It’s been a while since Silverlight Toolkit has Theming support, but with the April 2010 version and the new features of Silverlight 4 it is now easier than ever to apply those themes.
What you need to know:
- ImplicitStyleManager was removed from the Toolkit, this is because implicit styles are now supported in Silverlight 4.
- The Toolkit has now a Theme control to apply Themes on your pages.
- Also a ContextMenuService and ContextMenu control that can allow the user to switch Themes at runtime in this scenario.
Archive for May, 2010
As most of you already know, Wordpress 3.0 has been released. Although it’s still in a beta release stage, you can take it for a test drive and check out the many new features that are available. Many people already use Wordpress for many things other than just blogging but this release will certainly create opportunities for managing content even more effortlessly than before and using Wordpress as more than just a blog.
Wordpress was first released in 2003 as a content management system intended for bloggers, and today is regarded as the most popular blogging software available. Wordpress is constantly being upgraded with great new features that make it possible to use it as a full website CMS instead of just a blogging platform. Many blogs and even large business sites are using Wordpress as their CMS: CNN, Wall Street Journal, Nikon, Pepsi, etc. No question about it, Wordpress 3.0 has extended the possibilities for creating a full website with a user-friendly CMS for clients.
The full release was set for May 2010, but as of the end of May it hasn’t come out yet and it’s looking like it will be early June before it’s fully released. For this post, Wordpress 3.0 Beta 2 was used, and you can download that by going here.
New Menu Management Feature
In my opinion, this is one of the most exciting new features with Wordpress 3.0, and it’s included in the default installation. Before this, it was possible to create a dynamic menu with some plugins and/or Wordpress ninja skills. But it was never very easy to accomplish and now they’ve made it super simple.
You can add pages, categories, and even custom website links. With the custom website links option, you could link straight to a post, another website, whatever you want. It’s very user-friendly and setup similar to the current sidebar widget area where you can easily drag and drop to customize it just the way you like.
Custom Post Types
Currently, you can only create pages and posts with Wordpress. In 3.0, you can create your own custom post types, and set up the appropriate fields to go along with each. When a user chooses a new post type, something like a Podcast, they will just add a podcast, simple as that. You don’t need to walk your clients through a complicated process and explain why they need to add a new post for a podcast and then click on a certain category and fill in a certain custom field. It’s one step now, and clients will love the simplicity. It does require the use of a plugin, but before it required much more work to setup.
Wordpress MU has been around as a separate entity for a while but will now be integrated in Wordpress 3.0. MU allows you to maintain multiple sites from a single admin panel. It’s great for anyone that runs more than one site or blog and would like the simplicity of logging in once and maintaining them all from one place. This is especially helpful if these sites share content, templates, or plugins. One installation means less work and less time to create the same thing.
This isn’t completely setup in the default installation, but it’s fairly easy to get it up and going. First add this line to wp-config.php.
Now “Network” will appear under Tools in the main menu. Once there, fill in the Network Title, Admin Email Address and press Install. Wordpress gives you the option to set these sites up under sub domains or sub directories. If you’ve installed this version of Wordpress in a sub directory or you’re using localhost, Wordpress requires that you use sub directories.
Other Noteworthy Features
You can now choose your own username and password in the installation process, no more auto generated passwords using the admin username.
The new default theme, Twenty Ten, is much nicer. It’s clean and lightweight with minimal style attributes. I don’t use the default themes myself, but it’s still a nice feature to see.
- Wordpress 3.0 Codex
- Looking Forward to Wordpress 3
- Wordpress 3.0 is Getting Ready to Launch
- What’s Coming in Wordpress 3.0 Features
- Wordpress 3.0 Guide
Wordpress has moved leaps and bounds with this new version and I’m excited to see where it’s going in the future. These new features certainly help us deliver a more user-friendly CMS to clients with less hassle and headache in the setup process.
Have you had a chance to check it out yet? What is your favorite feature and what are you most excited to see in the future?
