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Silverlight: Microsoft Set to Mix It Up in RIA Delivery : Page 3

Microsoft MIX '07 offers a glittery, Las Vegas preview of a complete family of tools, frameworks, and services for the design, development, and deployment of media-rich applications.

Though it received a lot less of the MIX spotlight, the next version of Visual Studio, "Orcas," also garnered a lot of attention from developers in attendance. The IDE was put to use in demonstrations during many of the breakout sessions. There were a few relatively minor rough spots in which a bug caused a brief pause or a feature still under development made for an abrupt segue; however, some of the highlighted features that were demonstrated in selected sessions included dynamic IntelliSense; a script manager for loading scripts; and streamlined, automated debugging. Integrated support for AJAX solutions incorporates the same functionality provided by AJAX and ASP.NET, and examples using the ListView control and the LINQ query syntax were also provided.

While the MIX conference had plenty to offer designers and developers, it also catered to the business decision maker segment of attendees. One panel in this track provided some perspectives designers should consider when designing web interfaces that will be used by other cultures. Aaron Marcus of Aaron Marcus and Associates—a Berkeley-based consultant organization that provides user interface and visualization design information for clients who employ mission-critical, complex, and rich web sites worldwide—moderated the panel, which consisted of Ryan Freitas of Adaptive Path, Kelly Goto of Gotomedia, Royce Lee of e-Crusade, and Surya Vanka of Microsoft.

The user experience for a worldwide audience presents challenges that go beyond mere language translation, Goto said, and one of the biggest business challenges designers face is how to account for cultural differences in the design of UIs for the web because research appears to bear out that what is popular or desirable abroad in a UI may not be popular or successful here in the U.S. and vice versa.

Goto suggested that one way to design for multicultural audiences is through ethnographic studies, where designers can gain a better understanding of how products and services fit into the lifestyles of the audiences they're targeting. Similarly, Freitas said that when working with customers, it's important for designers and developers to have their customers tell them as much as they know about their audiences and users, and get clients to talk about the behaviors the users engage in alongside the delivery of products.

RIA development for the interactive web is bursting with a lot of new technology opportunities. Some (Silverlight) are further along than others (JavaFX), and still others (Adobe Flash) are already well established. But there seems to be a lot of interest in the developer community to see how all of these technologies will evolve as development for the dynamic web progresses.

Terrence O'Donnell is managing editor, DevX, which is a division of Juiptermedia.
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