Mark Boulter - talking about Smart Clients and Windows Forms, Part II

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Mark Boulter continues his conversation about Smart Clients and Windows Forms today. If you're interested in .NET client development, you'll find this conversation with Charles Torre, of Channel 9, interesting.

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The Discussion

  • User profile image
    Charles
    I need to stop saying "we'll probably need to cut this" since we don't edit! I'll work on that.

    Charles
  • User profile image
    littleguru
    Charles wrote:
    I need to stop saying "we'll probably need to cut this" since we don't edit! I'll work on that.

    Charles


    Sometimes you edit: battery is empty. Wait a second i have to change it..... So, we are back.

    Big Smile
  • User profile image
    staceyw
    Still no definition of Smart Client unless I missed it.  Seems it is another word for WinForm app to me.  If it is because it uses the network or port 80 then it should be WinForms Network Client.  WinForms clients have been clients in a client/server area for a long time so maybe just a new marketing term to refer to a WinForm client that in network enabled (i.e. WSE, Indigo, sockets, etc).

    I agree about how nicer it is to use a good forms app over an html app.  MS Money is a good example.  Looks like they worked really hard to work up a hybred UI in a browser.  However, it seems really busy to me and at the end of the day, looks like a web page.  SBA, on the other hand, has that great office smart client look and feel.  Cheers.
    --
    William
  • User profile image
    PerfectPhase
    staceyw wrote:
    Still no definition of Smart Client unless I missed it.  Seems it is another word for WinForm app to me.  If it is because it uses the network or port 80 then it should be WinForms Network Client.  WinForms clients have been clients in a client/server area for a long time so maybe just a new marketing term to refer to a WinForm client that in network enabled (i.e. WSE, Indigo, sockets, etc).


    Outlook 2003 is one of the best examples of a smart client I've seen.  The way it swiches seamless from online to offline and back is what makes it smart compared to a classic client/server where when the network connection to the server dies the app packs up and shuts down.

    Stephen.
  • User profile image
    PerfectPhase

    Talking about getting the framework deployed and it's size, it would be interesting if you could get a stub version of the installer that installed all the core things such as the GAC and the loader, but only installed stubs for the assemblies, and when the loader tries to load an assembly but only finds the stub it nips off to the MS download site and pulls down just the needed parts.

    Don't know if it would make much difference overall, but might make initial barrier to downloading a .Net app a bit lower.

    Stephen.

  • User profile image
    csells
    The Microsoft definition of "smart client" is available on the MSDN Smart Client Developer Center:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/smartclient/understanding/definition/
  • User profile image
    Charles
    PerfectPhase wrote:
    staceyw wrote: Still no definition of Smart Client unless I missed it.  Seems it is another word for WinForm app to me.  If it is because it uses the network or port 80 then it should be WinForms Network Client.  WinForms clients have been clients in a client/server area for a long time so maybe just a new marketing term to refer to a WinForm client that in network enabled (i.e. WSE, Indigo, sockets, etc).


    Outlook 2003 is one of the best examples of a smart client I've seen.  The way it swiches seamless from online to offline and back is what makes it smart compared to a classic client/server where when the network connection to the server dies the app packs up and shuts down.

    Stephen.


    You are spot on. Outlook is THE prototypical example of a Smart Client. Keep in mind that Outlook is not a managed application. It's written entirely in unmanaged C++. So, is there really a connection between managed code and "Smart" client?
  • User profile image
    rhm
    Alright, stop bigging up outlook 2k3. There are some things that make OL2k3 an improvement on previous versions but they have committed my most hated usercrime of changing a long-standing user interface feature that there was nothing wrong with and offered no option to change it back. I'm talking about the Folder List of course. You can just about get it to work like in previous versions by clicking the "Folder List" button and then shrinking down the shortcuts area, but then you've lost the shortcuts facility as there's no seperate Outlook Bar as far as I can tell. I mostly used the folder list to move about in previous versions, but it was nice to have a big fat button that takes you straight to your inbox.

    Oh, and after 4 major versions it still can't reformat text intelligently when quoting text in replies with line-lengths set. Even the nastiest unix mail clients have been able to do this for years. I thought about writing an outlook add-in to do it properly but don't send enough email to be *that* bothered. btw. Is it true that everyone who writes a decent Outlook add-in gets hired by Microsoft? Smiley
  • User profile image
    ChrisHaas
    You probably know this already but the Shortcut feature was replaced with Favorite Folders which always remains in place. They're not buttons but there are links at least.
  • User profile image
    AQ
    Well you've gotta give props where props are due and for 2004 I think iTunes may be the contender for Smart Client of the Year. I may be wrong, I don't even have it installed, but what I've seen seems to take full advantage of network and client resources. And it's built for secure commerce on top of all that...

    But in the 'easy as clicking a link in a web page' catagory, ClickOnce has an advantage over Java and Flash and that is managed directX 9 support right now..it does require the highest level of code access permission to run, however. 

    Quick and dirty example:
    Dynamic Direct3D surface rendering using GDI+ generated bitmaps.
    Calculates RenderTime, FPS.
    Tests presence of .Net 2, DirectX 9, Full Trust.

    Link: www.okaq.com

     
  • User profile image
    dantheman82
    These videos required editing, I think.  He had 15-20 min. of material...

    I totally agree on the Itunes thing.  I've used MusicMatch for awhile and then they became a big memory hog (and too web-like with the radio) without a good reason.  Now, I use Itunes a lot more and I don't even own an iPod.  The library features and intuitive nature are amazing, frankly.  However, I'd say Outlook 2k3 is a close second. 

    Because Microsoft has Imagine Cup (www.imaginecup.com) focus on creation of smart clients, I've had a bit of discussion on that.  A smart client needs to have a smart element which has learning or hides unimportant data from the user or does something useful like that.  It can really be done in any language (unmanaged or managed), and it ultimately has to be useful.
  • User profile image
    Mark Brown
     RHM wrote: Is it true that everyone who writes a decent Outlook add-in gets hired by Microsoft?


    Yes, yes it is... Wink
  • User profile image
    Charles
    dantheman82 wrote:

    These videos required editing, I think.  He had 15-20 min. of material...


    Agreed. We will do a better job of editing where appropriate. In general, too much editing decreases the raw and honest realness that is becoming our trademark style. In other words, we want you to feel like the interview is happening while you watch it; live, but not live. Just real.

    dantheman82 wrote:

    A smart client needs to have a smart element which has learning or hides unimportant data from the user or does something useful like that.  It can really be done in any language (unmanaged or managed), and it ultimately has to be useful.


    Yes, I for one think that if an application has no facility for understanding my typical behaviors (associated with the specific application's functionality and my needs) and no capability for behavioral prediction of user actions, then the application is not very smart. Asynchronously detecting network connection state, checking remote data stores/email servers, synchronizing offline data caches, etc are not particularly smart actions, but they are certainly very useful. MSR is working on some very interesting applications that implement machine learning and AI, which in my assessment can legitimately be coined "Smart".
  • User profile image
    dantheman82
    No, I agree minimal editing is usually good.  However, I had the sense in the first video that this was not a multi-part video. 

    Regarding the "smart" client stuff, I'd say MSR has some hot stuff.  Just don't wait for Google to come up with the traffic app before you put out the one you already have!

    Let's have some more transparency with Microsoft Office product add-ons, ok?  The add-in to Outlook that would automatically "learn" your email habits and put rankings on the tons of email we get every day...I really, really wish it were made available.  I don't care if it's beta...I'd be happy to beta test the product.  Eric Horvitz (MSR), you know what I'm talking about. Wink

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