Dante's blog

Tester by day, teacher by night, and learning a bit more each day.

Blog - About

Why, exactly am I doing this?

My name is Dante Gagne. I'm a software tester/dev for Expression Blend, and I've been working with the product for almost as long as it's been around.

I'm working at getting more into the community, and I've put together some training videos in conjunction with Total Training, so some folks may have heard of me.

Simply put, I experiment and play with Blend a lot, and sometimes, I stumble across something cool. When I do that, I like to post it up here. Also, I get e-mail from time to time from people who read my blog, and when I can, I like to post answers here. I figure that for everyone who sends me an e-mail, there are probably a couple dozen who don't.

So, feel free to drop me a message, and if it's something I know how to do, I'll try to post a response here. Otherwise, enjoy my ramblings, and let me know if you find something particularly useful :).

  • Dante's blog

    The next page!

    • 1 Comments
    Well, the link isn't QUITE active yet, but if you go to http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/dd565875.aspx you will see the Overview information for Blend 3, and there's a link to download the Blend 3 RC. Now, at *THIS* particular moment, it doesn't...
  • Dante's blog

    The longevity of a console

    • 1 Comments
    I am very passionate about Blend, there's no question there. But, I'm also a gamer... both board games and computer (PC/Console) games.I was having a conversation with a good friend yesterday, and the more I think about it, the more I just can't accept...
  • Dante's blog

    Working with Drawing Brushes

    • 0 Comments
    Ok folks, I've got a few minutes, and I've been seeing some discussion on our internal lists about Drawing Brushes, how to use them, what they're good for, etc... Sounds like a good time for a Blog post. First off, what is a DrawingBrush? It's one...
  • Dante's blog

    Cre8 and ZAAZ

    • 1 Comments
    This is particularly overdue, but now that I've been featured on the Expression community site, I really need to get back to posting again :). Last month ago, I got the opportunity to present at the Cre8 summit in Orlando. I gave two presentations...
  • Dante's blog

    A Silverlight TextBlock with Tracking? Surely you jest!

    • 2 Comments
    Well, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted… although I’m going to be paying a LOT more attention to this moving forward. I’m hoping though that my first post back will be worth it. We’ve been talking a lot to designers about what they want, and...
  • Dante's blog

    Featured!

    • 1 Comments
    Well, I just had it pointed out to me, that my blog is now listed on http://expression.microsoft.com . I'm actually pretty excited to see myself up there. It does, however, make me realize that I should spend a little time sprucing up the look of my blog...
  • Dante's blog

    Moving objects around interactively

    • 3 Comments
    I was playing around with Blend today, and decided that I wanted to write a function to allow my user to drag the shapes around on my artboard. Granted, this could use a bit of polish, since there are some tweaks that would make it a bit better, but the...
  • Dante's blog

    MIX '08

    • 1 Comments
    Well, it's official, I'm going to be presenting at the MIX convention! I'm really excited for this, although it's going to be busy for a little while. We need to do dry runs and such. The tentative title is "Unlocking the Creative Genome", but that...
  • Dante's blog

    Getting the 'Vista' minimize with Windowless applications

    • 1 Comments
    Here's the problem. Launch Blend, and create a window that has AllowsTransparency set to true (which sets the WindowStyle to None). Looks good, yes? Now, add a button, and in the Click handler, set the WindowState property to Minimized. Run the application...
  • Dante's blog

    Transparent Windows and how to Resize them

    • 1 Comments
    A teammate came to talk to me, because he's working with a semi-transparent window, with no Border, and he wants to be able to resize it. Allowing a user to move, minimize, maximize and close it are easy, but how to resize? Well, this is actually pretty...
  • Dante's blog

    XBox 360 Live Gamertags in Blend!

