Remember those days when your HTML code was auto-formatted in early versions of Visual Studio? While I don’t miss this feature (who does? ) there is an auto-format option for XAML in Visual Studio 2010 I usually turn on as it improves readability of XAML.
The option is somewhat hidden in configuration of VS2010: select Tools >> Options >> Text Editor >> XAML >> Formatting >> Spacing >> and check “Position each attribute on a separate line”.
Now compare Snapshot A below showing default XAML code in VS 2010 editor (see how you have to scroll back and forth to make any sense of XAML) with the Snapshot B showing the formatted version of the same XAML.
Snapshot A: Default Formatting of XAML
Snapshot B: Formatted XAML
To format a section of XAML just select it and either use the hot-keys “CTRL-E, F” or select Edit >> Advanced >> Format Selection in the Menu.
Tags: Visual Studio 2010, XAML
Exsilio Homepage | Software Development
ESTABLISHING A STYLEHere at Exsilio's Creative Department, we pride ourselves on our ability to approach any project with an original and unique vision. This is especially true when it came time to brand our own printed materials (including various case studies, offering flyers, and our all-up company brochure). Gathering references from both the Swiss-style as well as post-modernism, our team of designers looked towards the avant-garde aesthetic for both creative inspiration and guidance. It was here, that we developed a simple but elegant approach to our newly acquired collateral. By using basic geometric shapes and a limited color palette, we employed the most fundamental rule of graphic design... "Less is more".Through such a minimalist ideology, we were then faced with the challenge of how do we differentiate between the flyers; and more importantly, how do we speak to the content of each individual offering? This meant introducing some form of "personalization" in order to make each piece unique. A simple resolve was adding a collage of background elements to form an individual look & feel for each of the handouts.
RETHINKING THE APPROACHWhen it came time to develop our own department's flyer, we saw it as an opportunity to display our creative talents. By doing something a little different and adopting the overall look & feel of our previous materials we demonstrated one of Exsilio's finest traditions - redefining what you thought possible! What better way to communicate such imagination and ingenuity than to implement some form of traditional art practice - in this case, a series of hand drawn sketches. If a graphic artist is to make an impactful design than it must not only be aesthically pleasing but it must also contain substance. From a theoretical standpoint these two applications (of both formal and contemporary design) posed an interesting challenge to our creative team due to the fact that they represent two competing forms of thought. Naturally, print design is based out of the contemporary approach to graphic art, which is the theory of "replication". Ultimately, this debate has divided the art community for centuries. The ability to duplicate a piece of art allows for reproduction on a mass scale - such has been the foundation of graphic design within the business model. Whereas, fine art including painting, sketching, and other traditional practices, prides itself on its inability to be replicable. Thus, we can clearly begin to see how Exsilio's innovative approach defied the norm and combined both forms of design into one successful piece of art. Below is an example of the Creative Services flyer as well as some of the sketches which did not make the cut.
Tags: Creative, Content, Productivity
Creative | Exsilio Homepage
Over this past weekend, our gracious owners took the entire staff and their significant others on the annual Exsilio cruise. This year, we sailed aboard the Carnival Paradise to Ensenada, Mexico. The trip included a formal dinner, a baby tiger, local sightseeing, an on-board scavenger hunt, and usual bonding activities.
Some of the famous towel animals:
Docking in Mexico:
Formal dinner night, group picture:
Exsilio Homepage | General
If you are not sure what all the settings are, federate your first web application in Windows Azure with your domain ADFS could be very painful. There are a couple of key components that you would need to watch out for to ensure that this process is successful.
