October 2007 - Posts
In my previous post I wrote something about trying to code something for Mediacenter on Vista, and I did that. I spent a couple of hours and downloaded c# Express and the MC SDK and followed the getting started guide that was included with the SDK. It worked :D
The markup language for MC (MCML) is a bit weird though, and it will take some time getting used to. If you're not going to write MCML every now and then, it will will probably be slow going and loads of trial and error for you. There are some tools (included in the SDK) to help you verify your markup, but it's not like coding (X)HTML or XAML... you've been warned :D
Anyway, I spent 30 minutes and tried to develop a "background" app for Mediacenter, which popped up a message with an image on the screen, and it was pretty easy - I just used the dialog() function with a timeout, which feels a bit like cheating, but it works.
Next step is to have my logitech quickcam ta a snapshot whenever someone rings the doorbell. Either that, or have the doorbell trigger something else which the MC background program can act on. I don't want to make a motion detector, but perhaps I can set up a microphone to detect the doorbell ringing? *weird solution* Should be possible with some minimal activex code I guess... I don't want to replace the doorbell if I really don't have to.
The guys that run the Windows Media Center Sandbox blog posted a nice one listing all the resources they talked about on the Hanselman #82 webcast a short while ago. It's a long list of SDKs, tools and samples and looks just like the right stuff to look at if you're interested in developing something for your Media Center setup.
I believe you need to have Vista to use the lastest SDK though, so if you're still on XP Media Center, maybe it's time to look at an upgrade? I just upgraded my XP MCE (yesterday) and it went pretty well except for a few driver problems I had with my HP printer, EPSON scanner and integrated SoundMax audio. I also had to upgrade the drivers for my tv-card (FloppyDTV) but I managed to find Vista drivers for everything eventually!
I'm about to download everything I need to develop something very small for MC and see if I can make it play on my XBOX 360 extender. Scott talked about hooking up a webcam to the door bell and display the picture on the screen. Sounds like a cool idea, but maybe just a bit too complex to start with. I have no idea how to trigger a program from a door bell on a Windows machine in the first place. I used to do stuff with IO ports on my ZX Spectrum some 25 years ago, but I have no clue how to do IO now... ;)
I finally had some time to play around with VS2008 for a few hours, and I must say I do like c# 3.0, linq and all that. What I most wanted to try out was linq to sql, which I did. Nothing too complex, but I think I got the hang of it now. While looking at linq for sql I also tried out some of the other new featurs like the object and collection initializer (nice), some extension methods and of course the query language.
I'm still thinking about the extension methods and I think developers need to be a bit careful and not start using the feature just because it's there. I was glad to see the information that pops up in Visual Studio when you hover above the extension and the special intellisense icon, which makes it easier to spot them.
The linq to sql graphical designer was easy to use, but it doesn't seem to support file databases, I had to create a db in sqlexpress instead. Perhaps I did something wrong.
Something i noticed was that a stored procs which selects * from tablex returned a specific results class instead of a collection of tablex. Perhaps it's possible to cast or convert the result from the sp to a list of tablex or something, but I doubt it. The sample code from ScottGu's blog indicates it should work... I'll try again later :)
UPDATE: Thanks to Raj for pointing out that you have change the return type of the stored proc in the designer properties to be of the type you wish it to be. *cheers*
I completely missed this announcement from the Microsoft XML team a month ago, that they will release an XML Schema Designer for VS2008. What can I say - finally!
See a short video here.
Download the CTP here.
It looks promising so far, but I'm still waiting for some screenies of the graphical view of the designer.
I snapped up this from a forum post:
The original schema
designer in VS has been removed from the product. There will be a new
schema designer, but it will ship in off-cycle release after the Orcas
is shipped. Currently, you have to use VS2005 to edit the schema file,
or use the Xml Editor, which looks like a text editor, but does provide
intellisense and schema validation.