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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.

November 14, 2011

Silverlight 5

I had talked about Silverlight 5 earlier here and here. Though Silverlight is still used to build RIA apps for the web and is the platform of choice for Phone 7/7.5 development, Microsoft has not been very forthcoming on its future.

According to Mary-Jo Microsoft is about to release Silverlight 5. This is good, but it is also clear that Silverlight no longer retains the status of platform for cross device compatibility. That has been taken over by HTML 5.

Continue reading "Silverlight 5" »

September 2, 2011

Silverlight 5 RC

Admist the noise around things like Windows Azure, Windows Phone 7 Mango release, HTML 5 and also Windows 8 and the upcoming BUILD Conference, Silverlight 5 was lost somewhere. Just earlier today at breakfast I was talking to a colleague about what happened to Silverlight 5 and that there is hardly any updates available on it.

And here we are... Silverlight 5 RC recently released. You can get access to the bits from here.

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.

May 20, 2011

ASP.NET 4 Social Networking

Our book ASP.NET 4 Social Networking, that I wrote along with my colleague Sudhanshu Hate went live on PACKT Publishing site few weeks back. It was an interesting year long experience writing my first book. Am very grateful to Sudhanshu to have agreed to co-author this book with me.

This book is currently available for online purchase from PACKT website or from Amazon.com. Do share your comments on the book here or on Amazon.

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.

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.

Continue reading "Silverlight 5" »

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.

Continue reading "Silverlight 5 vs. HTML 5" »

August 30, 2010

Silverlight Error 2103

Recently while trying to integrate an existing Silverlight component into my ASP.NET based application, I got error 2103 "Message: Invalid or malformed application: Check manifest". Online search resulted in almost similar answers everywhere that talked about a change in project namespace and not correctly reseting the startup object.

Continue reading "Silverlight Error 2103" »

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.

Continue reading "Silverlight - Using x:Key or x:Name" »

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" »

May 7, 2010

SharePoint 2010 and SilverLight

Hi,

SharePoint without silverlight had less compelling reason for adotption of building solutions with an better user experience. With seamless integration of sharepoint 2010 ,Visual Studio and Silverlight.life for developers is much easier and simpler. Here are few points i gathered .The next happening combination which is going to take your next solution to a different level of user experience is Share Point 2010 and SilverLight.So how does SharePoint 2010 Compliment SilverLight

 

Continue reading "SharePoint 2010 and SilverLight" »

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" »

December 28, 2009

VisualStateManager's Benefits

Many months back I had written about VisualStateManager (VSM) feature in Silverlight. Overtime, MS has been working on streamlining this and new additions are available with Blend 3 to support VSM. VSM got introduced in SL, as some say, mostly to address the lack of triggers, due to which creating control templates was a big issue. Eventually WPF 4 will also start to support VSM. There have been many interesting debates on this, which you can find here, here, here and here, but this parts and states model is here to stay.

Continue reading "VisualStateManager's Benefits" »

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" »

November 3, 2009

Part 4: Which Presentation Tool to Use?

I personally like to use the latest technologies for doing presentations and not stick to power point deck all the time. I was first impressed by the Mix 08 session by Arturo Toledo, where he had used Expression Design to build his slides and then used Deep Zoom to actually show it. In a presentation that I had to make for an internal session I used the same technique and it was an instant hit. Many people came over later on and wanted to get my presentation tool.

Continue reading "Part 4: Which Presentation Tool to Use?" »

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.

October 14, 2009

Silverlight on IE 8

My team members are working on a Silverlight based application to be deployed on Cloud. Things were going smoothly when one of us tried accessing this application via IE 8 and we were surprised to see the application not filling 100% height but taking about 25% space only. We tried various options for setting the height to 100% like setting it for body element, as well for the form element etc, but with not much luck.

Finally, found a workaround on the forum here. Setting the meta tag in the head to enable IE 7 compatibility (<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />) worked. This is surely not the preferred solution, but it got us going. Do share if there are any other options that may have worked for you.

April 24, 2009

WPF, XBAP, Silverlight - What do I use?

Microsoft introduced Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) with .NET framework 3.0. What started as extensions to Visual Studio (VS) 2005 is a now a in-house native to VS 2008 and the VS 2010 designer is itself getting implemented in WPF (more details in Jason's blog here).

