Category Archives: Xpert360

Debugging Data Bindings in XAML with Silverlight 4

[Last updated: 2011-05-24]
Yes, you read it correctly, Silverlight 4.
How can I do that?

Simply install the VS2010 SP1 and Silverlight 5 Beta and you get the unexpected bonus of the XAML Parser supporting debugging your data bindings for your Silverlight 4 projects. As SL5 sits nicely in VS2010 SP1 with SL4 it is worth installing the beta just for this feature.

Debugging XAML Binding in Silverlight 4

Debugging XAML Binding in Silverlight 4 - bonus!

I was at the @SLUGUK meeting 18th May 2011, and as Mike Taulty pointed out for other ‘features’, it is difficult to know whether such things as this were introduced by the service pack or the beta as nobody seems to have stopped to check in the rush to get the SL5 beta working ūüôā

Checked against the NoDo Windows Phone 7 projects and it does not work, you can set a breakpoint but it cannot resolve the symbols. The new feature automatically creates the symbol names for you. I am optimistic that this feature will work with the Mango tooling to be released by end of May 2011 (that’s next week) [UPDATE: Mango beta no Xaml debugging for now].

No point in re-documenting the feature so:

Mike Taulty’s Blog: Silverlight 5 Beta Rough Notes – Debugging Data-Binding

Code Project: Debugging Data Bindings in XAML with SIlverlight 5 Beta

Further things to do and resources 
This article shows a nice side-effect encountered for Silverlight 5 projects after installing the Silverlight 5 Beta. Whether it is intended or here to stay we will have to wait and see but it has already proved to be a fantastic ROI.
Any comments or request for future topics are welcome.

Xpert360 PivotViewer Blog Article Index

[Last updated: 2011-06-22]
This post is intended to be a landing place to bring together links to our growing collection of PivotViewer articles in one place. We will update this article to reflect new blog posts and other useful links.
If you are not familiar with¬†overriding¬†the Silverlight PivotViewer control’s OnApplyTemplate() method¬†then I recommend taking the time to work through the¬†posts in the ‘Adventures with PivotViewer’¬†series and build up your portfolio of¬†customization skills.
These articles are based on the version of the control shipped separately from the Silverlight 4 SDK. We will update and extend articles with information relevant to Silverlight 5 SDK as they become available. If you are already customizing your PivotViewer experience then dive right in:
Adventures with PivotViewer
PivotViewer Shorts
PivotViewer Miscellaneous
Examples on the Internet
Further things to do and resources
This article is an anchor page to our blog articles concerning the Silverlight PivotViewer control. There are a range of articles topics and technical levels. Some target the developer who is ready to start customizing the Silverlight PivotViewer control beyond the documented public API, whilst others show examples of what can be achieved.
Any comments or request for future topics are welcome.

Adventures with PivotViewer Part 9: Multi-Layered Trading Cards

Silverlight PivotViewer Layered Trading Cards

Silverlight PivotViewer Layered Trading Cards - click to view video

Adding multi-layered trading cards is a feature enabled by the XAML data template trading card support for the version of the Silverlight PivotViewer control that will be distributed in the Silverlight 5 SDK. This article shows you how to implement a similar effect in the previous version of the control.

If you are new to our blog then you may care to take the time to work through the other posts in this series and build up you portfolio of PivotViewer customization skills.

Deep Zoom Collections and Images

Silverlight PivotViewer Product Catalogue collection

Silverlight PivotViewer Product Catalogue basic collection images

The easiest way to achieve this effect is to generate a full set of deep zoom collection imagery for each desired layer. Also generate full sets of deep zoom images for the desired layers of the trading cards.
Simply merge together the folders of the image layers according to your trading cards layer designs. By default the layers 0 to 7, equating to deep zoom folders 0 to 7, are used for the deep zoom collection imagery for the lower resolutions. Only the layers 8 and above are used at runtime by PivotViewer for the individual deep zoom images: folders 7 and below can be deleted and do not need deploying.
PivotViewer Low-Res Trading Card Images

PivotViewer Low-Res Trading Card Image transition

It is important that all source images for a trading card are the same height and width. The PivotViewer Excel tool is useful for trying this as you can simply copy the Excel spreadsheet and replace the trading card images.
I would suggest that you use common low resolution images for the zoomed out top layers of the deep zoom pyramid. For the primary theme choose a facet category with fewest values that can be represented by color. Choose images that represent a secondary attribute such as a category-type facet. By following this approach the users can quickly and easily work with the collection trading cards at low resolutions by visual association of color and category icon.

PivotViewer Hi-Res Trading Card Images

PivotViewer Hi-Res Trading Card Image Transitions

At the other end of the scale with the highest resolution images you probably will want more information, mini-graphs, etc. These images can be captured from a simple custom tool that uses a XAML data template bound to the collection data. If you do this you ought to be able to reuse your code with the vNext version of PivotViewer.
PivotViewer Trading Card

PivotViewer Trading Card Hi-Res from XAML

Further things to do
This article is just a brief run through that introduces multi-layered visualization of Silverlight PivotViewer control trading cards. It targets the developer who has already started customizing the Silverlight PivotViewer control in preparation for the next version scheduled to be distributed with the Silverlight 5 SDK. Any comments or request for future topics are welcome.

