fredag 6 augusti 2010


The Surface team is taking Swag to a whole new level!

Thanks Anders for the lovely swim cap!

måndag 12 april 2010

Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch Beta!

Today is a big day for a Microsoft developer like myself. Not only is Visual Studio 2010 released but we also see a long awaited sign of life from the Surface Team! Today, for Surface Parters only, Microsoft releases The Microsoft Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch Beta. This was first announced at PDC and is said to be Microsoft Surface controls, templates, and samples to easily create applications that are optimized for multi-touch interaction and that run on Windows Touch PCs.

The Microsoft Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch Beta is a set of controls, APIs, templates, sample applications and documentation currently available for Surface developers. With the .NET Framework 4.0, Windows Presentation Framework 4.0, and this toolkit, Windows Touch developers can quickly and consistently create advanced multi-touch experiences for Windows Touch PCs. One really interesting part is that this toolkit is supposed to provid a jump-start for Surface application developers to prepare for the next version of Microsoft Surface.

What the next version of Surface is, or when it is, is still hidden for the masses but boy, do I look forward to it!

Will be back with more after I have downloaded and played with the toolkit!

tisdag 2 mars 2010

Mobile Surface comming?

At the olny Surface session at PDC09, Robert Levy said that they are looking at ways to make Surface smaller, cheaper and vertical. This is of course very interesting and especially to see how they have solved one of the key features of Surface - interaction with physical objects.

This is now starting to bare fruit and rumors are starting to surface that something will appear at TechFest 2010. TechFest is an internal annual event that brings researchers from Microsofts Research's locations around the world to Redmond to share their latest work.;post-5435

torsdag 11 februari 2010

A case of OCGM

Recently there have been some talking about OCGM and it’s impact on NUI. OCGN is a design philosophy proposed by Ron George and is suppose to be to NUI in the same way WIMP is to GUI. OCGM is pronounced Occam as in Occam’s Razor and it’s an abbreviation for:

  • Objects – “Objects are the core of the experience. They can have a direct correlation with something physical, or they can just be objects in the interface.”
  • Containers – “Containers will be the “grouping” of the objects. This can manifest itself in whatever the system sees fit to better organize or instruct the user on interactions. They do not have to be, nor should they be, windows. They can be any sort of method of presentation or relationship gathering as seen fit.
  • Gestures – “Gestures are actions performed by the user that initiate a function after its completion and recognition by the system. This is an indirect action on the system because it needs to be completed before the system will react to it.
  • Manipulations – “Manipulations are the direct influences on an object or a container by the user. These are immediate and responsive. They are generally intuitive and mimic the physical world in some manner. The results are expected and should be non-destructive. These are easily performed and accidental activations should be expected and frequent.

I’ve cited Ron from his first post about OCGM. I recommend you read the post and I also recommend reading this paper about OCGM by Ron George and Joshua Blake.

To understand OCGM further, I would like to make a little retrospective on one my previous Microsoft Surface applications and see how the application fits into OCGM (or should it be the other way around?).

My first Surface project was SonicSpree. To summaries the application: SonicSpree is a game of guessing songs, where the players goal is to combine the song currently playing with it’s corresponding album art. The actual game element is to find the correct album art by  and then drag it into the players nest / home. A simple idea. Finding the album art though is like playing Memory. From the start, all album arts cards are facing down but can be flipped by dragging an album art card into the center. When faced up, the player can make a guess by dragging the album art card into his or hers home to receive a point.

If we start with identifying what kind of objects used in SonicSpree the most obvious one is of course the actual album art card the users actually interact with to play the game. The other kind of objects used in SonicSpree are actually the physical dices. A new game round can be started by throwing the dices onto the Surface.

As for the containers, SonicSpree uses two of them: the players nest and “the edge”, as we have called it during development. The nest holds the correct album arts the player have collection and the mysterious edge is actually the container for holding all album art cards that are not currently interacted by the players. As you can see the containers doesn’t resemble each other but they both help organizing the the same kind of objects. 

