Jul 122011
 

I’ve been holding off talking about my app until I had the free version available on the marketplace… and now it is!

I LOVEFiLM Screenshot

I hope you like it, it’s the product of much work, sweat, blood and tears with a little drop of pixie dust. Obviously you’ll need to have a LOVEFiLM account for the app to actually work for you, but if you do have a LOVEFiLM account I feel this app is the best on the market… because I made it!

No, but seriously this app is fully-featured and should offer everything you need, including:

  • New releases
  • Coming soon
  • Lists (genre, famous actors, famous directors, format, 100 best, language, production year, etc.)
  • Search by keyword
  • Add to default rental list or a specific list
  • Remove from rental list
  • Change title priority
  • Rating
  • Find all of the films / TV shows by your favourite actor, actress, or director
  • Find similar titles to the one you’re currently viewing
  • Play trailer for the title you’re viewing
  • Actor/Director information

But don’t take my word for it, download the free version and see for yourself! If you’re totally confident in my abilities (and who isn’t?!), then use the big banner below to get the full paid version:

Download for Windows Phone 7

Jul 032011
 

In your output window you may find something like:

Deploying C:\Users\Username\Documents\Visual Studio 2010\Projects\MyApp\MyApp\Bin\Debug\MyApp.xap…
Deployment of application to device failed.
The parameter is incorrect.

The problem is probably due to the ApplicationIcon.png or Background.png files. These files must be actual files within the project – they can’t be linked to.

Another problem can be an incorrectly formatted WMAppManifest.xml file. Create a dummy project so you can compare your manifest file to the freshly created correct manifest. Pay particular attention to the Genre (must be ‘apps.normal’) and the IconPath and BackgroundImageURI values. Also make sure the DefaultTask’s ‘NavigationPage’ is set correctly.

Jul 032011
 

When you build your WP7 app, you may get the following cryptic error after a successful compilation: MSBUILD : error : Xap packaging failed. Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

This error means one of the core files referenced in the WMAppManifest.xml is missing. This can be either due to the file being renamed or deleted, or just of the wrong build type. Open up your WMAppManifest.xml file in the Properties folder and take a note of the IconPath and BackgroundImageURI values. Make sure the paths are correct and the files are present. Also make sure that if IsResource is set to false, that the graphic has a Build Action of ‘Content’.

Jul 022011
 

Make sure to read parts 1 and 2 first!

By now you’re probably loving the transitions on offer from WP7Contrib, but have found a slight problem in that the Turnstile Feather animation doesn’t work with the LongListSelector as provided by the WP7 Silverlight Toolkit. Fear not! For the opensource nature of WP7Contrib means we can extend the transitions functionality to support the LongListSelector as well as the standard ListBox. It should be noted that these changes aren’t perfect, and are largely a hack to add the functionality in as short a timespan as possible. You can download the demo app here to see the changes in action.

Let’s Have At It

First you need to download the WP7Contrib sourcecode, the code in this example is associated with revision 66430. You can try applying the changes to the latest revision, however note that things have most definitely moved on since 66430.

Open up the solution you’ve downloaded, then expand the ‘WP7Contrib.View.Transitions’ project. Expand ‘Animation’ and open up ‘TurnstileFeatherAnimator.cs’ and add the following properties to the class:

/// <summary>
/// Is BackwardIn or BackwardOut
/// </summary>
protected bool IsBackward { get; set; }

/// <summary>
/// Run the completion action first rather than on completion
/// </summary>
protected bool RunCompletionAnimationFirst { get; set; }

private Action _completionAnimationAction;
private Action _actualBeginAction;
private Action _completionAction;

Change the datatype of the ‘ListBox’ property to ‘Control’, this is so we can use either a ListBox or a LongListSelector without modifying client code.

The IsBackward property tells us if this is a Backward animation, this is required to fix some bugs in the way the LongListSelector handles itself when the page is restored when the user navigates backward.

The RunCompletionAnimationFirst property tells the animator to run the completion animation first or not. This is necessary because I perform a Turnstile animation on the RootElement to complete the feather effect. This turnstile animation needs to run first if the elements are animating in, and last if the elements are animating out.

