MSDN InTrack: Microsoft Webstack and PHP Pt. 2

Following my first post on the MSDN inTrack day I’ll now cover the second half of the day. The two topics featured were the presentation side of things and the Microsoft Live platform.


In this part different topics were addressed such as Microsoft Software of interest for PHP developers, the forthcoming Internet Explorer 8 and (of course) Silverlight.


Microsoft apparently has a whole new range of development software called ‘Expression ‘. Akin to Vista there are different flavors and akin to Vista that may cause confusion. Most emphasis was on ‘Expression Web’, a WYSIWYG editor replacing Frontpage. It looked quite decent in it’s own right but it is no IDE like Zend Studio. I think in PHP environments it’s most suited towards front-end developers who are mainly focused on templating.

IE 8

It looks like Internet Explorer 8 will have some very welcome features. (In my opinion just the fact that there will be an IE8 is a good thing as that will make IE6 ‘really old’ and hopefully extinct soon. Good news for anyone involved in CSS and JS coding). For developers interesting features will be:

  • JS-debugger with breakpoints and all (no more mystery line-numbers)
  • By default a web developer toolbar
  • Code profiler (think: Yslow)

Promising indeed. Now what remains on my wish-list is an easy way to run IE6 and IE7 alongside IE8…


On to Silverlight. One can’t but have noticed Microsoft is promoting it’s new web technology. And while Microsoft bashers will probably keep seeing it as ‘Just a M$ alternative to Flash’, it has some very nice features. Apparantly Silverlight is very powerful when it comes to handling video. A fine example was given in the form of last year’s Amstel Gold coverage featuring a single stream showing different camera’s. Another nice feature is Deep Zoom of which two interesting examples were shown: Hard Rock Memorabilia and Yosemite park. Not needed in your typical CMS application but very nice nevertheless.

But what I liked most about Silverlight (besides the obvious show-off examples) was the way it integrates into a HTML page: Silverlight events will be processed by the page’s javascript. This means that when developing RIA’s all of the behaviour scripting can be centralised and will cover both HTML and Silverlight parts of the page. Furthermore, Silverlight object elements can be accessed in a way similar to the HTML DOM. I haven’t yet worked with Silverlight but based on this I expect integration to be smooth.

Live Platform

Final part of the day was about Microsoft’s Live Platform. Different features were showcased, like easily publishing video content by using Expression . Neat in it’s own right but the relation to PHP was as thin as any web service. Most interesting I found the existence of Sky Drive. 25Gb of free storage. I’ll keep that in mind if I need to share the occasional file.

Concluding: Espcially the IIS and Silverlight parts were of real interest from a PHP developer’s perspective. Some of the other subjects were ‘nice to know’ and came across as more ‘promotional’ than ‘informative’. That aside, it looks like Microsoft is well aware of the increasing popularity of PHP. I wouldn’t be surprised if Silverlight will make it’s way into quite some PHP applications.