Needless to say that WPF is very powerful new presentation platform that really makes "imagination is the limit" a reality. Designers and developers can now work real closely like never before and create some really super cool user experiences.

Continue reading "WPF, XBAP, Silverlight - What do I use?" »

March 19, 2009

Blend 3 and SL 3 Preview available

In Mix 2009 earlier today, Scott Guthrie annouced availability of Expression Blend 3 and Silverlight 3 with interesting new features. Check out some of them here. Also you can view the sessions at Mix live from here.

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 27, 2009

Should developers touch XAML?

The other day I hit upon this blog - I hate it when a designer touches XAML.. and honestly I was surprised by the title. To me designers are the ones who should be creating the XAML (may not hand craft it and use tools like Expression Blend), and developers are the ones who should be working on the code behind and writing the backend logic. Hence I felt a more apt title is "Should developers touch XAML?"

Continue reading "Should developers touch XAML?" »

January 7, 2009

Silverlight - EnableRedrawRegions is a savior !

The other day we were ready to deploy an internal facing Silverlight 2.0 built application. As a final round of testing, I thought to put to use the EnableRedrawRegions settings that I had just learnt from Seema's talk in PDC 2008 as part of her session - Building an Optimized, Graphics-Intensive Application in Microsoft Silverlight.

Interestingly, after the application loaded, I could see a small portion in the middle of the page continuously changing colors. It could only mean that this region was getting redrawn again and again. But why? Checking the code we realized that we had some animation at load time and once the data was loaded, the animating panel was just pushed to back in Z order and another panel came on top. But this still meant that the animation was happening, but we could not see it. This EnableRedrawRegions flag really helped immediately identify and remove unwanted animation (we set the panel's visibility to collapsed).

November 28, 2008

Silverlight and Matrix Transformation

I found this interesting article explaning the affine transformations that one needs to use to get the true perspective view. There are challenges in getting this to work in Silverlight as explained by Pedro in the article. I look forward to part 2 of the article. BTW, don't forget to read the link that gives detailed maths behind this as it has good detailed explanation. However it is a bit lenghty and if Maths isn't your favorite subjects [and personally I have lost track of matrices and trignometry over the years], you may lose interest quickly.

November 21, 2008

Silverlight Theming

If you have been following updates on Silverlight (SL) 2, you would already be aware of SL 2 Toolkit on codeplex. Scott in his blog has shared some amazing numbers on usage of SL and also given some indicators to where SL is headed in its next version.

I had been away from SL for some time due to other focus areas. However I decided to try my hands on the support for themes, a feature added with SL Toolkit.

Continue reading "Silverlight Theming" »

October 13, 2008

Silverlight 2 RTM

Some days back Microsoft had released the RC0 version of Silverlight. Considering that PDC 2008 is just about 2 weeks away, there was much speculation that that's when Silverlight 2 will RTM. But according to Mary-Jo, the release is very much expected later today. Keep an eye on Scott's blog for the announcement.

[Update: 14 Oct 4.20 am] The download should be available in the next few hours. Check the press release.

[Update: 14 Oct 9.00 am] Silverlight 2 is now available. To install the runtime, visit here. For related developer tools, visit here.

October 1, 2008

Part 2: Manage Page level states with VisualStateManager in Silverlight

In part 1 we saw how using basic storyboarding/animation capabilities in Silverlight, we created a simple application where buttons move to new location when clicked and move back when another button is clicked. In this part we will see how using VSM, we can build the same capabilities with lesser animations and lesser code. The complete code (including code for part 1) can be downloaded from here - Download file. Note that I have built this using SL 2.0 RC0, but the concepts explained here will work with Beta 2 bits as well.

Continue reading "Part 2: Manage Page level states with VisualStateManager in Silverlight" »

September 30, 2008

Part 1: Manage Page level states with VisualStateManager in Silverlight

Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2 introduced the concept of Visual State Manager (VSM). If you haven't checked it out still, here are some articles that will get you started.