When Nintendo announced the replacement for their portable DSi gaming device, the 3DS at the 2010 E3 show, bloggers and industry journalists wrote about the amazing glasses-free 3D technology and how it could revolutionize the portable gaming market. Initial adoption looked on-track, with Nintendo reportedly selling nearly 400,000 units within just one week of launch.So why is the House of Mario suddenly hacking the 3DS price point from US $249.99 down to just $169.99 only 4 months after launch? Nintendo cites sales figures that have fallen below expectations, but does that warrant such a severe price reduction after so little time on the market? Sure, third party publishers have delayed or cancelled a few of the more exciting titles planned for 2011, but there has to still be games on the horizon that could spark consumer interest, so what else would prompt such a move?A few of the more popular guesses:• Simply being out of touch with the market, especially during a recessionary period.• The warning label advising parents that any children under the age of seven should not view games in 3D because it could damage their still-developing eyes.• The online eStore is generally considered underwhelming and too expensive.And the most compelling guess I have seen:
• Games cost $40 each, and I game on my phone more often at a fraction of that.If that last bullet is indeed the primary reason why adoption has slowed, then not only is Nintendo’s handheld in trouble, but Sony has something to think about as well with their Vita portable releasing in Q1 2012. Also, take into consideration that Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 devices all have access to games that range in price from FREE, to just a couple dollars. Perhaps these titles don’t deliver the same long, immersive experience as a console game, but as Penny-Arcade and others pointed out, at 99 cents each, you can play 40 different games for the price of a single 3DS game.Further, the current generation of smartphones really is no slouch when it comes to gaming. For example, users of the Samsung/Sprint Epic 4G with its 1GHz Hummingbird processor and Super AMOLED screen can play cell-shaded versions of Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. and Assassin’s Creed. These “cell phone games” certainly do not feel like the clunky phone games of just two years ago. Is this perhaps the reason why Microsoft has not jumped into the portable console market? Sony hedged their bets by releasing the Xperia under the Ericsson banner, a smartphone with Playstation controls and an online game store where owners of the device can download full-featured Playstation titles.
A screenshot from GT Racing: Motor Academy HD for Smartphones, courtesy of Gameloft
So children under seven years old should not use the 3DS as intended, and tweens are playing 3D modeled PS3 and X-BOX 360 ports on their smartphones for 99 cents each. Where does that leave the market for the 3DS? Is the new price of $170 still too expensive? How do early adopters of the 3DS feel about this price drop? Nintendo has tried to rectify any dissatisfaction by offering these customers 20 free downloads from their eStore. However in a survey of 4500 Japanese gamers conducted by the gaming site 4Gamer, the outlook looks grim, even in Nintendo’s backyard.Some snippets:
• 49.4% of owners are disappointed in the current software lineup• Of those that didn’t own a 3DS, only 5.4% said they intended to buy one, 15.3% said they would never buy one.• There was also grumbling that the 3DS Ambassador Program, which qualifies current owners for the free downloads, does very little to make up for the price drop and lack of a compelling software library.Still, in the face of those results it is difficult to count Nintendo’s handheld consoles out when they have simply dominated the market since the late 1980’s. Further, the Sony Vita was pushed out to Q1 2012, so Nintendo will have this holiday season all to themselves to see if their strategy can get the 3DS back on track.
Tags: video games, nintendo, smartphones, price, 3D, gaming, Sony, 3DS, Vita, portable
Exsilio Homepage | General | Randomness
This post is not about sharks.
Watching various shows on Discovery's Shark Week made me think about why the Discovery Channel chose to focus on sharks for an entire week; does their Neilsen data suggest that more of their viewers watch "shark" based programming? How many new, loyal viewers do they gain each year after Shark Week?
There's no doubt it's an ingenious move; reach viewers who may not typically watch the Discovery Channel by highlighting a topic that invokes various emotions; fear, fascination or interest in gaining new knowledge.
According to Neilsen data, this year's Shark Week kicked off with over 3 million viewers watching the opening segment, Great White Invasion, taking the No. 3 spot for that evening's primetime cable lineup. The next show, Jaws Come Home, ranked No. 1 with another 3 million viewers in the 18-49 age group.
What is it about this type of programming that draws so many eyes? It's actually a spin on where the news media has been going for years; higlighting tragic events, extreme individuals or groups of people (think Sarah Palin or Jersey Shore), and generally bringing attention to the smallest but most unique/extreme people and events.
