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Interview with SilverlightShow Article Author Andrej Tozon

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0 comments   /   posted by Svetla Stoycheva on Apr 16, 2010
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Categories: Misc

Andrej Tozon is the next article author we would like to introduce you to the SilverlightShow community. Having authored 5 articles already, all on quite hot topics, Andrej is one of the most active contributors to posting quality content on SilverlightShow. Andrej's articles are fresh, entertaining, with provoking titles and colorful examples. Meet Andrej!

Q. Andrej - please briefly introduce yourself and your experience with Silverlight. 
Hi, my name is Andrej Tozon, I’m from Slovenia and currently work for my own company, specializing in Silverlight and WPF development and consulting. My addiction to computers started back in 1983, when I got my ZX Spectrum. I was 12 years old at the time and I think that was also the year when I first spent the whole night awake, without going to sleep. The next logical step for me was to choose Computer High school and after that Faculty of Organizational Sciences, where I graduated in Informatics. Obviously the addiction with computers continued to the present time, changing from being a hobby to being a business at some point during that period. I started Windows development with VB3 and gradually moved up the VB scale to a point when first version of .NET framework was released. After producing my first app in VB.NET I moved to C# and never looked back. Well, actually I did, several times, but that was for consulting purposes only. That was also one of the many things I fell in love with when starting with .NET: learning either language made you know the other one as well – you were actually learning the .NET framework.

I guess I was always a bit more of a client (vs. the web) developer, but nevertheless, I built roughly about 40% apps for the web. It was always the UI that I tried to put more work in, and developing for desktop offered so many more opportunities for providing the users with the application feel than they wanted. Needless to say, I never liked battleship gray UI’s, but I always respected the UI standards and conventions, applied to a specific technology/OS. Which is why I embraced the WPF at the same moment it got out. It was just awesome! And I had similar feelings for Silverlight when it was announced (as WPF/E).
Q. How did you decide to start out with Silverlight, and what helped you reach your currently level of fluency with this technology? 
The decision itself wasn’t hard; it was more of a question of time. Silverlight 1 was JavaScript based, which is the language I didn’t, don’t, and probably ever won’t like. At the same time, Silverlight 1.1 did run .NET, but lacked controls thus hard to use for anything else than media rich applications. Therefore I could say my real start was with version 2. But even so, it was really a sort of continuation, because Silverlight was bringing in a lot of principles and practices from WPF, which I was already familiar with. Getting to know the differences between the two was painful, yes, but also a great learning experience. 

Q. What area / features of Silverlight are you currently exploring / researching? What is the last Silverlight project you worked on? 
I’m currently exploring Silverlight 4 Beta to RC changes and upgrading my Silverlight course to include Silverlight 4 features. Other features, which are not exclusive to Silverlight, but are of a significant importance to it, are MEF (Managed Extensibility Framework) and WCF RIA Services – both of those are getting a lot of my attention these days. I’m currently working on a couple of Silverlight projects, one of which a startup project and will be publicly announced in the near future. 

Q. Considering your huge experience with Silverlight, what was the most interesting, useful or advanced Silverlight-based application you have seen or tried? 
Generally, I was really impressed with Project Gustav that was shown on several occasions on MIX. It is a drawing application with both (multi)touch and pen input that provides the painter with an experience that is nearly identical to drawing on a real canvas, with real brushes. Wished that was Silverlight :) But yeah, there’s one particular Silverlight application I’m using on (nearly) daily basis – Bing Maps. The number and quality of applications they are putting up there is amazing. And best of all, the API to Bing Maps is open to developers, plus there’s a Bing Maps Silverlight Control available so you can build your own applications. 

Q. The articles you author for SilverlightShow are quite fresh, with lively pictures and a good doze of humor inside. Very often you mention that the motivation behind creating some Silverlight application is to entertain your young daughter, and a few of your article titles referred to other members of your family :) Tell us more about this family element in your articles! 
Thanks! Yes, I believe that every father’s wish is to create or build something, anything, to entertain their children. And creating entertaining, possibly educational software is definitely something that a geek dad can easily dedicate some of his time to. I saw how my older daughter, Amber, started mimicking my interactions with an iPhone, and soon enough, she was able to get to the baby applications and cartoons I would put on the phone, all by herself. She was 15 months at the time. And that’s how it started. Later I bought a pen tablet that was the next best thing to a touch screen back then and started working on some applications that she would love to use, one of them being a doodling app, which also featured in one of my SilverlightShow articles. Of course most of those were Silverlight apps :)

It’s quite interesting to observe how touch feels very natural to children – as I mentioned she was 15 months old when she was able to navigate through screens and applications with the touch. She had a bit more problems with the pen, which she got to handle well a year later. And finally, half year later, just before she turned 3 years, she mastered the mouse input.

And now, my younger daughter, Evita, which just turned 1, seeing me do the same, she started to bang her hands against my multitouch monitor I recently bought. Yes, the children do learn quickly. And so it doesn’t look like my kids spend their whole days behind the computer :) – my wife takes a good care they don’t, but they are allowed some limited time to watch / play with it.
MIX in Las Vegas brought up quite a lot of news and discussions, and interesting sessions that everyone could watch online. What was the announcement you consider most important, or the sessions you enjoyed most? 
Of course it’s the Silverlight being the platform for building native Windows Phone 7 applications. That was the announcement everyone was waiting for, and Microsoft confirmed it, to the joy of many developers all over the world. I can’t pick a favorite session though, mostly because I haven’t had the time to see all I wanted to. But most of those I did see were very impressive. MIX continues to deliver great content every year and digesting it takes some time. And it’s a time well spent, I’d say.

Q. At the event it became clear that Silverlight applications may now run on Windows Phone 7 devices, without any specific tricks or changes to the application. How do you think this would affect the development of Silverlight technology for mobiles?
A. One of the catch phrases floating around the internet just prior the official announcement said that every Silverlight developer is now a Windows Phone 7 developer. This actually says a lot about an impact WP7 application market can expect when Windows Phone finally sees the light of day. There are a lot of Silverlight developers around the world and I’m positive that a large majority of them are looking into developing (or porting existing) applications for the new Windows Phone. The excellent phone emulator, available with WP7 SDK allows us to plan and test applications way ahead, which is great. 

Q. You may have perhaps read that we plan to completely redesign SilverlightShow and build it in Silverlight. This redesign follows the complete overhaul using Silverlight of the
corporate website of CompletIT, the company behind SilverlightShow. What would be the major improvements you would like to see in the new SilverlightShow site - content improvements or other? 
Yes, I have heard you’re redesigning your website and I’m really looking forward to seeing the new version. What I would do is trying to draw a clearer visual separation between the content that was specifically produced for SilverlightShow.net on one side, and other aggregated resources on the other side, perhaps using some more interesting graphics to lead the visitor to the content that he or she is interested in.  I would also try to reduce a number of categories and sections to simplify the navigation. And perhaps expose the showcasing section a bit more. 

Andrej - thanks for the opportunity to introduce you to SilverlightShow community, and for this useful feedback. We hope you will keep contributing to creating top-quality article content on SilverlightShow! 
Definitely! Thank you!



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