The three Action properties are necessary to order animations in the correct order, and then perform the actual completion action. These properties will make more sense when you see the implementation details.

Now replace all of the methods in the ‘Public Methods’ region with the following:

/// <summary>
/// The begin.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="completionAction">
/// The completion action.
/// </param>
public override void Begin(Action completionAction)
{
    _completionAction = completionAction;
    completionAction = new Action(AnimationsCompleted);

    if (RunCompletionAnimationFirst)
    {
        _completionAnimationAction = ActualBegin;
        _actualBeginAction = completionAction;

        HideListItems();
        BeginCompletionAnimation();
    }
    else
    {
        _completionAnimationAction = completionAction;
        _actualBeginAction = BeginCompletionAnimation;

        ActualBegin();
    }
}

private void BeginCompletionAnimation()
{
    CompletionAnimation.RootElement = this.RootElement;
    CompletionAnimation.Begin(_completionAnimationAction);
}

private void HideListItems()
{
    if (ListBox is LongListSelector)
    {
        foreach (ContentPresenter li in ((LongListSelector)ListBox).GetItemsWithContainers(false, true).OfType<ContentPresenter>())
            li.Opacity = 0;
    }
    else if (ListBox is ListBox)
    {
        foreach (ContentControl li in ((ListBox)ListBox).GetVisualDescendants().OfType<ListBoxItem>().Where(lbi => IsOnCurrentPage(lbi) && lbi.IsEnabled))
            li.Opacity = 0;
    }
}

private void AnimationsCompleted()
{
    if (!this.IsBackward && ListBox is LongListSelector)
    {
        LongListSelector listBox = (LongListSelector)ListBox;

        listBox.UpdateLayout();
        listBox.SelectedItem = null;
    }

    _completionAction();

    _completionAnimationAction = null;
    _actualBeginAction = null;
    _completionAction = null;
}

private void ActualBegin()
{
    if (ListBox is ListBox)
        ActualBeginListBox();
    else if (ListBox is LongListSelector)
        ActualBeginLongListSelector();
    else
        throw new InvalidOperationException("ListBox must be of type System.Windows.Controls.ListBox or Microsoft.Phone.Controls.LongListSelector");

    base.Begin(_actualBeginAction);
}

private void ActualBeginListBox()
{
    Storyboard = new Storyboard();
    ListBox listBox = (ListBox)ListBox;

    double liCounter = 0;
    var listBoxItems = listBox.GetVisualDescendants().OfType<ListBoxItem>().Where(lbi => IsOnCurrentPage(lbi) && lbi.IsEnabled).ToList();

    if (HoldSelectedItem && Direction == Directions.Out && listBox.SelectedItem != null)
    {
        //move selected container to end
        var selectedContainer = listBox.ItemContainerGenerator.ContainerFromItem(listBox.SelectedItem);
        listBoxItems.Remove(selectedContainer as ListBoxItem);
        listBoxItems.Add(selectedContainer as ListBoxItem);
    }

    foreach (ContentControl li in listBoxItems)
    {
        GeneralTransform gt = li.TransformToVisual(RootElement);
        Point globalCoords = gt.Transform(new Point(0, 0));
        double heightAdjustment = li.Content is FrameworkElement ? ((li.Content as FrameworkElement).ActualHeight / 2) : (li.ActualHeight / 2);
        //double yCoord = globalCoords.Y + ((((System.Windows.FrameworkElement)(((System.Windows.Controls.ContentControl)(li)).Content)).ActualHeight) / 2);
        double yCoord = globalCoords.Y + heightAdjustment;

        double offsetAmount = (RootElement.ActualHeight / 2) - yCoord;

        PlaneProjection pp = new PlaneProjection();
        pp.GlobalOffsetY = offsetAmount * -1;
        pp.CenterOfRotationX = 0;
        li.Projection = pp;

        CompositeTransform ct = new CompositeTransform();
        ct.TranslateY = offsetAmount;
        li.RenderTransform = ct;

        var beginTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds((FeatherDelay * liCounter) + InitialDelay);

        if (Direction == Directions.In)
        {
            li.Opacity = 0;

