Today's keynote was all about the plug-in free web. The keynote started with a barrage of IE9 statistics and demonstrations showing how "native support" is important. By native support, the team is referring to minimizing the layers between the web and the underlying hardware. It was very impressive to see the amazing performance of HTML5 sites rendered within IE9. The flipside, however, is that to make a truly cross platform experience, developers will now have to consider the slower browsers as the "reference standard" for a "lowest common denominator" to create a consistent experience, and then figure out if and how they might tag on "extras" to take advantage of the bells and whistles with IE9. The time from preview to launch was impressive, and they are now starting a new cycle by providing the IE10 preview at http://ietestdrive.com. They demonstrated SVG animations, videos projected onto canvases and even the world’s largest PacMan game for the 30-year anniversary. A little gem was the fact that many of the demos were done on a build on an ARM processor.
While digesting the idea of web browsers providing an experience "closer to the metal" as IE has set out to do, the focus shifted to the new MVC tools available at http//asp.net/mvc. This was also very impressive to see a website built quickly from scratch with full HTML5 support. The Entity Framework 4.1 allowed the presenters to create some POCO classes and literally generate the database on the fly. While this was impressive to watch, something even more interesting and subtle worked its way into the presentation: the open community support.
By far the most impressive thing I took away from the keynote was the amazing speed at which the open source community has embraced the MVC and WebRazor ecosystem. There are templates you can download and install, widgets, shopping carts, and so much more. In fact, forget the cool technology and HTML5 compatibility. There is a world of support evolving around the toolset that I have not seen anywhere else. The integration with the tools makes it easier than ever before to say, "Hmmm, I wonder if I have to build my own shopping cart" then search and find out that there is already on available and with only a few short click integrate that into your own application. This is powerful, and this is something I think is desperately missing from the Silverlight ecosystem.
Sure, we have open source projects and initiatives, but the volume and level to which the tools embrace these is immature at best. If nothing else, what I took away from the keynote was that there is already a growing and thriving open source ecosystem on the MVC platform and the Silverlight community needs to pay close attention or be left behind. Not for the sake of the future of the technology, but for creating the additional ease in the developer workflow to be able to pick and choose first class components that integrate to create a seamless and phenomenal experience on the web.
I'll be looking forward to what no doubt will be a Silverlight-focused morning of keynote nuggets tomorrow while I consider pulling down and playing with the HTML5 web that has been made so much more accessible by the open source community.
Now I'm onto a session about HTML5 for Silverlight developers!