As some people have noticed, I will be speaking at Microsoft MIX this year. I’m sure a few people are curious what I’m doing there.
A couple of months ago, gskinner.com was presented with an opportunity to work on a very interesting Silverlight project, with a fairly flexible timeline. I’ve been looking for an excuse to dig deeper into Silverlight for a while so it made a lot of sense. As an extension of that project Microsoft asked me to present a talk at MIX discussing the project. Regrettably, the project start was pushed back due to (not entirely unexpected) bureaucratic delays. As such, the talk will focus on a more general overview of the casual gaming market, and what opportunities exist in it for Silverlight.
That covers why I’m speaking in Vegas, but what about the politics? While I am not so naive to believe that there are no politics involved with asking me to speak (though MS assures me there are not), I am choosing not to be concerned with them. The opportunity that was presented to us was a good one – it’s a fun project, it made business sense, and it provided us with a low stress environment to really learn Silverlight development.
While my primary focus is (and remains) Flash, I am an interactive developer. I would be sorely remiss to ignore other technologies. Not only does knowledge of other technologies potentially open new project opportunities, but it lets me reinvest ideas and mental models from them back into my work with Flash. Working with C# has already sparked some new ideas for me (not to mention a few AS3 feature requests). Knowledge of alternative technologies also lets us suggest the best possible solutions for our customers or talk them out of a bad one.
We have done HTML/AJAX work in the past and continue to do small amounts of iPhone development for these same reasons. As HTML 5 matures, you can bet we will play and work with it to see how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into our offerings.
We are not jumping ship to Silverlight. Microsoft has not “bought” our loyalty, and they have assured me that working with us is more about seeing what we can do with their technology and our experience in interactive than as a political move. You’ll note that at no point do they associate me with Flash (though it is obviously somewhat implicit), and I will be minimizing comparisons between the technologies when I speak.
I’m looking forward to the conference. I’m a little hesitant with regard to my talk, because I don’t feel I’ve played with Silverlight enough to really discuss the details I’d like, but I’m excited to see what Microsoft announces, and to hang out with the community. If you’re going to be in Vegas for the event look me up!
I’m planning to blog a fair amount about my experience with Silverlight on this project, once I feel that I’ve dug deep enough to be fair. I’ll be very blunt and honest in what I find – it’s one of the risks Microsoft is taking in involving me, but also shows a level of confidence with the new version that I haven’t seen in the past.
Let me know if you have any questions, and I’m happy to answer them in the comments.
UPDATE: I just want to clarify the intent of this post. It’s not intended as a defence of working with Silverlight – I don’t believe one is necessary. I haven’t met with any hostility, but there has been a fair amount of curiousity, so I thought I would provide some information for those that were interested.