    • 1 Comments
    The honorable Major Nelson just posted that someone created a Vista Gadget that will display the GamerTag information for your friends on XBox Live. Well, for those who don't know, if I'm not mistaken, Vista Gadgets are generally written in Silverlight...
  • Dante's blog

    Changing the selection color in a ListBox

    • 1 Comments
    I just worked through figuring this out today, and since it was sufficiently irritating, I thought I'd post it here. Plus, I don't want all my 'loyal readers' to think I've disappeared :). Anyway, in the application I'm working on, I have a ListBox...
  • Dante's blog

    Repeating an animation

    • 1 Comments
    It may not be a huge revelation for other folks, but with some of the testing I've been doing, I really started getting frustrated with some stuff. Specifically, I've got a fairly complex animation, and I want it to repeat forever. However, setting...
  • Dante's blog

    Variable Value Converters

    • 2 Comments
    I've been asked how to create a Value Converter that you can configure the behavior of. In my Total Training series I showed you how to create a Value Converter that would return a color, Red if the value was below a hard coded value, Yellow if it's between...
  • Dante's blog

    One of the worst parts of my job...

    • 0 Comments
    Is when I can't talk about something! By now, most folks should be downloading the August preview of Expression Blend 2, which I'm super excited to see finally getting out. (If you didn't already know... Get it HERE ) But, one of the features that...
  • Dante's blog

    Calligraphy In Ink! (Part 2)

    • 1 Comments
    Ok, see this is what happens when I have some time to 'play' with Blend. My previous post showed how to modify the stylus tip to get something akin to a calligraphy pen. But, the pen that I got most recently got is called a scroll point. The tip itself...
  • Dante's blog

    Calligraphy in Ink!

    • 1 Comments
    Ok, this is something I think is kinda cool... one of my side hobbies is calligraphy. I've been doing it since I was in early high school, and there's something graceful in the old style of writing. Well, as far as I knew, an InkCanvas only allows either...
  • Dante's blog

    Command line arguments

    • 1 Comments
    Ok, this was really bugging me... I needed to figure out how to create a Window application, and parse in the command line arguments. I know how to do it with a Console application, but not a Window app. So, how do you do it? Well, it's a little tricky...
  • Dante's blog

    Game Engine

    • 1 Comments
    Ok, as Blend continues its march, my mind starts moving to things I might do with it. And, naturally, one of the thoughts I've been having, is to write a game in it. There are plenty of technical aspects I need to work out... but here's what I'm thinking...
  • Dante's blog

    I'm up on the web!

    • 1 Comments
    Ok, this isn't anything too new for most folks, but the "Trailer" for the Total Training series on Expression Blend is on the net. Check it out at http://youtube.com/watch?v=nqgjv0lODYU . Yeah, that's me. And yes, I'm quite proud of it. :)
  • Dante's blog

    Creating an alternate layout panel

    • 0 Comments
    Ok, this is neat. This is the first time I've worked with layout panels and actually creating one of my own. Here's the code: class OverlapStackPanel : StackPanel { protected override Size ArrangeOverride( Size arrangeSize) { UIElementCollection...
  • Dante's blog

    Using a Timer

    • 1 Comments
    Ok, most C# developers can probably do this in their sleep, but I needed to hook up a timer that would do something every N milliseconds. And every time, I have to decide if I need a System.Threads.Timer or a System.Timers.Timer and so on. So... This...
  • Dante's blog

    Databinding to CLR Objects

    • 3 Comments
    I'm sure everyone else runs into these issues all the time, but every time I have to do this, I end up pulling up MSDN and looking all of this up. It's not too efficient, so I'm going to drop a few points here for reference. First: Binding a basic...
  • Dante's blog

    Working with the Opacity Masks

    • 0 Comments
    Well, it's been a while since I've managed to post, but I've been working with Interactive Designer pretty heavily lately, and it's been a pretty exciting time. On top of that, I've starting doing internal training classes at Microsoft for Interactive...
  • Dante's blog

    Updating an Image control

    • 2 Comments
    I had a coworker as me how to update an Image control in code. Specifically, he wanted to create a quick file browser that had a Next and Previous button to scroll through a preset list of Images. Creating the list and iterating through directories...
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