XAML Fest – A Review

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I don’t like giving bad reviews, but when I sent my email in RSVPing a chair at an event called, “XAMLFest” I was expecting to have so much XAML that I’d feel as if I was being assaulted with confetti thrown everywhere – XAML confetti.  Unfortunately, that’s not what we(myself and the other attendees) got.  Instead, we experienced a whole lot of WPF and Silverlight, and I’d gauge about 1/3 of the entire thing was XAML, and most of that third was in the second day.  So for those who did not return after the disheartening first day, they missed out on the bulk of the XAML related content.

If you’re interested in more details, please read on:

Yesterday evening was the ending of the 2 day event, XAML Fest.

This 2 day event boasted through its name a full 2 days of XAML in concentrated form.  After personally attending this event, I’d like to propose a change to the name to “WPF Fest” or something to that effect.

The first day primarily focussed on the model of M-V-VM.  There are links all over the web regarding this, so if you’re curious about this, a google search will guide you in the right direction.  The first day we were knee-deep in c# between the constructors, creating multiple new classes which referenced each other, and having these tie into 5 lines of XAML.  By the end of this day, I was thoroughly frustrated.  Not that I don’t enjoy more information, alternative ideals, and learning more C#, but I’m at this point wondering why this thing is being called “XAMLFest”.  I will mention that towards the end of day 1, there was a bit more touched upon by way of walking us through the interface of Expression Blend and the construct of XAML files.

The second day was Silverlight centered and in as much, quite a lot paralleled the first day, however, there was a considerable level of XAML done in comparison to the first day, including the integration of our silverlight application with a 3rd party control called Blacklight, which is a very nice set of controls made available for download on Codeplex that really were pretty awesome.

After lunch, we dove a lot deeper into the workings of expression blend, customizing buttons and other controls which come with expression blend.  We challenged the blend presentor with questions that he wasn’t exactly comfortable with, but showed us regardless.  The interaction and enjoyment from those in the room definitely escalated during this part of the event, and from there on that tone continued to the end.

So at least it ended with a bang.

I would like to mention that it was definitely worth attending.  There were a few things that I discovered I was doing (as usual) the more difficult way.  Now I have a bit of restructuring to do in a way of preserving the integrety and bringing down pageload time – 2 things that I am always trying to improve upon.

If I were to letter-grade this event, I’d give it a C+

Sitting at XamlFest

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Hey all,

I’m sitting among 45ish people with laptops open and people eating goodies offered to all attending – at microsoft.

The “show” is about to begin.  I’ll be sure to blog about my opinions – have no fear 😛

Notes – 1pm – Day 1: What does XAML say to you?  To me, its design.  User Interface.  Easy to implement markup backing for UI.  So far – the first half of day 1 has been overview of what can be done with WPF and c# w/ it hooked into some very basic XAML.  The crowd that’s here are primarily code-monkeys, so this is certainly targeting the primary audience, but from a designer’s perspective, even one who straddles code a little, the design aspects have been side-comment in mention.

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.

XamlFest – 2 day training

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The most recent group meeting with the Seattle Developer / Designer Interaction group was great – I think one of the most fun that we’ve had so far.

One of those attending was development Evangelist, Mithun Dhar, who mentioned to us the 2 upcoming XamlFest training events occuring next month.

I can’t help myself – 2 days of uninturupted training and colaboration with others who are interested in development and design working in WPF and Silverlight?

My email has been sent in to RSVP a spot – especially w/ mention that there are only 50 seats available!

Ok, so if you’re visiting and interested as well, here are a few links with information:



The skinny that you’ll find there is this:

Redmond & Portland both are hosts to XamlFest in the Pacific Northwest.  There are other areas that have these events as well, but I’m just going to talk about the 2 which are close to my home.  The Redmond, Washington one is the 16th and 17th (Monday and Tuesday) of February, and Portland, Oregon one is on the 19th and the 20th (Thursday and Friday).

If you wish to join, RSVP asap – seating is limited and I mean quite limited. 

The email addresses are fairly obvious which is for which, so I’m going to just list them both below:



All who attend will obtain a copy of Expression Studio and Visual Studio 2008 Pro.

Animated Gif to XAML

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I recently had a visitor to my blog who came here looking for the ability to translate an animated GIF to XAML.

My first thought without digging was, “Couldn’t one just pull the image in, create a shape, and fill the shape with an imagebrush with the animated gif?”

The thought was to try something like this:

<Rectangle Margin=”102,36,242,33″ >
<ImageBrush ImageSource=”animated.gif” />

The answer which I discovered pretty quickly when trying to accomplish just that was: Nope. No can do. It’ll load and it won’t even see that there is a problem, but the animated gif will not display.

An alternative to this wouldn’t be TOO terribly difficult though. Pull the GIF into illustrator and obtain all of the frames separately. Once you’ve accomplished that, exporting to XAML and bringing it all together is easily done.

Oh, quick note to mention – the Illustrator export tool has a hidden functionality mentioned in the video interview – that hidden functionality is while exporting to XAML, if you hold down the left shift key when you tell it to perform the export, the actual XAML will also hit your clipboard to be pasted directly in already existing XAML document.

Pretty spiffy!

Back to the topic on Animated GIFs to XAML:

Once you have each frame in XAML, you will need to add all of the elements into your xaml and I’d go with a step of collapsing all canvases until needed. Open the keyframe animator, and then depending on the timeline from the original GIF, you can plot each item to become visible or collapsed. Blend will automatically add a trigger for the application to run the animation on load, so if you want it to start by use with a button, you’ll need to modify that – also, most GIFs are set to repeat forever, so you’ll need to update the repeat behavior to loop infinitely.

Once someone has done it a time or two, I’d put a guess on the work taking between 20-30 min for the full translation. between GIF to XAML animation.

WPF Flyby – a YouTube video demonstration

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This thing that I’ve been talking about all day which has been driving me up the into a wall is finally in a state that is viewable.

Its a basic set of 3D text and a shape, neither of which is “rendered” in the way that many are used to when thinking of using 3D modeling tools, instead, its been kept somewhat raw but in an interesting way – its all kept as code – XAML to be exact.  It includes environmental factor code to allow for lighting and color variations when the text “interacts” with the lightsource.

I don’t know enough to know if it can be used in a way where multiple sources of light are present, but at this point, I’m pretty impressed at the power of XAML.

The below video is a camtasia recording of the “application” such as it is.  The button is set up, not with a trigger to start (which could have easily been set), but by a c# method.

The only thing that I would do differently is to have the button reset the storyboard to 0 (zero) on mouseDown which should allow for the storyboard to “rewind” and replay.

I’m wondering if it would be something where it would detect the place of the animation – such as  if the storyboard is greater than 0, then reset to 0.

I’m digging around google and have posted on the WPF MSDN forums to see if I can find an answer.

Anyway, here’s the video: