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great coffee at identity mine

August 21st, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

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Just saw a post on Jackson Fish Market about this article. Apparently startups are scrimping on coffee.. This is a travesty… One that I am happy to say that identity mine is definitely not a part of.

We requested cafeine and identity mine delivered. We just purchased a Rancilio Silvia and Rocky for our new Pioneer Square offices. “Miss Silvia” is the same machine I use at home… and she pulls great shots. We stock our offices with the best beans from Zoka, Stumptown Cafe and Cafe Vita.

Do you want to create user experiences people love? Have you got WPF/Silverlight XAML chops? Are you a technical designer who buys into the “Dev/Designer/Integrator” story? Looking for a great career move? Don’t want to work somewhere they serve drip coffee swill?

Maybe identity mine is the place for you?

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Shipping and Shopping

July 21st, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Its been a long time since I have blogged but now Robby’s nerd+art website has got me jazzed about doing some silverlight work…im working on a DesignersLoveSilverlight section to my blog.

I’ve been busy with lots of WPF client development as usual and added to that we have welcomed two new munchkins into the Dunlap family (Ivy Grace and Eden Faith Dunlap born 2 months early but doing great). So I can point to personal issues that were making me a light blogging force.

I think I can officially say that I have finished my overdose on AppStore and 50 some odd apps later the honeymoon is over (although I’ve picked up a serious addiction to Texas Hold ‘em and Comic Touch). A lot of lessons learned from iphone client apps… Proof that rich clients are important for experience…

Interesting article about a WPF CRM app developed by Entellium. I thought this was an interesting quote:

 

“Johnston ascribes a large part of Rave’s appeal to its downloadable client. “The smart client approach enables a SaaS distribution model you can’t replicate with a browser-only product because [with a browser-based product] there is nothing to ’ship’,” he explained. Entellium will exploit that advantage, using digital retailers as its core distribution channel for Rave.”

This isnt something that I would have intuitively picked up on from a business perspective, but its obvious to me the value after using the iphone App Store for a week. I think its more than just “shipping” an app from a business side, rather its “shopping” an app from the customer side.

I think its a true experience of the buzzword we always used at MS called “stickiness”.

I would actually propose that the user’s action of “downloading” an app is mentally connecting the user to an experience that is more owned and personal than just browsing to an application and using it. I know I dont feel like I own an application that I can navigate to no matter how powerful or rich the experience is… I have to do something that makes me “own” it and downloading an app seems to be the ticket. Granted setting up an account for the myriad of applications that exist definitely mentally connects me to the experience more, but something about adding that app to my collection of quick launch icons that I plan to use frequently really ties the bow on the customer experience. (Unfortunately the Programs menu in Windows just doesnt have that “my stuff” feel that iPhone home screens and OS X dock does)

Oh and in addition to my DesignersLoveSilverlight that is coming I have a side project that is more “platform agnostic” called Riactionary.com it too is going to be a blog that I probably dont get enough time to update but my hope is for it to be a repository of RIA reviews that span the gammut of platform technologies available.

Whoa! Here is a feature that slipped through cracks for me but is something I have been asking for a long time… I just didnt know they got it into Blend 2.

It used to be in Blend that you had to explicitely set a width and height to see your content render (specifically around root elements like Windows and Pages). This was problematic because inevitably I would check in my xaml with these widths and heights set which would usually break resize scenarios.

Now with the design-time size you can set a designer only property that has no effect at run time. Just look for the bar and triangle glyphs as shown below and resize your content.

This is what it adds in xaml:

d:DesignWidth=”1176″ d:DesignHeight=”935.314″

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They really are listening

May 12th, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Just read through a bunch of the features coming online in 3.5 sp1 and Im totally stoked.. Microsoft has really done a good job about listening to what we need to make WPF a better programming experience… I can think of 3 – 4 things that I am working on today that will be much easier in the next release.

Its funny how little things like Alternating Row support in ItemsControl can be such a big thing but Ive used 72 different hacky solutions for this and its always a time suck setting it up…

Interoperability with DirectX and hardware accelerated extensible shader effects totally changes the game in my opinion.. Many of the dreamy interfaces that we have conjured up in our imagination when we get excited about WPF are now going to be a reality.

Thanks WPF team! I cant wait to get my hands dirty!

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2008/05/12/visual-studio-2008-and-net-framework-3-5-service-pack-1-beta.aspx

Just read Robby’s excellent post about silverlight templating model.

I will start off by admitting that I think Robby is a ton smarter than I am and his intimate experience with helping to define the templating and styling models for WPF make him a much better candidate to see the big picture of this topic. To add to this… I have actually experienced some of the simplicity the new model in Silverlight 2.0 brings to it and can very much agree with most everything Robby says here. (Triggers and Binding in WPF are enough to get you into a lot of trouble where templates become big messes of “XAML defined logic” and state managed nightmares..)  WPF Templates definitely have a steep learning curve for somebody to really learn to harness the possibilities. I think this model is more accessible.

That said, I have already had some painful experience with the developer/designer workflow because of the “not so loose” contracts in Silverlight 2.0 control templates.

Simply my problem resides in the fact that I was working with a large set of developer created controls that defined the contracted elements in each template. Mid stream in the project there was a large change in the project that caused the developer to re-architect a bunch of the controls as well as there was a standards/consistency effort afoot that caused the developer to rename all the elements (you know how religious developers can get about naming conventions :) … The end result was a mass of control templates that were broken. Sure it isn’t too hard to rename elements… But the real friction occurred because of the communication that was required to decide who is responsible for fixing the XAML for these controls. If its one or two controls its not a big deal… 32 controls with complex internal dependencies on styled controls… it does become a big deal… Why? because a lot of developers don’t know what “right” looks like to fix the controls themselves… So because of the tight contract between the designers design and the developers code it became a two man job to fix the changes.