There is something innate in the human race that makes us curious and fascinated with events that are different from our "normal" lives. The Holocaust, terrorists, gangs, celebrities, politicians, and of course, Jaws.
If we do at all, how do marketers use this angle constructively? What examples have you seen of campaigns or products being sold via controversy or off-beat tactics?
Tags: marketing strategy
Exsilio Homepage | Marketing
Normally Server side Automation of Office is not recommended. Here is an article that explains why,Considerations for server-side Automation of Office (http://support.microsoft.com/?id=257757)However, let’s say you have to export Visio Documents using server side automation. You should receive errors from below lines, while you are opening the template file. Server would not let you to open a Visio Application.visApp.Documents.Open(Template.vst);visApp.Documents.Add(Template.vst);Here is the solution. 1. You have to have Visio 2010 installed to your 2008 Server. 2. You have to enable Desktop Experience. 3. You have to Disable UAC.4. Start-Run-“Component Services”.5. Expand Component Services.6. Expand Computers-My Computer-DCOM Config. and find Microsoft Visio Drawing.7. Right click on Microsoft Visio Drawing and go to properties. 8. Under “Identity” tab, select “This User” option. (This User should be IIS Manager.)9. Click Ok and you are good to go.
Cloud-based offerings in the small-medium business space are finally changing from concepts to real product you can use today. Microsoft launched their Office 365 online suite a few weeks ago to much fanfare, and early indications are a solid competitor in the SMB and even consumer spaces. Even for a first gen product, Office 365 components have surprising compatibility with extending Microsoft desktop applications seamlessly, just like before with more costly in-house hosted solutions.
Sure enough, Project 2010 is in the club, easily integrating with SharePoint Online from the Office 365 suite. One key feature of Project 2010 is the ability to manage tasks on SharePoint team sites, bypassing simple functions done with Project Server in the past, and more importantly showing side-by-side with existing team sites using cleaver templates. If your company is trying to implement team sites and collaboration using Office 365's lower barrier-to-entry hosted model, and you also want to include a project management layer, Project 2010 working seamlessly is helpful for a team with only limited bandwidth and training resources. Also, if you have a team in the field, this makes project plans accessible and interactive from anywhere.
Basecamp has long been an online project and task management offering, but I think this combination of desktop clients, team sites, and task and project management is unique in the computing space, and worth a look alongside Microsoft's Office 365 offering, which requires little to no IT help.
Tags: Office 365, SharePoint, Microsoft Project, Project Management
Exsilio Homepage | Project Management
I ran into an issue today where I was trying to get the max value for a column using LINQ to SQL but was getting an exception when no rows were returned. I have a table of "Questions" and one of its columns is "DisplayOrder", which is an int field that allows for sorting on the front end. When a new Question is added, I want it to show up last in the sorted list, so I want to insert the new record with a DisplayOrder that is the current maximum value + 1 (or with a DisplayOrder of 1 if it will be the first record). My first attempt at getting the maximum value was:
int? currentMaxDisplayOrder = dc.Questions.Where(q => !q.IsDeleted).Max(q => q.DisplayOrder);
This worked fine when there were existing records but threw an exception when there were no matching questions. Searching the internet provided me with guidance for a solution. With that, I changed my LINQ statement to:
int? currentMaxDisplayOrder = dc.Questions.Where(q => !q.IsDeleted).Select(q => (int?)q.DisplayOrder).Max();
// And the new record's DisplayOrder
question.DisplayOrder = currentMaxDisplayOrder.GetValueOrDefault(0) + 1;
And FYI...the LINQ statement above evaluates to the following SQL
SELECT MAX([t1].[value]) AS [value]
SELECT [t0].[DisplayOrder] AS [value], [t0].[IsDeleted]
FROM [Question] AS [t0]
) AS [t1]
WHERE NOT ([t1].[IsDeleted] = 1)
Tags: LINQ, Max
In Douglas Cret's most recent FastCompany article, "Curating The Instant Deal With Millions Of Mini CEOs And CMOs," Exsilio Marketing Manager Jason Bennett is featured for his specialty in analytics consulting.
Way to go, Jason!
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