Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Silverlight Spy

talk about hacking some silverlight :) this is a cool tool

"Silverlight Spy provides detailed XAML inspection of any Silverlight application. Use the built-in browser to navigate to a web page. Silverlight Spy will automatically pick up any Silverlight application embedded in the page and display..."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Foundation Blend 2 - Building Applications

I work with this guy Victor that finished his book first. Its more a Blend centric book but promisses to be really good. Of course not to distract anyone from buying my book when it comes out :) but with much ado here it is:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Full Screen Silverlight 2

So I"m porting my old silverlight bits to silverlight 2 and I noticed I didn't see much are doing this so I thought I would post this up here for everyone. So in this case I'm making a media player control that I can drop in where ever I need it but I want it to be able to go to full screen. In my class I create a method like this:

private void TopElement_OnFullScreenChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)

right now this calls a method that mucks up my UI depending on control size so when it is in full screen it just uses all the realestate. In the class constructor I bind this method to the host like this:

Application.Current.Host.Content.FullScreenChanged += new EventHandler(TopElement_OnFullScreenChanged);
I then create a bit of xaml that points at this method:

private void Canvas_MouseLeftButtonUp(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
if( SLHost.Content.IsFullScreen )
SLHost.Content.IsFullScreen = false;
SLHost.Content.IsFullScreen = true;

which that actually is dependent on this being a private member:

private SilverlightHost SLHost = new SilverlightHost();

with that nice a simple bit of code I have full screen mode :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Using Expression DeepZoom

The key tool for building out MultiScaleImages we will use in Silverlight is Expression DeepZoom. DeepZoom is a Simple tool like Encoder for example that allows you to import images and produce the multi-layer image collections and tile structure used by DeepZoom (MultiScaleImages) in Silverlight to produce the coolness we are looking for.

DeepZoom (talk about double entendre) then creates a DeepZoom Project lets you import all the high resolution images you want to use. Then you can compose your collection of images and then it will export and build all of your multilayer image collections, tiles and other bits as configured. With that then we can embed these into Silverlight work with multilayered images.
We learn how to use the application by opening Expression DeepZoom and getting familiar with the user interface.

Currently the interface is pretty simple. We have our splash screen that pops up. That shows existing projects or lets you open new ones etc. We also can see the tabs which are basically the 3 steps to building a Multi layered image collection and getting it ready for Silverlight. From the top file menu we can open the project dialog.

Once we give our project a name and select the type (Seadragon Project) we then can start adding images to our multi-layered image collection. On the import tab in the UI we can see we have a view area and then a scrolllist of our images. At first this will be blank and at the bottom we have a button called 'Add Image.' If you click the 'Add Image' button you can use the standard windows API file dialog to find a cool high resolution image that you want to multi layer. If you add several you will see them on the design surface.

Now that we have added some images we can start arranging them in our collection. Start by click on the tab '2. Compose' at the top of the interface. Then you can drag the images from the right on to our design surface.

Let us take a look at the interface. At the top of the UI we can see a tool bar at the top and there are 5 tools which by default will have the first one selected. The first three icons represent the cursor state on the compose view of the application. The default is for dragging our icons onto the surface. Selecting second icon you can drag the design surface.

You can see how the map in the lower left of the composition surface has moved showing what the pan functionality looks like and this map shows you where on the surface that you are. The third icon on the compose tool bar is for zooming. This allows you to drill into any given location on the composition surface.

Looking closely we can see the drop down menus for the last two icons on the composition tool bar. You can see the second icon from the right is alignment items (i.e. left, right, top, bottom etc). if you select one then all your images get laid out in the collection accordingly. The menu for the last button that distributes images horizontally or vertically.

Once we get all our images on our composition surface we are ready to export our collection. There are a number of settings but for DeepZoom in Silverlight we are good with just having a location and exporting. We do this by clicking the export button.

