April, 2007

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Experience Matters!


    In addition to the very exciting announcements that were made in this morning's keynote were some thoughts from Ray Ozzie around User Experience.  It is interesting that there is such a focus on user experience now that the technology is capable of supporting rich experiences on the desktop and the web. 

    Of particular interest were Ray's comments on the evolution of the web as a tool.  Applications delivered on the web were typically scaled down to the lowest common denominator of the platforms that were targeted to give a common experience regardless of the platform chosen.  The concept he coined, "Universal Web Applications", is quite appropriate as he went on to explain that the power presented on certain platforms was not used to better serve the fact that the user experience had to be similar on all platforms.

    While this is still very true today, we are seeing a sea change in how applications are approached from a design perspective.  Ray used the term "Experience First Applications" as a way to show that while the paradigm of the "universal web application" is still required, the technologies available now, particularly Silverlight, provides an opportunity for people to deliver extremely rich applications on the web.  Silverlight allows designers and developers to deliver a consistent interface regardless of platform, yet not have to sacrifice a great user experience in the process.

    Oh, and by the way, the community site for Silverlight is now more than just a splash page - you can check it out at http://www.silverlight.net!


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Keynote Messages



    We just finished listening to the opening keynote. The keynote is full of excitements with the following key announcements and messages.

    Silverlight Messages:

    • Compelling cross-platform user experiences
    • Flexible programming model with collaborative tools
    • High quality media with low cost
    • Connected to web, servers, and services

    Detailed announcements are:

    Silverlight Programming Model Details

    • Releasing Silverlight 1.0 Beta to support JavaScript/AJAX.
    • Releasing Silverlight 1.1 Alpha to support .NET programming for building RIAs.
    • Announcing cross-platform .NET (VB, C#) as part of Silverlight 1.1 Alpha.
    • Announcing support for dynamic languages (Ruby, Python, Managed JScript) as part of Silverlight 1.1 Alpha.

    Preview of Expression Studio and Visual Studio Support for Silverlight

    • RTM of Expression Studio
    • Releasing Expression Blend 2.0 May Preview to support Silverlight.
    • Expression Media Encoder Preview for Silverlight.
    • Silverlight Tools Alpha for Visual Studio Orcas Beta 1 to support Silverlight.

    Details on Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live

    • First 4GB of storage free for Silverlight streaming.

    Check out the momentum video from Ray Ozzie's keynote which includes a series of great WPF applications which was uploaded using Silverlight streaming service.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX07 Keynote is available on live streaming


    The MIX07 keynote is now available on live streaming video.  You can check it out at http://www.visitmix.com



  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX Day 1 kicks off!


    MIX really kicks into high gear today with an important keynote at 9:30AM PT from Ray Ozzie and others.  This is going to be an exciting day and there will be a lot to talk about going forward from today.  There are also a number of really great breakout sessions on important technologies and concepts that will dig deeper into the cool web technologies Microsoft has to offer. 

    Because there will be a lot of news from the keynotes and breakouts, we will be shedding some light on some of the announcements from a Canadian perspective.  To make it more relevant to you, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the announcements as well as post requests for information on specific MIX topics.  Is there something specific you would like us to cover or provide further insight on?  Let us know!

    Let Day 1 begin!


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Get ready for MIX07!


    Hello, everyone!

    First off, it's great to be blogging on this site.  As Qixing has mentioned in a previous post, you'll see me provide entries to this blog from time to time providing my thoughts on web design and the exciting things Microsoft is doing in this area.

    This is a very exciting time for Microsoft and User-Centric design.  Microsoft's premier design conference, MIX, kicks off on Monday, April 30th, 2007 in Las Vegas.  I'm really excited about this for a number of reasons.  First off, I'll be able to meet with many of you there - my photo is below so you can recognize me.  If you see me, please stop by and say hello!  I'd love to meet you and trade design stories with you.  Second, the event is going to showcase a number of new technologies that Microsoft has recently released, including the newly branded Silverlight (this was previously given the very pedestrian name of WPF/e).  If you keep looking out at this blog during MIX, both Qixing and I will be providing insight on news, announcements and points of interest.

