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September 28, 2012

Windows 8: Waiting...

I have had a chance to work on Windows from its Windows 3.11 for workgroups, back in 1995, all the way to the current Windows 7 and the upcoming Windows 8 as well. In my experience no previous Windows version was this eagerly awaited and extensively discussed as is happening for Windows 8.

There have been hitches in between like the Windows Millennium edition and Windows Vista, and the versions succeeding them did get good attention, but those are still easily eclipsed in front of news Windows 8 is making. Industry and media is abuzz with speculation on success or failure of Windows 8 and is the RTM version really ready for worldwide launch or not.

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May 31, 2012

Metro or not Metro

Since the time we started working on Phone 7 and Windows 8, anything Metro catches our eye. So I ended up reading this article Windows 8: Does Metro actually work? I think while some points have merit, overall I don't agree. Here's why?

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April 17, 2012

Metro App, Metro UI, What's all this?

Microsoft had introduced Phone 7 in early 2010 and released the first version in market by late 2010. The key point that MS highlighted was that Phone 7 a completely new, ground up, operating system and another immediately noticeable thing about it was the tiled based UI. While on first look the tiles looked like desktop icons, they were in fact much more than that. They were live and hence could provide updates from the application right on the home screen, so a person need not go into an application just to check basic updates.

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January 25, 2012

What it means to develop Metro Applications for Windows 8

I have been coming across a lot of confusion regarding development of Windows 8 Metro style application. Will try to clear out some of the confusion in the air.

What is Metro about it?

Metro Applications follow the design principles of Metro like content before chrome, focus on typography, fast and fluid, alive in motion etc. Focus of metro application is on the content that needs to be displayed .Hence all menus, taskbar and other unnecessary controls have moved to the app bar or charms . Charms can be considered to be a system level menu that is used to perform common applications like Search\Share etc. across Metro Applications. There is a lot of emphasis on fonts, scale and weight in the Metro design. Microsoft has come up with Seago UI font for developing Metro applications. Metro UI relies on usage of tiles that are alive with notifications and animations. New controls provided with XAML and WinJS are already designed according to the Metro design principles. Hence when you use Expression Blend\Visual Studio 2011 etc. and use the controls as per the technologies selected(XAML\HTML), your application gets a Metro look automatically.

Continue reading "What it means to develop Metro Applications for Windows 8 " »

January 9, 2012

Understanding lifecycle of Windows 8 apps

One major differentiating factor for Metro applications on Windows 8 is that the application lifetime would be managed by the OS. To the end user, this would mean that they would be unable to close applications using a close button. This has also been discussed here .

Let us now understand how the OS handles the application lifetime and what are the implying considerations for Windows 8 development. An application can be in one of the 3 states - Running, Suspended and Terminated. When an application is brought in the foreground, it becomes a running application. If second application is launched, the first one moves to the suspended state after a short delay. Again, if a third application is launched, both first and second applications move to the suspended state. This repeats until the system becomes low on memory. When the system becomes low on memory, the applications consuming maximum memory is terminated. Applications can also get terminated due to system shutdown, application crash or if the user terminates it from the task manager.

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December 26, 2011

Immersive Experiences with Microsoft Technologies

In Immersive Technologies Track we are working on some exciting technologies related to data visualization, touch, gesture and augmented reality. The main products on our radar are Phone 7, Surface and Kinect. We recently published a technology roundtable newletter sharing some insights of our work. You can get to the newsletter from here.

Comments are welcome.

May 30, 2011

ASP.NET to Silverlight Migration

This paper on guidance on ASP.NET to Silverlight migration, that I was working on along with a colleague has finally gone live on Technology Showcase at Infosys.com Resource center. We have had multiple queries on guidance on how to migrate an ASP.NET application to Silverlight? So we captured all of the relevant points in this paper.

The paper can act as a checklist of sorts for various ASP.NET features and how to migrate them to Silverlight. You can download a copy of it from here. Do read it and share any comments you may have on it, here.

April 6, 2011

Silverlight 5

I had last touched upon Silverlight 5 post the Firestarter event. Since then during various events by Microsoft, HTML 5 has continued to be more prominent and there has been little discussion on Silverlight 5. Even the various web camps conducted across different cities in India focused more on HTML 5.

With Mix 2011 now just around the corner, there is confirmation that Silverlight 5 beta will be made available during the event, which is as per general expectations.

