New York Times Reader – technology sampler?

Yesterday Intilecta‘s Chief Architect, Dave Gardner pointed me to the New York Times Reader beta which has been made available for download. Of course having done a bit of work with the .NET Framework v3 I thought it would be worth downloading the beta and taking a look at the technology sampler.  Here are some initial comments:

  • Installer: Take your hat off to the guys who put this together the installation process was so simple.  The only way it could have been improved IMHO is for the application to be ClickOnce deployed – I’m sure they had their reasons, but was a little surprised when I had to download the installer. Despite not having v3 of the .NET Framework installed it installed without a glitch, although it took significantly longer as it had to download and install the framework.


  • Look and Feel: The application looks great; very simple design with minimal menu or toolbar clutter.  The white colour scheme really works and the interface is very intuitive. As with all good Avalon (aka Windows Presentation Foundation) applications it has the ability to zoom in and out.  This makes perfect sense when reading newspaper-like articles as I can zoom in and out on the articles depending on whether I’m “reading” or “skimming” the paper.


  • Performance: I must say that I was a little disappointed at the performance of the application both at startup and navigating around the application.  I’m running a Dell dual core machine with 2Gb RAM so I would have thought it would perform exceptionally well.  The load time for downloading the articles was much slower than expected.  Ok, so I’m using a Woosh connection atm which is barely more than dial-up speed but I would have thought that most of the articles are 90+% text and could be quickly downloaded. I guess there is a download bottleneck due to the rather large ads that are strategically placed – can’t these download AFTER the articles have finished so that I can start reading while they are finishing?


  • Overall: Other than the ability to easily zoom in and out, there is not a huge number of features that would convince me to migrate to using v3 of the .NET Framework.  Lets look at the cons associated with doing v3 development now:

    • It’s in beta – which means that if I’m looking to deploy I have to either deploy with the RC or wait for RTM

    • It’s in beta – so I might have to change the application when it RTMs

    • It’s another version of the framework that needs to be deployed

    • I need to learn a whole different skill set for Avalon, Indigo and WF.

Now, asked the question as to whether I think that v3 of the .NET Framework is worth migrating to? I would have to answer yes but you need to be certain that they are going to give you a positive value proposition. The old saying “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” applies here.  If you have an application that works fine using Windows Forms, then you don’t need to migrate the whole application.  You can use Crossbow to interop!


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