VSM not only helps keep the looks and behavior of a control separate, it allows you to manage the various states the control can be in, along with the transitions, in a very clean and effective manner. Though most of the examples online today show this in context of a specific control and working with its control template, there is no reason why this can't be applied to the UserControl itself, i.e. at the Page level. You can very easily create custom states for your page and manage transitions between the states. In fact this can actually help reduce the total animations that you may have to write and also simplify the backend code.

Continue reading "Part 1: Manage Page level states with VisualStateManager in Silverlight" »

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" »

August 22, 2008

Reflector needs registration

There will be probably very few out there who haven't heard about Reflector and don't use it. Earlier today I noticed this blog that mentioned Red gate acquiring Reflector. I proceed to the mentioned site. I noticed that the latest version if 5.1.3 and I had 5.1.1. so I clicked the "Download your free copy now!" button.

Interestingly the tool may still be free, but laying your hands on it isn't that easy anymore. You are now required to register to download. This is a bit of a damper. I will eventually register and download the latest, but having to register to get the freely available tool earlier !! I don't like it.

August 19, 2008

DeepZoom - unable to export

I had downloaded the latest Deep Zoom composer and was working with it to create a project with many images. Once done with the scenario, when I went to the export tab, I found that the export button was disabled. I could not figure out a way to enable it. Even providing the output path didn't help and I could not get any specific answers online.

Later I realized that this was happening since I had exceeded 4 billion pixels and hence the export wasn't working. This message was put in the bottom right corner of the application in the composer tab (see image below) and hence i had missed seeing it earlier. The "Learn More" link however doesn't help as well and only points to the Expression Blog. Reducing the # images, I was later able to export successfully.

deepzoom.jpg

August 6, 2008

Offline Web Applications

Consider a  travelling salesman who uses online applications to access his emails, keep a tab of his appointments and to store his contact information. Since he will be  travelling most of the time, he may not access to internet connection all the time. When he is offline, he can no longer access his favorite online applications.

The HTML5 specification tries to address this by providing  two solutions: local data storage and an offline application HTTP cache which makes sure application is available when user is not connected. Currently Firefox 3 is planning to support these capabilities. It will be interesting to see how the other browsers support this specification.

Continue reading "Offline Web Applications" »

July 10, 2008

Silverlight - Preventing direct editing in DatePicker control

In my earlier blog I mentioned about the custom DatePicker control. Towards the end where I mentioned about making the textbox read only, I also mentioned about not being able to edit this template in Expression Blend 2.5 June CTP. On the forums, someone clarified that since this control doesn't resides in System.Windows.dll, its template cannot be edited in current version of Blend.

One can however include the template as mentioned in MSDN and include that in the project and modify suitably. When I included that in a test project, I ended up with System.Stack.OverflowException. That can however be fixed easily as I mentioned here.

Continue reading "Silverlight - Preventing direct editing in DatePicker control" »

July 9, 2008

Silverlight - Handling Start and End dates with Custom DatePicker Control

When working with DatePicker controls in application, very typically they get used to manage start and end dates. Like recently I was writing a tracking application in Silverlight and had the need to manage allocation and deallocation and hence start and end dates. There are typical requirements also associated with such implementations like start date cannot be in past, end date cannot be before start date.

Implementing this with Silverlight DatePicker controls was fairly trivial. If you haven't used these controls, you can find an introduction to them here. These controls also offer other interesting properties that I played with namely DisplayStartDate. I then thought that some of things I did in the logic, would be useful in multiple scenarios, so why not create a new custom DatePicker control that will have these functionalities in-built.

Continue reading "Silverlight - Handling Start and End dates with Custom DatePicker Control" »

July 8, 2008

ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight - Which way would you go?

Want to develop a web application using Microsoft Technologies? The choice today will revolve around the mature ASP.NET, the upcoming ASP.NET AJAX or Silverlight (Beta 2 currently available). Needless to say that all have their benefits and specific features that make them attractive options to use.

Choice will also depend very much on if the application is internet or intranet facing, so let's talk about internet facing application. Both ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX are pretty much server side applications in that most of their logic resides on server side. 

Continue reading "ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight - Which way would you go?" »

July 4, 2008

Silverlight - Animating Wrap Panel

Panels, as we know, are pretty much the basis of building any Silverlight application. They help arrange the other Silverlight controls in specific manner like Stack allowing you to stack controls either horizontally or vertically, Grid allowing you to position controls in rows an columns and Canvas giving you a free flow behavior. This blog however isn't however a primer on panels and you can easily find information about them on the net. Check this for information on how to layout controls using these various panels.