    I've just packed my bags and I'm ready to head out to Las Vegas first thing tomorrow (Sunday, April 29).  Stay tuned because MIX is going to be a great conference!


    - Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Claim Test

    Technorati Profile
  • Canadian UX Blog

    Welcome our new blogger Paul!


    As our Microsoft Canada team heading down to MIX, Paul Laberge (our Partner Developer Advisor) and I will be working together and sharing with MIX exictments on this blog with a focus on rich user experience on web and its related technologies.

    Paul is a new member of the Microsoft Canada Evangelism team, having joined in January.  His focuses are on helping Web Designers and Web Developers understand the technologies Microsoft offers for building compelling web sites and applications and as such is very active in engaging with those audiences.  Paul comes from a consulting background, having worked at a “Big 4” consulting firm for 7 years prior to joining Microsoft.  He will be helping me blog about the MIX event in Las Vegas and will continue to post comments on this blog from time to time.

    Welcome Paul!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Create a Resource Viewer Using Expression Blend


    In an earlier post, I aggregated a list of WPF and Expression resource. The list is in plain test with hyperlinks. What I would like is to have a visual way to represent the links and resource categories. More importantly, I want to view links in relation to other links instead of opening an isolated page/tab every time I click on a hyperlink. I also like it to be easy to update and maintain. So, why not test what I've learnt so far and create an Expression Resource Viewer in Expression Blend?

    The viewer is created entirely in Blend with no backend coding at all. You can see how I made the viewer in this 30-minute tutorial. The tutorial covers following topics:

    • Placing components in a Grid Layout
    • Creating a video logo
    • Data binding in tabs, listbox, Frame, textblock
    • Editing item template for a listbox
    • Applying interactivity on list items
  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX is less than a week away!


    Time flies when you are having fun! I can't believe it has been almost two months since I started my UXA journey at Microsoft. Now MIX is less than a week away. I hope to bring as much content/stories as possible from MIX to share with you guys. So, stay tuned!

    ReMIX winner was announced last week. It's great to see how creative you can be using just CSS.

    Horror Flick  by Ian Muir

    Horror Flick

    Nox  by Sandra Krantz


    Teenage Daydreaming  by Ryan

    Teenage Daydreaming

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Sheridan Interactive Multimedia Open House


    I had a great time today visiting Sheridan Interactive Multimedia Openhouse (Oakville, Ontario). Students that are about to graduate after an eight-month intensive multimedia design program showcased their work. The program "focuses on designing digital environments in which end users can create content, not just navigate through content. This leads to a unique feeling of engagement and empowerment. Rules are set to define the environment, interface is provided for interaction and the state of the content is often shared and stored." I was impressed by how creative these projects are and the diverse skills(both design and programming) the students obtained during the short program. Just to highlight a few projects:

    Prototype for a mobile application that generates a random walking route for the user based on a selected time and speed.

    Online presentation created for the Canadian Embassy in China intended to showcase the life and works of Canadian New Media Innovator, Bill Buxton, to tradeshow audiences.

    Create puzzles from your own images. Application that allows the user to reveal specific parts of an image (e.g. uploaded from Flickr) by pushing boxes. When clicked, the application reveals the image at its full URL.

    Build a virtual whale using your fingers. Kids will love it in science centers.
  • Canadian UX Blog

    Designers and Developers Working Together!


    One of the most interesting things I want to find out about Expression Studio is how designers and developers can work together creating real world applications using the tools. What will be their work process? Would it be different than the process that they are using now? How can Expression Studio help improve their workflow? Some learnings from designers and developers working on real world WPF examples are shared on Channel9. The video highlights four different work processes between designers and developers in the production stage. We will work on detailed case studies on the subject to share with you in the near future. As more designers and developers start using Expression, let's share our best practices together!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Introducing Microsoft Silverlight - Light up the web


    Yes! Windows Presentation Foundation /Everywhere (WPF/E) now has an official name - Microsoft Sliverlight.

    "Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications (RIAs) for the Web. Silverlight integrates with existing Web applications. Silverlight media capabilities include fast, cost-effective delivery of high-quality audio and video to all major browsers including Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer running on the Mac or on Windows. By using Expression Studio and Visual Studio, designers and developers can collaborate more effectively using the skills they have today to light up the Web of tomorrow."

