Saturday, September 01, 2007

So the summer is finally at an end. I've returned back to Ireland from what was probably the best summer I've had in a while. I got to work on something useful, with some cool people, on a project that is single handedly going to destroy all of linux (if you believe the people in groklaw).

When i arrived over to Boston just over 3 months ago, the team were in the middle of their 21 day hackathon to get a working demonstration of Silverlight working on linux. So, i was tasked with the job of creating a visual designer for silverlight. Of course, the first thing i did was panic. I knew nothing of silverlight, nothing of xaml and had 12 weeks to produce something useful.

So, 12 weeks after i started, i managed to produce something ;)

Basic features: Video
All your standard features are there. You can select items, resize, rotate, move, alter properties through the property pane on the right. You can undo and redo (most things are undo/redo-able).

Animation Recording: Video
The basics are there for recording animations. Not everything can be animated as of yet. The supporting infrastructure is all there. Its just currently it can only animate properties which take doubles as their value.

You can do cool stuff like record several keyframes, then move them around to make the time longer, or shorter, or you can completely rearrange the keyframes so things happen in a different order. You can also seek along the storyboard and see the positions of the elements at different times in the animation. It's not quite up to the standard in Blend, but it's usable ;)

Sample Animation: Video
This is an animation which was created entirely using Lunar Eclipse. Everything you see was done through the IDE. The xaml was then copied and pasted into a textfile and the only modification it needed was to alter the xaml so that the storyboard started as soon as the canvas was loaded. Other than that, the xaml used was all auto-generated in the designer.

So, the overall goal of this designer is to have a good base which can be integrated into MonoDevelop in the (hopefully near) future. As the designer is going to be written in Silverlight, it should be relatively easy to stick a web-based frontend on it and use it through a web-browser. How cool would it be to be able to create little animations all through a browser!

There is still a tonne of work which needs to be done, the next part of which is to make the XAML a little less verbose and the animations able to animate more than just doubles. After that, who knows! There's a bunch of stuff not done, a bunch of things which probably need updating or extending and a bunch of testing to be done.

So all in all, it was fun this summer. At the start, nearly every time i updated the moonlight codebase from the repository, either it broke my code or i found new bugs. Nearly every time i reported a bug, it was fixed within 30 minutes. Thats what life is like on the bleeding edge. I have to say, toshok was amazing, i definitely owe him a pint. I wouldn't be surprised if every time i wrote the word "bug" in irc, he shuddered. He was usually the guy who ended up fixing my problems.

For the rest of the people in the office in Cambridge (Miguel, Jeff, Aaron, Garett, Guy (if i spelled that right) and whoever else i've forgotten), it's been great! If you're ever around Ireland, gimme a shout. I know the best place for sushi ;) If not, sure i may see ye at the Mono Summit. Who knows.

The only question i have after the summer is: If he can't swing from a web, what can he do?!


duff said...

You have done a beautiful job with the designer.
Even if it is just the begining, when we see what have been done in only 2 months is amazing.

Congratulation for your integration in novell team too ;)

Siverlight Travel said...

Great idea to create a XAML designer for Linux.
Thanks for it

Peter Loebel
from Switzerland

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