I feel like this breaks the “holy grail” idealistic plan to create “lookless controls” so designers can work on visuals and interactivity independently of logic and function. Which brings us back to a not very parallel dev/designer work flow pre WPF. Now I have to make sure to sit with the developer and make sure they have thought through all the visual states that a control can be in (which in so many cases I haven’t really understood or uncovered until we get deep into the application development). It becomes a ping pong dev/design workflow rather than a parallel… (of course I still think this is way better than what we had before XAML).

If all we were templating and styling were the stock controls (button, ListBox, slider, etc) then I can see the value of making it easier and more toolable… But I am more excited about creating controls that nobody has thought of before that really advance the state of interactive applications. Reducing the friction of communication between developer and designer by making controls lookless so I can focus on figuring out amazing interactivity that maps to logic/behavior/function that is supplied by a developer still seems more powerful.

Totally a hot button issue with me lately… I think seeing the flip sides of this argument should illustrate how passionate we are at Identity Mine about workflow and roles…

All this said, the current state of templating in Silverlight is light years ahead of anything I have done in competitive platforms we just need some consistency between WPF and Silverlight or a roadmap to consistency…

(oh and what’s with naming elements with dependencies PART_ in WPF and not in the same controls in Silverlight?… I would love it if because I knew what a “part” in a control is named in WPF I would know what the corresponding part is named in Silverlight? Try styling a ScrollViewer in WPF and Silverlight to see the differences)

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The Nate Mix 08 Update

February 29th, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Late night here in Vegas and Im totally trying to get work done getting ready to deliver our Nerd+Art talk tomorrow. Listening to NIN Ghosts I-IV. Pretty sweet… Add this to Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” because I wanted to support an artist who is testing the waters with direct distribution. (It’s ironic that Im excited about this announcement of not so direct distribution)

Anywho… its been an amazing day at Mix. The Guy Kawasaki interview with Steve Ballmer was fantastic. Totally gave me a new respect for Steve. I love competition and somebody who is passionate about changing the world and giving other people the same opportunity.

IdentityMine hosted another industry influentials dinner at Zeferino tonight and it was amazing. Definitely the place to be. I met some new faces like Jeremiah Morrill who won the Flotzam contest. Very cool website that I will be adding to my blogroll. Got to visit with ThanRob RelyeaKarstenLaurentGrantNickDr. WPF (you had to be there to figure out who he is… my lips are sealed… hint the mustache is a dead giveaway). We also had some great appearances byScottBrad and Miwa among many many others.

Any conversation that ends debating whether designers should be allowed to create dependency properties and routed events is a good conversation in my book.

Nice! “THE NEW ITERATION” hard copy

February 29th, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Karsten and Jaime’s white paper on “How XAML Transforms the Collaboration Between Designers and Developers in Windows Presentation Foundation” is included in the goody bag (that Mark so graciously gave me since speakers don’t get one…lame)

This is a really nice addition to the “mix” of stuff that we get here.

At Mix ground zero

February 29th, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Well here we are… Mix 08. My third year here and it is feeling routine to be in Vegas every spring. Pretty exciting to see everybody. Laurent has already been here for the pre-sessions and has been blogging like crazy.  I’ve already run intoWaltMike and JoeDarren and William… I know that Than and Grant are running around here somewhere.

Really excited about the keynote tomorrow. Since a lot has already been announced Im really curious as to what kind of stuff we will hear about tomorrow.

Network is slow… That’s because every nerd in the hotel is in his room surfing the web or at the blogzone party. (which now that Ive blogged I think I can officially go get a free drink…) Let the party begin! Oh wait… still gotta work on our talk too.

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Terrific news! We’ve just announced our next two Blendables Mix products. 3D and Layout.

Check them out at http://www.blendables.com

It seems like there are 2 holy grail pieces to really getting 3D to come into its own in WPF… The first piece, Interactive 2D on 3D has a pretty cool solution on codeplex.

The second piece, for me has been taking the simplicity of the WPF layout system and making it easy to create rich experiences using 3D as a tool for data visualization and interactivity. The Blendables 3D Mix does just that for me… Now I can stack objects in 3D space, lay them out in 3D grids, and more… This is very cool stuff… You really need to check it out.

The Layouts Mix is amazing too. It’s all about SwitchPanel for me…With this panel you can automatically “switch” from one layout to another and get “layout to layout” animations. This is a really effective technique for feedback animations when filtering on content or looking for pattern recognition when animation from one view of data to another view.  You have a ton of control over the animations in this panel including variables like force and resistance. As well these include “Penner Animations” so you can tweak the easing to your hearts delight.

Also in the layouts Mix is CameraPanel and PerspectivePanel… You gotta see these ones to really understand them. But you can do some really cool stuff with them. I’m already plotting how I am going to take over the world using CameraPanel and RandomPanel together to create a cool visualization for Flotzam… (Karsten: Im about halfway done with a Blendables Flotzam skin… was too busy to get it done for the design contest)

It’s pretty exciting to see the Mixes coming online!

Expression Community at Microsoft.com

February 29th, 2008 | Posted by William Dasilva in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

“Express Yourself! Create and share your work with other members of the Expression Community. Get inspired. Get creative. Get noticed.”

http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

Also check out ScottGu’s demo of Expression Blend working with Silverlight 2.0.

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2008/02/28/first-look-at-using-expression-blend-with-silverlight-2.aspx