Continuing with manipulations used in SonicSpree and it’s now it gets a bit interesting. First, moving the album art cards. This is probably the most basic manipulation with table based multi touch NUI, especially on Microsoft Surface as ScatterView is very easy and basic control to use. The next part I’m not sure about. Whether the events are counted as many manipulation or if the entire sequence of events is counted as a gesture. What I am refering to is the throwing and removal of the physical dices. First, you as a player throws the dices to randomly select music and secondly removing the dices to start the game. There are actual two most natural manipulations you can make with a couple of dices. But on the other hand, the whole sequence of events (throwing and removing of the dices) can be seen as a gesture as it on completion starts a new game round. Or can it even actually be both?

Talking about gestures, I think I can define two more gestures in the game. First, moving an album art card from the edge to the middle of the screen (illustrated as the circle in the picture above) to flip the card to actually see the album art. Secondly, moving a flipped card into a players nest to make a guess.

I will end my retrospective here and I think SonicSpree did adept the OCGM philosophy quite well, perhaps it was thanks to the UX and design people of Ergonomidesign? But I think OCGM can give us NUI developers the language and abstraction to create NUI applications, not only multi touch ones. Maybe in time we will see more specific design philosophy like WIMP for multi touch NUI, but I like OCGM.

onsdag 20 januari 2010

ISurfaceScrollInfo and You, Epilogue

The holidays are long gone and now it’s time for me to end this blog series. In the previous post was the last post about actually implementing the ISurfaceScrollInfo interface, but I wanted to end this with talking about the solution for SurfacePagePanel.

The behavior of the SurfacePagePanel is to only show one page (list item) at a time, or as far as it can display only one page. To do that I need the SurfacePagePanel to take control of the panning between pages. If you remember from my last post, I mentioned that I implemented a “peak” functionality. Peaking allows the user to look at the adjacent pages but more with a rubber band kind of feeling. I think you need the rubber band feeling on a Microsoft Surface because:

  1. The area of use is larger.
  2. The panel is probably not constraint by a physical border, like the edge of a mobile device.

How is the peaking functionality implemented in SurfacePagePanel? Although I mentioned the solution in the Part Three, I had to rewrite the code.Why? Because I didn’t understand it! ;). Nothing made sense to me when I read the code so I ended up rewriting it. However, the idea is the same as before, to keep the x-value of the output vector within a certain range. In my code I use a logarithmic function to cap x-values. But that is not all. To make the explanation easier I start with showing of a graph of two curves:

figure 1: logarithmic and linear curve

Well, the curves represents how the corresponding mathematical function maps the input value to an output value, in our case mapping the x-value from input to the output vector. If I only were to use the logarithmic function the result would be that the panning would go faster than the contact movement at the beginning of the panning, because of inclination of the curve. Therefore I mixed in a linear curve. The idea is to let the linear curve control the mapping of the x-value until a crossing point (where the two curves intersect). After that I use the logarithmic function. To control the crossing point, or the intersection, I alter the altitude of the logarithmic curve by multiplying the function with a specified factor. In the graph above I’ve used a factor of 30. This means that when the x-value reaches 60, the the logarithmic function seize control of the mapping. This is how it looks In code:

236 public Vector ConvertToViewportUnits(Point origin, Vector offset)

237 {

238 if (_isMoving || !_panningOrigin.HasValue)

239 {

240 return new Vector(0.0, 0.0);

241 }


243 const int logBase = 2;

244 const double scaleFactor = 0.2;


246 var elasticityLength = GetScrollOwnerElasticityLength() * scaleFactor;

247 var absHorizontalOffset = Math.Abs(offset.X);

248 var direction = offset.X / absHorizontalOffset;

249 absHorizontalOffset *= scaleFactor;

250 var thresholdFactor = elasticityLength/Math.Log(elasticityLength, logBase);

251 var cappedOffset = Math.Min(absHorizontalOffset, Math.Log(absHorizontalOffset, logBase) * thresholdFactor);


253 return new Vector(cappedOffset * direction, offset.Y);

254 }

At line 250 I determine the crossing point factor of the logarithmic function using the Elasticity property of the ScrollOwner. That’s how the peak function is implemented.

To change page the user can either peak far enough or use a flick gesture. Doing that I listen to the ContactUp event in the SurfacePagePanel. Look at the code executed on the event:

610 private void OnScrollOwnerContactUp(object sender, ContactEventArgs e)

611 {

612 //The first contact has been captured.