January 10, 2011

Surface 2

Microsoft Surface is a few years old, but I didn't seem to have done very well. There are limited instances of its usage and applications that run on it. Some reasons for this have been a bulky horizontal table, the cost and specialized hardware, which meant high replacement costs in case some parts were to get damaged. The base operating system was also Windows Vista, which we know wasn't all the successful

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December 3, 2010

Silverlight 5

Post PDC there were many questions on future of Silverlight and Microsoft itself had caused these speculations. I had shared my views on it here. Well, yesterday Microsoft laid these to rest by announcing Silverlight 5 in the Firestarter event. The event was telecast live across the world using live streaming. If you didn't watch it live, you should be able to get to the keynote here.

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November 11, 2010

Silverlight 5 vs. HTML 5

Post PDC, this is a topic that has attracted lot of discussion. While it isn't completely an apple to oranges comparison, since both Silverlight (SL) and HTML are web/browser related technologies, to me it isn't a simple apples to apples comparison as well. I think this may more be like having fruits (HTML) vs. having a fruit salad (SL). While you have raw power with fruits, having the salad means that already effort has gone in the preparation (selecting right fruits, washing them, cutting them, arranging them, putting additional spices and all that and serving them) and you can now just sit back and enjoy it, without doing the hard work yourself.

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July 20, 2010

WPF - Disabled look for Button

If you check online forums, one of the issues that has caused possibly most grievances is the styling of the WPF button control. You set some property values for things like foreground color and background color and when you run the application things don't always work out. Either the button will show some default animation when having focus or will not use the specified background when is in disabled state.

Recently a colleague was styling a Button control and had a need for custom disabled look and we landed in the same problem. We had set a background color, but when disabled the button will default to the light gray color. Trying various options didn't work out. Interestingly the properties like Foreground or Opacity worked fine. The designer in us said that we can always create a custom style, but the developer in us wanted to know why this doesn't work.

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June 8, 2010

Expression Studio 4 Available

Expression Studio 4 (including Blend, Web, Encoder, Design and SketchFlow) was released yesterday at Information Week in New York. See details here. You can get the trial version from the Expression site and in case you have MSDN subscription, you can get the full release from the subscriber download site. Do note that if you are working with Windows Phone 7, do not upgrade to this RTM version.

There was a minor update to Silverlight 4 runtime as well earlier in the month and the latest version is 4.05.50524.0. See details of what's changed here. You can verify if you have the latest or install if not, from here. Also if you have been following Silverlight Media Framework, you would be glad to know that Beta of version 2 is also now available at the codeplex site.

June 2, 2010

Expression Studio 4 Launch

The time has come! Expression Studio 4 will be launched next week on 7th June as part of Internet Week at New York. More details here.

May 20, 2010

UI Prototyping with SketchFlow - A Viewpoint

I have written about SketchFlow earlier here and here. I and my colleague, Sakshi, spent some more time on it and have written a viewpoint paper on SketchFlow (version 3), its key features and how do we compare it with other prototyping techniques. You can access the paper from here, and in case you are interested in other papers from my other colleagues, those can be found here.  

Do have a look at the paper and share your comments. With the release of Expression Suite 4 round the corner, we will soon provide an updated version of this paper, that covers the new features of SketchFlow in version 4.  

May 19, 2010

Silverlight - Using x:Key or x:Name

The other day I was discussing new features of Silverlight 3 and 4 with a colleague and we were talking about the ability of specifying styles in Silverlight 4 without using the x:Key attribute. To this my colleague responded that he has not been using x:Key at all, but always has used x:Name.

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May 12, 2010

Working with Images in Silverlight Application

Working with images is fairly straight forward in an Silverlight application and there are already many articles about this on the net. So I am not going to get into that. However recently my team faced an issue and that is what I will share here.

Continue reading "Working with Images in Silverlight Application" »

April 19, 2010

VS 2010 and Silverlight 4 Release

In my last blog (), I had talked about Mix 2010 and the expected release of VS 2010 and Silverlight 4. The good news is that these are now released. You can get VS 2010 RTM via MSDN Subscriber downloads and Silverlight 4 RTM runtime can be installed from here. To get the add on tools for Silverlight 4 to work with VS 2010, check here. Note that a compatible Blend release is available, while the RTM for Blend is expected to happen a couple of months down the line.

March 23, 2010

Silverlight 4 and Windows Phone 7

MIX 2010 that happened in Las Vegas last week (15 - 17 March), like all earlier MIX events, had some amazing new technologies to showcase. It is very evident that Microsoft is investing heavily into user experience and the new Windows Phone 7 was a prime technology piece that was showcased with many cool demos.

Continue reading "Silverlight 4 and Windows Phone 7" »

January 19, 2010

SketchFlow to Production

If you have been following SketchFlow, most likely you have also followed the debate on the ability to convert a SketchFlow prototype to production project. You can find step by step guidance on this in Expression Blend Help (here) and pick the right option as per your technology (WPF or Silverlight) and language choice (C# or VB.NET).

