A view from the Rev Conference 2015

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By Sprezzatura

Well, we've just finished the Rev conference and I think we can safely say that for us, at least, it has been one of the most satisfying in quite some time.

Revelation took the decision that for this conference, the only people speaking would be Revelation Staff and one honourary Rev Staff member (take a bow our very own Carl Pates). The idea was that the major focus of this conference was to be OI 10 - and no one outside Rev had seen or had access to this product - not even us at Sprezz Towers. In honesty I did get a very small (say two minute) preview of a bit of it on the plane to the conference but that was because everyone would be seeing it a day or two later!

The venue chosen for the conference was slightly more luxurious than normal and if you're a fan of Tex-Mex (which we all are) the food was superb! Carl was even seen on more than one occasion actually eating from the buffets. (For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of attending conference - Carl normally slips away at meal times to find places which can satisfy his - shall we say  uniquely anodyne culinary preferences).

The conference was arranged in such a way that there were two tracks of the same speakers ensuring that no one had to choose to miss attending any of the key talks. We were able to attend all of the key presentations but client pressure meant that we had to miss one or two of the subsidiary talks. Rather than comment on individual talks I'll just provide an overview of what I found to be the highlights of the three day event.

The first day saw a keynote speaker who provided a number of catchphrases that would be repeated by speakers and attendees on several occasions throughout the conference. Whether or not you're a fan of motivational speakers, no one could deny that he provided some unique vocabulary snippets and repeatable gestures.

The introductory talk by Revelation CEO Mike Ruane provided the usual overview of where the company was at (still profitable) and where it was going (OI 10). Then it was straight into the heavy hitters. For me, it was a three hour presentation by Carl on the changes that had been made to the Presentation Server in the upcoming release.  The talk focused on all the things that are going to allow us to deliver a modern desktop experience.  He also showed off an IDE that drew upon industry standard designs such that your average computer science graduate would have no problem with picking it up and running with it.

A clean interface and a consistent open/new dialog finally brought the toolset together as one coherent whole. The design workspace and property panel were synched as you moved from one tool to another and the whole IDE just radiates professionalism and quality.

A major focus of this release has been on allowing us to compete with other development environments for modernity without cutting a line of code. Take the screenshot below

When I first saw this I was convinced that it had been achieved with either an HTML control or with fancy bitmaps. The truth was far simpler. Carl explained that he'd created this look by using the following steps - in his own words :-

It's all done with parent-child relationships

  1. It's a form with a background image
  2. The dark strip across the top is a static with center-right aligned text and 10px padding
  3. The upper "Applications" tab-like box over the top bar is a static with 40% translucency, a border on the left/top/right edges and rounded corners at the top. Its parent is the dark strip (2)
  4. The Applications text is a static child of the Applications Box (3) with a transparent backcolor
  5. The Left "panel" is a static with 60% translucency
  6. The "lower" part of the applications box is a static with 50% translucency, a border on the left/bottom/right edges and rounded corners at the bottom. Its parent is the left panel (5)
  7. The listbox has no border and a transparent background.  It's parent is the lower applications box (6).  It has a "treeview" renderstyle, so it paints like the windows explorer rather than using solid colors like the traditional ListBox
  8. The box around the controls is a white static with something like 40% translucency, a 1 px border, with all edges and rounded corners.


I was blown away - as I suspect were the rest of the conference delegates.

During the three hour talk Carl provided a glimpse of the plethora of new properties, methods and objects that are going to make providing world class applications so much simpler - whilst retaining backwards compatibility (but not forwards).

The next day Mike took us through the new form designer and the wealth of new controls we now have to create great looking windows. One of the "wow" moments was when he rubber banded several controls together and showed the property panel that had unioned just the common properties. He then made a change to the font in the property panel and all of the selected controls changed font. What a timesaver! And the best part about all of this? It is ALL being written in OpenInsight. The form designer you can see above is an OI form.

Of course it wasn't all just about the new UI. Bob Carten did a very thought provoking presentation on Linear Hash performance and as is usual, Bryan Shumsky had the audience in stitches whilst setting out the new features of UD5. A release that shows Revelation are taking security very seriously indeed. Any resemblance to the Blues Brothers was, I'm sure, strictly intentional.

     

Ancillary presentations dealt with other aspects of the next release such as the Authorisation Manager and reporting and these too were well received.

Of course it wasn't just about the technical aspects of the conference. As ever there were many social elements and it was good to catch up with our fellow developers - some of whom exhibited previously unimagined skills

I don't think it's any exaggeration to say that this next release will represent a quantum leap forward in the evolution of the product. There's still a fair way to go behind the scenes but the sheer depth and breadth of the development is nothing short of awe inspiring.


For those of you who couldn't be there Martyn Phillips has provided a pile of photographs of the event - just check out his blog here.

Finally a brief word of thanks to Nancy Ruane who – along with her team – ensured that everything ran smoothly despite the inclement weather and a “cheers” to Paulo of PGE for the photos used herein.

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