MIX '11 — Day 1

Today was the first day of the conference proper. As such, there were keynotes and sessions.

Keynote the First

IE 9 got a big pile of praise from the presenter and then they ran some demos with IE 9 side by side with Chrome to show off IE's hardware accelerated rendering with the obvious subtext being "Look at us, we're faster than the fast guys!", but here's the thing:

  • You and I both know that the demos are contrived to make IE look good (So pointing and laughing at Chrome is both childish and a bit of a lie).
  • If IE actually stops being a pain in the ass performance-wise, that will be worth ten-thousand fishbowl demos.
  • Time will tell whether or not anyone ever actually builds applications where the performance of Chrome/Firefox ever becomes a problem the way IE's performance has been in the past.
  • IE performance is still going to be an issue until I can count on people using IE 9 rather than 7/8. Everybody is already using Chrome 10 and in a couple month everybody will be using Firefox 4. The same can not be said about IE 9.

After the self-congradulatory back-patting over IE 9, Scott Guthrie and Scott Hansleman came out and talked about:

  • ASP.NET MVC 3 Tools Update: It comes with jQuery 1.5, Modernizr and RoR style scafolding generators.
  • Entity Framework 4.1: Code first (generate SQL schema from POCO objects).
  • Nuget

They did a demo consisting of building a CRUD admin app and front end for Hanselman's podcast. Throughout, I couldn't help but think that code first entity framework stuff and the auto-generated scafolding were like django's models and admin interface from five years ago, except not quite as good. Given that I like django's stuff, having ASP.NET MVC steal ideas from it and RoR is probably a good thing for ASP.NET, but it does kind of raise the nasty question of "Why the hell aren't you writing stuff in django?" rather than lighting a fire in my heart to work with the ASP.NET stack.

After the demo they brought out a guy to talk about Orchard CMS. I'm only mentioning this because they threw up a big slide saying "Orchard is great because it works with Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc, etc, etc", which seemed kind of weird, 'cause it kind of feels like they were saying: "This is great 'cause it runs PHP!"

Designing Infographics for Web Applications

This was the first actual session I attended of and it was great. Des Traynor talked about making infographics of the "showing data in your application" rather than "get to the top of Hacker News" variety. A couple of points he touched on:

  • Making infographics is hard. Sometimes it's really hard to beat the simplicity, clarity, adaptability, etc. of text.
  • 3-D charts have a bad habit of making it easy to lie (with shout outs to Tufte's data-ink/chart-junk ideas).
  • Clarity is the goal first and foremost. Making the graphic clever/interesting are only secondary goals and if you need to make sacrifices it's in these.
  • People are great an comparing the lengths of lines and not so much anything else (width, area, colour intensity, quantity, etc).

Node.js, Python and Ruby on Windows Azure

This was something of a show-and-tell presentation. The basic message was "You can totally get Ruby/Python/Node running on Windows Azure... though, you'll have to rolll up your sleaves and get your hands dirty."

UX Lightning Talks

This is the first Lightning Talk session I've been to. It was pretty cool. Topics included:

  • Delightful Eperiences
  • 21 Century Design
  • Goodbye mouse — Hello touch.
  • Lessons in Design

Evening Session

  • Ask the Experts: I drank a free beer and listened to people complain about the fact that ASP.NET isn't quite as shiney as Rails, then I left.
  • I ate a different steak. It was delicious.
  • I walked the strip and saw the fountains at the Bellagio do their thing.