            DoubleAnimationUsingKeyFrames daukf = new DoubleAnimationUsingKeyFrames();

            EasingDoubleKeyFrame edkf1 = new EasingDoubleKeyFrame();
            edkf1.KeyTime = beginTime;
            edkf1.Value = Angle;
            daukf.KeyFrames.Add(edkf1);

            EasingDoubleKeyFrame edkf2 = new EasingDoubleKeyFrame();
            edkf2.KeyTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(Duration).Add(beginTime);
            edkf2.Value = 0;

            ExponentialEase ee = new ExponentialEase();
            ee.EasingMode = EasingMode.EaseOut;
            ee.Exponent = 6;

            edkf2.EasingFunction = ee;
            daukf.KeyFrames.Add(edkf2);

            Storyboard.SetTarget(daukf, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(daukf, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Projection).(PlaneProjection.RotationY)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(daukf);

            DoubleAnimation da = new DoubleAnimation();
            da.Duration = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(0);
            da.BeginTime = beginTime;
            da.To = 1;

            Storyboard.SetTarget(da, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(da, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Opacity)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(da);
        }
        else
        {
            li.Opacity = 1;

            DoubleAnimation da = new DoubleAnimation();
            da.BeginTime = beginTime;
            da.Duration = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(Duration);
            da.To = Angle;

            ExponentialEase ee = new ExponentialEase();
            ee.EasingMode = EasingMode.EaseIn;
            ee.Exponent = 6;

            da.EasingFunction = ee;

            Storyboard.SetTarget(da, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(da, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Projection).(PlaneProjection.RotationY)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(da);

            da = new DoubleAnimation();
            da.Duration = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(10);
            da.To = 0;
            da.BeginTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(Duration).Add(beginTime);

            Storyboard.SetTarget(da, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(da, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Opacity)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(da);
        }

        liCounter++;
    }
}

private void ActualBeginLongListSelector()
{
    Storyboard = new Storyboard();
    LongListSelector listBox = (LongListSelector)ListBox;

    double liCounter = 0;
    var listBoxItems = listBox.GetItemsWithContainers(false, true).OfType<ContentPresenter>().ToList();

    if (HoldSelectedItem && Direction == Directions.Out && listBox.SelectedItem != null)
    {
        //move selected container to end
        var listBoxItemsInView = listBox.GetItemsWithContainers(true, true).OfType<ContentPresenter>();
        var selectedContainer = listBoxItemsInView.Where(i => i.Content == listBox.SelectedItem).FirstOrDefault();

        if (selectedContainer != null)
        {
            listBoxItems.Remove(selectedContainer);
            listBoxItems.Add(selectedContainer);
        }
    }

    foreach (ContentPresenter li in listBoxItems)
    {
        GeneralTransform gt = li.TransformToVisual(RootElement);
        Point globalCoords = gt.Transform(new Point(0, 0));
        //double heightAdjustment = li.Content is FrameworkElement ? ((li.Content as FrameworkElement).ActualHeight / 2) : (li.ActualHeight / 2);
        double heightAdjustment = li.ActualHeight / 2;
        //double yCoord = globalCoords.Y + ((((System.Windows.FrameworkElement)(((System.Windows.Controls.ContentControl)(li)).Content)).ActualHeight) / 2);
        double yCoord = globalCoords.Y + heightAdjustment;

        double offsetAmount = (RootElement.ActualHeight / 2) - yCoord;

        PlaneProjection pp = new PlaneProjection();
        pp.GlobalOffsetY = offsetAmount * -1;
        pp.CenterOfRotationX = 0;
        li.Projection = pp;

        CompositeTransform ct = new CompositeTransform();
        ct.TranslateY = offsetAmount;
        li.RenderTransform = ct;

        var beginTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds((FeatherDelay * liCounter) + InitialDelay);

        if (Direction == Directions.In)
        {
            li.Opacity = 0;

            DoubleAnimationUsingKeyFrames daukf = new DoubleAnimationUsingKeyFrames();