About the Author
Shannon Noack is a designer in Arizona and the Creative Director of Snoack Studios. Designing is her passion in life and she loves to create websites, logos, print work, you name it. She also blogs regularly here and you can connect with her on Twitter as well.
[This post is by Dan Morrill, Open Source & Compatibility Program Manager. — Tim Bray]
At Google I/O 2010, we announced that there are over 60 Android models now, selling 100,000 units a day. When I wear my open-source hat, this is exciting: every day the equivalent of the entire population of my old home city starts using open-source software, possibly for the first time. When I put on my hat for Android Compatibility, this is humbling: that’s a whole lotta phones that can all share the same apps.
Another thing we launched at Google I/O was an upgraded and expanded source.android.com. The new version has refreshed info on the Android Open-Source Project, and some new tips and tools for device manufacturers — useful if you’re an OEM. However, it also has details on the Android compatibility program, now. This is also aimed mostly at OEMs, but Tim Bray suggested that developers might be interested in a peek at how we keep those 100,000 devices marching to the same beat, every day. So here I am, back on the blog.
The F-word, or, Remember remember the fifth of November
I remember sitting with my colleagues in a conference room in Building 44 on November 5, 2007, listening to Andy Rubin and Eric Schmidt announce Android to the world. I remember a lot of the press stories, too. For instance, Android was “just words on paper” which was especially entertaining since I knew we were getting ready to launch the first early-look SDK a mere week later.
Another meme I remember is... yes, “fragmentation”. Literally before the close of business on the same day we announced Android (4:46pm to be precise), I saw the first article about Android “fragmentation.” The first day wasn’t even over yet, and the press had already decided that Android would have a “fragmentation” problem.
The thing is, nobody ever defined “fragmentation” — or rather, everybody has a different definition. Some people use it to mean too many mobile operating systems; others to refer to optional APIs causing inconsistent platform implementations; still others use it to refer to “locked down” devices, or even to the existence of multiple versions of the software at the same time. I’ve even seen it used to refer to the existence of different UI skins. Most of these definitions don’t even have any impact on whether apps can run!
Because it means everything, it actually means nothing, so the term is useless. Stories on “fragmentation” are dramatic and they drive traffic to pundits’ blogs, but they have little to do with reality. “Fragmentation” is a bogeyman, a red herring, a story you tell to frighten junior developers. Yawn.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t real challenges in making sure that Android devices are compatible with each other, or that there aren’t very real concerns that keep app developers awake at night. There definitely are, and I spend a great deal of time indeed thinking about them and addressing them. The trick is to define them clearly.
We define “Android compatibility” to be the ability of a device to properly run apps written with the Android SDK. This is a deceptively simple way to frame it, because there are a number of things that can go wrong. Here are a few:
Bugs - devices might simply have bugs, such as a buggy Bluetooth driver or an incorrectly implemented GPS API.
Missing components - devices might omit hardware (such as a camera) that apps expect, and attempt to “fake” or stub out the corresponding API.
Added or altered APIs - devices might add or alter APIs that aren’t part of standard Android. Done correctly this is innovation; done poorly and it’s “embrace and extend”.
Each of these is an example of something that can make an app not run properly on a device. They might run, but they won’t run properly. These are the things that I spend my time preventing.
How It Works
As stewards of the platform we realize that it’s vital to allow only compatible devices to participate in the Android ecosystem. So, we make compatibility a strict prerequisite for access to Android Market and the right to use the Android name. This means that developers can rely on the fact that Android Market — the keystone of the Android ecosystem — will only allow their apps to run on compatible devices. It’s pretty self-evident that a single app ecosystem is better than many small ones, so OEMs are generally pretty motivated to ship compatible devices.
But motivation alone doesn’t get us very far without tools to actually ensure compatibility, which is where the Android compatibility program comes in. This program is like a stool with three legs: the Android source code, the Compatibility Definition Document, and the Compatibility Test Suite.
