Smooth as Butter Animations in the Visual Layer with the Windows 10 Creators Update

The Windows 10 Creators Update marks the third major release of the Windows UI platform APIs. With each release, an attempt is frequently made to simplify features introduced in prior releases. This encourages Universal Windows Platform (UWP) developers to standardize on these features. The new hide and show implicit animations are an example of this.

At the same time, too much standardization can potentially lead to conformity, so with each new release more powerful visual features like the new custom animations are also added, which allow developers who are willing and able to dive into them to customize their user interfaces and stand out from the crowd. This inherent tension between ease of use and the power to customize rewards developers for their efforts while also making sure that no one gets left behind.

Hide and show animations for page transitions

Page transitions, often accompanied by state transitions as visual elements, are added to the visual tree of the new page. In fact, a lot of interactivity in UWP simply involves deciding which content to show and which content to hide as the state of the app changes. More often than not, this is tied to changing the value of the Visibility properties of the elements on the screen.

In the Creators Update, two new implicit animation techniques have been added to help you make these transitions more fluid: ElementCompositionPreview.SetImplicitShowAnimation and ElementCompositionPreview.SetImplicitHideAnimation. Whenever a UIElement is loaded or when that element’s Visibility property is set to Visible, the implicit animation associated with it using SetImplicitShowAnimation will play. Similarly, whenever the user navigates away from a page or when a UIElement is hidden, an animation associated with it using the SetImplicitHideAnimation method will be invoked. These two mechanisms make it easier for you to include motion as an inherent aspect of all your visual elements, while providing a seamless experience for your users.

Connected animations

Implicit animations are great for animating controls inside a page. For navigation transitions between pages, however, the Visual Layer provides a different mechanism known as connected animations to help you make your UI even sweeter. Connected animations help the user stay oriented when she is performing common tasks such as context switching from a list of items to a details page.

The Windows UI platform APIs provide a class named the ConnectedAnimationService to coordinate animations between the source page and the destination page during navigation. You access the service by calling the static GetForCurrentView method. Then in the source page, you invoke PrepareToAnimate, passing in a unique key and the image that should be used for the transition animation.


ConnectedAnimationService.GetForCurrentView().PrepareToAnimate("MyUniqueId", image);

In the destination page, you retrieve the image from your ConnectedAnimationService service and invoke TryStart on the ConnectedAnimation while passing in the destination UIElement.


var animation = ConnectedAnimationService.GetForCurrentView().GetAnimation("MyUniqueId");
if (animation != null)
{
    animation.TryStart(DestinationImage);
};

In the Anniversary Update you did not have much control over this animation technique. Everyone got pretty much the same standard one. With the Creators Update, on the other hand, you have lots of new superpowers to personalize your transitions with:

  • Coordinated animations
  • Custom animations
  • Better image animations

Just to reiterate the point made in the introduction, the goal in designing the Windows UI platform APIs is to provide an awesome experience out of the box so you can copy the standard samples and get beautiful, fast and visually appealing visuals. At the same time, this shouldn’t ever take away from your ability to personalize the user experience to create something truly unique and wonderful with powerful new tools, like coordinated animations and custom animations.

Coordinated animations

A coordinated animation is a type of animation that appears alongside your connected animation and which works in coordination with your connected animation target. A coordinated animation gives extra visual flair to your page transition.

In the coordinated animation sample above, caption text that is not present in the source page is added to the destination page. The caption text is animated in tandem with the connected animation. We are doing two things here (in designer terms): providing context between the source and the destination using our connected animation while also adding visual interest with a coordinated animation at the destination. In user experience terms, though, all we’re doing is making the app’s transition animations look really cool.

Coordinated animations are fortunately also easy to implement. The TryStart method of the ConnectedAnimation class provides an override that allows you to pop in an array of visual elements you want to animate in a coordinated fashion. Let’s say that your caption text is in a visual element that you’ve named “DescriptionRoot.” You can add this as a coordinated animation by tweaking the previous code like so:


var animation = ConnectedAnimationService.GetForCurrentView().GetAnimation("MyUniqueId");
if (animation != null)
{
    animation.TryStart(DestinationImage, new UIElement[] { DescriptionRoot });
};

That’s a lot of power packed into a little argument.