            EasingDoubleKeyFrame edkf1 = new EasingDoubleKeyFrame();
            edkf1.KeyTime = beginTime;
            edkf1.Value = Angle;
            daukf.KeyFrames.Add(edkf1);

            EasingDoubleKeyFrame edkf2 = new EasingDoubleKeyFrame();
            edkf2.KeyTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(Duration).Add(beginTime);
            edkf2.Value = 0;

            ExponentialEase ee = new ExponentialEase();
            ee.EasingMode = EasingMode.EaseOut;
            ee.Exponent = 6;

            edkf2.EasingFunction = ee;
            daukf.KeyFrames.Add(edkf2);

            Storyboard.SetTarget(daukf, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(daukf, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Projection).(PlaneProjection.RotationY)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(daukf);

            DoubleAnimation da = new DoubleAnimation();
            da.Duration = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(0);
            da.BeginTime = beginTime;
            da.To = 1;

            Storyboard.SetTarget(da, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(da, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Opacity)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(da);
        }
        else
        {
            li.Opacity = 1;

            DoubleAnimation da = new DoubleAnimation();
            da.BeginTime = beginTime;
            da.Duration = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(Duration);
            da.To = Angle;

            ExponentialEase ee = new ExponentialEase();
            ee.EasingMode = EasingMode.EaseIn;
            ee.Exponent = 6;

            da.EasingFunction = ee;

            Storyboard.SetTarget(da, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(da, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Projection).(PlaneProjection.RotationY)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(da);

            da = new DoubleAnimation();
            da.Duration = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(10);
            da.To = 0;
            da.BeginTime = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(Duration).Add(beginTime);

            Storyboard.SetTarget(da, li);
            Storyboard.SetTargetProperty(da, new PropertyPath("(UIElement.Opacity)"));
            Storyboard.Children.Add(da);
        }

        liCounter++;
    }
}

This is a lot of code! Fortunately this is the only major change to add the functionality we need. In the Begin method we set up our actions mentioned in the properties earlier. The completionAction is the action performed when all animations are completed, just like the original implementation. _actualBeginAction is the action the ActualBegin() method will execute upon completion. This will either be the completionAction, or an action to trigger the completion animation.

The completion animation is badly named, since it can run either at the start or the end of the feather animation.

After the actions are set up, we call the first animation. The first animation will then call the second animation, which will call the completionAction. So as an overview the method calls will be:

Completion animation first: Begin() > BeginCompletionAnimation() > HideListItems() > ActualBegin() > AnimationsCompleted() > CompletionAction()
Completion animation last: Begin() > ActualBegin() > BeginCompletionAnimation() > AnimationsCompleted() > CompletionAction()

We have an additional call to HideListItems() if the completion animation is run first. This is because the screen pivots in and then animates the list. The problem is if the list is visible from the outset you would see the list turnstile-in, then suddenly disappear and animate.

ActualBegin() is where we perform the actual Feather animation. We check the type of control passed in, and trigger the correct animation code. The code is largely the same between the two except for a little setup where we use the methods provided by the LongListSelector to get the containers for the visible elements. This means implementation on the surface is actually easier than with the ListBox where we have to work out which elements are visible.

AnimationsCompleted()

So why do we have an additional method that we run at the end of the animation? This is neccesary to fix a bug in the LongListSelector where the control won’t respond to input from the user after the animation is completed. We call UpdateLayout() to trigger the LongListSelector to sort itself out. Finally we set the SelectedItem to null. This is an implementation detail I’ve found useful for myself – however, you may well want to remove this line. In essence by leaving the item selected, it is the last item to animate off of the list. However, I never want the item to remain selected, so I clear the selection automatically. This isn’t ideal behaviour for a professional control, so don’t go duplicating this kind of hideous hack in your own controls!

