Ward Bell

Ward Bell Ward Bell

Niner since 2009

MS Solutions Architect MVP and V.P. Technology, IdeaBlade.


  • Microsoft Azure in the Enterprise

    A great tutorial on how to think about the cloud from a business perspective instead of as a technology person

  • Understandi​ng the Value of Prism (Silverlight TV #37)

    Lightening fast tour of the Prism neighborhood. Brian and John know this cold and their expertise shines through. John often stops the show to level set and ask the "why does that matter?" question; Brian is right on it with a pithy answer. Best twenty minutes on Prism I've seen. Well done fellas!

  • Silverlight TV 19: Hidden Gems from MIX10, UFC's Multi-Touch App

    The swipe moves require TWO fingers ... to help distinguish from the drill in with one finger. Sometimes I moved too quickly and drilled in.


    Sometimes I was at an odd angle (at 6:24 I was standing above and to the right) which led me to miss the target area (I kept missing "All").  Sometimes it just seems sticky ... especially if you haven't touched the screen in awhile; darned if I know.  It doesn't seem to be specific to SL 4. I've had the same experience on every touch device I've ever tried. 


    One lesson is that you need sizeable target areas. If you have a touch screen at home (e.g., PDC laptop) you know what I mean when you try it with regular apps (e.g., the browser); fingers need big targets.


    We didn't want gratuitious multi-touch and we didn't want to explain multi-touch gestures to casual passers-by. So we have to piggy back on the average Joe's expectations. Right now there aren't a lot of multi-touch expectations. Pinching is becoming widely recognized ... and we'll bring that to the party when we have something we want to zoom (the videos for example). Meanwhile, we're keeping it simple and seeing what folks actually do when confronted with the kiosk.


    Caliburn has been great. Removes a lot of noise simply by wiring things up by convention; convention that I'd follow anyway just to keep my sanity.


    More later on GPU acceleration; I didn't work on that part myself.





  • Silverlight TV 19: Hidden Gems from MIX10, UFC's Multi-Touch App

    Brian - You can get the coat in the Haight in SF. Thanks for the nice comments about the app which is almost as pretty as I am.


    Why not WPF? It could have been WPF. We choose SL in part because it has low deployment requirements (no .NET on the box, for example) and because we wanted to see if we could be effective within the more constrained SL 4 APIs. We also had our eye on the phone.


    Is it available to members? Not yet ... if ever. Members have a SL app which they log into and can use for self-help services like managing their own class schedules. The kiosk is for casual interaction and deliberately constrains its time window to the current week. We hope the kiosk will encourage face-to-face member interaction ... a different experience than SL at home.


    That said, we like keeping options open ... another point in favor of an SL implementation over a WPF implementation.


    Not knocking WPF. I'd use WPF if something about the app demanded a desktop. But since all of our requirements could be met with SL 4, we thought it prudent to fit within its constraints.


    Shaggygi - We expect to re-purpose this example to a more general "conference session" example and open the code up for all to see. It's use of MVVM, Caliburn, and DevForce may inspire others.


    Ivan - I haven't a clue. Not even sure where to go for the answer. Try http://stackoverflow.com/.

  • U.S. Army using Silverlight for Resourcing Troops

    First, I'm a fan of ClickOnce. The problem in many cases is that the client either does not understand all the issues or sees them differently than I do. In this case as I understand it, the client's IT department opposed a smart client app delivered via ClickOnce for all kinds of reasons that could be simply summarized as "deployment". Some of the technical reasons include [a] requires Full Trust, [b] has unfettered access to the PC, and [c] requires a specific version of .NET to be installed on all target machines. These requirement are as much aspects of "deployment" as the location of the bits on the file system.


    I doubt Dan failed in his duty to educate. He knew the benefits (and headaches) of ClickOnce quite well ... as did his client. He spoke about "reletentless pressure" to be fully in the browser implying that he tried mightily to make his case. He would not have put his success at risk casually to try two risky migration paths (ASP.NET and Silverlight) ... at the client's expense ... unless he had to do so.


    I've been on his side of that argument. Sometimes the resistence is substantive and sometimes it feels like politics and deliberate misunderstanding. I don't know how Dan encountered it. I am reminded of one of the wisest life questions ever put to me: "do you want to be right or do you want to be effective?"  Evidently, Dan became convinced that he could not be both and had to find an alternate path to delivering the goods ... and Silverlight + DevForce came along just in time.


    Now that he is in Silverlight and discovered its richness, power and productivity, there will be no going back.

  • U.S. Army using Silverlight for Resourcing Troops

    They DID use ClickOnce. That's how the WinForms app was routinely installed and updated. But there was strong resistence from IT to installing any applications on the client, whether ClickOnce is doing it or not. I've found this to be true for years. Many organizations lock down the PC. They don't want Full Trust code running there. This is a major reason "Smart Client" never took hold. Now, all you have to do is get the organization to buy into the plug-in ... and you're golden.