Grant Hinkson Blog

Silverlight, WPF, Fireworks, Flash, XAML, .NET, User Experience, Graphic Design, Web Programming and more!

Thursday
May 15,2008

Over the past several months I’ve been working on a new “BrushManager” panel for Fireworks. I’ve been creating all of the individual pieces as AS3 components, both for ease of development and maintenance reasons. The BrushManager (I’ll eventually come up with a better name) lets you quickly toggle between Solid Fill, and Linear or Radial Gradient Fill. The Gradient editing capabilities currently in my Gradient Panel will be migrated into this new panel, along with a new precision Gradient Direction Editor. I currently have a test version of the Gradient Direction Editor in a standalone Fireworks Panel, available for download below.

Take the panel for a spin and send me your feedback. It’s still a bit buggy at this point, so use at your own risk!

The video below is encoded at 1280 x 720, so be sure and watch in HD on the Vimeo site!


Fireworks Panel: Gradient Direction Editor from Grant Hinkson on Vimeo.

Download Preview Panel: Fireworks Gradient Direction Editor Panel

Podder Skinning Competition

Sunday
Apr 27,2008

Calling all WPF Designers/Developers — Josh just announced the Podder Skinning Competition.

For those of you who’ve been thinking about creating your own custom skin, now you finally have some incentive to do it! Josh and I put in a lot of late nights to release Podder v2 in time for Mix ’08. That was almost two months ago, so I’m sure you’ve already had ideas for new skins that you just haven’t made time for. Well, you have until July to realize your vision – so get to it and impress us all!

Podder v2 Released

  • Filed under: General
Wednesday
Mar 5,2008

Podder v2

Josh just posted an update to his WPF-based podcasting app Podder. I have been working with him in my spare time over the past month  (or more) to provide a shiny new skin and test out his “structural skinning” concept. Just like my experience styling custom controls or other WPF applications, this experience required quite a bit of back-and-forth between myself and Josh. There were additional properties and events that I needed to fully deliver the look I was going for with my skin. After this interaction, I suspect that other designers wanting to skin his app will have an easier time now that we’ve been through this process.

Josh and I both wanted to get this release posted while I was at Mix so we pushed out my skin prior to me having time to clean up the resource structure. I’ll analyze the project structure with Pistachio next week, remove unused resources, and consolidate my resource structure into something more manageable. So, stay tuned for an update in the next week or two! While I was at first apprehensive about releasing prior to doing this, I now think it might actually be beneficial — designers new to WPF can see what a project looks like before and after resource cleanup and organization.

So, check out Josh’s post, and track me down this week at Mix if you want to see a demo of the app or talk to me about some of the techniques I used. I’ll post more thoughts on some of my design decisions in the coming days.

Saturday
Mar 1,2008

ResourceDictionaryPanelA couple of months ago I posted a preview video of the “Fireworks Brush Manager”. Since that post I’ve had pretty much no free time to work on the project. I’ve update the layout a bit, added new icons, etc., but haven’t really focused on finished up the functionality. Last week I spent a little time before bed one night reviewing how I expected to interact with the panel and realized that I was trying to cram too much into a single panel. I realized I really had two panels: a ResourceDictionary Panel and a new Brush Editor panel. Since I have the ResourceDictionary part of the thing in a partially working state, I decided to go ahead and post a preview release to start getting some feedback and bug testing going.

I only have the “Open” function working, which lets you browse for a ResourceDictionary. I’m planning on adding Save capability and a Sync feature, which will synchronize objects on the stage with brushes assigned to them should the resource change. Watch for that over the next 3 months 😉

Known Issues: I’ve found that I have to open the same ResourceDictionary twice sometimes in order for the file to be recognized. So if your brushes don’t appear at first, try again. If your brushes never appear, or if you run into bugs, please send me a note along with your ResourceDictionary and I’ll add it to my list of test RDs.

(7: The number of times I typed “Panel” in this post, 8 after that last reference)

Download ResourceDictionaryPanel Preview
(Double-click MXP to install, swf included if you have problems, copy directly to the Command Panels folder: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Fireworks CS3\Configuration\Command Panels)

Saturday
Mar 1,2008

I’ve posted a couple of videos that highlight new features included in NetAdvantage for WPF 2007.2 that we released about a month ago. The first video demonstrates how you can use the samples included in the xamFeatureBrowser to quickly create a xamRibbon.

The second video demonstrates a feature that I’m really excited about: ResourceWashing. Using ResourceWashing, you can “wash” the brushes defined in ResourceDictionaries with a new color. Since the brushes can be washed at runtime, you can create an application that can be infinitely customized by the end user — really exciting! This is the same washing technology used by AppStylist for Windows Forms in the “New from Template” feature. The xamRibbon is the first control whose brushes have been grouped into “WashGroups” to really take advantage of this technology. Moving forward, we’ll be applying the same techniques to the other controls. I can’t wait to see what the WPF community ends up creating with this technology!

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