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Back from Mix06

I just came back from the Microsoft (MSFT) Mix06 conference in Las Vegas where I saw the future of Microsoft technology and I’m excited about it (though I will probably have to wait until 2007 to see it.)  Here’s what I saw:

Windows Presentation Foundation
This is the new 2D/3D display technology that will drive the next version of Windows, Vista.  When I saw the demonstrations, I started thinking of how MindManager could benefit from it.  I came up with this idea of a three dimensional visual difference showing how a map changed over time:

A core part of the display technology is the XML language XAML which defines all of the aspects of the visual representation.  In my postings here and work in the Mindjet Labs, I have talked about how MindManager’s XML architecture enables integrations and innovation.  I could imagine how the representation that I sketched out could be created by transforming a map’s XML data combined with the XML of a previous version using XSLT.  I can’t wait to start experimenting with this.  If you have any other suggestions of cool XAML projects for MindManager, please send them to me at labs@mindjet.com.

Tablet PC and Origami
I have never been to a conference where I have seen so many people with tablet PCs.  I have the Thinkpad X41, which I love!  Microsoft was showing off some of the Origami prototypes and I was able to play around with them.  Once they get the battery life up to a day, these things will be great. 

At the beginning of the conference, I had the chance to ask Bill Gates a question about Microsoft’s emphasis on consistency in UI design and how Microsoft’s platforms would be addressing the multiple form factors that we are starting to see.  Because of this emphasis, Microsoft has created some sub-optimal user interfaces.  My favorite example is the scrollbars on the right of windows.  This works very well when people are using a mouse as a pointing device or when users are right handed.  But if you are a left-handed tablet computer users, like Bill Gates and me, you would immediately notice that when you try to use the scrollbars on the right side of a page, your hand obscures what you are trying to scroll.  Over margaritas at the end of the conference, a Microsoft employee working on IE7 suggested that I learn to write with my right hand instead.  I guess I’ll just have to live with my left-handed "lifestyle".  As an aside, I am happy to say that MindManager has an optional left handed mode which puts the task pane and scroll bar on the left of the screen (I think developement did this feature just for me).

I took all of my notes with my Thinkpad X41 tablet and found a great tool to create my own lettering typeface.  It really works well when you have a map that has a mix of typing and writing.  I learned how print like an architect from Don Wexler and in architecture school 17 years ago.  If you want a copy of the typeface, send an email to labs@mindjet.com

ASP.Net 2.0
If you don’t know was ASP is, it’s the technology behind websites that run on Windows Internet Information Servers.  The presentations that I saw from people like Scott Guthrie, and Rob Howard (from Telligent, the people who build Community Server) were amazing.  I plan on showing a Mindjet Labs example in the near future that shows how to use ASP.net to generate maps dynamically on a server to be displayed using the MindManager Viewer control.  If you would like to see a webinar on that, send an email to labs@mindjet.com.

The People
Throughout the conference, I was meeting people from companies like Larsen, Playground Media Group, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Yahoo, and Amazon.  I can’t count how many times I demonstrated MindManager, especially the Research Accelerator.  I showed the Research Accelerator to many Microsoft employees who had no idea that Office had one too.  I met many Mindjet users – people who really love our software.  Of course some came to me with their problems or how-to questions which I tried my best to answer or address. 

In all, it was a great conference. See you at Mix07!

Michael