Finishing Up

Now we need to tweak the animators themselves to support the new functionality. Update the animators as follows:

public TurnstileFeatherBackwardInAnimator()
{
    this.IsBackward = true;
    this.Duration = 350;
    this.Angle = 50;
    this.FeatherDelay = 50;
    this.Direction = Directions.In;
    this.CompletionAnimation = new TurnstileBackwardInAnimator();
    this.RunCompletionAnimationFirst = true;
}
public TurnstileFeatherBackwardOutAnimator()
{
    this.IsBackward = true;
    this.Duration = 250;
    this.Angle = -80;
    this.FeatherDelay = 50;
    this.Direction = Directions.Out;
    this.CompletionAnimation = new TurnstileBackwardOutAnimator();
}
public TurnstileFeatherForwardInAnimator()
{
    this.Duration = 350;
    this.Angle = -80;
    this.FeatherDelay = 50;
    this.Direction = Directions.In;
    this.CompletionAnimation = new TurnstileForwardInAnimator();
    this.RunCompletionAnimationFirst = true;
}
public TurnstileFeatherForwardOutAnimator()
{
    this.Duration = 250;
    this.Angle = 50;
    this.FeatherDelay = 50;
    this.Direction = Directions.Out;
    this.HoldSelectedItem = true;
    this.CompletionAnimation = new TurnstileForwardOutAnimator();
}

And you’re done!

LongListSelector Scrolling

OK, I may have lied a little about you being done. The LongListSelector has one final issue when we animate, it doesn’t retain its scroll position. The easiest way to solve this is to sub-class AnimatedBasePage and perform the necessary ‘tweaks’ to the selector in the AnimationsComplete() method. But before I show you the code, you’ll need ‘Linq to Visual Tree’ by Colin Eberhardt. The code file is already included in the demo app. Now you’ve got the necessary code, you can add the AnimationsComplete() method to your newly created page class:

public class TransitionPage : AnimatedBasePage
{
    protected override void AnimationsComplete(AnimationType animationType)
    {
        if (animationType == AnimationType.NavigateBackwardIn || animationType == AnimationType.NavigateBackwardOut)
        {
            foreach (LongListSelector listBox in this.Descendants<LongListSelector>())
            {
                listBox.UpdateLayout();

                if (listBox.SelectedItem != null)
                    listBox.ScrollTo(listBox.SelectedItem);
                else
                {
                    object firstObj = listBox.GetItemsInView().Where(i => i != null).FirstOrDefault();

                    if (firstObj != null)
                        listBox.ScrollTo(firstObj);
                }
            }
        }

        base.AnimationsComplete(animationType);
    }
}

This code picks up if the animation is a backward one, and will automatically loop through all of the LongListSelectors (if you have multiple selectors across PivotItems or PanoramaItems they’ll all lose their position) and corrects their position.

Am I actually done now?

Yes, yes you are! It’s been a long road just to add a Feather Turnstile animation to a LongListSelector, but I believe it’s well worth it. The effect looks great and adds a great deal of professionalism to your app.

This concludes the ‘Transitions’ series of blog posts. As always, you can download the sample app here.

Issues

As with all things, there are a few gotchas. The first is the dreaded ‘AG_E_PARSER_BAD_TYPE’ error. This error can occur when you subclass AnimatedBasePage. To this date I still haven’t resolved the issue – it’s very inconsistent and affects some projects but not others. The easiest workaround is to use extension methods and call those from each individual page. It’s far from ideal and a simply hideous hack – but it does work.

The other issue you may get is a page simply refusing to navigate to another. Chances are you’re requesting a navigation too quickly – the page hasn’t finished initialising. The easiest solution in this case is to use the ‘OneShotDispatcherTimer’ from the Kawagoe Toolkit. You can use the timer like so:

OneShotDispatcherTimer timer = new OneShotDispatcherTimer()
{
    Duration = new TimeSpan(0, 0, 1)
};

timer.Fired += (object sender, EventArgs e) => NavigationService.Navigate(new Uri("/NextPage.xaml", UriKind.Relative));
timer.Start();
Jul 022011
 

Make sure to read part 1 first!

WP7Contrib offers numerous transitions, these include:

Continuum
The selected item in a list will animate out, and the next page will have the heading animate in. The reverse happens on returning to the original page. This is a great effect if the user is selecting a specific item to view more detail.

