Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Read some interesting news

Good Morning,

I read today that the silverlight 1.0 platform will ship on Friday. Now, I am not certain exactly what that means. I assume that this means that the plug-in will be available. Considering that there are multiple tools used for the creation and design of Silverlight Aps I am wondering if this means that Blend will be released soon too.

Also today at 4:30 there is going to be a virtual discussion about silverlight in secondlife today.

Silverlight ships Friday

I'll probably post more later today.
Virtual Presentation in Second Life

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

To Blend or not to Blend

I have had some other graphics work that has taken precedence over my journey into Expression Blend and Silverlight in general. Today I am back full swing in my quest to unearth some great examples and blend tutorials. I have been quite surprised by some of the stuff that I have found.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A guru pooped on my parade - Advantage Flash

I had posted some questions about combo boxes on a few different forums last week. I finally got a response after about 60+ views. Unfortunately, it was the answer that I both suspected and feared. Here is the scenario.

I have a drop box with three labels. "red","green", and "blue." I want a hex value to correspond to these color labels. I cannot do this without leaving blend and going into Visual Studio and adding some code.

The code that it requires does not look intimidating or especially difficult, but it does seem like a bit of a hassle. I am a designer not a developer and have zero experience with the visual studio tool.

In my opinion this kind of lack of functionality coupled with the inability to create shape tweens are MAJOR deficiencies in Blend and Silverlight in general. There are designers who are creating extremely robust and highly dynamic applications in Flash without the need to toggle between multiple programs.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Silverlight and MOSS

I know that we're banking on MOSS a lot and that ideally we'll be able to use silverlight to create dynamic and attractive web parts using silverlight.

Here is some info on that

Up and crawling again

Thanks to our IT Guru Chris my registry is now happy and healthy again, but I am still banging my head on the same walls. I am trying to understand the data context field in the properties toolset. I find it hard to believe that Blend would allow me the designer the ability to bind data that differs from a the labels in a drop down.

I am also finding that the momentum I had when first starting the program is slowing down substantially. The world of Control Templates and XAML is no where near as easy to diagnose as my ever so familiar land of Movie Clips and Actionscript because there simply aren't enough people out there creating examples and tutorials.

All the tutorials out there seem to be the same rehashed versions of the Lynda.com Tutorials that I went through last week.

The day the blend stood still

Well, I guess it should be expected when working with a Beta version of the software but today has been quite a calamity of errors. In the middle of giving a demo of basic animations and drawing techniques I found that I was no longer able to build projects with Blend. Somehow the registry key pointing to the .NET SDK got hosed.

I tried to uninstall and run a fresh install of the blend application to no avail. I had to do a manual install of the SDK and am still receiving errors when I try to build the project.

I am going to have to get our IT department to try and take a look at the error message and see if it makes any sense to them. Maybe they will know how to fix the registry value.

Here is the error message:

Could not locate the .NET Framework SDK. The task is looking for the path to the .NET Framework SDK at the location specified in the SDKInstallRootv2.0 value of the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\.NETFramework. You may be able to solve the problem by doing one of the following: 1.) Install the .NET Framework SDK. 2.) Manually set the above registry key to the correct location.
ColorSwatch -> C:\Documents and Settings\TSciantarelli\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Expression\Blend\Temporary Projects\ColorSwatch\bin\Debug\ColorSwatch.exe

Wont someone PLEASE think of the shapes!?!

"Holy How did ya miss this one? Batman!"

After trying to convert shapes to paths and then animate the anchor points of the path on the timeline I am realizing that there is no way to create shape tweens. I am really amazed that this functionality was left out, but I think that I understand why. I think that it may be a shortcoming of XAML, and may not be an easily overcome but hope that I am wrong because it seems like a major deficiency to me.

I have also still not yet been able to figure out how to bind a value that differs from a combo box item's label. For instance if I have a combo box / drop down box with the content being "red", "green", "blue", and "yellow". I want to assign an RGB or hex value that is associated with each of the color names.

I am also trying to figure out what the "double" means in the data binding dialog.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blend it like Beckham

Before I start explaining what I have been able to do and what I have not been able to do I'd like to give a little background to this blog. I created this today 7/19/07, but actually began my experience last week. So there are going to be several posts from today to recount what I have done up until now.

Now back to the Blend!

So far I have been able to create basic animations very easily. While I find myself still thinking about motion tweens and movie clips, Blend has done a pretty good job creating its own methodology for animation. The visual tree by default seems to have the stacking order in a counter intuitive fashion, but atleast they give you the option to toggle between ascending and descending the cascading order.

With only about 2 days of actually monkeying around in the application I have a pretty base understanding of:
  • Animation - Key Frames and TimeLine
  • Data Binding
  • Basic Event Triggers
  • Object Property Manipulation
  • Basic XAML Syntax
I am finding that trying to bind more than one piece of data to a control is not initially apparent. Considering that I am a designer and not a developer I do not have Visual Studio, and even if I did I am not at all familiar it. I am hoping that despite my lack of development expertise that I can still create robust and functional RIAs that are comparable to what I am able to create in Flash.

Week One

My first week with Blend was a pretty exciting one. I spent a very little amount of time in the UI to get a feel for the workspace and try to familiarize myself with the tools. I am confident in saying that anyone with experience in tools like Photoshop, Flash, and Illustrator will immediately feel comfortable knowing that they have a base understanding of the tools for the most part. The standard B├ęzier drawing tools are there as well as your basic shape tools. (I LOVE THE BRUSH TRANSFORM TOOL!)

Microsoft has done a very good job in combining the best features of most of the software out on the market. While there are certainly tools that I understood there are also tools that are a mystery too.

In my first week I also spent a lot of time reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and exploring tutorials to get me ramped up to work in the application. I have compiled a list of some the resources that really impressed me the most.

Coming soon: Tony tries to make stuff in Blend!


Hello everyone,

This blog will be a place for me to discuss the newest technology that web designers and developers may adopt. For the next several weeks I am going to be exploring Microsoft Silverlight development using Microsoft Expressions Blend.

A little about myself - I am a 28 year old web designer who has been using flash since Macromedia Flash v.3. I consider myself to be very versed in Action Script 1 and 2, but am not looking forward to learning another iteration of AS. Instead I want to focus on learning a language that will not be gone next year. I have a feeling that XAML may be just what I am looking for.

Over the past couple of years my Flash projects have become more dynamic as I began using external XML files to load elements into my applications. I was very happy in my actionscript 2 world within Macromedia Flash 8, but this turned out to be a short lived existence. I have gotten my feet wet with the new Flash CS3 application as well as the Expressions Blend Pre Release 2, and have to say that I am far more impressed with the Microsoft Product. Believe me when I say that I am just as shocked as you that I am publicly giving kudos to the same company that brought us such gems as Frontpage.

So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and read the trials, tribulations, and successes of techno-tony's adventures in Silverlight!