Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye 2010 - Hello 2011

This was an amazing year! Many great things happened and a lot of stuff was released by me. The most important release this year was a personal one. Our third daughter was born in September. Healthy and just plain awesome. She is developing very good and as amazing as her older sisters (photo).
This blog post is just a recap of all the things that happened and I've done in 2010 and some that might happen in 2011.

The whole Silverlight and Windows Phone community is great and it's endless fun to be a part of it. I met a lot of great people online and offline. It's a pleasure to discuss and develop good things in this environment. Thanks a ton!
And don't forget, Silverlight is not dead! Silverlight 5 will be released in 2011 and it will come with a huge bag of new features.
Stay in the 'Light! - like my Silverlight MVP friend Dave Campbell would say.

MVP Award
In April 2010 I was awarded as Silverlight MVP. It is a real honor to be a Silverlight MVP. All the Silverlight MVPs I know are truly outstanding and I can hardly believe I'm considered to be one of them.

Yep, I did some blogging this year. Most of it covered Silverlight development and lately also Windows Phone topics. I always try to provide unique content that hasn't been covered anywhere else. I hope you like it and find it useful. Your feedback is always welcome!

Open Source Projects
The one big think this year was the release of the Silverlight Augmented Reality Framework: SLARToolkit. SLARToolkit is a flexible Augmented Reality library for Silverlight with the aim to make real time Augmented Reality applications with Silverlight as easy and fast as possible. It can be used with Silverlight's Webcam API or with any other CaptureSource or a WriteableBitmap. It's open source and hosted at CodePlex.
The development of the library itself took a lot of time, but also the samples (1, 2), the documentation, the support at the forum and via email. It's good to see that some projects use SLARToolkit and the downloads aren't that bad. I'm especially pleased to see that most of the projects are from the academic field. Some projects are listed on the CodePlex site.
I have a lot of things on my idea / todo list I want to add. I hope I'll find a bit time during the next year to implement these.

One part of the SLARToolkit library was extracted and released as separate project. The Matrix3DEx library is a collection of extension and factory methods for Silverlight's Matrix3D struct. The Matrix3DEx library tries to compensate the minimalistic Matrix3D struct with extension and factory methods for common transformation matrices that are easy to use like built in methods. The CodePlex site has all the details and samples.

The WriteableBitmapEx library is another open source project. I actually released it in 2009, but I added a lot of new features during this year and the library got quite well adopted in the community. One reason might be the availability of a Windows Phone version.
The WriteableBitmapEx library is a collection of extension methods for Silverlight's WriteableBitmap. The WriteableBitmap class that was added in Silverlight 3 and which is also available on Windows Phone, allows the direct manipulation of a bitmap and could be used to generate fast procedural images by drawing directly to a bitmap. The WriteableBitmapEx library tries to compensate the minimalistic WriteableBitmap class with extensions methods that are easy to use like built in methods and offer GDI+ like functionality.
There are many different samples available at the CodePlex repository and I also spent a good amount of time with the support at the forum and via email.
The library is still not feature complete for version 1.0 and I will definitely continue my work on it.

Windows Phone Apps
Like many other Silverlight developers I got very exited when Silverlight was announced as the development  platform for Windows Phone 7 apps. I started some experiments right away when the first CTP was available at MIX 2010. I also provided the WriteableBitmapEx Windows Phone version a couple of days later.

Every Windows Phone 7 device is required to have at least a 5 megapixel camera with a flashlight. There are also other features which make Windows Phones amazing devices for taking pictures and dealing with pictures. I've been working heavily during the last months to enhance this photo experience with my kind of skills. My Pictures Lab app was the first picture effects application for Windows Phone with unique, high quality effects. If you like to take photos then this app is a perfect addition to your phone’s toolset. Or like wrote: "The app, a Swiss Army knife of photo tweaks". It's the original and the best selling photo app already since the Windows Phone launch. Pictures Lab comes with more than 20 controllable and easy-to-use advanced effects, a dynamic effect preview, crop, rotate and many more features. I just recently added a Twitter sharing function and the Happy New Year effect / frame (see photo above).
The app got very good reviews from various webites, blogs and offline magazines. The well-known site Engadget lists it under The best apps, accessories, and tips. They write: "... a must-have for WP7 devices ... the program provides a set of amazing effects and tweaks for your photos ...".
I will constantly update the app and add more features and effects in 2011.

I also developed a little fun app called Helium Voice. You can record your voice with the app and change the pitch while sliding over a balloon graphic (inhale or exhale helium).

I have a very long list with future app ideas and it's constantly growing. On some days I have the feeling my head explodes with new ideas.
I hope to find some time next year to push some more apps out. Silverlight is fortunately one of the most productive platforms out there.

I also wrote some articles for Microsoft's Coding4Fun site and a magazine.

It started with the FaceLight article about a simple facial recognition system using Silverlight 4’s webcam. The code for this article ended up on CodePlex, where you can also find a live sample.

The second article explained how to write pixel shaders for the Microsoft Silverlight and WPF platform with HLSL, as well as how to write an extensible Silverlight application with the help of MEF.
The code is also available at CodePlex.

My last two articles for Coding4Fun showed how to write a simple photo effects application for Windows Phone (1, 2). This is actually where Pictures Lab has its origin.

I just recently wrote an article for Germany's largest .Net developer magazine, dotnetpro. The article covers Windows Phone development and is available in the February 2011 issue and also online.

I also reviewed the media / computer graphics chapters of the two best Silverlight books available. The one is Silverlight 4 Unleashed by Laurent Bugnion and the other is Silverlight 4 in Action by Pete Brown. Both are great books and every Silverlight developer should get a copy.

Talks and the Rest
I gave a talk at the .Net Usergroup Dresden about Silverlight 4's media capabilities and presented SLARToolkit. In May I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Carl and Richard from the .Net Rocks talk show. And I worked on some very interesting projects I can't write something about yet. I also spent a good amount of time answering Silverlight questions I got via email, at the official forum or at Stack Overflow.

It was a really busy year and I hope I can keep this high productivity up.

By the way, I'm also a frequent social network user and met great new people there (Twitter, Facebook). It's a pleasure to exchange thoughts and share knowledge with smart people. Thanks for being awesome!

I wish you and your families a happy and successful new year. 2011 will be good!

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