Feeds

Offline Silverlight and Live Mesh under the microscope

Microsoft Live Mess?

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Mesh data lives in feeds, typically exposed as Atom or RSS feeds, enhanced with Microsoft's FeedSync extensions. A MEWA is a Mesh object that can manage one or more data feeds. If you are using the Live Framework client library for .NET or JavaScript, this is wrapped as a DataFeeds collection which is a property of the current MeshApplicationService. You can store any kind of object in a data feed, including file attachments.

The confusing aspect is that multiple users of an application might share the same data feeds, or they might have their own isolated data feeds. As far as I can tell, this is how it works. The boundary of data feed sharing in a MEWA is an app instance. This is special Mesh jargon, not the normal meaning. In other words, if multiple users are running the same app instance, they get the same data feeds, but if they have a different instance, they get their own data feeds.

A user may also have several instances of the same application, each with its own data. The normal pattern is that each user gets a new instance; but a feature of the Live Desktop is that users can invite others to share their application. In that case, the same instance gets shared.

The use case Microsoft gave at PDC was for an online video store. The application lets users browse the available videos, with data coming from the vendor's central database. However, users can also designate favorites, which are stored in a Mesh data feed.

A user can share an instance with their friends, at which point they all see the same list of favorites. Microsoft intends a MEWA to be able to exploit the power of that trendy thing, the social graph, on the assumption that your connections are stored in Windows Live. Nice try, needs work.

A MEWA is a great idea, but as it stands there are a number of problems. Yes, it is a CTP, it is desperately slow, the documentation is half-baked, the support forum is poor, and few understand it. But all these should improve as the product evolves. More seriously, the product is deeply tied to Windows Live, which will make it a hard sell for many.

Silverlight Desktop

A Mesh-enabled Web Application runs on or offline, with automatic data synchronization

A MEWA will not run unless you are signed in with a Live ID, whether online or offline. The automatic synchronization is all very well, but getting fine control over how it works appears to be difficult in the current CTP. There are also privacy issues: who would want to give an online retailer permission to read all their contacts, for example? Further, few trust Microsoft to do cross-platform properly.

I should mention that there are other kinds of Mesh applications, such as pure web applications that access a user's Mesh, or conventional desktop applications that code against the local or online Mesh environment. These approaches offer greater control, but lack the easy deployment and automatic online and offline features of a MEWA.

Adobe has a huge head start with AIR, and it looks as if Microsoft has a lot to do before this Mesh stuff will be release-ready. Ultimately, though, I suspect Microsoft is being too ambitious, trying to wrap offline Silverlight, data synchronization, authentication and social programming into one single piece, as well as promoting its Live brand.®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.