tisdag 12 maj 2009

Surface SDK SP1

Wow! The new visual stuff in SP1 looks really really good!

  • An update to the application Water has finally removed the little light in the middle of the pond. Many users tried to touch the light and was expecting for something to happen. Now Water makes a sound when touching and upon first touch the menu assessors in the corners appears. I think this is a really good thing since many users had problems knowing what to do with Water.

  • One of the things from the design guidelines that many applications don’t follow is that you should always get feedback from touching the surface. Even if nothing is expected to happen you should get feedback so that you don’t think something is wrong. I have solved it in some applications by using pixel shaders but it is a lot of work behind it. Now it is added to the core functionality of the table. So now, every time you place your finger on the surface you will get feedback. The feedback consists of a little blur effect and a small trail behind your finger as you move it.

  • Another thing that confuses a lot of users is resizing. Some controls can’t be resized and some can only be resized to a particular size. Now, in SP1, when you try to resize a control to a size larger than maximum size you will get small rubber bands between your fingers and the control. So you can clearly see that there is a limitation to the size of the control.

  • A new menu control that I haven’t played with yet called the Element Menu is now available. This adds a menu on top of an element that works kind of like a context menu for an element. It looks really useful so I’m looking forward to play with that.

Apart from the visual stuff, which there’s more than the once mentioned here, we also get support for Windows Update and some nice tools to support management and testing. The testing tool “Surface Stress” looks cool. It is a command line tool that lets you run a lot of users at the same time just bashing the table. Fingers, blobs and tagged objects flying around trying to mess up your application. Hopefully this will help you find bugs in a lab environment before going into production.

Now we also get an Identity Tag Printing Tool. This can, not surprisingly, be used to print identity tags for Surface.

The Microsoft Surface SDK 1.0 SP1, Workstation Edition is now almost double in size compared to the 1.0 version. It has gone from 73 MB to 143 MB. Unfortunately you can’t run both 1.0 and 1.0 SP1 side by side. The setup wizard will detect if you have version 1.0 installed and will upgrade.

I also see support for Windows 7 since it isn’t necessary for my little tweak to bypass the OS-version check.

I will be getting back on this topic as I find more interesting stuff!

fredag 8 maj 2009

The coolest project in Sweden!

Finally it’s settled, we are going to the conference From Business to Buttons in Malmö, Sweden with our Surface-table. It will be placed in the exhibition area together with Ergonomidesign. Now we are about to start to develop an application together with a clear goal in mind – It will run on the table in Malmö in exactly one month later!

The project kicks off on Monday and the project group consists of a nice mix of designers and developers. Connecta will line up some really cool and extremely talented Surface developers and architects and from Ergonomidesign there will be a couple of wizards in User Experience Design and User Interface Design. This will be a great opportunity to try a real Designer/Developer Workflow!

Of course we will be using Visual Studio on the developer side and all the resources from the designers will be done in xaml using all sorts of tools and of course Expression Blend.

In Blend 3 Microsoft has finally added the ability to work integrated with source control so we will be using Team Foundation Server for Application Lifecycle Management. The only caveat is that you have to add the project to source control using Visual Studio and you have to bring the solution to the client using Visual Studio of team foundation command line tools. But once that is done Blend will light up the user interface and give the ability to work with source control from context menus in the Project pane.

The designers will be using SketchFlow in Belnd 3 to create the user experience design and I’m really looking forward to see the results from that. Even if it won’t work 100% with the Surface Simulator we could always build the first user experience prototype as a normal WPF client.

Earlier this week we had a telephone conference with Mr Surface, Dr Niel Roodyn, from Sydney Australia. We were supposed to use Skype but I hadn’t tried using it with Windows 7 so I couldn’t get the microphone to work – my bad. Dr Neil will be our moral support during the project and will hopefully come with some interesting insights during the progress of the project. First of all we will shot some ideas on him to get help in finding the right path to success. Now I’m using Windows 7 RC and hopefully Skype will work better next time. Otherwise we will have to start paying for the loooong distance calls to Australia.

So, now if someone is really jealous that Connecta and Ergonomidesign have the coolest project in Sweden right now, I can only say that I totally understand you!