Rotate
The page rotates in/out. A bit ostentatious for my tastes.

Slide
There are various slide animations offered, these mimic the kinds of transitions you get with iOS. SlideUp and SlideDown are ideal for popups.

Turnstile
The default transition we all know and love

Turnstile Feather
My personal favourite, and one we’ll see a lot more of in Part 3. This is the same as Turnstile, except it will animate out each element in a list from top to bottom. This is the same effect you see on the phone home screen when you select an app to launch.

If you want to see all of the transitions on offer, download the WP7Contrib source code and open the ‘PageTransitions’ solution within the ‘Spikes’ folder. This provides a demo of all of the transitions on offer within WP7Contrib.

Let’s Play

Let’s try the Turnstile Feather and Continuum transitions out. You’ll need a project with a screen that’s a ListBox, if you don’t have one, download the demo app from the first part of this series. If you want to see the demo right now, click here to download the demo app for part 2.

Go into the code-behind for the page with the ListBox and add the following override:

protected override AnimatorHelperBase GetAnimation(AnimationType animationType, Uri toOrFrom)
{
    return base.GetAnimation(animationType, toOrFrom);
}

This is an extremely powerful override that allows you to fully customise the kind of animation used when the page is navigated to or from. The first parameter is the type of animation you need to return. The second parameter is the uri for the page that the user is either navigating to, or navigating from. If ever you’re not sure, use the base implementation which will almost always provide a Turnstile animation. The Turnstile animation is a good fall-back animation, so it’s often wise to handle specific cases yourself, and let the base implementation handle the rest.

Now you could run the app right now and it’ll work, but we want to trigger a Continuum transition on the way out, and a Turnstile Feather animation on the way back in. To do this, we need to tell which animations we want WP7Contrib to use:

protected override AnimatorHelperBase GetAnimation(AnimationType animationType, Uri toOrFrom)
{
    switch (animationType)
    {
        case AnimationType.NavigateForwardOut:
        case AnimationType.NavigateBackwardOut:
            return this.GetContinuumAnimation(TheListBox, animationType);

        case AnimationType.NavigateBackwardIn:
            return new TurnstileFeatherBackwardInAnimator()
            {
                ListBox = TheListBox,
                RootElement = LayoutRoot
            };

        case AnimationType.NavigateForwardIn:
            return new TurnstileFeatherForwardInAnimator()
            {
                ListBox = TheListBox,
                RootElement = LayoutRoot
            };
    }

    return base.GetAnimation(animationType, toOrFrom);
}

Notice we let WP7Contrib handle any animations we don’t explicitly handle ourselves. This ensures if the app is extended in the future the user experience isn’t unduly affected.

The Continuum animation has three properties, a StoryBoard, RootElement and LayoutRoot. This allows you to customise the animation applied to the selected element, however most of the time the default animation is the correct one. For this reason we get WP7Contrib to create the animation for us by calling GetContinuumAnimation.

The Turnstile Feather animation requires the ListBox you wish to animate and the RootElement. The RootElement in this case is the same element you set as the AnimationContext. You could set a different RootElement if required, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to do this.

Now run your app and admire your handy work! You can download a fully functional demo project here.

Want yet more? Click here for part 3.

Jul 022011
 

WP7Contrib offers an alternative to the WP7 Silverlight Toolkit transitions, and in my humble opinion, the alternative is significantly better in this case. The Silverlight toolkit offers easy integration of transitions via a little XAML markup and a minor change to the root frame. The biggest problem with the toolkit transitions are that they’re slow and exceedingly memory intensive with complex layouts consuming copious amounts of memory. In my latest app the transitions alone could use up to 40MB. Don’t forget, there is a 90MB limit for all apps when operating on devices with 256MB RAM.

WP7Contrib offers an alternative that’s code-based rather than markup-based. This may be preferable, or it may not depending on your internal setup. Personally for something like transitions I prefer code-based so transitions are the ‘default’ rather than the exception.

