The race for Social Network integration

There has been some interesting news coming from social networks over the last couple of days. Yesterday MySpace announced a Silverlight API for developing applications on the MySpace Open Platform. As well they announced that MySpace will be available on Windows Mobile. The move will put MySpace on most mobile platforms, which include IPhone, Blackberry, and Android. Fast forward to today and Adobe has announced the official ActionScript 3.0 Client Library for Facebook Platform API, fully supported by Facebook and Adobe. Are these announcements purely coincidental? Maybe. And I don’t want to really get into Flash vs. Silverlight debate at any level. The most interesting thing to me is that Microsoft has made a investment in Facebook, to the tune of $240 million dollars. The investment is based around their Ad Platform and search, but you think that it would put Facebook as their number 1 social network to integrate with. Instead they partner with MySpace, where a $900 million dollar search deal with Google is set to expire in the second quarter of 2010. Is this deal just the beginning of a new and long partnership? Only time will tell. The great news as developers is we are getting API’s and Frameworks that are officially supported by both parties, technology creators and social networks, which provides us with a streamlined process to deploy applications. This couldn’t come at a better time for us as we have 4 really big Facebook applications in the works. And if you want to be a part of the team to work on those we are looking for some talented people. April Fuel’s Day

Reference links

Introducing Silverlight For MySpace

Adobe Flash Platform and Facebook

Continue reading » · Rating: · Written on: 03-31-09 · No Comments »

Silverlight Day 2 – Expression Blend

Yesterday I got my hands wet with Silverlight from purely a development side of things. But today I am going to start playing around with Expression Blend. Blend, from what I can tell, is kind of like the design view in Flex. I think everything you create in Blend visually also generates XAML code. We haven’t done a lot of Flex work here so I am really interseted to see how our Desingers find working with Blend.

My goal today is going to be figuring out how to do some of the things I can do in Flash in Silverlight. Specifically animations. Hopefully I’ll be able to get frame based animations and time based animations working.

Ok once again I downloaded and installed the wrong version. You think I would have learned my lesson. If you want to use Blend with Silverlight you must install the Blend 2 Trial preview. I resist the urge to just dive head in head first and hit the tutorial page. Blend has done a better job at presenting you with Tutorials by putting them right on the start page of the application as well as sample projects. Also be sure to check out the user guide in the help section as well. It’s broken out well into different categories. When you want to create a animation you’ll need to switch to the animation view ( F7 ).  This brings up a pretty familar timeline like you would be used to in Flash. Next I added some images to the project so can use them in my animation. One thing that bugs me about the Project Panel is you can’t drag and drop files into different folders, or add Folders to your project. To actually use the images you can access them in the asset library which is accessed by clicking on the 2 chevrons at the bottom of the toolbar on the left. When adding elements to the stage you usually drag out a region for the asset to draw in, but it’s hard to know what the actual size is, so if you just double click the item in the toolbar it will draw at 0,0 at 100% scale. When creating a frame based animations there are a few differences from Flash that you should keep in mind. Make sure you are in Record mode, there is a little button beside the timeline name to toggle. The biggest thing is to remember to move the playhead to the current keyframe. If you simply click on the keyframe and change the properties, but the playhead isn’t there it will take effect where the playhead is.10am
I finally got an animation set up properly. It plays back great in the Blend IDE but is painfully slow and appears to be skipping frames when tested in a web browser. I am not really sure why this is happening, going to investigate. Also if you find that the properties panel isn’t refreshing when making a new selection on the stage, toggle between the xaml and design view. That seem to reset things.

Took the same animation and created strictly through code using C#. It’s quite a bit different then creating animations with code in Flash. You have to create a Storyboard Object and then an Animation Object inside of that. In the animation object is where you set the target, properties, and duration. It actually runs a lot better then the frame based one from Blend.

Here is the time based example
Time Based Demo

So I went to go and upload the frame based example that was not performing well and ran it locally by just running the html file that gets generated and it played back properly. As it turns out, when you test your project in Blend you are running in Debug mode and there are significant performance losses when doing this.  I haven’t figured out a way to test your project from the IDE without running in Debug mode yet so you’ll have to click the .html file that gets generated in your project folder.

