Stacked 2015 conference

At the time I never got to write up about the Stacked conference I attended, so here goes:

I was looking at the various conferences going on this year, and decided to go to Stacked2015 - which was marketed as a Windows developer conference. I hadn’t been to a windows developer conference, so I wanted to know more about what I could learn. I hadn’t heard of Stacked, but was happy it was in Manchester (Where I live) and was free (Always a bonus!)


There was a good mix of speakers at the conference:

  • Jonathan Seal - Strategy Director - Mando
  • Jeff Burtoft - Senior Program Manager - Microsoft
  • Martin Beeby - Developer Evangelist - Microsoft
  • Mary Jo Foley - Microsoft Watcher & Technology Journalist - AllAboutMicrosoft.com & Windows Weekly
  • Mike Taulty - Developer Evangelist - Microsoft
  • Paul Thurrott - Microsoft Watcher and Technology Journalist - Thurrott.com & Windows Weekly

The conference theme I was getting was to talk about how Windows development is changing the landscape for developers, how you can build solutions for Windows and what is coming next.

There was a heavy focus on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) which you can’t seem to get away from if you use Visual Studio 2015! It also focused on building apps for IoT devices such as raspberry pi 2, and subtly touched on how you can take advantage of the new ways of user interaction with your apps.

The conference started on time, I grabbed a bit of SWAG and some coffee and attended the welcome and introduction.

I couldn’t help but notice the machine in the lobby, with smoke coming from the back, but more about that later! The first session was on The Developer’s Guide to Windows 10 and the UWP - Mike Taulty, Developer Evangelist, Microsoft

Mike explained about the changes between previous versions of windows and windows 10, from a developers perspective. This meant a lot of explanation on how the UWP works, and writing code for multiple platforms using the same code base. He showed examples of writing code for a Raspberry Pi, PC and also a SurfaceHub. He talked about the how the to use the Extension platforms for code that targets specific device families.Microsoft now splits device families into Phones, Phablets, Tablets, Desktops, Xbox, SurfaceHub, Hololens and IOT, and where code deviates from generic platform code, we use one of the extension libraries.

The second session was on Windows 10 Web Platforms - Jeff Burtoft, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft

Jeff talked about the key goals for Windows 10: to try and make Windows the best platform for experiencing the web. There was a lot of brag about Microsoft Edge and its inner workings, lots of explanation of how Microsoft are leaving the legacy behind, and providing users with an elegant experience that’s always up to date, and makes the web “just work” for its users. The complications of continuing development on IE which just became a monster, they showed a graph with all the versions over time, quirks mode, strict mode etc. The balanced this against users impressions of IE (such as its slow, doesn’t render sites correctly, doesn’t work etc.) and decided it was just easier to start again!

They also revealed a new microsoft tool called sitescan (which is what they had in the lobby in this cool looking robotic machine, but duing the talk, they had it working on a raspberry pi, which you could send an SMS to, and it would scan the site and test its compatibility with Microsoft edge. It looked for things like css prefixes (such as moz- or opera-). It also checked things like whether sites are using browser detection libraries etc.

He also explained that in Windows 10, the web isn’t just an app, it’s a platform. By this he meant it allows web developers to build amazing experiences without changing the languages, tools or workflows that they have grown to love. He touched on hosted web apps which allows writing of apps using Edge and has all the benefits of a store app, such as access to all windows APIs


This then brought him onto talking about ManifoldJs, which just looked amazing!

To sum up briefly, it allows you to take a website, or a series of artefacts, and convert them into a mobile app within about 5 minutes. I don’t mean just Windows Mobile though, it includes iOS, Android, and lots of other platforms. This technology really excites me, so i’ll post more about this soon!


The last bit he explained about how Explained how Edge always up to date works Edge will always stay at its version, with over the air incremental updates Rather than being compliant to Http standards, it will use community patterns more (such as iOS standards, chrome etc.) Example of this is mobile edge will render as an iPhone page, if the site is optimised for iPhone (which most mobile sites are optimised for). Will reuse agent string for other browsers to make sites more compatible Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/42.0.2311.135 Safari/537.36 Edge/12.

The third session was on Making the Computer Experience More Personal - Jonathan Seal, Strategy Director, Mando & Mike Taulty, Developer Evangelist, Microsoft

I must say, this session felt a but fluffy and a bit of a filler session! They talked about about the current model we use for computing, such as icons, mice and pointers and how it’s lasted for 30 years. Apparently we’re seeing an explosion of ways in which we can interact with machines, including more natural mechanisms like touch, gesture, speech and pen. We are entering an age of really ‘personal’ computing. There was a lot of talk about how we need to change the model, but it felt like all questions, and no answers!

Lunch was then provided, which was an amazing assortment of curries!

The fourth session was on Microsoft & Developers - Now and Next - Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft Watcher, AllAboutMicrosoft.com (ZDNet) & Windows Weekly co-host

This was a talk by Mary Jo Foley, just a general talk of the direction of Microsoft and where they are headed as a company. She suggested that Microsoft’s movement into phones may be being binned in the future (I guess no one saw that coming?), in favour of android. They have abandoned the Android application bridge (well there has been no news on its development for some time)

There’s a big push towards open source in order to tap into the open source community developer resource, and a big push towards using azure and it’s services. They are aiming for slimmer development teams and there’s going to be possible shrinking/streamlining of products and services at Microsoft in future?

She mentioned a new build/code name for windows 10 coming out before Christmas (Would be windows 11? But 10 is a rolling release now). Also Microsoft are looking to move in consulting more at businesses in a hope that more businesses will continue to use Microsoft products. The idea is to be involved in any issues, not just Microsoft problems.

After session four, there was a competition, to win an XBox One Onesie (which I won!)

I didn’t want to mention that I’m PS4 at heart!

The fifth session was on Developing for the Internet of Things - Martin Beeby, Developer Evangelist, Microsoft

This was basically a plug for windows 10 on raspberry pi, and interesting projects that have been made using the platform It showed controlling things like a Sphero using an app written for UWP and also how simple it is to write apps for raspberry pi, and how we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just the desktop platform. This was really interesting, so much so that not long later I went and purchased some more bits of electronics to try and do some more of my own IOT projects!

Unfortunately I had to leave after this, so I wasn’t able to make the recording of Windows Weekly Live with Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott

Written on December 15, 2015.