Monday, August 31, 2009

M-V-VM Product Configuration

Deb and I have created many solutions that support sales or engineering efforts. Each application is a little different, driven by the unique aspects of the product we are selling/designing. We have built systems to sell cars, to quote multi-million dollar communications infrastructure projects, to design chemical plants and gear boxes.

video

You do enough of these applications and you start to see a software design pattern. You also realize just how important the role of the subject matter expert is in helping you create a successful application.


Our first Silverlight product configuration solution is a Cookie Designer. With a lifetime of experience eating cookies and a trip to the store to read the packaging, I now consider myself a subject matter expert. You can test drive the program HERE.

The Cookie Designer is an entry in the Summer Silverlight Coding Competition -- please try it and vote for our solution. Community points are an important part of the judging in this contest.

Our cookie product configuration solution is composed of a set of ingredients that can be combined without any mutually exclusive constraints. Anyone for cinnamon oatmeal dark chocolate chunk?

The secret to creating a convincing picture is to have each ingredient on its own separate layer and to make visible the layers that are involved -- enter the M-V-VM pattern, and in this case used as an adapter / translator between the composition of the model and what is shown.


<Canvas x:Name="CookieRoot" Height="400" HorizontalAlignment="Center" VerticalAlignment="Center" Width="400" Clip="M0,0L400,0 400,400 0,400z" RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5">



<Image Height="381" Width="404" Canvas.Left="-9" Canvas.Top="8" Source="Cookie_Images/Base Cookie.png"/>

<Image x:Name="Cinnamon" Height="382" Width="390" Opacity="0.651" Canvas.Left="6" Canvas.Top="13" Source="Cookie_Images/Cinnamon.png" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="PeanutButter" Height="379" Width="385" Opacity="0.478" Canvas.Left="7" Canvas.Top="9" Source="Cookie_Images/Peanut Butter.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="ReesesPeanutButter" Height="379" Width="385" Opacity="0.478" Canvas.Left="7" Canvas.Top="9" Source="Cookie_Images/Peanut Butter.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="Cocoa" Height="387" Width="389" Opacity="0.678" Canvas.Left="5" Canvas.Top="5" Source="Cookie_Images/Cocoa.png" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="Oatmeal" Height="380" Width="387" Opacity="0.412" Canvas.Left="6" Canvas.Top="7" Source="Cookie_Images/Oatmeal.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="Peanuts" Height="377" Width="381" Canvas.Left="9" Canvas.Top="10" Source="Cookie_Images/Peanuts.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="Raisins" Height="373" Width="370" Canvas.Left="15" Canvas.Top="10" Source="Cookie_Images/Raisins.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="Pecans" Height="313" Width="302" Canvas.Left="56" Canvas.Top="56" Source="Cookie_Images/Pecans.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="Almonds" Height="286" Width="333" Canvas.Left="14" Canvas.Top="59" Source="Cookie_Images/Almonds.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="WhiteChocolateChips" Height="351" Width="353" Canvas.Left="18" Canvas.Top="45" Source="Cookie_Images/White Chocolate Chips.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="SemisweetChocolateChips" Height="400" Width="400" Canvas.Left="0" Canvas.Top="0" Source="Cookie_Images/Dark Chocolate Chips.png" RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="MilkChocolateChips" Height="351" Width="380" Canvas.Left="7" Canvas.Top="45" Source="Cookie_Images/Milk Chocolate Chips.png" RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="MacadamiaNuts" Height="377" Width="354" Canvas.Left="38" Canvas.Top="12" Source="Cookie_Images/Macadamia Nuts.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

<Image x:Name="DarkChocolateChunks" Height="546" Width="456" Canvas.Left="-27" Canvas.Top="-88" Source="Cookie_Images/Dark Chocolate Chunks.png" RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="MilkChocolateChunks" Height="546" Width="456" Canvas.Left="-27" Canvas.Top="-88" Source="Cookie_Images/Milk Chocolate Chunks.png" RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="WhiteChocolateChunks" Height="546" Width="456" Canvas.Left="-27" Canvas.Top="-88" Source="Cookie_Images/White Chocolate Chunks.png" RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5" Visibility="Collapsed">