At Mix 2008, in one of the sessions the AnimatingStackPanel was demonstrated. I found the code for the same here. I decided to go ahead and try this. However my requirement was for a wrap panel and not a stack panel. I found one here. This would serve my purpose but there wasn't any animation in it. In my earlier work with WPF, I had looked at Kevin's bag of tricks and liked the AnimatingTilePanel.

Continue reading "Silverlight - Animating Wrap Panel" »

Silverlight - Are you missing WatermarkedTextBox?

One of controls that I had been using when working with SL 2 Beta 1 was WatermarkedTextBox and when this was taken off from SL 2 Beta 2, I had to rework our application code. It is great to see the control now posted on Kathy's blog here. The discussion seem to incidate that we won't get the updated TextBox with Watermark property in Silverlight 2 RTM.

I downloaded this, but wasn't able to use it as is since the code continues to use System.Windows.Controls.Extended assembly name. I was using other controls like Calendar and DatePicker from the released System.Windows.Controls.Extended assembly with SL2 and this caused conflict when trying to add the assembly for using WatermarkedTextBox. This was however easily fixed by changing the project properties to create the assembly with the name WatermarkedTextBox.dll. I also had to change the namespace in the WatermarkedTextBox.xaml to the following to get the control working.

   xmlns:local= "clr-namespace:System.Windows.Controls;assembly=WatermarkedTextBox" 

Till the new property is available, this will do !

July 2, 2008

Silverlight - CheckBox issue when in ListBox

Recently for an application I was building on Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2, I had a need to use CheckBox inside the ListBox. Getting the CheckBox into the ListBox item was fairly trivial via the DataTemplate. However the problem started after that.

I could click on the first CheckBox, but when I tried to click on any in the remaining rows, the click won't work. I could easily see the hover effect over the CheckBox so wasn't sure why the click had issues.

Continue reading "Silverlight - CheckBox issue when in ListBox" »

June 25, 2008

Silverlight - Getting Tooltip to work for individual ListBox Items

 The other day for a project work that we were doing in Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2, I was trying to get a tooltip to display for each item in the ListBox control. Things seemed to work fine if the content to be displayed in the tooltip was pretty much static or not dependant on individual items. I mean, I had a need that the tooltip should display different text per item, essentially data bind to some value for each item.

Does this makes sense? I guess it does to me, but you may be wondering about what exactly am I trying to achieve? Let me explain that with sample code. Below is the trivialized version of the code I was working on. There is a list of employees, who I am displaying in a ListBox.

Continue reading "Silverlight - Getting Tooltip to work for individual ListBox Items" »

June 24, 2008

Silverlight - missed compiler error

Recently during my attempts to program with Silverlight landed me with a runtime exception (System.Windows.Markup.XamlParseException) with error as AG_E_PARSER_BAD_PROPERTY_VALUE. Fortunately, the error also provided line and column number in XAML. However when I looked at the XAML, it looked well formed and there wasn't any compilation error as well.

It was then that i realized that the compiler had actually missed catching the fact that I had defined click event handler for a Button in XAML, but not written it in the code behind. Having worked with WPF, I know that such errors are caught at compile time. I am surprised why Silverlight compiler missed this.

 

June 12, 2008

Migrating Comparis Silverlight Challenge App to Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2

With the Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2 now available, I finally decided to take the plunge. So far, I had been focusing on WPF, but knowing that Silverlight is the next big wave for RIA development, I could not stay away longer.

A few fellow colleagues have been working with Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1 and I heard from them that Beta 2 has been a bit of a challenge considering the various breaking changes from Beta 1 to Beta 2. Fortunately these were mostly functional/API issues with Silverlight controls and not like the interesting issue faced by my colleague Kishore with his attempt to work with .net 3.5 SP1 beta. Since I was new, I started with the Comparis Silverlight Challenge Application and the HOL created by Swiss MSDN Team.

Continue reading "Migrating Comparis Silverlight Challenge App to Silverlight 2.0 Beta 2" »

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