Adam Kinney on Longhorn

Designing and Developing with WinFX

July 2004 - Posts

  • Are you sure you want a 3D desktop?

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    I play Unreal Tournament 2004 a lot, not too much, but a lot.  The problem is I like to push my video card for the best graphics, which in turn leads to an occasional, well we'll say not uncommon, crash.  But I still love playing the game.

    Well imagine if your operating system and all the applications you have open were running with 3D graphics?  I'm sure the crash frequency may be a bit more than occasional...

    Of course I am talking about Avalon and Aero, but along with those two highly talked about pillars (pillar and an experience?) of Longhorn comes the Windows Graphics Foundation or WGF.  Dave Salvator has an article on what he learned about the WGF at the recent Meltdown conference.

    I feel a little safer about my Notepad window having dropshadows now.


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  • Longhorn Book Watch

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    I get a lot of requests on what books are available on Longhorn and XAML.  Unfortunately there are not many, but I've made a list of books in production that I know about.  If you know of any that I am missing, please leave a comment.

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  • Joe Marini on XAML Data Binding

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    Article Summary: Illustrates a new way of building dynamic user interfaces that automatically respond to changes in a data model and update their appearance by using binding relationships between the elements in the UI. This example uses a 100% XAML approach to demonstrate these relationships, called "bindings".

    Read the complete article

    I like how Joe's articles are short and concise with the XAML-only code right there on the page.  Someday copy and paste applications will be as easy to find as javascript snippets are today.


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  • Complex vector drawing with XAML

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    I've been testing a program that converts Adobe Illustrator SVG to XAML and I really wanted to give it a work out, so I decided to draw a card.  Cards are symbolic and familiar and commonly have ornate designs so I thought it would be a perfect test.

    My work flow here was to draw the image in Illustrator export to SVG and then import the SVG to the conversion tool which would then output the XAML paths.  You'll notice in the screenshot that the rendered XAML looks the same on Longhorn and Windows XP using Xamlon.

    If you look close enough you'll see that each eye has some extra residue causing a cross-sign that I did not intend to be there, except for the upper eye from the Xamlon Window. Maybe some more work needed there or my paths were off.  You may also notice that the middle seam is rather noticeable.  This is because, for this image I only wanted to take the time to draw half and then duplicate and rotate the existing half.

    This is really fun stuff, especially when you start thinking of moving beyond just static images and getting into animations and interaction.

    Download XAML source file


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  • Longhorn Dev Center gets a new polish

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    The Longhorn Dev Center has been redone with a few new graphics and a quickstart bar on the top.  Most noticable images are the many faces of Chris Sells done via vector drawings.  Very cool response to the many poses of Kent Sharkey on the ASP.NET Dev Center.

    [via 3Leaf]


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  • Longhorn Meetup next week

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    The numbers on the Longhorn Meetup Members page give the impression that somewhere (India especially) people are actually "meeting up".  In my area we have only had one official LH MeetUp, and that one was even coordinated by IM because the votes were not placed in time.  But I am excited to learn that our local Fort Wayne Longhorn meetup is happening next week:

    Your Meetup in Fort Wayne, IN is at:
    T.G.I. Friday's
    4201 Coldwater Rd.
    Ft. Wayne, IN 46805
    260-496-8443
    Tuesday, July 27 @ 7:00PM

    So if you're in the area and you want to talk in person with someone about Longhorn, stop by.  And if you're not in the area, sign up for your local group and you may "officially" meetup someday.


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  • Signed up for Edward Tufte's one day workshop

    I've seen the big three books (haven't read them yet).

    I've heard about how great of a seminar it is (more on Sells' post in a second).

    So I've signed up for the one day seminar in Indianapolis this August.  And the great thing is that as a part of the registration, you recieve all three books to take home.  I'm really looking forward to this course as a way to open my mind on how to display information.  Maybe even come up with a few reasons on how 3D in line of business applications (talking 3D XAML here) will be useful.

    Althought I can't comment on the seminar yet, Chris Sells did post on Tufte's advice on giving presentations.

    Tufte has a great deal of advice about how to prepare for and give presentations. To prepare, you must have great content (no amount of design or practice will fix bad content) and spend a great deal of time practicing (especially important if you're not using PPT to remind you what to say). When presenting, follow these rules (these aren't all of my rules, but I agree with them):

    1. Show up early to avoid problems and greet everyone at the door to learn their names, introduce yourself and begin advancing your cause
    2. Start talks with The Problem, Why They Should Care and The Solution
    3. Never start your talk with an apology, as it just make you look pitiful
    4. Use Particular/General/Particular when presenting information, e.g. start with a particular example of something, generalize it and then show another particular example that shows the same general characteristics (I use this technique all the time and it's very effective)
    5. Use first person singular only to express opinion, i.e. this isn't a talk about you but about a serious topic
    6. Give everyone at least one piece of paper (Ed prefers a single 11" x 17" folded in half with 4 sides of content)
    7. Knowing your content and respecting your audience is more important than knowing your audience if by "knowing" them, you "dumb down" your talk for them
    8. Avoid project slides (aka PowerPoint or the equivalent)
    9. Use humor as appropriate, e.g. hyperbole to make a point, but don't tell jokes. "Don't alienate your audience because of a joke. Alienate your audience on the merits on your content!"
    10. Avoid the use of "he" or "she," e.g. "The user, he takes his mouse and moves it to his menu bar where he makes his manly choice." Use "they" instead.
    11. Make sure folks know you believe what you're saying by getting out from behind the podium, getting close to people and use appropriate gestures. If you don't believe what you're saying, they're not going to believe it.
    12. Finish early and something good will happen. No one will ever look at their colleague, commenting on how they wish you had gone on for another 20+ minutes.

