Expression Blend and Design

The team blog of the Expression Blend and Design products.

August, 2008

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Cutting Shapes in Expression Blend


    Currently, Expression Blend does not have a scissor tool which allows you to cut shapes like you can in Expression Design. Instead, what you do have are geometric operations that allow you to not only achieve a similar result as “cutting a shape” but also do much more.

    Christian Schormann wrote a nice post outlining how to use many of these geometric operations to slice and dice your vector content, so check it out from the following link:


  • Expression Blend and Design

    How to Animate a Drawing Line


    In Blend you use the Pen tool to draw lines and they appear in the XAML as <Path> elements. But after you’ve drawn your lines and you test your application, the Paths appear immediately: they don’t replay the gestures you used to create them. But sometimes that’s the effect you want, so how do you do that?
    The manual way is only practical if you have very few points. First draw out a Path consisting of straight segments. Then create a new Storyboard, move the playhead forward a tenth of a second and, using the Direct Selection tool, move the last point to the same position as the second-to-last point. Move the playhead again and repeat, each time moving an increasing number of points back to the previous position. When all your points are at the same position as the very first point, move the playhead to time 0 and click the Record Keyframe button. Now reverse the Storyboard and you’re done.

    Any more than a very small number of points and you’ll need an automatic way of generating the Storyboard. You can do that with the code in the assembly dll built from the PathScribbler project I’ve provided below:

    folderfiles Download PathScribbler Project Files

    PathScribbler works with WPF paths but you could easily port the code to work with Silverlight. After building the dll and referencing it in your project, the way you use it is you first draw your Path (which may contain curved segments but they will be straightened by the PathScribbler code) and then you create a new, empty Storyboard. Finally just call PathScribbler.Generate() and pass the name of the Storyboard into which the animations are to be generated along with some other optional parameters. Then you can trigger your Storyboard any way you wish.

    The PathScribbler project is contained in an example project named PencilWriter attached to the post. For this project I made a TextBlock into a Path and I trigger my Storyboard when the main window is clicked. Build and run the project then click the window and wait a moment until the animation is generated and then begins. Hope you have fun with PathScribbler!


  • Expression Blend and Design

    Do You Want to Help Implement Interesting Ideas? The Blend Team needs you!


    A few months ago, we asked you for feedback on what are some of the things you would like to see improved in Expression Blend. You all had a lot of great suggestions...A LOT. If you are interested in helping us both implement some of the feedback but also help define cool features,  we are looking for Program Managers to join our team!

    The specific job details can be found on the following links for our two current PM spots: Position 1, Position 2.


    Updated post to reflect an additional PM opening we have.

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Deep Zoom Composer Updated (Again!)


    To address many of the issues you all had with the PhotoZoom functionality, we have released an updated preview version of Deep Zoom Composer. You can download the updated version from the following link:

    dzcicon Download Deep Zoom Composer

    Be sure to uninstall your current version of Deep Zoom Composer before attempting to install the latest version. The issues we fixed revolve around making the log-in screen more clear and ensuring uploads do not time out.

    More specifically, you need to create an account on PhotoZoom prior to being able to upload via Deep Zoom Composer. The PhotoZoom Export tab now makes that step explicitly clear:


    The second set of changes revolved around the log-in and upload difficulties many of you pointed out. We significantly increased the timeout for uploads so that most large uploads on slow connections will still succeed:


    Do you have the latest build?
    Because we released the updated version so quickly after we released the last one, do check to make sure you are running the latest version. You will know if you have the latest build by going to Help | About and seeing the build date, 3 August 2008:


    Overall, this update is designed to make using PhotoZoom via Deep Zoom Composer usable. We think this is a great feature that makes Deep Zoom Composer more approachable by non-technical users, so please let us know if you continue having any difficulties, and we will be glad to take a look at.

    Janete, Kirupa

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Download the New Deep Zoom Composer Preview!


    A few hours ago, we released another update to Deep Zoom Composer. Click on the link below to download it:

    dzcicon Download Deep Zoom Composer

    Some of the major new features outside of the usual bug, performance, and stability changes include Panoramic Stitching and PhotoZoom Upload.

    Our PhotoZoom Upload functionality inside Deep Zoom Composer is causing some uploads to not fully finish before timing out, and we hope to have a fix for this really soon.

    PhotoZoom Upload *
    To help make uploading and sharing your creations with others easy, Deep Zoom Composer nicely integrates with the Live Labs PhotoZoom service: When you choose to Export, the default selection will be PhotoZoom:


    You can use your Live ID to sign-in. Once you have signed in, you can specify an album name, choose a cover image, and just upload:


    Once you have uploaded your contents, you will see a dialog that allows you to browse your newly created album in your browser. For example, the following link shows you a sample project I uploaded directly to PhotoZoom:

    Panoramic Stitching
    Deep Zoom Composer now allows you to stitch similar images inside the application using some cool technology from Microsoft Research's Interactive Visual Group. Take a series of photos that share similar characteristics, right click on them, and select “Create panoramic photo”:


    After a short while (the time depends on the number of images, how large the images are, and how much calculation is needed), you will see a dialog allowing you to specify the part of the image that you would like to save. After you have specified region of image to save, your stitched image will appear on your design surface just like any other image you can interact with:


    We hope you like our latest release. This is still a beta/preview release, so if you run into any problems, please feel free to post on our forums.

    The DZC Team (Celso Gomes, Christian Schormann, Janete Perez, and Kirupa Chinnathambi)

    * Edit:
    If you are receiving a 401 error when attempting to upload to PhotoZoom, please try again in a short while. There may be some temporary glitches as we deal with some issues related to this.

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