Thursday, 09 March 2006
I have been using Vista Build 5308 since it came out a week or so ago, along with running VS2005 with Cider, Expression Interactive Designer (a.k.a.) Sparkle, Win SDK and WinFX.
It has been very interesting.  First, Vista is considerably more interactive than compared to XP or W2K3 Server. What I mean is that I am more efficient on using the OS as it looks like considerable interaction design has occurred in the design phase.  For example, in Vista Windows Explorer for file folder navigation, you will notice a different tree view control and address bar.  The address bar allows you to click on any part of the path in the address which allows you to navigate easier (i.e. fewer mouse clicks).  Given that I do spend (too much) time navigating the file system, this really is a major improvement.  There are many other improvements, which are not the point of this post, other than to say, I think Vista will surprise many people on its usability design, aside from the flash and gas of the graphics.
2nd I have been using Cider (think WinForms Designer but using XAML) and the Win SDK to evaluate WPF.  Of course on Vista, the graphics is outstanding.  My Acer 8204 laptop comes with a pretty high-end video card (ATI  Radeon X1600) with DirectX9 embedded into it, which allows Vista to fully utilize the GPU.  Vista graphics look awesome, aside from the Aero Glass (i.e. opacity) effects and the window fly-ins.  The animation and 3D manipulation of objects is ultra smooth and sharp at any level of resizing.
VS2005 Cider is aimed at the developer (or coder or programmer or software engineer, or craftsman, or whatever moniker you hang by).  You spend the same time on the design surface as you do traditionally do in the WinForms 2.0 designer surface, but mostly you spend your time in both XAML and C#.  Contrasting this is Sparkle which is really aimed at designers.  Btw, the March CTP of Sparkle was just released.  The difference is that you spend more time in the design surface than writing code (and XAML).  In fact, another one of Steves blogs points out, Sparkle, development teams, and what no code means.
Now this raises an interesting conundrum which you can read Clemens excellent post about Visual Studio Overload And The Specialization Gamble.  Clemens does an excellent job explaining what the conundrum is in trying to learn too many languages and tools, The reason is very simple: Capacity. Theres a limit to how much information an individual can process  I totally agree and I described this phenomenon in my previous post as variability instead of capacity.  I do believe that they are very much interrelated or synonymous with each other, in fact, maybe we are saying the same thing but differently.
The conundrum is what tool I use (Sparkle or Cider) given the limited amount of time I have to play with this, which amounts to an hour or so per day on my ferry commute to and from Vancouver.  As someone who grew up on Visual Studio, I am immediately inclined to stick with it.  However, having played in both environments, I find I can do way more quicker in Sparkle, once I get past how different it is than Visual Studio.  Sure, Sparkle has an IDE, and while not as complicated as VS2005, it does have a funny tool palette with what looks like a dozen objects from Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop which means I am starting from scratch with these tools, not only the usage, but also because they are more graphic art type tools, in which I have no talent for or formal training in.
Not to complicate matters, but there are other XAML tools available, most notably is Mobiform Aurora Designer in which I got a demo of about a month ago.  It certainly is a candidate, but where to find the time to fully qualify?  Finally for building designers, there is Microsofts excellent Domain Specific Language (DSL) Toolkit that code generates designers, but at the moment, can only be hosted in Visual Studio and does not do XAML.  Heck, you can even hand code craft your custom designer in .NET 2.0 Framework (thanks BarryV!).
I have a vision for my Story Board Designer application.  All the 3D objects and animation interaction plays nicely in my head, but how many years is it going to take to program into any one of these tools?  And which one would that be?
Maybe I will ponder that over a few (more) pints of Guinness...
Thursday, 09 March 2006 17:03:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]
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