The Good the Bad and The Ugly: Blend RC

by Donald Burnett

Well Microsoft quietly with not much announcement placed the Blend Release Candidate up on Microsoft.com/Expression for download this week. And with it were a few very cool suprises.

 

This is not a full review by me by any means but a cursory examination of new things that you might not know was there..

 

New Items:

  • New Samples for Blend (advanced ones)
    • Animation Studio – A sketchpad dream application with a light table and onion skinning. This takes me back to the old Amiga Days with Disney’s Animation Studio, but instead of being a sketchpad app they show you how to make the application with this sample, including a simple design surface.
    • A 3D Viewer – a full 3D viewer that gives you a sample of a car design (right out of Tron) that you can zoom around with the camera and see different details and lighting. What’s cool is that this requires little if any managed code (C# or VB) to do, it’s ALL XAML.
    • The Video Shelf  – This sample is very neat and shows you how to map video (the media element) on different 3D objects, in this case books on a shelf.
    • PhotoBook – This one show you how to do the famous page curl and map images onto a 3d book. This has already been made famous by a UK Library’s use of this to show off illuminated manuscripts that are to frail for real people to touch anymore.
    • The Grand Piano- Turns your keyboard into a 3d grand piano, now with the ability to load and save songs (like a player piano)
    • Color Swatch- This last sample an interior designer is going to love it starts out with color swatches (like those Pantone brand color charts we all know and love) and gives you an interior design that you can re-color. You can re-color walls frames, the floor, a bathtub and towels even.

 

This version of Blend is a lot more snappy things don’t seem to take as long to compile, the interface seems snappier (maybe all the debug code gone makes that big a difference). The asset library seems particularly more snappy with custom controls, the asset library and everything coming up way more quickly.

For whatever reason when I open one of the code-behind files like C# it opens up in notepad instead of waiting for Visual Studio 2005 to open it, (VS 2005 requiring User Account Control permission to open up) and when it opens the first time it’s missing the project files. This whole thing has been kinda screwy since I did the Visual Studio 2005 for Vista update anyway. And before anybody asks, yes I do have the options/event handlers set correctly with the application.

Whatever they do, they need to look at this and fix it before final. It’s an annoyance to have to open visual studio and open the project separately.  I know this is an issue with user account control which prompts me for visual studio 2005 to open. If it is already open it tries to open a second instance of the application and still doesn’t open the project.  I would also mention that this is a fresh install of Blend with all the latest Visual Studio updates. I really haven’t been happy with Blend’s Visual Studio integration since the December CTP with the old interface.

I haven’t tried this with Visual Studio “Orcas” but I want to work with release product whenever possible so I probably won’t for a while.

Either way it’s obvious a whole lot of work has been done, I do hope someone checks how integration with Visual Studio 2005 works with Vista, and Blend. This is a really big issue with me. I haven’t turned UAC off to see if it’s an issue with it or not. This doesn’t happen on older Vista RTM installs I have on other computers just new fresh installs on the latest computer, so it might have gotten missed some how.

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2 Comments on “The Good the Bad and The Ugly: Blend RC”

  1. Unni Ravindranathan (MS) Says:

    Hi Donald,

    We would like to fix the VS Interop issue before we ship. Would it be possible to get in touch with me so I can get some more information about the way your account is setup, UAC setting etc.? In the meanwhile, I will try to reproduce the problem on my end. We have heard about this from a couple of other users as well, but were not able to reproduce the problem – def. something we are missing on our end.

    Thanks,
    -Unni

  2. Anand (MSFT) Says:

    Hi Donald,

    I see a similar issue but after opening a second instance of VS, it does open the project. Can you validate whether it ever opens the project on second instance of VS.

    Thanks,
    Anand


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