Continue reading "SketchFlow to Production" »

January 13, 2010

Win 7 - Difference between Touch and Gesture

In my earlier blogs (here and here), I have talked about Win 7 and the new touch experience it brings.

When talking about touch, there are essentially two aspects - touch and gestures and during a recent internal discussion, I felt that these aren't that well understood by people. What's really the difference between the two and what it means to be supporting either of these?

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November 26, 2009

Death by Silverlight

Yes, this title is influenced by death by chocolate, where in you get an overdose of chocolate. At this time I feel exactly the same for Silverlight (SL). With just over 2 years since the first version made its mark felt, Silverlight has come a long long way. Ironically, as part of TechDays event hosted specifically at our campus, we talked a lot about SL3 and right then, across the ocean, at PDC 2009, Microsoft just unveiled SL4 beta bits.

When we started looking at SL 1.0 back in late 2007, it had limited feature set with XAML support, and most work had to be done in java script. It looked more of media (video) playback at that time. MS called it their RIA platform, but it didn't offer much at that time. With SL2 at PDC 2008 and SL3 just earlier this year in July 2009, a host of features have found their way in the platform. Along with multitude of controls, to .net language support, to IIS Smooth streaming, to perspective 3D, to out of browser experience, SL is a technology you just cannot ignore.

Continue reading "Death by Silverlight" »

October 15, 2009

Sketchflow

I have been busy with various other non-technical work for few months and hence didn't get a chance to experiment anything new Off late. I finally managed to find time and check out Sketchflow. Sketchflow is a new tool available along with Expression 3 Suite which allows quick and easy prototyping. It allows one to create prototypes that are very near real appliation like, but still retain their prototype look and feel (by using wiggly styled controls) and allow for easy feedback back and forth between you and your customers.

If you have't seen this as yet, you can get a very good idea on it by checking out the following
1. Keynote video from MIX 09, where Jon Harris showed a very interesting Sketchflow prototype. You can skip to about 1 hr 39 min into the video to directly jump to this part
2. From Concept to Production video, another session from MIX 09, by Christian Schormann, where he walks through a snowboard sketchflow prototype. This and the keynote video code comes as part of samples with Blend 3.
3. A very good step by step walkthrough of Sketchflow is available at the dynamic prototyping site.

I am enjoying working with Sketchflow.

February 20, 2009

Silverlight 2 GDR 1

Earlier this week Microsoft released an updated patch for Silverlight 2 called GDR 1. You can find more details on Tim's blog. Needless to say that this will install on top of SL 2 and the updates developer tools for it for VS 2008 SP1. If you have this GDR installed, the SL version will be now set to 2.0.40115.0.

January 20, 2009

Windows Touch and User Experience

One key new feature of the recently released Win 7 beta that should excite UX designers and developers is the support for building touch and multi-touch based interfaces.  Some time back, I had posted a blog entry about my first hand experience of using the Microsoft Surface computing device. These new technologies open huge opportunities for designers to transcend existing user experience limitations and build immersive, life-like interactive applications.

Continue reading "Windows Touch and User Experience" »

September 29, 2008

Silverlight 2.0 RC0 Installation

You would already be aware of the release of RC0 of Silverlight 2.0. If not check Scott's blog here. The details on the links for downloading these latest bits can be found in the same blog.

Note that unlike the previous Beta 2, this version doesn't comes with a go live license and if you visit the Silverlight installer page online, you will see that it still points to the earlier Beta 2 version (2.0.30523.8).  

Continue reading "Silverlight 2.0 RC0 Installation" »

June 9, 2008

'Devigners' ?... or more complete software developers ?

Since the beginning of this year, I have seen some blogs, including posting by Heather Solomon, Shane Morris and Ryan Stewart where they all have referred to a new entity in software development world called ‘Devigner’.  Devigner sure sounds fancy; but in essence a Devigner = Developer + Designer!

Continue reading "'Devigners' ?... or more complete software developers ?" »

April 17, 2008

WPF makes Designers and Developers friends again

I have been playing around with WPF for a while and have been blogging about some of the technical aspects on it. However today I will like to touch upon another important aspect of WPF and that is designer-developer connect.

Having worked on Windows Programming using C++, MFC etc for a decade and working with the various controls, it is a real pleasure to see the capabilities now available to WPF developers. It is true to a large extent that with WPF and XAML and the tools like Expression Blend, designers and developers can work lot more closely than ever before. The working closely is more towards the ability for designers to style the UI for the WPF application and the developers to write the code for it.

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