It all starts with the Android source code. Android is not a specification, or a distribution in the traditional Linux sense. It’s not a collection of replaceable components. Android is a chunk of software that you port to a device. For the most part, Android devices are running the same code. The fact that all Android devices run the same core Android code goes a long way toward making sure those devices all work the same way.
However, this doesn’t solve the problems of missing components or altered APIs, because the source code can always be tweaked. This is where the Compatibility Definition Document (or CDD) comes in. The CDD defines in gory detail exactly what is expected of Android devices. It clearly states, for example, that devices may not omit most components, and that the official Android APIs may not be altered. In a nutshell, the CDD exists to remove ambiguities around what’s required of an Android device.
Of course, none of that overcomes the simple reality of human error — bugs. This is where the Compatibility Test Suite comes in. The CTS is a collection of more than 20,000 test cases that check Android device implementations for known issues. Device makers run the CTS on their devices throughout the development process, and use it to identify and fix bugs early. This helps ensure that the builds they finally ship are as bug-free as possible.
Keeping Up with the Times
We’ve been operating this compatibility process with our OEM partners for over a year now, and it’s largely responsible for those 60+ device models being interoperable. However no process is ever perfect and no test suite is ever 100% comprehensive, and sometimes bugs get through. What happens then?
Well, we have great relationships with our OEMs, and like I said, they’re motivated to be compatible. Whenever we hear about a serious bug affecting apps, we report it to our partners, and they typically prepare a bugfix release and get it out to end users. We will also typically add a test case to the CTS to catch that problem for future devices. It’s an ongoing process, but generally our partners are as interested as we are in the user experience of the devices they sell.
The mobile industry today is “very exciting”, which is code for “changes painfully fast”. We believe that the only way Android will be a success is to keep up with that change, and ultimately drive that change. This means that over time, the CDD will also change. We’ll add new text to handle problem cases we encounter, and the actual requirements will change to accommodate the innovations happening in the field. For example, in the 2.1/Eclair CDD, we tweaked the CDD slightly to make telephony optional, which allows Android to ship compatibly on non-phone handheld devices. Whenever we do this, of course, we’ll make corresponding changes to the Android APIs and Android Market to make sure that your apps are protected from ill effects.
On a somewhat related note, a lot of ink has been spilled on the fact that there are multiple versions of Android out there in users’ hands at the same time. While it’s true that devices without the latest software can’t run some of the latest apps, Android is 100% forward compatible — apps written properly for older versions also run on the newest versions. The choice is in app developers’ hands as to whether they want to live on the bleeding edge for the flashiest features, or stay on older versions for the largest possible audience. And in the long term, as the mobile industry gets more accustomed to the idea of upgradeable phone software, more and more devices will be be upgraded.
What It Means for You
All that is great — but what does it mean for developers? Well, we put together a page in the SDK Documentation to explain this, so you should take a look there. But really it boils down to this:
As a developer, you simply decide what features your app requires, and list them in your app’s AndroidManifest.xml.
The Android compatibility program ensures that only compatible devices have access to Android Market.
Android Market makes sure your app is only visible to those devices where it will run correctly, by filtering your app from devices which don’t have the features you listed.
There almost certainly will be devices that have access to Android Market that probably weren’t quite what you had in mind when you wrote your app. But this is a very good thing — it increases the size of the potential audience for your app. As long as you accurately list your app’s requirements, we’ll do the rest and make sure that your app won’t be accessible to a device where it won’t run properly. After all, we’re app developers ourselves, and we know how painful it is to deal with users upset about an app not working on a device it wasn’t designed for.
Now, that’s not to say that we think our current solution is perfect — no solution is. But we’re continuously working on improvements to the SDK tools and Android Market to make your life as an Android developer even easier. Keep an eye on this blog and on the Android Market itself for the latest info.
Thanks for reading, and happy coding!