DeepZoom then builds our Silver Dragon (SDI) file and builds out all over tiled images. If we are just going to use it for Silverlight and are using one image we can just grab its corresponding structure including the .bin, xml and the tile jpg's. Now we are ready to actually do Seadragon, er I mean SilverDragon, er I mean DeepZoom(MultiScaleImages).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ItemsControl, ListBox and DataGrid's, oh my

The ItemControl's coolest use is to layout 'items' via an item template using data binding to a collection. As a functional control this really requires more than just some Xaml and in fact we will walk through the process in order so we never have Visual Studio throwing some errors. In your page behind you will need to make sure you include these libraries as show here:

using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Collections.ObjectModel;

This gives us access to ObservableCollection and INotifyPropertyChanged so we can build out our data. We will create a method that create our collection but first we need a base classes for our data. To start with we need to create the Data class first like this:

public class Data : INotifyPropertyChanged
private object _value;
public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;

public Data(object val) { _value = val; }

private void NotifyPropertyChanged(String info)
if (PropertyChanged != null)
PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(info));

This inherits from INotifPropertyChanged and we create our NotifyPropertyChanged method along with a constructor so we can pass our value in when we create instances of the class. Since we have a private value we need to expose it publicly so we can then bind our templates to it as used in the items control. So then we add the following code to the above class:

public object Value
get { return _value; }
if (value != _value)
_value = value;

This 'Value' public property is what we will actually bind to. Then we can create our DataCollection that is an ObservableCollection of our Data Class like this:

public class DataCollection : ObservableCollection<Data> { }

Now we have an ObservableCollection that we can bind to. Next we need to create a method that creates or gets the data. Here we will hard code the data into this simple example:

private object GetData()
DataCollection MyCollection = new DataCollection();
MyCollection.Add(new Data("One"));
MyCollection.Add(new Data("Two"));
return MyCollection;

Let us now look at our Xaml, now that we have our collection and something to create it or fill it with data we need an items control and template to do something with. First we build our template for each item that will be listed in the items control.

<UserControl.Resources> <DataTemplate x:Name="MyDataTemplate" > <TextBlock Text="{Binding Value}" ></TextBlock> </DataTemplate> </UserControl.Resources>

This will bind to the public value of 'Value' as created in our data class earlier. Next we need to actually create the items control. An Items control can be as simple as this:

<ItemsControl x:Name="itemsControl" ItemsSource="{Binding}" ItemTemplate="{StaticResource MyDataTemplate}" >

In this case we set our ItemSource to be Binding and then we use a static resource namely our template. Back to our code we now need to point the items control to the method that creates our collection using code like this:

this.itemsControl.DataContext = GetData();

This can be in our page's or user controls constructor and sets the data context to be the collection of objects as an observable collection that we are building and returning. When we run this we will get a list of items as created in the GetData method much like a stack panel would lay out its children where in this case the default is vertically.

Not terribly impressive but under the covers very cool. What is most cool about it is the key functionality this provides. This can be used for everything from dynamically build menus and other dynamic lists of different kinds and more. To move beyond that we can also use the new control Listbox.

Using the Listbox control

The Listbox control is much like the ItemsControl but we are adding functionality including scrolling and selection rollover functionality. We can style it and using databinding and the like just the same. So using the code from the last section we can change out our Xaml and be ready. To start with add additional elements in the collection in our source this way we have 20 or so elements so we can see the scroll functionality. Then we can remove the ItemsControl and add a Listbox like this example:

<ListBox x:Name="itemsControl" Grid.Row="1"
ItemTemplate="{StaticResource MyDataTemplate}" />

So by adding all the extra items to our collection we can really see the big difference between ItemsControl and Listbox control.

With the Listbox control it is easier to implement functionality like select or drop down functionality that users see in other technologies. Now to take this even one step further lets look at DataGrid.

Using the Datagrid Control

The Datagrid is used much like the list and items controls but the datagrid is targeted towards result set functionality. In this case we need to make sure we specify the name space in the xaml. At the top if you use Visual Studio and start to create a name space it will give you a list and you want to select the 'System.Windows.Control.Data'. You can give your 'namespace' any name you want but since it's a Datagrid we are talking about I'm partial to 'Data' as a matter of course. So lets assume the same code base as the Listbox we did earlier, then rip out our 'ListBox' and then add this bit of Xaml

<Data:DataGrid x:Name="itemsControl" AutoGenerateColumns="True" ItemsSource="{Binding}" />

When we run this we get a nice data grid like the ListBox but we get column names. We can of course re-template this to look pretty much any way we like but default will look pretty much like any data grid control you might see in winforms.