    Check out www.microsoft.com/silverlight and top 10 reasons you might want to use Silverlight.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    From Expression Design to Blend: a life of a WPF button


    People are interested in learning about how they can use Expression Design and Blend together to create attractive UI components such as a great looking button. MIX University provides an excellent lab on the subject. I've included my own notes from the lab below that summerize the major steps involved. Hopefully you'll find them useful.

    Creating a WPF button

    In Design: create button icon

    1. Outline the icon by live tracing a photo image of a mouse
    2. Applying color and effects to the outline
    3. Exporting icon as XAML code

    In Blend

    1. Importing the button icon
    2. Creating a gel button
    3. Attaching the button icon with the gel button
    4. Animating the gel button when mouseover

  • Canadian UX Blog

    WPF and Expression Resource


    Please see the part II of this post here, which includes resources for Silverlight.

    Where can I learn more about Windows Presentation Foundation and Expression Studio? How can I build rich user experience in Expression Studio based on WPF? While I was learning Microsoft’s new presentation platform (WPF) and creative design tools (Expression), I collected the following list of resources I'd like to share with you. I’ll update this list as my journey continues.

    Getting started



    • Channel 9 Expression videos: a four part video on Expression including Blend, Web, and Design.
    • Lynda.com
      • Expression Web Essential Training with Joe Marini: “From understanding the concept of smart web design, to creating, editing, and maintaining a web site, instructor Joe Marini, Group Product Manager at Microsoft, gives his insider tips for real-world web site design using Expression Web.”
      • Expression Blend Beta Preview with Lee Brimelow: “Instructor Lee Brimelow explores all of the application's features and capabilities, from the user interface panels to creating and importing assets. He also covers integrating 3D content, using WPF text controls, layout controls, and user input controls, and creating animated effects.”
    • Expression Web Total Training
    • XAML Tutorial


    You can get fast response to your detailed technical questions by WPF and Expression team members in these discussion lists.

    Dedicated sites:

    • MIX University: a site dedicated to the next generation of web experience. On the site, you can find demos for ASP.NET AJAX, gadgets, WPF/E, hands-on labs for Expression and much more.
    • ExpressionBlend.com by Brennon Williams: “the primary aim of this site is to assist developers and designers in how to use the exciting new user interface (UI)/ user experience (UE)development tool from Microsoft, Expression Blend.”
    • By-Expression by Cheyl D. Wise: a great place to learn about Expression Web. Cheyl is the author of Foundations of Expression Web: The Basics and Beyond.
    • Learn Expression offers free video tutorials for learning Expression tools.

    Bonus: Microsoft blog directory

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Expression Web joins MSDN subscription family



    I’m very happy to tell everyone that Expression Web is now available to MSDN premium subscribers. Expression Blend will become available as well once the product ships in Q2 2007. Several people asked about this on Monday night when I was attending the TechNet chalk talk on Microsoft Application Platform. During the event, I had a chance talk to a group of IT managers about Expression Web. They seemed excited to know that Expression Web is not another version of FrontPage and that it offers advanced CSS support for building standards-based websites. However, their next question is: is it going to be available for MSDN premium subscribers? Now I’m delighted to say “Yes.”

    Here is a quick briefing on Expression Studio if you are not familiar with it. Expression Studio is designed to help creative professionals collaborate with developers to create rich user experience on the web, desktop, and beyond. It greatly supports designer-developer workflow in the development cycle with a family of four tools: Expression Web, Blend, Design, and Media.

    Although the targeted users of Expression are designers, I think it’s a great idea to let developers access and play with these tools (at least Expression Web and Expression Blend). Once developers get familiar with the tools that designers use, they have a better understanding of what can be accomplished with these design tools without backend implementation. Many developers are designers (or vice versa), and Expression tools such as Blend allows them to create compelling designs quickly which can be easily used in development. This lets them spend more time evaluating the usability of their designs. It’s a great chance to broaden the design community and encourage more developers to care about user experience.

    Other blog articles on the topic: Listening to your feedback - Expression and MSDN, Designers and Developers

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