    These are some great tips on giving presentations, hopefully something I can remember when the time comes.  Chris also mentions that he's got even more rules on giving presentations.  Maybe if we ask nicely, he'll print out his list...


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  • Longhorn and Linux vs WinXP

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    Read this article first (make sure you make it to the end).

    .

    .

    There now wasn't that funny :)  Ok, so the question is even if everything said in the article is true about Longhorn; what can Microsoft do about it?

    The Longhorn initiative reminds me of the .NET initiative, where Microsoft was reportedly "betting the company on .NET".  But if the benefits of moving to Longhorn are overwhelming then the adoption rate should be more favorable.  If you were using ASP and now using ASP.NET, think of how long it took you to switch, not long right?  I know I personally was writing production web apps with the ASP.NET beta, just because it was all that more compelling to use.  I imagine I'll be doing the same with the Longhorn beta...

    [via Marc Clifton]


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  • The PC designed with Longhorn in mind

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    This year at WinHEC, Microsoft and HP previewed an updated version of their "Athens PC" concept machine.  Although the current white paper was published May 5 2003, it provides a few clues on what type of computer you may be running the final version of Longhorn on.

    A few of the features mentioned:

    • Modern Monitor - 16:10 format, 120dpi or greater.  Perfect for the new Avalon system, using the Length structure
    • All devices wireless - although you already know about wireHell where wires are all over/behind/above/next to your desk, its shown best in this video.
    • Indicator Lights - Tired of all the popup notifications showing up on your screen?  How about a nice light bar across the top of your monitor with different indicators illuminating your notifications?
    • Two Power Modes - On and Off (well not completely Off, but in Standby) and it will only take 2 seconds to switch modes! As a bonus the indicator lights will still work when its Off.  I'm sure this will fit into the new Power Management enhancements in Longhorn, right now the only link I can find is on the PowerModeChanged EventBrent Rector talks about this in Chapter 7 of his book Introducing Microsoft WinFX.
    • Integrated Telephony - Yes that's a Bluetooth phone sitting on the right side of the monitor.  CallerID display as well as notification in the light bar.

    [insert witty line about pre-ordering]


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  • Longhorn Alt-Tab for Cyrus

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    After reading Cyrus' post on extreme taskbar usage, I was reminded of the new Alt-Tab feature in Longhorn.  So I flipped over to my Longhorn box and opened up 22 instances of Internet Explorer and hit Alt-Tab.

    (Unfortunately you can't print screen the Alt Tab, so this picture is from my camera.)

    So as you can see, its not quite ready for Cyrus or any other taskbar radical, but hopefully it will aid him in the future.

    Read his post for more details on how he works with 22+ applications open in his start bar (the second application open is Remote Desktop where he is actually remoting into the same server just for more taskbar space!).  He actually has three monitors and is asking for a fourth...


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  • Longhorn and Tiger

    This is what I wanted to get across in the disclaimer of my last post:

    Mary Jo Foley:

    Who's Copying Whom?

    The bigger question: What does it matter? Let the platforms ultimately compete on their own merits.

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  • Apple's new Dashboard

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    Apple's Tiger preview has a new feature called Dashboard which will add some new power to the desktop.  Dashboard hosts mini-apps called widgets, which appear to be mostly simple applications like calculators, calendars and notepads.

    The really interesting aspect is that the widgets are created with XHTML, CSS and Javascript, just like web applications, but broken outside of the browser.  The widgets can even use something called Core Image, which allows the developer to leverage the GPU to render his widget.

    Kind of reminds me of when I first heard about Longhorn. I think I might have to get a Mac soon...

    Related Links

    Disclaimer: No, I am not worried about who copied who, I think its just a natural progression. I will be glad to have both available in the future and let's hear it for finally taking advantage of all that hardware power we have idling. Unless I'm playing UT2004, my CPU is bored!


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  • HE3's new license plate

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    Hmm, maybe I should go out and get one of these


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  • Ian takes on the new Apple 30"

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    Ian Griffiths goes into a thorough explanation about high-dpi monitors in his latest two entries.  The first entry talks about Apple's new 30" monster monitor settling on 100dpi and how high dpi does not cause eyestrain, but OSs not supporting high-dpi is the cause.  The second entry offers up an alternative monitor from ViewSonic called the VP2290b and once again he provides more information then you know about how monitors work and that he uses a 150dpi monitor with 9pt font.

    After reading these entries, I was reminded of why Longhorn has introduced the new Length structure, a unit of measurement equal to 1/96th.  So all you'll have to do is set the Length of button to 100 and Longhorn's rendering system will worry about how to scale the button dependant on the dpi of the current monitor.


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