As you can see its pretty much the same as the ListControl and ItemsControl but Columns are added and we have set it to auto-generate the columns.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Download links from MIX 08 - Silverlight

here is a link to a list Tim pushed to his blog with all the download links:

Silverlight MIX Announcement(s)

In the keynote today Scott G annouced SL 2. is publicly available. very cool. my favorite part whas how much they showed our Entertainment Tonight work in Silverlight. among my favorite features annouced include (I will skip all the new bits Scott put out on his blog last week):

* support for Silverlight on MAC, Windows, Linux and Mobile devices
* improved preformance especially dynamic adaptive streaming and bit rate throttling, including IIS features to support to provide bit rate throttling.
* Silverlight Add templates in visual studio
* Burning Silverlight right into video using ecoder 2
* Multi-language including Silverlight in Python
* Rich WPF UI framework (layout, databinding, skinning and styling system)
* Robust networking (post, SOAP, WCF, sockets etc.)
* LINQ and Databinding
* Local Store and cache between browser sessions
* Controls include: data grids, list box, sliders, radios, buttons calender and date picker controls, checkboxs etc.
* all controls are being shipped with open source license.
* test framework for silveright.
* control templating stucture including the abilty to change animations, and restructure the visual tree
* full intellisense and design experience in VS
* DeepZoom.... formerly Silverdragon formerly SeaDragon taking smut to the next level allowing arbitrary zooming to any resolution smoothly.
* Silverlight Sharepoint bits to make it easier to put silverlight web parts in sharepoint

SeaDragon (DeepZoom) really is cool with the 2billion pixel size images... :)

IE 8.0 first impressions

So one of the first things we are seeing in the MIX keynote is IE 8.0 which seems to be more about standards and helping developers do better work. So far we got some CSS 2.1 support, HTML 5, in proved perf especially with script, more itegrated debugging tools and visual related tools directly in IE if a user wants. there are better tools for users like being able to select text and IE will provide services tools based on the text. That sounds problematic but seeing it work is really cool. And web slices are cool.

beta 1 is available at:

MIX 08 - Silverlight - Wish you were here...

Ah MIX... its finally here. Hmm... we will see what kind of coolness comes out of mix. The conference starts wed and since it is sooo late that I got back to my room in the Venetian that it actually starts later today. Anyway I digress. Even though the conference started I have learned alot. I spoke with Laurence (another author of the MS press book Silverlight 1.0) about publishers and our up coming books and the like. Plus there was the Silverligth Insiders 'meeting' such that it was at the V Bar. We can to meet some of the guys we didn't know and talk with some of the guys we did. Adam has blue hair and we will see how the rest goes but we still can't talk about too much. Also Nokia annouced that their phones will support Silveright so i think it is safe to extrapolate that MS is going to get it on windows CE. Oh plus the plane ride up... well I guess I have to save the good stuff for after the key note.

Monday, March 3, 2008

No Soap for you! - The No Silverlight Experience

So I'm collecting hacks for my upcoming book, and I must say, here is a simple one, but one of my favorites... LOL!

On my (the domain not the feed site), I did not have time to worry about the non-silverlight user and in fact chose to be a bit over-the-top towards them. Personally I find it funny, but I know many people think its just plain mean... but really what is someone doing at a Silverlight site if they don't have silverlight? So to save me from work, here is my on-load function...

function OnLoad()
if( !Silverlight.isInstalled("1.0") )
var parentElement = document.getElementById("BlogContent");
parentElement.innerHTML = "";
alert('NO SOUP FOR YOU!...');

Note the 'innerHTML' which would normally contain the entire HTML block that makes up all the visible content on the page except the install badge... again I found this extremely funny, but alas, with the book coming, I will probably make it play nice.