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3D RSS XAML Demonstration

Here's a short application I wrote for a demo recently. This is a rather simple RSS application, but I created it in 3D in XAML using the February CTP of WinFX. Also, the code is self-sufficient. That is, you can use the below XAML declaration in XAMLPad.

The first thing to notice about this application is that the data is real. That is, the actually RSS information you are seeing on the screen is from a live RSS feed; this demonstrates XAML's XML data-binding capabilities. The next thing to notice is that the entire thing is on an angle. That's because this is all rendered in 3D. So, this also demonstrates using XAML in 3D. You should also notice the background. This is actually just a JPG on my website. There is no C#/VB.NET anywhere... it's all XAML. This demonstrates the power to skin objects. Finally, you should notice that the rendering has different font styles and sizes. This demonstrates how you can style controls... yes, controls. There's nothing fancy here. There isn't really a "3D TextBlock" or anything. A TextBlock is a TextBlock. I just so happen to be using it in 3D.

So, there are many things this demo demonstrates. I actually recorded a short video lesson on 3D XAML programming and I will be releasing it very soon. In the future I may have an entire series on 3D XAML programming.

<Page
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml">
<Viewport3D>
    <Viewport3D.Resources>
      <XmlDataProvider x:Key="xmlData" Source="http://fxfeeds.mozilla.com/rss20.xml">
      </XmlDataProvider>
      <Style x:Key="rssTitle" TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}">
        <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="24"/>
        <Setter Property="TextBlock.Foreground">
          <Setter.Value>
            <LinearGradientBrush StartPoint="0,0" EndPoint="0,1">
              <LinearGradientBrush.GradientStops>
                <GradientStop Color="Blue" Offset="0"/>
                <GradientStop Color="Green" Offset="1"/>
              </LinearGradientBrush.GradientStops>
            </LinearGradientBrush>
          </Setter.Value>
        </Setter>
      </Style>
      <Style x:Key="rssText" TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}">
        <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="12"/>
        <Setter Property="Foreground" Value="Gray"/>
      </Style>
    </Viewport3D.Resources>
    <Viewport3D.Camera>
      <PerspectiveCamera
        Position="2.5,2.5,5"
        LookDirection="-.5,-.5,-1"
        FieldOfView="45"
        UpDirection="1,0,0"
        >
      </PerspectiveCamera>
    </Viewport3D.Camera>
    <ModelVisual3D>
      <ModelVisual3D.Content>
        <Model3DGroup>
          <AmbientLight Color="White"></AmbientLight>
          <GeometryModel3D>
            <GeometryModel3D.Geometry>
              <MeshGeometry3D
                Positions="-1, -1, 0  1, -1, 0  -1, 1, 0  1, 1, 0"
                TriangleIndices="2 0 1 3 2 1"
                TextureCoordinates="1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0"
                Normals="0,0,1 0,0,1 0,0,1 0,0,1">
              </MeshGeometry3D>
            </GeometryModel3D.Geometry>
            <GeometryModel3D.Material>
              <DiffuseMaterial>
                <DiffuseMaterial.Brush>
                  <VisualBrush>
                    <VisualBrush.Visual >
                      <StackPanel>
                        <ListBox ItemsSource="{Binding Source={StaticResource xmlData}, XPath=rss/channel/item}">
                          <ListBox.Background>
                            <ImageBrush ImageSource="http://davidbetz.net/kansas/xamlimage.jpg"></ImageBrush>
                          </ListBox.Background>
                          <ListBox.ItemTemplate>
                            <DataTemplate>
                              <StackPanel>
                                <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=title}" Style="{StaticResource rssTitle}"></TextBlock>
                                <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=description}" Style="{StaticResource rssText}"></TextBlock>
                              </StackPanel>
                            </DataTemplate>
                          </ListBox.ItemTemplate>
                        </ListBox>
                      </StackPanel>
                    </VisualBrush.Visual>
                  </VisualBrush>
                </DiffuseMaterial.Brush>
              </DiffuseMaterial>
            </GeometryModel3D.Material>
          </GeometryModel3D>
        </Model3DGroup>
      </ModelVisual3D.Content>
    </ModelVisual3D>
  </Viewport3D>
</Page>

Exam Update

Well, I'm a month into the ACTUAL writing of the C# 2.0 exam and I'm finding it just as fun as I thought it would be. This exam is more advanced than most people are probably going to want it to be, but I just can't imagine WHY someone would want to take a sissy exam. That doesn't help anyone. On the other end of things, anyone who knows Richter's CLR via C# book by heart should do great on this exam.

The only previews I can give at this time are that this exam is really more of a C#/CLR 2.0 exam as I have a sections for reflection and AppDomain management. I also have sections for more controversial things like COM Interop and unsafe code (not too bad-- I'm not about to ask pointer arithmetic questions!). The other thing I can say is that this complements the 70-* certification exams in that this covers the more technical dimension of the CLR, C#, and the framework. It's more like computer science exams than the certification exams. That is, they are more algorithmic than scenario-based.

As I progress, I'm also setting aside questions for a possible CLR 2.0 exam (for my own exam; probably not Brainbench). I figure this exam could cover things like fusion, assembly loading mechanics, CLR internal memory management, identification of core DLLs ( i.e. mscorwks.dll) and other fun topics. I would really like to see "IT" people think MUCH more like CS people; internals and mechanics are VERY good things to know.

JavaScript Graphics Development Updated

For all those interested in learning some introductory concepts some lesser known features of JavaScript, I just updated my e-chapter on JavaScript Graphics Development. This an introduction to using JavaScript and Ajax concepts to do manual graphics development. It also touches briefly on concepts involving interactive graphics and widget creation.

Anyhow, here's the link:

New Blog Separation

Alright! So I decided to separate my professional information from my personal by creating a few separate blogs instead of having them all crammed into my website. From here on out, my website at davidbetz.net will be for my own stuff and this one here in particular will be for WinFX.

In the next few weeks I plan on putting up a lot of new information and hopefully I'll keep up a nice flow of blogging...

Atlas October 2005

If you are anything like me, you consider a technology is new as long as it's marked as experimental. Atlas still qualifies for being new...or even, pre-new. In any case, the October 2005 version of Atlas has been released and can be downloaded at the link below.

http://atlas.asp.net/ You can find a list of changes here: http://weblogs.asp.net/atlas/

Note that unlike WCF and WPF, which in my mind are stable for production, Atlas is still experimental and is only in the technical preview stages. Not that it will explode into pieces, but there is little to no documentation on almost all of Atlas and given the early nature of the product, things are almost guaranteed to change.