The greatest thing about WP7Contrib Transitions, is that they’re a doddle to implement if you just want to have transitions between pages. In WP7 the ‘standard’ transition is the turnstile transition – this is where each screen appears and disappears as if they’re pages in a book. Here’s how to get this transition into your app:

Simple Transitions

If you want to see the transitions for yourself, click here to download the demo app. Otherwise , download WP7Contrib and compile it. Once you’ve done this, add the WP7Contrib.View.Controls and WP7Contrib.View.Transitions assemblies to your project References. These are the only two assemblies required to get transitions working, and I prefer to include as few assemblies as possible to keep load times fast.

Next you need to make some minor tweaks to every page you want to animate. Add the following namespace to the XAML file:

xmlns:animation="clr-namespace:WP7Contrib.View.Transitions.Animation;assembly=WP7Contrib.View.Transitions"

Next change the page type to ‘animation:AnimatedBasePage’. To do this the first line of your XAML file should be:

<animation:AnimatedBasePage

And the last line should be:

</animation:AnimatedBasePage>

Now go into the code-behind and change the base type of your page to ‘AnimatedBasePage’. The final change is to add the following line into the constructor:

AnimationContext = LayoutRoot;

This tells WP7Contrib that your ‘root element’ is ‘LayoutRoot’. You can set any element to be the AnimationContext, this is useful if you want to only animate a sub-area of the page between pages. Generally speaking you’ll want to target LayoutRoot, or whichever element you’ve got containing all of your UI. This is the big difference between WP7Contrib and the WP7 Toolkit which targets the page frame itself.

Compile and run your app – you should find your pages automatically use the turnstile transition. Don’t forget you can download the demo app here.

Personally, I can’t recommend WP7Contrib transitions enough. They have a few caveats, but the performance improvements and memory savings are substantial. I hope that this article has given you a taster of the transitions and how easy they are to implement.

Hungry for more? Click here to view part 2 where we cover additional transitions.

Jun 072011
 

I quite like to have a global Performance Progress Bar in my Windows Phone 7 apps so the user has a consistent frame of reference when I’m interacting with web services. The requirements are simple, a progress bar that appears on all pages without any special requirements (ie. no custom controls, special code snippets, etc.). It should be managed in one place, and be easy to extend. Fortunately the extreme flexibility Silverlight offers makes this a doddle:

First add the following style to your App.xaml file:

<Style x:Key="mainFrameStyle" TargetType="phone:PhoneApplicationFrame">
    <Setter Property="Template">
        <Setter.Value>
            <ControlTemplate TargetType="phone:PhoneApplicationFrame">
                <Border x:Name="ClientArea"
                        BorderBrush="{TemplateBinding BorderBrush}"
                        BorderThickness="{TemplateBinding BorderThickness}"
                        Background="{TemplateBinding Background}"
                        HorizontalAlignment="{TemplateBinding HorizontalAlignment}"
                        VerticalAlignment="{TemplateBinding VerticalAlignment}">
                    <Grid>
                        <toolkit:PerformanceProgressBar
                            IsIndeterminate="True"
                            VerticalAlignment="Top"
                            Canvas.ZIndex="999"
                            Foreground="{StaticResource PhoneAccentBrush}"
                            Visibility="Collapsed"
                            Loaded="globalProgressBar_Loaded"
                            />
                        <layout:ContentControl
                                ContentTemplate="{TemplateBinding ContentTemplate}"
                                Content="{TemplateBinding Content}"
                                HorizontalAlignment="{TemplateBinding HorizontalAlignment}"
                                HorizontalContentAlignment="{TemplateBinding HorizontalContentAlignment}"
                                VerticalAlignment="{TemplateBinding VerticalAlignment}"
                                VerticalContentAlignment="{TemplateBinding VerticalContentAlignment}"
                                Margin="{TemplateBinding Padding}">
                        </layout:ContentControl>
                    </Grid>
                </Border>
            </ControlTemplate>
        </Setter.Value>
    </Setter>
</Style>

Next go into the code behind, and add the following variable to the top of the class:

private PerformanceProgressBar _globalProgressBar = null;

