Monthly Archives: September 2007

Cleaning up XAML code and improving parsing time (with Blend and Studio)

.NET, Blend, Technical stuff, WPF
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XAML being XML-based, it needs to be parsed and processed when the code is loaded in the application. WPF allows multiple scenarios, for example pre-compiling the XAML to BAML (binary application markup language), which is usually embedded into an assembly. This speeds up loading time, of course. Another option is to leave the unprocessed, uncompiled XAML file on the server (or in the “bin” folder of the application), and to load that file on demand when it is needed. This step involves the conversion from XAML (a text-format) to a stream, then converting the stream to a collection of XML nodes, and then using these XML nodes to build the actual WPF objects [1]. This all takes time.

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Blend: Canvas mode vs Grid mode

.NET, Blend, Silverlight, Technical stuff, WPF
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I stand corrected, the “locks” are still there. Following yesterday’s post, I got a comment indicating me the cause of the confusion: Somehow, when I installed the September CTP of Blend 2, my settings were changed (probably by my own doing, in fact), and I unchecked the “Use grid layout mode” checkbox in the “Artboard / Layout” section of the options. This causes the grids to be displayed as a kind of canvas, on which the controls can be positioned in an absolute manner, instead of “fixing” them in a column/row position. Actually, what Blend does is calculate the column, row, columnspan, rowspan and margins to create the positioning which the designer wants to achieve.

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WPF/Silverlight: Installed Blend V2 September CTP

.NET, Blend, Silverlight, Technical stuff, WPF
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Update: I stand corrected, the “locks” are still here. See here! Thanks Christian!

My August CTP version of Expression Blend expired just as I was in Italy sitting with developers and doing some integration work, but thankfully when it expired, it gave me an additional 30 days, so I could continue to work. Once back in Switzerland, I downloaded the whole September CTP package and installed everything. It went smoothly, and I can now enjoy Blend 2 September CTP with quite a few cool new features. I especially like the Split view (XAML editor / Designer). The Vertex animation feature is really cool too, you can now move the points of a Path independently from each other to let the whole figure move, for example like this:

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WPF: Simulating data in design mode in Microsoft Expression Blend

.NET, Blend, Technical stuff, WPF
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[UPDATE: The link to the VS2008 project was broken. Sorry for that]

I just published an article I have been working on for a few days, based on a technique developed over the last few months. I got to say, I am really proud of the result.

In one past post and another, I talked about my quest to display test data in Expression Blend. The goal behind this is to enable the graphics designers to work on the controls’ look and feel directly in Blend, and if possible directly in the element’s context. Instead of working on “bits” (typically on DataTemplates stored in resources), the designer is able to see the result of his work without starting the application! I eventually found a way with the help of IdentityMine’s Jonathan Russ, and I am now able to give test data to our graphics designers, allowing them to work in a very comfortable way.

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Free WiFi at Starbucks in Zurich Oerlikon

Personal, Technical stuff
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Having brought my daughter to chinese school as usual on Saturday mornings, I had the good surprise to find out that you can now surf wirelessly for free at the Starbucks in Zurich Oerlikon (opposite the train station). That’s a great move, Starbucks. Switzerland is very much advanced for the number of Internet connection per inhabitant, and very behind for the number of free hotspots. You can surf wirelessly in most train stations and many other public places, but the costs are still very high and prohibitive. Being able to surf for free will really bring me to Starbucks more often! I am not sure if this is a time-unlimited action, and also if other Starbucks in Switzerland do the same, but I sure hope so!!

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Website offline due to maintenance work at DiscountASP.Net

Technical stuff, Website
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My website was offline for a short while today due to maintenance work at DiscountASP.Net. I apologize for the possible incovenience. To compensate for the loss of connection, I will gracefully offer you 3 visits to a page of your choice on my website, all for free! :-)

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WPF: Charles Petzold "3D programming for Windows"

.NET, Technical stuff, WPF
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Following Charles Petzold’s appel on his blog, I sent him an email, and I had the very nice pleasure to get a dedicated copy of his last book “3D programming for Windows“. The title might be a little misleading, so don’t get confused, it’s really a WPF 3D book.

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WPF: Blend 2 rocks (3D, XML comments)

.NET, Blend, Technical stuff, WPF
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XML comments and Blend

It’s great to see how Expression Blend V2 improved over V1. One small thing I noted which makes life easier is the preservation of XML comments entered before a XAML element. This allows documenting an element in a ResourceDictionary, and then moving the element in another ResourceDictionary without losing the comments. That’s possible in the Resources tab of Blend, on the right.

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WPF: There’s a new doc in town

.NET, Silverlight, Technical stuff, WPF
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If you hang out on the WPF forums, you probably noticed some very, VERY advanced replies recently made by a certain Dr WPF. Well, the doc doesn’t only answers on the forum, he also has a blog.

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Google search on my website

JavaScript, Technical stuff, Website
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I’ve been wanting to add a search box to my website for quite some time, and also wanted to play with Google AJAX Search API. Turns out it’s a very easy API to use! I simply wrapped their search control in a PositionedNode and FadedNode, and added a higher-lever object to “hide” Google’s syntax and offer a higher level interface. So from today, you can now use the “Search” menu to search the website and also (in the same dialog) this blog.

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