PivotViewer vNext in Silverlight 5 SDK

Original post is here:
Only view on original blog to avoid malicious sites
[Last updated: 2011-05-19]

Advanced Features in Silverlight 5

MIX11 Agenda - Advanced Features in Silverlight 5

The Las Vegas MIX11 conference has come and gone. Windows Phone 7 “Mango”, Internet Explorer 10 platform preview, HTML 5, Silverlight 5 beta and Kinect SDK.
If you were interested in the next version of the Silverlight PivotViewer control you would be forgiven if you missed it as the MIX11 site had the “New Technologies for Immersive Content Creation” tagged as PivotViewer on April 14th 2011. The actual session of interest for the vNext PivotViewer was Nick Kramer giving a presentation entitled “Advanced Features in Silveright 5” in the same session slot. The RN Studio (Alpha) session included using a PivotViewer collection asset, the 2009 IUCN Red List Species. This was interesting but nothing new as far as PivotViewer version.
New Technologies for Immersive Content CreationDate: April 14, 2011 from 3:00PM to 4:00PM | Day 3 | RES06 | Speakers: Eric Stollnitz, Joseph Joy
Advanced Features in Silverlight 5Date: April 14, 2011 from 3:00PM to 4:00PM | Day 3 | MED12 | Speakers: Nick Kramer
PivotViewer is flagged as coming soon post-beta as it did not make the cut for the Silverlight 5 SDK beta release. To live up to this status the PivotViewer control crashed with an access violation mid-demo as Nick looks on and adlibs.
PivotViewer vNext crashes at MIX11

PivotViewer vNext crashes at MIX11

“PivotViewer V1 was shipped in June 2010 separately from Silverlight, the V1 came in its own SDK download”. There was then a maintenance release in September 2010. “There was a lot of good feedback to Microsoft about the control but a lot of people said they wanted to take it to the next level”.
Nick said “We want to take that Pivot experience that lets you analyze large datasets in a very rich visual way, create interactive graphs, filter on the fly, figure out which part of the data is interesting to you.”
“We want to bring that to more scenarios make it easier to plug in your data”
  • Ships as part of the SL5 SDK
  • Dynamic client-based collections (ItemSource, binding)
  • XAML-based visuals (trading card templates)
  • Customizability (fonts, colors, sizes)
PivotViewer XAML templated tiles at MIX11

PivotViewer XAML templated tiles at MIX11

We first had a glimpse of the vNext control during the Silverlight Firestarter keynote in December 2010. Since then the sample demonstration has moved on to show more of the XAML template driven trading cards. Nick’s demonstration showed building trading cards with standard Silverlight DataTemplates and data binding to the Pivot collection. You can define one or more layouts which are automatically faded in/out by PivotViewer based on user-defined tile size thresholds (in pixels). So you see different trading card visuals based on the zoom level which was previously harder work to achieve with deep zoom image collections.
PivotViewer XAML templates at MIX11

PivotViewer XAML data templates at MIX11

The newly exposed client side collection feature is implemented using the usual ItemsSource property of the control. This brings generation and manipulation of your Pivot collections in line with other Silverlight controls.
Where does this leave us?
Ships as part of the SL5 SDK
  • So the PivotViewer vNext control now joins the SDK family of controls.
  • When will we get to download and use it? We just don’t know, officially just later in 2011.
  • Without a clear roadmap or detailed feature list this does leave existing development users in somewhat of an uncertain position.
  • In many ways there are far more questions than answers raised so far from the brief glimpses afforded to us.
Dynamic client-based collections
  • Dynamic data in SL5 will be available the same as any other data context, on the client, and is to be welcomed.
  • This has been interpreted by some as the end of CXML-based collections. It has not yet been said that the new dynamic data will replace CXML.
  • So will both old and new methods of supplying collections be available?
  • Will existing collections have an easy upgrade path?
  • We saw add-to-collection, are item data updates and item removal working too?
  • The answer appears to be yes to all these questions. The collection building has been separated from the visuals and existing CXML collections can be loaded as is. There are some issues with the visuals to be resolved.
XAML-based visuals
  • The new method, whilst highly applicable to line-of-business applications, is it suitable for photography collections?
  • Are Deep Zoom based CXML collection still supported?
    Define multiple visuals in XAML for different zoom levels, with this new structure how well does it scale?
  • How well does it perform with the image processing on the client?
  • Collection size was advised as up to 3,000 items, we squeezed acceptable performance with 10,000 items. with all the UI structures and memory use how well does this scale now on the client?
  • XAML DataTemplate trading cards, are they still ‘dumb’ bitmaps or allow UI interaction?
  • Do we still have support for PivotViewer ‘CustomActions’?
  • New access to fonts, colors, sizes.
  • Any access to Backgrounds and Borders – filter panel, info panel, collection views?
  • Header customizations – hide collection path, filter criteria?
  • Customization of filter panels beyond fonts?
  • We have not yet seen custom info panel limits, how does this work?
  • Support for user-supplied XAML custom views? – view menu buttons, location for geolocation, maps, other graphical visualizations

MIX11 OpenCall Voting – Session picker

MIX11 PivotViewer Sessions containing Geolocation

MIX11 PivotViewer Sessions containing Geolocation

We are really looking forward to MIX11 and with 207 sessions to choose from, we decided to take a couple of hours and put together a Pivot collection to provide a little help with narrowing down exactly which sessions you want to vote for.

Run the Silverlight MIX11 OPEN CALL application. As with all silverlight apps, works fine on most browsers and OS.

MIX11 PivotViewer Sessions on Razor

MIX11 PivotViewer Sessions on Razor

MIX11 PivotViewer Session Speakers

MIX11 PivotViewer Session Speakers

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