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Al Pascual has created a nice Silverlight plug-in that visually pinpoints your recent website visitors on a map.

You can see who is on your website or blog and can be added to any website. Will keep track of the hits since the day you install it. I’ll create more custom reports as this project matures.

It’s dead simple to add to your site, just copy the JavaScript code into your page.  Unfortunately WordPress.com hosted blogs cannot use script on pages so I can’t use it on this site.  One more reason to accelerate the move to our own servers.

The application uses the ArcGIS for Silverlight API. The map can be shown full screen and supports zooming up close for more details.



How does it work?

At every request will geocode the IP address and will add the location on the map, right now the color changes lighter as the time goes by, the hits represent the last 12 hours or the last 100 people, whatever comes first. All this could change depending on the feedback received.


Seems like the season for contests.  Here’s a UK contest with a new twist.  You’ve got to create an application for the finance industry and it must target Microsoft Surface.

Prizes totaling ~$15,000 USD


Bank branches of the future could soon have a Microsoft Surface like ours.
The School of Informatics and Microsoft have teamed up with a financial services organisation to bring you the Touch Finance Competition.
Your challenge is to design and build an innovative branch-based personal banking application for Microsoft Surface.

I’m not sure if this contest is only open for  University of Edinburgh student as the complete rules are not posted yet.

A couple years ago I wrote a post regarding the WPF VisualBrush. As part of that post I discussed the TileBrush.

TileBrush is abstract and defines a number of useful properties for creating a repeating pattern.  For example you could set the source of the ImageBrush to a picture of a flower, then set properties to repeat the picture in five columns and three rows.

Expression Blend and TileBrush

Now that more developers and designers are adopting  Expression Blend it seems like a good idea to learn how Blend handles Tile brushes.  For this example I am using an ImageBrush but the similar techniques apply to the DrawingBrush and VisualBrush.

Add an Image to a Blend Project

The first step is to add an image to a Blend project.  Right-click the project in Project tab and choose "Add Existing Item".  Find an appropriate image and return to the Blend UI.


Insert an Image

Right-click the image in the project tab and choose "Insert".  This will add the image to the ArtBoard.



Convert to Brush Resource

Press the ‘V’ key to activate the Selection tool and click the image in the ArtBoard. Choose the "Make ImageBrush Resource" menu item as shown below.


Provide a key (Name) for the ImageBrush resource.


Using the Brush Transform Tool

Delete the existing Image from the ArtBoard.   Add another element to the ArtBoard, for this example I am using an Ellipse. 


Select the Ellipse with the Selection tool (press the ‘V’ key then click the Ellipse).  Select the Properties tab and then choose the Brush Resource.



The ellipse is filled with the ImageBrush.


Transform the ImageBrush

Now it finally time to add columns and rows to the ImageBrush.  The Brush Transform tool (press the ‘G’ key) is the tool you are looking for.





Finally choose the TileBrush button in the Properties window and then choose a TileMode value.


You can continue to manipulate the tile in the Artboard. Resizing the Tile smaller adds more columns and row to the result.  Dragging the tile in the ArtBoard changes the top/left position of the tile.  Lastly you can skew and rotate the tile with the Brush Transform tool



For the last year I’ve been talking about the need to make a set of themes and templates available for WPF developers.   There are plenty of companies who want nice looking WPF applications (other than the default Windows XP/Vista look) but don’t know where to start.  I’ve argued, to anyone who’ll listen, that we need a community site that showcases the power of WPF templates.

CSS Zen Garden

I suspect that many of you are familiar with the CSS Zen Garden.


The goal of the site is to showcase what is possible with CSS-based design. Style sheets contributed by graphic designers from around the world are used to change the visual presentation of a single HTML file, producing hundreds of different designs. Aside from reference to an external CSS file, the HTML markup itself never changes. All visual differences are the result of the CSS (and supporting imagery).

The magnitude of the changes you can make to a prototype website by swapping the CSS is staggering.  CSS Zen Garden permits designers to show how creative they can be with CSS and allows other to use these CSS files as starting points for their own development.


Where is the WPF/Silverlight Zen Garden?

Both WPF and Silverlight support templated controls.  Templates allow us to completely change the way a control looks, while keeping the same behavior.  This is a powerful concept that allows developer to change a button from




My dream is to have a community site where designers can display their templates for WPF/Silverlight controls and others can peruse the catalog looking for design ideas and samples.

WPF Futures releases new control templates

Microsoft has made a few small steps in publishing control templates. A few months ago Microsoft released a set of control templates for Silverlight.  Those templates have been modified to work with WPF controls and were released last week for your consumption.



The stream of product announcements and feature enhancements during the Mix09 keynote was non-stop.  I estimate that Scott Guthrie must have rattled off ninety or more of these tidbits in the two and a half hour Mix09 kickoff.  At a rapid pace Scott discussed IIS, Silverlight Expression Blend, the Microsoft Web Installer, adaptive streaming and many more.

There was a lot of anticipation regarding Silverlight 3 and Microsoft delivered the goods.  Tim Heuer has a summary of all the new Silverlight features.  Give it a once over, there is a lot to absorb.


Attend a keynote at a big Microsoft conference and at some point in the presentation you will hear a musical fanfare followed by a breathless product announcement.

Depending on the show and the time of year the announcements can be hum-drum or spectacular.  Do you remember when Microsoft announced a new development framework called .NET a few years ago? 


Of course Scott Guthrie’s keynotes tend to be a little more fun.


Img0398 by Long Zheng.

How to Top Mix08?

Silverlight 3 is going to be the brightest light in the Mix09 marquee this year.  Expect to hear a flurry of announcements regarding new features in Silverlight.  Silverlight 2 is impressive but Microsoft needs to show improvements in many areas to offset the advantages of their competitors RIA frameworks. 

The tools in Expression Suite get little love from Adobe devotees. The designer wars are heating up however and Microsoft will show some startling improvements in Expression Blend.  You definitely won’t want to miss the Expression Blend announcements.

WPF and XAML are also gaining significant improvements, some of which will be shown at Mix.  I saw a preview of what’s coming in Silverlight, Expression Blend and WPF while at the MVP summit earlier this month. What I saw at the summit was very exciting and I expect it will be thoroughly covered during Mix sessions this week.


I know that there are even more surprises coming, including one super NDA Silverlight secret, so keep your ears open.

Expect live coverage of the Mix event here at the WpfWonderland blog.


Mix09 is over and the secrets have been revealed.

Tim Heuer has a nice summary of Silverlight 3 features.