Archive for the 'flash' Category


Convert Flash SWF to XAML (WPF, Silverlight)

Electric Rain have produced yet another outstanding product… Harmony.

Harmony allows for the conversion of SWf files into XAML, which can then be utilised as part of either a WPF desktop application or Silverlight browser application.

This first version of Harmony is concentrating on the animation aspects of the SWF file and the great news is that it will not just be doing a simple frame by frame conversion, it will instead focus on shape definitions to keep the XAML file well written and compact.

You can view the full announcement at the Electric Rain website.


People you bump into to…

It always amazes me how many people you bump into while walking round London, often you get stopped by so many people you know it feels like you’re in a small country town of about 50 inhabitants rather than a city with many millions.

It seems Microsoft is a bit like London in this respect.

The other day while I was in the office. I was just leaving a meeting room and who do I almost crash into on the other side of the door – non-other than Pete Barr-Watson (who I’d not seen since Flash on the Beach back in December). I’d first met Pete back in the day when he was at Kerb and Flash was a mere animation tool.

Mmmm… but Pete was wearing an orange name badge which implied he was contractor? Curious!

Later on in the day I caught up with him and it turns out he’s just joined Microsoft and that it was actually his first day! Pete is now a Senior Business Development Manager responsible for driving Silverlight adoption.

This is just GREAT news.

The Expression and Silverlight teams have a buzz about them, much like the early days of Macromedia, and I think this enthusiasm is slowly starting to seep into the outside world and other areas of Microsoft πŸ™‚ 

I think being able to attract great people like Pete highlights that the teams are travelling down the right track.


A question at recent events was… Flash or WPFe?

I’ve attended a number of events over the last few weeks, Designertopia, WebDD, Media Technology Day at Microsoft and the Future of Web apps. During these events a couple of questions have cropped up more than others, firstly isn’t WPF/e just the same as Flash, should I use WPF, WPFe, or XBAP and finally the more general, which technology should I use?

The first question is the one I’m expecting to hear most as we continue talking to the general designer community and in many respects it reminds me in some regards to the old isn’t Flash just the same as Director discussions from many years ago. The end content looked similar, yet the journey to produce that end content was totally different.

In reality I think this is what is happening with WPFe and Flash today.

Designers who have lived with Flash for the last 10 years are picking up WPFe, kicking the tyres and recreating the same kind of work you can create in Flash… from an external point of view for someone looking at the finished work there seems little or no difference, but the journey to get there is totally different.

Well if we ignore the fact that as of today there is no IDE for WPFe which tends to put the brakes on the design process (watch this space though), when you talk to those designers and developers already experimenting with WPFe the difference between WPFe and Flash is stark.

Taking a simplistic view Flash provides a wonderful environment for building self contained applications or widgets, essentially self contained interactive web real estate. It’s a binary file format that recreates a lot of the same functionality as HTML, drop down menus, scrollbars, etc, and it needs to do this as Flash is an island of interactive content within the HTML page. Flash has a robust development language; ActionScript which enables some truly amazing experiences to be produced, but Flash remains something that exists as an element on a page rather than existing as an integrated part of the page.

WPFe tackles the same area of rich content but from a different direction. WPFe could be considered as an extension of HTML and AJAX rather than a standalone technology like Flash. It’s not a binary file format and instead exists as a combination of XML and Javascript. WPFe content is blended into the page in addition to the technology and therefore doesn’t replicate the functionality of the technolgies that already exist.

Flash replaces parts of the page to provide a richer experience, and WPFe extends the page to provide the richer experience.

The end result of both technologies is a richer, and hopefulley better(!) browser experience.

So, when it comes to the wire which technology is better Flash or WPFe. Well I work for Microsoft and left Adobe/Macromedia after 7 years to be here so it’s obvious which direction I prefer. But that decision was a personal one.

It’s all too easy to cloud pragmatic judgements in the real world of end users, deadlines and clients; there is no black and white, right or wrong, it’s all shades of grey and it’s about using the right technology for the right project to deliver the best experience for the user.

For the developers and designers the choice in the long run will probably fall to the technology that fits in with their production model better.

The one thing that we should never forget is that for the client and particularly the end user they don’t really care about the technology – they only care about the experience.


Flash on the Beach

It’s taken some time, ok a lot if time, but we’ve finally, finally announced that Microsoft are Gold Sponsors of Flash on the Beach, the premier next generation web conference being held in sunny Brighton this Decemeber.

Ok, so it will cold Brighton, but I’m betting it will still be sunny, it’s always sunny!

I can’t wait to finally show what we’ve been upto at Microsoft in terms of the Expression product development, demos and technologies, whether your a die hard Flasher, a designer or dev you’ll find something to get those creative juices flowing during our talk πŸ™‚

And talking of talks. John Davy must have used a bit of wizard of oz magic to get so many great speakers together in one place, in Dec, in the UK(!) yet done it he has. If you’ve ever thought about going to Flash Forward but have never made it, here’s your chance!

Great speakers, great venue, great sessions what more do you need, time to book your ticket… and look forward to seeing you there.