Mix09: Silverlight 3 Bitmap API and Bitmap Caching

by Jon Davis 19. March 2009 20:38

At MIX 08 (yes 2008) one of the sessions I watched on video discussed game development on Silverlight 2, and I after watching it I was scared of ever creating anything with Silverlight of that sort, because of a serious limitation. These people making this game were unable to create bitmap sprites. Tiling, animations and the like had to be created with vector brushes and storyboards. What an awful joke! I swore off Silverlight for tinkering with games until Microsoft would expose a bitmap API that would facilitate bitmap editing, bitmap-to-canvas, as well as canvas-elements-to-bitmap.

I’ve mentioned my concerns in this blog before, even again recently.

It looks like Silverlight 3 is going to deliver. It will be barebones—the bitmap API is strictly pixel-level bitmap tweaking (no inherent System.Drawing equivalence or PNG import/export). But it’s SOMETHING, and something is better than nothing. Microsoft threw us a bone. Meanwhile, the bitmap caching is described as such: “Silverlight 3 dramatically improves the rendering performance of applications by allowing users to cache vector content, text and controls into bitmaps. This feature is useful for background content and for content which needs to scale without making changes to its internal appearance.” This sounds a lot like a solution to the original problem I (and apparently they) observed. I don’t know, however, how carefully that text was written. Can we really export canvas objects, such as the canvas itself, to a bitmap? If so, theoretically one could easily use this create screenshots of Silverlight, or even video recordings of Silverlight usage. This could also be a printer solution, assuming you can also export a higher DPI than screen default.

It’s all way cool, regardless.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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