Next add the following methods to the bottom the App class:

private void globalProgressBar_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    _globalProgressBar = sender as PerformanceProgressBar;
}

public void ShowProgressBar()
{
    if (_globalProgressBar != null)
        _globalProgressBar.Visibility = Visibility.Visible;
}

public void HideProgressBar()
{
    if (_globalProgressBar != null)
        _globalProgressBar.Visibility = Visibility.Collapsed;
}

Now find the InitializePhoneApplication() method, and amend the RootFrame instantiation code to the following:

RootFrame = new PhoneApplicationFrame()
{
    Style = (Style)Resources["mainFrameStyle"]
};

And you’re done! You can call the progress bar like so:

((App)App.Current).ShowProgressBar();
((App)App.Current).HideProgressBar();

You can download the sample project here for your reference.

Update: This method for displaying a global ProgressBar doesn’t always play well with the WP7 Toolkit Transitions. However, I would highly recommend using the WP7Contrib Transitions anyway (they work well with the global ProgressBar too). I’ve created a 3-part guide on the transitions here.

Jun 042011
 

It’s quite common to have a ‘More’ button at the end of long lists within a LongListSelector. The problem is the template inexplicably doesn’t cascade the DataContext, so you have no access to the collection to trigger a more command. Fortunately the workaround is simple, albeit you can’t use pre-defined DataTemplates.

<toolkit:LongListSelector x:Name="SimilarList" ItemTemplate="{StaticResource GeneralCatalogListItemTemplate}" SelectionChanged="SimilarList_SelectionChanged" DataContext="{StaticResource dummyCatalogTitlesList}" ItemsSource="{Binding}" IsFlatList="True">
    <toolkit:LongListSelector.ListFooterTemplate>
        <DataTemplate>
            <bindings:CommandButton Content="More..." Command="{StaticResource moreCommand}" DataContext="{Binding ElementName=SimilarList, Path=DataContext}" CommandParameter="{Binding}" />
        </DataTemplate>
    </toolkit:LongListSelector.ListFooterTemplate>
</toolkit:LongListSelector>

You need to give your list a name, then when setting the DataContext for your controls make sure to provide the ElementName as seen above.

I’m not sure why the other templates cascade correctly and this one doesn’t, but I’m hopeful it’ll be fixed in a future release of the toolkit. As an aside there is a fairly clean workaround if/when MS add the Freezable class to WP7.

May 302011
 

So you’re getting the most awful error Silverlight can throw… I really wish I could tell you that if you hope on one leg while reciting the alphabet in reverse order will give you a vaguely helpful error message, but I can’t. The most common causes are:

Basically if there’s anything Silverlight doesn’t like at runtime, it’ll tend to throw this error. I’ll try to help you with the last two on the list above.

Layout Issue

In the stack trace for the error, check for the tell tale references to ‘MeasureOverride’. This means you’ve probably got a layout issue. What you’ve likely got is a fixed-width element, and the children require more space than you’re providing. In my case I had a table column that was 2 pixels too narrow. If your layout allows it, try to avoid using pixel sizes even if you know the correct size since sometimes additional styling can change required sizes slightly.

Some other problem

This one is the trickiest to solve, for obvious reasons. The best way I’ve found to debug is to go completely old school and strip everything back to the bare minimum and see if your code works then. This includes removing data binding. You need to get the page to display without any errors. Once you’ve reached this point slowly start re-introducing code. Eventually the error will re-appear and you should have a much better idea of exactly where the problem is. Of course you have to solve the problem still, but at least you know roughly where it is now.

May 292011
 

Recently I had a problem with Isolated Storage Settings on WP7 – the entire collection appeared to be wiped every single time I restarted the app. The problem turned out to be the deserialization stage of IsolatedStorageSettings, in essence if any object can’t be re-instantiated, then the entire collection is inaccessible. The collection will work correctly until you attempt to retrieve something that can’t be instantiated.

At the bare minimum the constructor of your class must be public.

All non-public properties will also fail to be restored, resulting in a rather empty object instance when you come to load the values that should have been saved (and have been… they just don’t come back). Be very careful with this issue, you may not notice the problem until it’s too late.