2 perspectives on animations

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On one hand, a friend of mine tells me, “Man, don’t even worry about the XAML – just design, use Blend, go crazy. Be artistic.” and on the other hand, I have a different friend who groans at the messy XAML which Blend puts out when using transition Visual state manager Double Spline Animations – he says it reminds him of the splatter which the archaic “MS Front Page” would spew out in HTML format, that there are cleaner ways of doing the same things with far fewer lines of XAML.

I’m SO there with the 2nd guy in relation to MS FrontPage and html. Me being the gal who would create something in photoshop, chop it up, and piece it back together – most of the time without looking up from the HTML, CSS – and all the Divs in between until most of everything was put together to verify that everything was behaving the way that I thought it should with my markup.

That being said – I kind of like the idea of, “Just be creative…” Man… I’d love that. To just… make it happen, and move on. I could get SO many other creations done – OR – spend so much more time on the details of the art! That’s not to say that I don’t already, but what if I had even more time? What greater level of polish could be gained with that additional time?

For all who visit who are in either/or/both worlds – do you have any opinion on this matter? What’s better? Cleaner XAML/Learning the alternative markup which blend 2 doesn’t have in its interface – or – using the VSM and the keyframe animation tools?

Is there a better side?

Anyone have an opinion? Should there be / is there a middle-ground?

Cleaning up after Blend

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I’m working on a Silverlight project and I was creating a few basic states for hovering my mouse over a button, clicking, and removing my mouse from a button.

Well it wouldn’t load!

The error that I was seeing was, “Unexpected PROPERTYELEMENT in parse rule PropertyElement ::= . PROPERTYELEMENT Content? ENDTAG..”

Uhm… What?

A google search shows a few things on Unexpected Directives but nothing that was helping me.

It said it was on line 0 character 0… that makes no sense.

However, there were 2 other errors coming up regarding fill elements.  So I decided to take care of those.  For some reason, Blend 2 added several Elipse.Fill elements with no properties and child Ellipse.Fill elements which also contained no properties.  I cleared that up in Visual Studio, went back to Blend and Blend wanted to update like it should.  Cool – well I switched back to visual studio and blend put those dang things in again!  Ugh.

So I closed Blend, praying that all the work that I’d just done wasn’t going to be one of those instances where it’d take less time to recreate than to debug.  I opened the project in Blend and was relieved to see now that Blend didn’t like the XAML either.  Cleaned out the excess ellipse.fill elements, saved, came back to blend, told it to update and… yay!  There aren’t any errors.

That lack of errors includes the strange error mentioned earlier.

Randomness! Canvas properties

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As mentioned before, I’ve finally begun to go through Jeff Paries’ book on Silverlight 2, Animations, and I’m going through chapter 1.  In a nutshell, chapter 1 is a crash course on Blend 2, Codebehind, Silverlight and XAML.  The author at one point is describing the properties of a canvas and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the 1 property which to me stands out like a sore thumb.

As described in his chapter, Canvases can have properties  such as background, height, IsHitTestVisible, Left, Name, Opacity, Tag, Top, Visibility, and Width.

Most of them seem pretty standard, right?  But what about IsHitTestVisible? 

Seems a bit like an oddball.  Like having a basketball player standing among a group of japanese martial artists.

I'm not the engineer

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Its been about 2 weeks since I completed Victor Gaudioso’s book on Blend 2 and just after I wrote the review on his book, I blogged that next on the order of business was to start going through the newly released book by Jeff Paries, Silverlight 2 Animation – and then I ran into computer troubles.

If you’re actually interested in reading me blogging while pulling my hair out, by all means, look through the archives.  I think I blogged about it enough.

This blog posting is to say that finally, I’m able to begin going through this book by Jeff Paries (YAY!).

Before even getting to numbered pages, I’m reading the “Who this book is for” and am wondering.  He mentions that this book is intended for web developers – developers being the key word here.  As much as I enjoy getting my hands dirty in code, I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a developer.  I can comprehend code, I can tinker around with things or make things work, but to me, a developer is a whole lot… I don’t know.  I just don’t consider myself to be a developer.  I’m the half-and-half.  I do some cool, clean and shiny looking design work and tie it together with things that have already been created, and tinker until it works the way I want it to.  So where there are 3 parts, the pretty picture, the engine behind it, and the pieces that make the pretty picture interact with the engine … I am the one that usually is creating the pretty picture and putting in place the stuff that makes that pretty picture talk w/ the engine.  I’m not the engineer.

So hopefuly, I won’t get completely lost while going through this book.

We shall see.

Hitting every bump in the road

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Last week’s SeattleD2ig meeting I became the proud new owner of a shiny new box filled with Expression goodness – the MS Expression Studio is MINE!

Uninstall my previews, verify that I did in fact install .net 3.5 SP1 as remembered, and then install the new shiny MS Expression Blend w/ key and all.

OOoohh… but its Blend 2.0.  Can’t do Silverlight.  Shoot.

So I download the Service Pack for Blend 2, and commense installation to see this lovely gem after accepting the TOS:

Windows Installer returned error code 1605
Windows Installer returned error code 1605

I’ll post if/when I discover how to get past this issue. I’m beginning to feel that if there are any bumps to be experienced on a roadway where it comes to working with Blend or anything related, I’m bound to find them.



Update: I discovered the cause of my issue.  The version which is in the MS Expression Studio was Expression Blend v. 1   Not Blend 2.

Uninstalling the version from the box, installed one from the MSDN website and applied the key from the box then tried to run the SP1 installation update: Lovely lovely installation success.

Quick tip – snap to snaplines

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Here is a quick tip.

There is a feature which in some occasions is very very useful. Say for instance, every item needs to be exactly spaced apart by an exact measurement no matter what? Good for consistency.

But sometimes you need to work with things in a manner which feels like photoshop’s layers where you have multiple layers – sometimes in the double or tripple digits, which make up a single “entity” (ever created an icon for a pencil?)

Well the snap to snaplines can make someone like me want to throw something at my screen, hoping that it’ll get to the program!

The solution? Turn off snap to snaplines – or set its snaplines meter down.

You can find this under Tools –> Options. Going to the options brings up the options window. Locate on the left the submenu Artboard.

Modify to suite your needs.