Custom animations

By default, the connected animations in the navigation sample move in a straight line from the origin position in the source page to the target position in the destination page. If you select a box in the far-left column, it will move more or less straight up, while if you select a box in the top row, it will more or less move directly left to get to that target position. But what if you could put some English on this?

You can with custom animations, introduced in the Creators Update. The custom animations feature lets you modulate your transitions in four ways:

  • Crossfade – Lets you customize how elements crossfade as source element reaches destination
  • OffsetX – Lets you customize the X channel of Offset
  • OffsetY – Lets you customize the Y channel of Offset
  • Scale – Lets you customize scale of the element as it animates

In order to customize a particular part of a connected animation, you will need to create a keyframe animation and add it to your page transition using the SetAnimationComponent call like so:


var animation = ConnectedAnimationService.GetForCurrentView().GetAnimation("MyUniqueId");

var customXAnimation = Window.Compositor.CreateScalarKeyFrameAnimation();
customXAnimation.Duration = ConnectedAnimationService.GetForCurrentView().DefaultDuration;
customXAnimation.InsertExpressionKeyFrame(0.0f, "StartingValue");
customXAnimation.InsertExpressionKeyFrame(0.5f, "FinalValue + 25");
customXAnimation.InsertExpressionKeyFrame(1.0f, "FinalValue");

animation.SetAnimationComponent(ConnectedAnimationComponent.OffsetX, customXAnimation);

Note that you use expressions to get the starting and ending values of the connected animation.

Awesome image animations

The Creators Update also introduces improved image interpolation for connected animations where the image size and even the relative dimensions are changing between the source and the destination—for instance transitioning from a square to a rectangular image.

This interpolation happens automagically so you have less to worry about.

Implicit animation support for property sets and shadows

Finally, animation capabilities are also extended in the Creators Update by allowing you to apply implicit animations to property sets and shadows.

This change provides developers with even more creative flexibility and the ability to modify shadows in interesting new ways, as shown in the code sample below.


var shadowBlurAnimation = compositor.CreateScalarKeyFrameAnimation();
shadowBlurAnimation.InsertExpressionKeyFrame(1.0f, "this.FinalValue");
shadowBlurAnimation.Duration = TimeSpan.FromSeconds(1);
shadowBlurAnimation.Target = "BlurRadius";

//Associating animations with triggers 
implicitAnimationShadow["BlurRadius"] = shadowBlurAnimation;
implicitAnimationShadow["Opacity"] = shadowOpacityAnimation;
implicitAnimationShadow["Scale"] = shadowScaleAnimation;

implicitAnimationVisual["Translation"] = translationAnimation;
            

//Applying Implicit Animations to objects 
content.Properties.ImplicitAnimations = implicitAnimationVisual;
shadow.DropShadow.ImplicitAnimations = implicitAnimationShadow;

Wrapping up

The visual power being made available to developers through the Windows UI platform APIs have basically always been a part of the UI Framework. They just haven’t always been accessible until now. Think of this as a UI nuclear reactor being handed over to you to play with. With this awesome power, however, also comes the responsibility to create sweet UI and beautiful interactions. Go forth and be amazing.

To learn more about the topics covered in this post, you are encouraged to voraciously consume the following articles and videos:

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The road to Java 9: Only critical bugs getting fixed now

With the initial release candidate build for Java 9 now published, Oracle has proposed that from here on out, only “showstopper” bugs be fixed for the production Java 9 release, which is due September 21.

The proposal floated this week represents a further tightening up of bug-fixing goals for RDP (Rampdown Phase) 2 of the Java upgrade. The plan calls for fixing all P1 (Priority 1) bugs critical to the success of Java Development Kit (JDK) 9. Also, builders would decommit from fixing any bugs not new in JDK 9 and not critical to the release, even if they had been targeted for fixing.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Yahoo is shutting down the news app it bought from a 17-year-old Brit for a reported $30 million (YHOO)

Nick D'Aloisio

Yahoo is planning to shut down its News Digest app at the end of June after launching it less than three years ago.

