Next went to see the presentation “LighSwitch Beyond the basics” by Beth Massi. LightSwitch is a framework on which you can build mash-up applications in Visual Studio really fast. With LightSwitch you can connect to a lot of different datasources. Datasource types include SqlServer, WCF RIA and yes: SharePoint lists and libraries. Next you can create a datamodel based on the datasources. For example: you can connect your SQL table to a SharePoint Library. The creation of the datamodel feels a lot like creating a datamodel in MS Access. It is also possible to add validation to your fields or entities (like: the date in this date-field should be after 1/1/1990). On top of your datamodel you can create CRUD (Create, Read, Update & Delete) screens based on SilverLight 4. And all I described above can be done without writing a single line of code!

However, the best thing about LightSwitch is that you can write code if needed. Events in the validation, the datasources and the views can be overridden. Further it is possible to create your own SilverLight controls that can be used in the views (for example the Bing Maps Control). LightSwitch is still in beta, but I think it’s definitely worth taking a look: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/lightswitch/ff796201. I will be writing some more posts on LightSwitch and SharePoint.

We went to see Scott Hanselman’s presentation about MVC 3 (somehow the Microsoft MVC framework reminds me a lot about the Java Struts framework). Scott gave an introduction to “Razor”, a syntax for creating ‘cleaner’ mark-up in hybrid html/code aspx pages (something, which I remember, was also always an issue with Java JSP pages) For an introduction to Razor see Scott Guthrie’s blog http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2010/07/02/introducing-razor.aspx.

Scott talked about Modernizr. With the coming of HTML 5 and CSS3 there are browsers that support the new features and browsers that do not yet support these features. When you create a new website you want to make use of the newest features, but you also want your website still to work on older browsers. With the Modernizr framework you can make your website backwards compatible. In other words: if the browser supports the new technologies, it will make use of these new technologies. If it does not, instead it will render controls and features that it does support. For more information on Modernizr see http://www.modernizr.com/.

Something else he talked about was NuGet (see http://nuget.codeplex.com/) a tool for making use of third party libraries in .Net development easier. NuGet automates the tasks of downloading and incorporating third party libraries (including dependencies) in a project.

Here’s an impression of the DevDays 2011 The Hague Netherlands (the photo was taken with my phone so it is not really good quality…):

DevDays 2011 The Hague