Since the first meetings about Imokapa Slideshow I’ve been working with Luís Oliveira, the interactive designer at Multivector. We started working with Beta 2 of WPF, so we didn’t have great tools, we had a version of Expression Blend but not even close to what it is today.
Luís started by creating some concept images of what the UI would be like based on the features planned. He used Fireworks to create those concepts and then it was up to me to plan the best plan of action to develop that interface and plan for customization.
When we started creating the actual UI we faced lots of problems, from tools that wouldn’t export XAML correctly to performance issues caused by poor exports done by Blend at the time. Even though Luís had some great designs we were starting to worry that those would never see the daylight…
Luís would be the best person to describe the process of working with XAML by hand, but I can say he didn’t like it a bit, he felt like he was coding and we had no real tools to help us because of the customization requirement. And it was very hard for him to keep up with all the objects and different ways to implement brushes, most of the hand written XAML was made by me, fortunately we used Blend in some small parts. Luís designed the controls in their several states and I implemented most in XAML. Fortunately now we don’t have to do that, the new versions of Blend and Graphic Design are helping us a lot and with the new customization design patterns we developed it is possible for us to work apart from each other and in the integration process I only have to check for possible performance issues check bindings and commands and it is ready to go!
So, today the experience is quite smooth, but when we started it wasn’t quite like that, Microsoft announced that Designers wouldn’t have to wait for Developers to implement their designs and Developers wouldn’t have to worry about the look of the application. Today it is a bit like that, not all is true, but we’ll get there, but when we started it was a hell of a nightmare (Microsoft and Marketing… you know 😉 ).