Expression Blend and Design

The team blog of the Expression Blend and Design products.

May, 2009

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Three Posts on Blend 3’s Photoshop Import Functionality

    • 14 Comments

    Hi everyone,
    There are three really good posts on Janete Perez’s blog that covers the PhotoShop Import functionality found in the Blend 3 preview. Go check them out: Introduction to Importing Photoshop Files, Photoshop Import- Supported Features, and Photoshop Import - Merging Layers.

    Cheers!
    Kirupa =)

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Instead of Telling What We are Working On…Here is a Screenshot Instead!

    • 11 Comments

    It’s been a while since we released a preview of Expression Blend 3 at MIX. We’ve been working pretty hard on continuing our work on Blend 3, but we haven’t really shared what exactly we are working on.

    Instead of detailing what we are doing, I figure I will just post a screenshot of what my daily build of Expression Blend looks like. Click on the following image to view a larger version:

    screenshot_sm ( click above image to see a larger version )

    Can you spot all of the major or minor changes between the version of Blend you are currently running and the version of Blend I currently have displayed?

    Cheers!
    Kirupa :)

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Check out Rooler – A free Screen Measurement Utility!

    • 8 Comments

    Fellow Blender, Pete Blois, has written a small application called Rooler that allows you to make measurements of everything visible on your screen. You can download it by clicking here.

    Rooler helps solve a common problem you have when designing UIs. That common problem is figuring out how large something is or how much space exists between elements. To help with this, you have this nifty tool called Rooler which, to think about it differently, is like having a virtual ruler that you can use to measure things on your screen.

    Rooler is a small application that soars above all of your windows and provides you with some common screen measurement tools:

    dragToolbar

    For example, let’s say that I need to create a graphic whose width is the exact size as some text I have:

    BlueText

    The above text is actually an image. Right clicking on the image and seeing its properties will give me the width of the image, but it may not translate to the actual width of the content stored inside it. Finding the size of the actual content is where a tool like Rooler comes in handy.

    You can click on the Bounds icon to draw an overlay rectangle over the area you want to measure:

    blueText_2

    Once you have drawn the boundary, release the mouse cursor and Rooler will automatically create the smallest box that bounds all of your data:

    finalSize

    Best of all, you all get the width and height of this bounding box as well, and you were able to do this without using another image editing tool and performing various (albeit simple) steps needed to get a similar value as what you see above.

    I just showed you one example of what can be done, but you can do a bit more as well. Go check out Pete’s Rooler page for more examples and information on other things this tool does.

    Cheers!
    Kirupa :)

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Opening Blend 3 Projects without Actually Having Blend Installed

    • 6 Comments

    Since we released our preview at MIX, there have been a fair number of questions revolving around how a WPF or Silverlight project that uses Blend-specific features will work when opened on a machine that does not have Blend installed. For example, one Blend-specific feature that we have talked about extensively is Behaviors. The Behaviors runtime components are provided to you by Blend, and today, there is no way of being able to author or build a project that uses them without having Blend installed.

    To help address this concern, we have been working on creating the Expression Blend 3 SDK. The Blend 3 SDK is a free (and lightweight) installer that places common components such as Behaviors into a general location that other applications like Visual Studio can access. This gives you the ability to open and edit projects created or modified by Blend without having to have Blend installed on your computer.

    Before wrapping up this post, I should emphasize that you will only need the Blend 3 SDK to open projects that contain some runtime component that is Blend specific and you do not have Blend 3 installed. That means you can open a cool Behaviors project or even write your own behaviors using just Visual Studio and not having Blend installed on your machine.

    Cheers!
    Kirupa

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Thinking Outside the XAP – Blend 3 and Support for Web Sites!

    • 6 Comments

    One of the features that we added in Expression Blend 3 is the ability for you to create Silverlight projects that come associated with a Web site. In this brief post I will jump between describing why this is useful and how Blend provides access to it.

    Let’s start with the easy part. You can access it directly via the New Project dialog where we created a Silverlight 3 Application + Website project template:

     image

    Once you create your new project using this template, you have successfully used this new feature! For the most part, nothing really should seem or feel different for you, for this feature is more about what we do behind the scenes. There are a few exceptions. One immediate difference that you may notice is that your solution now contains a node for your Web site along with your Silverlight application:

    image

    There are several reasons why we decided to create this Web site project by default. The main reason is that you get all of the benefits of building a traditional Silverlight application where all of the content you incorporate gets embedded into your XAP and downloaded by default when your page loads. What is new, though, is that you also get the added benefit of being able to load content on demand using your own loading and preloading mechanism. That functionality is provided for you via Blend’s support for Web sites.

    If I had to visualize this, it would look as follows:

    xapDataMapping

    You build your XAPs like always (Silverlight Project), but you have the added bonus of being able to think outside the XAP (Web Site Project). When you hit F5 to build and preview your application, the XAP gets built, copied into the right location on your website, and the HTML page that already exists loads and gives you a preview. We do not re-generate the HTML file each time you build, so this means you can customize your HTML page without worrying about your changes getting overwritten the next time you build.

    Beyond just changes to how your projects behave and build, we added some extra functionality to make it possible for you to easily reference and visualize on the artboard the content from either your Silverlight Application or your Web Site without having to write XAML manually.

    If you have images that live in both your Silverlight application and Web Site, our path picker for an Image control’s Source property displays the images from both locations:

    sitedifferentiator

    This is significantly different from what we’ve had in Expression Blend 2 SP1. While you could always open a solution authored in Visual Studio that contained both a Silverlight Application and a Web Site (my article describes that to a certain detail), hitting F5 in Blend would be unpredictable. You also didn’t have the extra support for treating all assets as being equal despite where they are being loaded from.

    Let us know what you think of this feature. This features was designed to seamlessly blend into your workflow and “just work”, but if you had any ideas or suggestions on what more can be done or things you think we should change, feel free to comment below to let us know.

    Cheers!
    Kirupa :)

  • Expression Blend and Design

    Link Round-Up: Behaviors-Related Posts

    • 2 Comments

    In the past couple of weeks, there have been a great number of great blog posts on Behaviors, and since Behaviors are one of those things where writing them is not as straightforward as using them, I figure I will take this opportunity to point you all to blog posts I’ve found.

    If you’ve written about Behaviors and would like to be listed here, please comment below and I will look into adding you up as well.

    Cheers!
    Kirupa :)

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