In response to my XAML By Hand? post awhile back, I became curious about what it would take to export Avalon-friendly XAML from a tool like Adobe® Illustrator®. So, I downloaded the publicly available Illustrator SDK, and I’ve been spending some spare time in the evenings working on a plug-in.
Well, the plug-in is far enough along at this point to be relatively useful, so I’m releasing it to the public as a free download. The current version works with Adobe Illustrator CS and CS2 running on Windows. Note that this plug-in is not endorsed, warranted, or supported by Microsoft. It was created by me after hours, so use it at your own risk.
For most of the common scenarios, I think you’ll find that the plug-in works very well. However, there are limitations, and you can see some of them illustrated on the Eye Candy page.
Version 0.11 of the plug-in exports XAML that is compatible with Avalon Beta 1 RC, so you should be able to start producing some pretty cool stuff right away. If you do create something that others should see, please let me know, and upload it to the Channel 9 Sandbox.
Speaking of Channel 9, Robert Scoble talked to me about the development of the plug-in, and if you have 25 minutes to spare, you can watch the complete video interview. We talk about raster/vector artwork, how Avalon enables smooth workflow between a graphic designer and an application developer, and I show some demos of the exporter in action.
I’d certainly be very interested in any feedback, comments, or questions you may have.
There's been some internal discussion about transparent and/or non-rectangular windows recently, and Nick Kramer recently addressed the issue in a blog post. Although I haven't had time to build a new solution that works with Avalon, I do have some older code that I've used to create layered windows in the past. Feel free to download the C# AlphaWindow solution for Visual Studio 2005 (the code originated in Visual Studio 2003). I don't know if this is the absolute best way to accomplish this, but it's worked for me in practice.
Basically, you have to provide a 32-bit image that includes an alpha channel (PNG). In the case of this example, the image is included as an embedded resource in the Visual Studio project. A quick look at the code should get you going. Notice that you can drag the window by clicking on any portion of the image that isn't completely transparent, including the drop shadow.
These windows work great for application splash screens where you display the window, do some start-up work, and hide it when you're done. You can also easily imagine Konfabulator-like functionality. I'd love to see someone adapt this to an Avalon sample. If you do this, share it with the rest of us in the Channel 9 Sandbox. Good luck!
I've received a few e-mails asking me about the wallpaper that shows up on the laptop in my recent Adobe Illustrator to XAML interview. So, I figured I'd release another set of my macro photographs for your enjoyment. Here are five new images that are cropped at a 16:10 aspect ratio (1920 x 1200) to match my monitor, and as before, the 1280 x 1024 versions are also available.
All of these have been taken since my relocation to the Seattle area. The first photo (featured in the aforementioned video) was taken in our front yard. I've been asked if I added the purple tint behind the leaves; other than adjusting levels, contrast, and saturation, I don't alter these photos in any way. The purple color is from a Japanese Maple tree in the background. The second photo was taken at the Pike Place Market. The third photo was captured during a visit to Olympic National Park. The fourth and fifth photos were taken at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
You can get the first five sets here: Macro Wallpaper, Macro Wallpaper 2, Macro Wallpaper 3: Fallpaper, Macro Wallpaper 4, Macro Wallpaper 5.
I'm currently sitting in the Seattle airport waiting for a flight to Newark, and for some unexplained reason, it's been delayed twice. Based on their last update, I won't arrive in Newark until around 1:30am. Anyway, while I have some time, I thought I'd point out a couple of very big releases that became available today.
The first is Windows Vista (formerly code-named Windows "Longhorn"). The 2.42GB ISO image can now be downloaded from MSDN Subscriber downloads (available to all Universal, Enterprise, Professional, and Operating System Subscribers). Don't forget to request your product key while you're there. There's a 34 minute Channel 9 interview with Chris Jones about Windows Vista Beta 1 that includes a short demo.
We've also released our WinFX Runtime Components Beta 1 (2232KB) and the associated WinFX SDK (714KB) that work with Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2. If you're interested in developing next-generation applications that use the Windows Communication Foundation (formerly code-named "Indigo") and the Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly code-named "Avalon"), you'll want to download the SDK and check out the included samples.
There's a new Windows Vista Developer Center that includes some good information about the new AERO user experience. Here are some more resources: