Thursday, February 21, 2008

A few Top Tech of 2007

I know its a bit late to mention favorites for 2007 but I was one of them just now and I still can't believe how much time and effort it has saved me. In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites for 2007

(Software: Application) - XML Notepad

It is a small simple application called XML Notepad. It is available from Microsoft as a free download so I suggest at least taking a look. Before using this software I would look at and sometimes write raw XML by hand for many strange reasons. XML Notepad does a few things great that I use all the time:

1) Viewing XML documents is much easier and faster using the interface of XML notepad. It is much easier to condense large sets of data and to also quickly read and understand the structure in this format.

2) Validation of XML notepad tells exactly where the document breaks and offers to open up notepad of the same file if it can't parse properly. This has saved me many times when creating custom components that generate pseudo XML. This came in handy the most when creating automation for constructing custom XAML interfaces.

3) Creating or editing XML documents is much easier with the interface here. It took some getting used to how it copied/pasted and moved nodes but after it helped me so much when creating test documents for applications.

I use it almost daily for looking at XML formatted configuration files, log files, or anything else which adheres to the same structure such as certain web document formats.

(Software: Technology) - WPF
This markup based 'foundation' is an interesting approach to building out interfaces, but it works. I was very surprised to find that most things 'just worked' for nesting controls to have weird behaviors- like having animating buttons and other strange effects. Sadly, I don't have the need or the time to work with WPF and I haven't worked directly with it since mid 2007, but I still remember some of the great things I was able to do with it and the ease of development it offered. Some of my favorite parts were databinding controls in XAML and creating highly customized applications almost entirely within the markup language itself without need for much code behind. I had only wished that there were native controls for performing some logic so I wouldn't need any code behind at all, but it wasn't necessary anyway. And another missing feature was some advanced image manipulation which seemed strangely missing- such as performing advanced cropping and translations for images within markup. My use for this would be to cut pieces out of an image to skin components from a master file. Instead I had settled on clipping the file into many small images which would ultimately load faster anyway.

(Hardware: consumer) - iPhone
Although I don't have one and had no real desire to own one I can't help but love its slick interfaces and multi purpose nature. I have a great desire and respect for handheld technologies which elegantly wrap together several technologies together. I feel that mobile technology is at a point where I essentially wouldn't need anything else if it could do the following:

Tell time, make phone calls, browse internet easily, keep contact information, keep schedule, access corportae networks for accessing other persons info (contact info, schedule, etc), read all document types, run flash and any other relevant web extension technology, be able to manipulate cursor of a mobile computer or as a presentation aide, unlock and start car either in car or remotely, play music and movies, have capacity to never be full of disk space, act as general purpose external storage, act as operating system replacement- such tht I could boot from it wirelessly with full speed, act as remote controller for television, dvd player, and any other set of components for home entertainment- including game consoles, able to play latest mobile game titles, home automation tool.

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