Develop a game and win money

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The 2008 Microsoft XNA Dream-Build-Play Challenge has begun and its looking like its going to be a really cool competition this year. The best part is that is a worldwide competition so that means even us South Africans can win.

There is a total of $75 000 up for grabs but everyone is a winner as everyone that enters gets a free 12-month XNA Creators Club trial membership.

The goal is to develop a groundbreaking game for the Xbox 360 platform using the free development tools Microsoft Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and Microsoft XNA Game Studio 2.0. To get started I recommend reading up more information on creating games over here. Good luck to all!

Blend doesn’t support managed type converters

If you are busy trying to develop using Microsoft Silverlight 2 beta 2 and Microsoft Expression Blend 2.5 June Preview you might have encountered errors while working in Blend such as The TypeConverter for "DataGridLength" does not support converting from a string. although Visual Studio doesn’t complain about the XAML and the code runs just fine.

Well its a confirmed issue in Expression Blend according to the feedback I’ve received on my bug report. The official word from Microsoft is as follows:

Thank you for your feedback. For the June Preview Blend does not support type converters from managed code (all the type converters defined in non-runtime assemblies). This is something that we are working on supporting for RTM but unfortunately do not have it working yet.

What this means is that any custom control development, including Microsoft’s own controls can potentially suffer from this issue as TypeConverter implementations that are not part of the Silverlight 2 beta 2 runtime are not supported. If you have encountered this issue in Expression Blend then please rate and validate the bug so it will be fixed.

WatermarkedTextBox control for Silverlight 2 beta 2

Microsoft SilverlightWhen Microsoft released Silverlight 2 beta 1 they included a really cool control called the System.Windows.Controls.WatermarkedTextBox control. It lived in the assembly System.Windows.Controls.Extended.dll and was included in your XAP file when you did a build. However in Silverlight 2 beta 2 the one control that didn’t make it was the WatermarkedTextBox control.

So by popular request, I have upgraded the original source code which Microsoft published under the Microsoft Public License, I have repackaged the control to ease the migration of existing beta 1 applications. In order to avoid any confusion I’ve changed the namespace of the control. This should hopefully prevent any issues when or if Microsoft decide to release their own version again.

To use the replacement control, simply build the provided solution and add a reference from your existing project to the assembly CraigN.Windows.Controls.dll and use the namespace CraigN.Windows.Controls. So typically this will involve adding xmlns:CraigN_Windows_Controls="CraigN.Windows.Controls;assembly=CraigN.Windows.Controls" to the UserControl element of your XAML file.

Then simply prefix all WatermarkedTextBox elements in the XAML file with CraigN_Windows_Controls: and all code should build again.

You can download the source code from here. I have taken the time to ensure that original test cases build. If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d like to hear them.

Silverlight 2 Beta 2 now available

Microsoft Silverlight Microsoft earlier this week announced at Tech-Ed North America 2008 that Microsoft Silverlight 2 beta 2 will be available for download this week.

The new Silverlight 2 beta 2 control updates the version number from 2.0.30226.2 to 2.0.30523.6. This release is expected to break compatibility with Silverlight 2 beta 1 while improving compatibility with Silverlight 1. For a full list of changes and new features, take a look here.

Please note, that you should uninstall all previous Silverlight 2 beta 1 bits before you attempt to install the new beta bits. The Silverlight 2 beta 2 control seems to upgrade seamlessly enough though. A list of stuff that should be removed includes:

  • Microsoft Expression Blend 2.5 March Preview
  • Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008
  • Microsoft Silverlight 2.0 SDK Beta1

Also note that the Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008 will install fine on top of Visual Studio 2008 RTM or Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta.

Well they were really cutting the before the end of the week promise close but you can now get hold of the latest beta developer bits using the following links:

If you aren’t using Visual Studio 2008 then you can download the SDK on its own using the following link:

I’ve also noticed another build of the Silverlight 2 beta 2 control that is targeted for developers. I assume it has more debugging support as its slightly larger in size. I don’t think its included in the Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008 installer.

And if you liked the Deep Zoom technology that was first shown in Silverlight 2 beta 1 then get yourself an updated set of tools to work with Silverlight 2 beta 2:

I personally can’t wait to get started with this new build as it now finally carries a commercial Go Live license.

Take a look at the following post which goes into details about the new features in the Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008.

  1. WCF templates for Silverlight Enabled.
  2. Build configurations.
  3. XAML Validation now reports build errors.
  4. Setup Improvements.
  5. Projects created in Beta 1 are prompted for conversion when opening to Beta 2
  6. Linking a Web Site to a Silverlight Application.

[tags]Silverlight,Silverlight 2,Tech-Ed[/tags]

What’s New in Silverlight 2 beta 2

Microsoft SilverlightThe Silverlight SDK blog has an overview of what new features to expect from the Silverlight 2 beta 2 release coming this week.

Highlights for me include:

  • DataGrid improvements: Autosize, Reorder, Sort, Performance increase, and more
  • Improved Templating Model: Visual State Manager
  • Including controls in the runtime instead of having them packaged in app package
  • Limited keyboard support in FullScreen mode (arrow, tab, enter, home, end, pageup/pagedown, space) – This opens up Silverlight 2 for gaming.
  • Cross Domain support in Sockets
  • Cross Domain security enhancements
  • BrowserHttpWebRequest and WebClient callable from BackGround Threads
  • Duplex communications (“push” from Server to Silverlight client)
  • Significantly improved SOAP interop
  • ADO.NET Data Services support
  • Changes in application model for multilingual apps (one xap per supported locale)
  • CurrentCulture and CurrentUICulture Isolation

This looks like its going to be an awesome new beta.

[tags]Silverlight,Silverlight 2,news[/tags]

Silverlight 2 beta 2 releasing this week

Microsoft SilverlightSome cool news coming out of Tech-Ed North America 2008 today from Bill Gates himself. Firstly Silverlight 2 beta 2 will be available this week including a commercial Go Live license and updated developer tools such as Microsoft Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 Preview and Microsoft Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008 beta 2.

This is great news for all Silverlight developers out there. From what I’ve read online this new release is going to break some compatibility with beta 1 but increase compatibility with Silverlight 1 and add a whole bunch of new and improved features as well as improved controls.

In addition we’ll see Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 out in August.

[tags]Silverlight,Silverlight 2,news,Tech-Ed 2008[/tags]