Insider Dev Tour Manchester


Posted on June 21, 2018

Yesterday I attended the Insider Dev Tour in Manchester. They are currently being held in various cities and are ran by Microsoft MVPs whom discuss some recent, up and coming Microsoft Technologies.

Today had a few themes

  • Modernising apps
  • Progressive Web Apps
  • Office 365
  • Microsoft Graph
  • Machine Learning
  • Mixed Reality Apps

Just a stream of notes I made.. I’ll tidy them up later and include speaker names and links etc..

People are encouraged to become an insider at insider.windows.com

They gave a bit of a recap from Build 2018.

Azure was discussed, remarking just how big it has become and continues to grow.

Azure Stack was mentioned as well as some uses of it, for example cruise ships.

An demo of Azure IOT Hub and an IOT button was given then IOT Edge and Spherediscussed. I couldn’t help notice the lack of IOT Core mentioned. I hope it is still being developer as I love IOT Core on Raspberry Pi.

Microsoft's Machine Learning strategy, particularly in industry was discussed. A DJI Mavic Drone running the DJI Windows SDK was demonstrated (albeit not flying for health and safety reasons). A live stream of it’s camera identifying bananas was shown on screen. A drone running a simple AI using a machine learnt model was kind of cool.

We watched a video of Surface Hub 2. It strikes me that this is mainly aimed at corporate entities and not small SMEs.

Some features coming to phones were discussed including Timeline on iOSAndroid, Microsoft Launcher on Android as well as the Your Phone desktop application that allows interaction with your phone from your own computer.

Microsofts increase in App Store revenue share was discussed (85%, rising to 95% if you referred the user to the store yourself).

Microsofts new application packaging technology MSIX was demonstrated.

Windows Community Toolkit 3.0 was plugged.

.NET 3.0 was teased and the performance increases of ASP.NET Core 2.1 was mentioned.

Just Eats recent blog post on their performance increases from their move the using .NET Core 2.1 was mentioned.

Visual Studio Live Share was briefly mentioned but unfortunately not demoed.

The fact that the Twitter desktop app in the Microsoft Store is a PWA (Progressive Web App) was mentioned

Advances in Office 365 were discussed including developers ability to build Extensions and Adaptive Cards. Adaptive cards looked interesting, small amounts of pre-defined functionality that will be consistently rendered in certain Office 365 apps. Once such Adaptive card held a bot created using the Bot Framework in a demo.

Microsoft Graph’s tentacles seem to be increasing their reach, though this point i’m not sure if it includes their acquisitions i.e. LinkedIn or Wunderlist (what is now Microsoft To Do).

There was a fairly large session on how to modernise your existing apps for windows 10. Which in a nutshell was about how to wrap / package your existing Win32, Windows Forms and WPF apps in Microsoft's latest packaging technology MSIX. The session also demonstrated how these older desktop technologies can use the latest Windows 10 technologies such as ink and Windows Hello authentication.

I probably mostly enjoyed the session on Progressive Web Apps as it is directly pertinent to my current work. I learnt of a gem of a website www.pwabuilder.com as well as a PWA readiness tool called Sonarwhal. I’d always just used Chrome Audit/Lighthouse tool for this previously. The fact that Bing is auto indexing web applications that are PWA ready and list them in the Microsoft Store proves that Microsoft is serious about this technology.

There was an interesting talk about a real life project which involved modernising a police force (I forget the region). It was interesting that the client didn’t initially give a jot about UX but eventually came around to a different way of thinking. It included a healthy amount of UWP development which were used on HoloLens. Allowing the police force to create large virtual realtime maps and dashboards in a virtual space. Futuristic stuff.. Now!

I even managed to have a go on the HoloLens. Something i’d not been able to do until now. I was very impressed. The field of vision was larger than I was led to believe.

The penultimate session was about getting started with Machine Learning and involved a demo of training an AI model to classify stick figure drawings. A format that Microsoft using for this (.onnx, see onnx.ai) was mentioned. Pre defined models can be downloaded from gallery.azure.ai.

The last session was about developing for Mixed Reality. The sheer number of compatible mixed reality headsets being developed by different vendors makes me think this is here to stay. A demo included using Unity and the Acer MR headset and controllers to interact with a virtual world.

Apologies I didn’t get chance to stick around after the Q&A, I had a train to catch.

In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and would encourage more people to attend in future. Many thanks to the organisers and speakers.