613 if (_isMoving || !e.Contact.IsFingerRecognized ||

614 e.Contact.IsTagRecognized || _scrollOwner.ContactsCaptured.Count > 1 || !_panningOrigin.HasValue)

615 {

616 return;

617 }


619 var point = e.GetPosition(ScrollOwner);

620 var destinationIndex = DetermineNextFocusedChildIndex(point);

621 _panningOrigin = null;

622 e.Handled = true;

623 MoveViewportToChild(destinationIndex);

624 }

Essentially; first I get the the page that I will move to, which can either be the next, previous or the current one. Second I programmatically pan to that page. That is done using a KeyFrame animation. For the moment I inserted a “bounce” effect just like on the iPhone and the Android and the code for doing all this looks like this:

737 private AnimationTimeline BuildMovementAnimation(double offset, double direction, Duration animationDuration)

738 {

739 var turningPointTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(animationDuration.TimeSpan.TotalMilliseconds * 0.7);

740 var turningPointOffset = offset + (direction * GetBounceElasticityLength());

741 var destinationOffset = offset;


743 var animation = new DoubleAnimationUsingKeyFrames { Duration = animationDuration };

744 var startFrame = new SplineDoubleKeyFrame(HorizontalOffset, KeyTime.FromTimeSpan(TimeSpan.FromSeconds(0.0)));

745 var turningPointFrame = new SplineDoubleKeyFrame(turningPointOffset, KeyTime.FromTimeSpan(turningPointTime), new KeySpline(0.8, 0.8, 0.0, 1.0));

746 var endFrame = new SplineDoubleKeyFrame(destinationOffset, KeyTime.FromTimeSpan(animationDuration.TimeSpan), new KeySpline(0.5, 1.0, 0.5, 1.0));


748 animation.KeyFrames.Add(startFrame);

749 animation.KeyFrames.Add(turningPointFrame);

750 animation.KeyFrames.Add(endFrame);


752 return animation;

753 }

I’m sorry for the code formatting, but once again I blame the blog theme ;). As you see, the bounce always occur after 70% of the animation duration.

Well, that concludes this blog series about how I implemented ISurfaceScrollInfo for the SurfacePagePanel. I hoped you liked it and happy “surfacing”.

söndag 17 januari 2010

Surface at PDC09

(Should have posted this two months ago… Found it as a draft in Live Writer today…)

At the last day of PDC 2009 I attended the only session about Microsoft Surface. It was presented by Robert Levy who is Program Manager for the Surface team and his equivalent from the WPF team. The session was interesting and it’s always to see the fun stuff that the Surface team has cocked up. This time it was the Surface Monster that stole the show. Videos and more info is available on

The WPF-demos showed of the multi touch capabilities of WPF 4 where you can scale, rotate and transform objects on touch enabled hardware. The example is similar as in my previous blog post (multi touch). Please note that that example is for beta 1 for Visual Studio and that some things have changed to beta 2. I plan to post an upgrade soon.

The session was probably perfect for those who were new to touch or new to Surface and also draw some applauds from the crowd. For a developer already up and running with Surface it was fun but not much new. I would have liked to see another session on the program with Surface SDK Deep Dive or Performance Tips When Developing for Microsoft Surface or Surface from the Trenches – Experiences from a Real World Surface project. What I look for is more level of depth with two sessions, one introduction and one a bit deeper.

One new announcement was the Surface Touch Pack for Windows 7 that will enable you to use the same controls in WPF for Windows 7 as you do in Surface which is really cool! Robert also “announced” that they are working on units that will be cheaper, thinner and wall mountable. That wasn’t too hard to guess and no real details were available. I was hoping to hear something about Surface SDK 2.0 that hopefully will be on the way with some new controls, new gestures and maybe detection of a hand in the contact events.

Earlier on the conference I did get a chance to show the two applications that I have been part of the development team for, Sonicspree and HelpingHands. The feedback from Robert and another guy whose name I can’t remember were all positive. Not sure that they liked what we had done with the element menu but I think they bought the reasons we had for doing what we did. We have changed the behavior of the element menu in HelpingHands so that it will act more like a toggle menu and stick even when the user removes her finger.

All in all it has been a good PDC from a Surface point of view. Cool stuff on the session, one on one time with the team and confidence in that the applications we develop at Connecta are top notch!