1pm – I found out that you can add assets to the Stage in Blend by just double clicking them in the Project Panel. That saves a lot of time from going through the asset library.

 At first pass Blend seemed ok. It’s not great by any means, but that may just be me just not being used to it and thinking that I could do everything in Flash about 100 times faster. It’s got potential to be good but for now I perfer to create animations in with Code in Visual Studio. The one thing is that if you aren’t using Expression Design you can import your graphics and line them up in Blend and then just copy and paste the xaml code for placement. We’ll see how the next few weeks go. I should be able to form a better opinion on all this then.

Continue reading » · Rating: · Written on: 06-01-07 · 3 Comments »

My First Day with Silverlight

Yesterday I decided to install everything I needed to start building Silverlight apps so I could see what it’s all about first hand. This post is an account of my first day experience being a Flash Developer and not knowing Visual Studio or any Microsoft Programming Language. I come from a Multimedia background so I was never really exposed to C# or C++ ever. If Microsoft is really serious about trying to get Flash Developers on board I think they are going to have to cater to people like me and not just their developer base.

 9am – Installing
I got into work and saw that Visual Studio had finished installing. So I went to the Silverlight website to see what else I needed to download. I looked at the list and saw downloads for the Beta and Alpha. So thinking that Beta comes after Alpha I downloaded everything with Beta attached to it. Fire up Visual Studio and stare at the Start Page still unsure what to do. Back to the website to watch that getting started video. Launch the video in Firefox and it’s next to impossible to watch. The video window is mega small and I can’t resize it. Try it in IE and still no dice. Feeling a little overwhelmed at first I call over our resident MS expert, Karl, and he begins to explain to be I need to install the Alpha. Apparently the Beta is 1.0 and the Alpha is 1.1. the difference is the Beta can only us Javascript and the Alpha C#. That was really apparent to me, but going back and actually reading the fine print it says it right there. Ok so back on track all the right things installed. I can now open Visual Studio and select Silverlight project from the list.

10am – Quickstarts
Started going through some of the quickstarts on the website. Going through the Event Handling one and went through creating a button. I created a TextBlock but couldn’t figure out how to set the font color. So I decided to open up the documentation and go through the language reference to see if I could figure it out, but I find out that the reference isn’t in the documentation. So I go through the Object Browser, this link will help you set that up, but it doesn’t give you any documentation there. So I continued on with the tutorials. I figured a good thing to do would be to start tracing objects and properties so I got Karl to show me how to use the Debugger. When I tried to debug for the first time it gave me a weird error saying it couldn’t find the file. The problem was that I had my project in a folder that had a space in the name. So make sure when building your apps that it goes into a directory without a space in it. Finally a project built. But no debug window. Apparently if you already have Firefox open and you debug it will run the app but not connect the debbuger. Time to save this post and continue writing in IE. Ok starting to feel a little more comfortable. I was able to figure out how to set the font color finally and was able to capture events. I have to say though my very little Flex experience is coming in handy with XAML.

Figured out that the replacement for x and y properties is Top and Left.

1130am – 2pm – Lunch and meetings

Ok back on track.  Went through the quickstarts on creating Custom Components. It went pretty well expect if you are building the files from scratch it doesn’t go over some of the things you need to make it work. So be sure to always check out the source code of their examples if something isn’t working. Also learned some new syntax. So I think I need to get a book or something to start learning some C# code.

Finally found some decent documentation on some of the Silverlight objects. I can’t help but feel that this should be called out a lot more then it is on the site. Or during the first couple of quickstarts have a note. “To learn more about the TextBlock object click here”. I figured out how to load an image in. It was pretty straight forward, but for some reason I couldn’t load one from our server. It’s probably a security thing. Going to look into that.

The rest of the day I spent just going through the Video Sample and installing Expressions Blend. I have to say considering my lack of C# knowledge is extremely low my first day was a success. My first impression is pretty good. Obviously I haven’t tried to do anything really crazy yet so I’ll save the Flash vs Silverlight comparisons until I actually make something. Better documentation and a better step by step guide for total newbies would be great. But again you have to remember it’s in Alpha so we just need to have some patience.

Continue reading » · Rating: · Written on: 05-31-07 · 5 Comments »