Posts Tagged ‘Billy Hollis’

Impressions from the WPF and Silverlight Course

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been on a training course with Billy Hollis about WPF and Silverlight this week. The week was split into two different courses, first two days with “WPF and Silverlight liftoff”, followed by three days of “Design Concepts, Architecture, and Advanced Capabilities for Silverlight and WPF”. Some were only attending the first part, others only the second, but we were about half the class there for the full week.

Except for some experimenting, I have not done any serious development with WPF myself before this course, but I hope that I will get some chance to use it as it seems to ba a very good framework for user interface development. Last night, I played around in Expression Blend in my hotel room, and found that I had a much better grasp of the tool now than I did before, since I had learned a bit of the basic concepts on this training course. I suddenly found that the time had gone by and it was well past my normal bed time before I put my laptop down for the night.

Billy Hollis spent two half days talking mostly about design. He emphasized that we must leave the very standardized grafical user interface that the industry have been used to the last thirty years. It is now time to create something better. Once upon a time it made sense to have everything look the same for consistency, but now that so many applications are living on the web, the consistency is gone. The focus should now be on creating usable and beautiful software. When the software looks good, the users will feel good about it, and even have a higher tolerance for errors than they will have otherwise. I think the most important part of making good looking software is to make it feel natural. It should be intuitive for the user how to perform the tasks at hand.

Good usability and good user interface design is not easy, particularly not for the typical analytical software developer. At the course, Billy sent us out in the buildings (the old terminal buildings at Fornebu, the former airport of Oslo) looking for examples of good and bad design in the real world. He encouraged us to get into the habit of noticing the design of the things around us, to better learn what works and what doesn’t.

When software is designed right, the results can be amazing, just think of the experience you had the first time you saw a nice iPad app.

WPF and Silverlight training

This week I’m attending a couple of training courses on WPF and Silverligt given by Billy Hollis. So far it has been very interesting, and I’ve learned a bit of new ways of thinking about GUI and design.

One discussion we’re having among the colleagues who are here, is how much of this we will be able to use later. Since we’re working on a huge legacy application, mostly written in C++ with the GUI in WinForms on C++/CLI, we have to be careful about trying to be to creative. There is no way we can rewrite the entire application using WPF in a short term, so any use of it will have to be considered very carefully and deliberatlely. However, in parts of the application we’ve already started using new technologies, porting elemenents to new technology with C# and WPF (which is what we’ll be discussing at our NDC talk this summer).