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July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Tales From the Con: MIX 10 Day One Recap

In an attempt to gather what I can from what was a blur of technology, flashy lights and tucked in polo shirts, let’s take a look at what Day One of MIX 10 was like. Since, you all might know how the live blog went – we’ll get it right tomorrow morning as long no one decides to release a 100+ MB download in the middle of the keynote – we’ll just take a look at a few of my favorite announcements.

Surely, you all know a lot of details concerning Windows Phone 7 were released including specifics on XNA and Silverlight support as well as more information concerning Expression Blend 4 and the release of the Silverlight 4 release candidate (final version due next month!), so let’s get into the nitty gritty after the break.

Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie

Just one thing on the live blogging before we move on: experiencing the keynote from the press tables was pretty surreal to say the least. Now that we have all the kinks worked out, expect even better coverage of tomorrow’s keynote from the Microsoft Student Insiders.

After being blown away from everything Windows Phone 7 related, let’s take a look at a few specifics from the keynote that were particularly face melting.

Graphic.ly

Yes, there have been comic book apps before, but Graphic.ly on Windows Phone 7 looks to be a game changer for one reason: Deep Zoom. The ability to zoom in on Spidey’s web nearly to the silky fibers will just make the experience of reading a comic book on a device that much more rich. Live sharing and commenting is pretty much expected at this point from nearly any app, so let’s not go there, but the ability to share on individual pages is fairly significant.

“I’ll Be Late”

This calendar feature may very well be what sets the Windows Phone 7 apart from other cellular calendar offerings (this time it’s your choice). The ability to tell everyone involved in a given event that you’ll be late with the push of a button is just plain nifty. However, the specifics on how exactly this is handled in the back end is still behind the curtain, but it’s safe to assume you’re going to be required to already be connected to a service like Microsoft Outlook.

An early sketch of Simple Lister using Expression Blend’s Sketchflow feature

Simple Lister

Cynergy’s eBay listing app using Silverlight 4’s out-of-browser functionality may turn me into a seller. Like I said during Day One’s live blog, I do have a ton of text books lying around, just waiting patiently to be worth something. While the demo was designed to display Silverlight 4’s ability to create an app for out-of-browser, the apps obviously intuitive UX was the selling point for a chap like myself.

After restructuring my thoroughly melted dome, it was time for some sessions. Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Creative Director of Pink & Yellow Media, hosted a session titled Rapid WordPress Design and Prototyping with Expression Web 3. Key word here in this session was rapid – unbelievably rapid. Thank the various MIX 10 technical teams for cataloging the sessions  as I’ll need to give this one another pass through. Tips from the first viewing? First, if you plan to do any theme creation/uploading to your CMS of choice, give Microsoft/web a shot (it automates a ton of the process). Second, Mesh is a useful tool for linking files and folders across multiple computers for easy updating. Flash drives? Puhhlease!

Paul Dawson of EMC Consulting provided a session on Total Experience Design with a severe focus on an extremely important preparation for UX design: field research. According to Dawson, field research is essential to creating a difference in an experience to which the designer has no involvement in. “Design without boundaries” is the name of the game here and why limit oneself to Google for research?

Lastly, Robby Ingebretsen of Pixel Lab gave us Ten Ways to Attack Design Problems and Come Out Winning. While I won’t get into all ten tips, Ingebretsen did emphasize the importance of sketching, finding inspiration from all media and identifying a theme for your design. While these things may sound like common sense, give a look-see to the session as he presents his seemingly logical ideas in a way that ends up being profound and inspiring. I just want to create something!

Just before some spicy huarache for dinner, General Manager of the Expression Team Eric Zocher let me in on some key information such as the fact that there have been nearly 600 performance tests on Expression Blend 4 thus far to ensure an increase in speed in Blend’s final release this summer. Not to mention that for anyone currently using Expression Studio 3 products their upgrades to Expression 4 versions will be 100% free.

That’s it for Day One (what a start), everyone. Stay tuned this afternoon at 12:00 p.m. EST as the Insiders and I will be blogging live from the next keynote featuring Bill Buxton and Dean Hachamovitch!

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