I recently created my first little mesh applications. And yeah, I like it! One of those was a simple „Hello Mesh“ Silverlight application, only to get familiar with the mesh application creation and deployment process.
Fist I created a new „Silverlight Mesh-enabled Web Application“, which can be chosen through the new „Live Framework“ project type, (comes with the Live Framework Tools for Visual Studio).
There is a main application project „MeshApp1“, whose icon indicates that it’s mesh-enabled. Furthermore it contains a page that is hosting the Silverlight application „MeshApp1Silverlight“. I’ve heard that there are some problems, if you want to adopt this project structure to your custom needs. Some people seem to have problems when adding new references and projects, making the Silverlight application not work on a machine’s desktop. I’m sure that Microsoft is working on that, don’t forget we just have a CTP at the moment 😉
In Blend I’m layouting „Hello Mesh“ a little bit, so that my Mesh in the cloud is getting happy when it sees my application. Back in Visual Studio and ready to run, I make a thing which I call F5 deployment, regarding the effect of pressing the F5 key in my solution. So what’s going on? When you press F5 the first time, a dialog is popping up that is showing you some information about deploying your app:
At present you have to make some handwork on this. With the Live Framework you can create up to 25 projects at the moment, this should be enough for some playground experiences. The dialog is showing you the way: you have to go to your Azure developer center and create a new project. In return you get an application self-link (the URI for the application), which the dialog wants from you. With this, Visual Studio knows where to deploy the application automatically, when you press F5 the next time. My opinion on this is that this kind of handwork could be made a little smarter or more automatic, but remember: you have to make it only once, so it is quite ok for me.
What I think about this: that is how cloud application development and deployment should look like! Easy development with respect to your existing skills and easy deployment of your applications. Furthermore, with the application’s self-link, Visual Studio is able to debug your applications in the cloud. That’s great! No competitor of Microsoft gives you these possibilities and in my opinion it’s making a big difference and will contribute much to the success of Microsoft’s cloud strategy. Attracting developers is the core of all.
Aehrm, where have I been? Oh yeah… well… when you press F5, your Silverlight application will start in the cloud. The Live Desktop will open up and your Silverlight application will get a shortcut on it. It starts on your Live desktop, showing the overwhelming „Hello Mesh“ result:
If you run the „Live Framework Client“, this app automatically creates a shortcut on your machine’s desktop to the MeshApp1 Silverlight application. And in the background, it automatically synchronizes the application to your machine. Now try the following (it works!): disconnect from the Internet, click on the shortcut at your desktop and the application runs! Without connection, on your desktop. This really impresses me and I will try some more complex scenarios later on… Here’s the local desktop result:
First conclusion: I like/love my first experiences with the Live Framework and that I can use my existing development skills. The deployment process is intuitive and easy and brings my expectations to life. I will go on with some more topics during the next days and weeks.