</Image>

<Image x:Name="HersheyMiniKisses" Height="134" Width="134" Canvas.Left="134" Canvas.Top="126" Source="Cookie_Images/Hershey Kiss.png" Visibility="Collapsed"/>

</Canvas>





We were careful to name the XAML elements so they could be controlled through an automated binding statement that is generated when the picture is loaded.


void CookieCanvas_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
foreach (Image oItem in CookieRoot.Children)
{
string sName = oItem.Name;
if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(sName))
continue;
var oBinding = new Binding(sName);
oBinding.Mode = BindingMode.OneWay;
oItem.SetBinding(Button.VisibilityProperty, oBinding);
}
}

With all this binding now in place the final step is the view model.

public class CookieVM : ViewModel

{

public CookieVM(Instance oSource)

: base(oSource)

{

}

public override void OnCollectionChanged(object sender, NotifyCollectionChangedEventArgs e)

{

if (e.NewItems.IsNotNull())

foreach (Component oNote in e.NewItems.OfType<Component>())

NotifyPropertyChange(oNote.ClassName);



if (e.OldItems.IsNotNull())

foreach (Component oNote in e.OldItems.OfType<Component>())

NotifyPropertyChange(oNote.ClassName);

}

public Visibility Cinnamon

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Cinnamon") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility PeanutButter

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("PeanutButter") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility ReesesPeanutButter

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("ReesesPeanutButter") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility Cocoa

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Cocoa") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility Oatmeal

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Oatmeal") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility Peanuts

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Peanuts") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility Raisins

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Raisins") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility HersheyMiniKisses

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("HersheyMiniKisses") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility Pecans

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Pecans") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility Almonds

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("Almonds") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility DarkChocolateChunks

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("DarkChocolateChunks") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility MilkChocolateChunks

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("MilkChocolateChunks") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility WhiteChocolateChunks

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("WhiteChocolateChunks") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility WhiteChocolateChips

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("WhiteChocolateChips") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility SemisweetChocolateChips

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("SemisweetChocolateChips") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility MilkChocolateChips

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("MilkChocolateChips") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}

public Visibility MacadamiaNuts

{

get { return DoesChildOfClassExist("MacadamiaNuts") ? Visibility.Visible : Visibility.Collapsed; }

}
}

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Converting SketchFlow to Production

Deb: I was really excited to start working with Blend 3 with SketchFlow! I had seen videos from MIX 09 demoing SketchFlow and was disappointed it wasn't in the first release of Blend 3. Finally I was going to get a chance to try it myself.

I had a few learning pains, working with the SketchFlow Map - the documentation was a little sketchy (pardon the pun). I also had a problem getting the navigation to work right until I learned about right-clicking on the button and going to the bottom of the menu to tell it where to navigate to. Once I learned that, it was amazingly easy to setup a prototype project. I was really pleased with the overall tool; I was able to build a nice prototype in a relatively short period of time.

My disappointment has come as I try to convert this prototype to production. I hadn't read ahead in the help documentation about how to do this because I assumed it would be relatively straight-forward. Imagine my surprise when I found a series of 16 steps that had me deleting files, navigating to obscure folders in the SDK to include references, and editing code in Notepad! The best advice I received in this series of steps was Step One: backup your project. After an hour of tedious effort, I got nothing. The project wouldn't run.

So I googled 'converting sketchflow to production' and tapped into a conversation within the Silverlight community about just how ready for primetime SketchFlow really is. Some people are happy to have such a powerful prototyping tool at their disposal, but say that when you are ready to build the application for real you will need to build it from scratch. Others range from disappointment to outrage, feeling Microsoft rushed Sketchflow out before it was really finished, not taking it through the final, critical step of conversion to production.

Me, I've turned my prototype project over to Steve, the Developer, to see how much he can convert and how much effort is required to convert it. We will let you know in a later post what we learn.

Meanwhile, I will be rebuilding the prototype from scratch, as a new project. I will also investigate getting access to the 'sketchy styles' from a normal Silverlight project. It seems to me that much of the value of SketchFlow would be delivered by the styles alone. Now if creating navigation was only as easy in a regular Silverlight project..........