Mike Swanson

November, 2005

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Macro Wallpaper Collection

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    It took me too long to do this, but I've finally created a single-page collection of my macro wallpaper images (with downloadable zip files). I've gone back to my source files and reformatted many of them for both widescreen (1920 x 1200) and standard (1600 x 1200) monitors. As I create new images, they'll be added to this collection page. For convenience, I've also added a link to the left side of this site titled Wallpaper Images.
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    Now Shipping: PDC05 Post-Show DVD Set

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    If you attended PDC05 in Los Angeles earlier this year, you'll be happy to know that the 4-disc post-show DVD set is shipping out today. As I've mentioned in prior posts, this package will automatically be sent to attendees at no additional cost. If you weren't able to attend, you can still order your own set online. The DVDs contain 209 breakout sessions, panels, and symposia in addition to Channel 9 video content that was produced for the event. So, watch your mailbox closely for a black mailer (pictured) over the next week or so.

    To view the sessions online or download them for offline viewing, you can do that here. We've committed to hosting the content for free, for anyone, for six full months.

    If you have suggestions about how we can improve the online and/or DVD experience next time, or if you think we did something right this time, please leave a comment. We produce these kits for you, and your feedback is very important.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Maya to XAML Export Plug-In

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    Thomas Goddard has written and released a freely-available plug-in for Maya that exports model and texture data to XAML. There are some clean-up steps that need to be accomplished before performing the export, and Thomas does a fantastic job of explaining them in his short tutorial. Although I don't have a copy of Maya to try this out, the screenshots look very compelling. It's great to see exporters like this, as they ease the technical hurdles that traditionally exist between professional designers and software developers.

    Thomas hits the nail on the head when he says: "It will not be long before all applications incorporate XAML in one aspect or another." He's correct. It's important to understand the investment and commitment we've made in the underlying Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly known as "Avalon") technology. There is a vast amount of untapped power in the GPUs in most modern machines (interesting but unrelated example at UNC). For example, I run an overclocked NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra on my dual-Opteron workstation at home, and as I type this blog entry on Sunday afternoon, I'm using almost none of its power. It's only when I fire-up a game like Quake 4 or Half-Life 2 that I begin to tax my GPU. Can you imagine the user experience that my existing hardware could provide if it were easy to take advantage of?

    As the famous phrase goes: "with great power comes great responsibility." In other words, this is technology that can be used for good (i.e. rich, interactive user experiences) or bad (i.e. lots of spinning logos and gratuitous UI). I've had the fortune to work with many early adopters of this technology, and I'm amazed by what I've seen already (witness the North Face demo that we showed at PDC05). I'm convinced that—similar to the switch from command-line to GUI—applications are on the verge of taking a leap from graphical user interface to graphical user experience. We're just now starting to see the tools that make this possible in our upcoming Expression product line, and exporters like this one from Thomas Goddard only add to the mix. Great job, Thomas!

    If you've written a tool that helps with XAML application development, or you're aware of one that I haven't mentioned in the past, please be sure to drop me a note.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta

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    This is pretty cool. I haven't done serious web development for almost three years now (!), but if I were still doing it, I'd want this. Download the freely available Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar, and add the following capabilities to your browser (from the site):

    • Explore and modify the document object model (DOM) of a Web page.
    • Locate and select specific elements on a Web page through a variety of techniques.
    • Selectively disable Internet Explorer settings.
    • View HTML object class names, ID's, and details such as link paths, tab index values, and access keys.
    • Outline tables, table cells, images, or selected tags.
    • Validate HTML, CSS, WAI, and RSS Web feed links.
    • Display image dimensions, file sizes, path information, and alternate (ALT) text.
    • Immediately resize the browser window to a new resolution.
    • Selectively clear the browser cache and saved cookies. Choose from all objects or those associated with a given domain.
    • Choose direct links to W3C specification references, the Internet Explorer team weblog (blog), and other resources.
    • Display a fully featured design ruler to help accurately align objects on your pages.

    While I'm on the subject, I always found ProxyTrace and Fiddler to be very useful tools. They both allow you to log and inspect HTTP traffic, something that too many developers tend to ignore.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    WinFX November CTP Released

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    The WinFX November CTP was released this morning. Most notably, this is the first version of WinFX that runs against the final .NET Framework 2.0 bits. This means that you can now build WinFX applications using the RTM version of Visual Studio 2005, including the freely available Express Editions. To get going:

    1. Uninstall any previous releases of WinFX (you can use the WinFX Runtime Components Uninstall Tool to help).
    2. Install the WinFX Runtime Components November CTP. If you don't intend to develop your own WinFX applications, you can stop here (for example, perhaps you only want to run demos, samples, etc.). Otherwise...
    3. Install the Windows SDK for WinFX November CTP. The SDK contains documentation, samples, and tools to support WinFX development. Note that the WinFX SDK has now been rolled into the larger Windows SDK. As a result, there will no longer be separate releases of the WinFX SDK.
    4. Install the Visual Studio Extensions for the WinFX November CTP. This adds IntelliSense and project types to Visual Studio 2005 to support WinFX development.

    It's also useful to review the "Readme" file for this release.

    Karsten's post includes a link to a draft version of an MSDN article that he wrote that explains the new features and changes in the November CTP. He also points to some downloadable code samples that include a handy tool for helping fix the mini-language changes. While you're at it, check out Kevin Moore's demo, and Tom Archer's post addresses some good Vista questions.

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