In a News Digest app update, Yahoo said: “We will not be creating any new digests as of June 30, 2017. We’ve loved serving you guys all these years.”

Rolled out in January 2014, News Digest is based on technology developed by British tech entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio that aggregated and summarised stories from different publications into a single paragraph.

Yahoo reportedly paid $30 million (£23.5 million) for D’Aloisio’s app, originally called Summly, and gave him a job as part of the deal. At the time, D’Aloisio was just 17 years old. He then helped Yahoo turn Summly into News Digest — a more polished product (complete with Yahoo branding) that it could push out to its audience.

Yahoo was taken over by Verizon on June 13 in a $4.5 billion (£3.6 billion) deal. News Digest is therefore one of the first cuts that Verizon has made at Yahoo.

News Digest was downloaded 9.5 million times, according to App Annie, a platform that tracks app downloads.

Through the app, iPhone and iPod Touch users were able to receive news customised for where they were in the world twice a day: once in the morning and again in the evening.

Yahoo News Digest

Describing the app when it launched, D’Aloisio said: “Our Digests provide a definitive summary of all the need-to-know news so you can stay on top of what’s happening. To help you get informed quickly, our stories are generated from multiple sources and are assembled from essential ‘bits and pieces’ of information, which we call atoms’.

“The atomic units aren’t all text and include maps, infographics, stock tickers, Wikipedia extracts, videos, photos, quotes and more. We’ve just launched two new atoms in this version; weather and statistics. The digest itself is algorithmically produced but editorially curated demonstrating the perfect blend of technology and journalism.”

D’Aloisio left Yahoo two years after selling his news-aggregation app to the Silicon Valley giant to focus on his computer science and philosophy studies at Oxford University. Some of his work at Oxford has already been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

D’Aloisio’s LinkedIn profile suggests that he worked at Yahoo from April 2013 to October 2015. He was also an “entrepreneur in residence” at Airbnb from July 2015 to October 2015.

While at Yahoo, D’Aloisio worked as a product manager and helped now ex-CEO Marissa Mayer launch News Digest, which was underpinned by Summly algorithms. The app went on to win an Apple Design Award in June 2014.

Speaking with Techworld in May 2014, D’Aloisio said: “I’ve no idea where I’ll be in five years. I could be at Yahoo … I could be at university … I could be doing another company. But wherever I am, I want to innovate and create companies or ideas that I’m super-passionate about.”

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Facebook is fighting hate speech with the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox (FB)

Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox, speaking outside the Old Bailey in London after Thomas Mair was found guilty of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

Facebook is taking steps to try and eradicate racist and terrorist speech from its service.

It’s launched the “Online Civil Courage Initiative” (OCCI) in the UK, giving funding and training to organisations which are trying to tackle hate speech. The initiative is already live in Germany and France.

For its UK effort, Facebook has enlisted the help of Brendan Cox, the husband of Jo Cox, an MP who was attacked and killed in West Yorkshire last year. Brendan Cox now runs a charitable foundation in his wife’s name.

The other launch partners comprise various community groups — the Jewish-focused Community Security Trust, the anti-Islamophobia group Tell MAMA, and Imams Online.

Facebook hasn’t said how much money it’s committing to the OCCI in the UK, but pledged $1 million (£790,000) when announcing the German version in January.

Politicians have put tech companies under huge pressure to try and get rid of extremist content online. Theresa May and the G7 leaders signed a measure last month promising they would all pressure tech firms to remove terror propaganda that is “warping young minds.” Their thinking is that the ready availability of propaganda might be encouraging new terrorists.

The OCCI is one of several new measures from Facebook to make the social network looks like it’s doing something.

A press release about the OCCI’s efforts in the UK was vague on practical measures. The company said it would give a “direct” line to NGOs who monitor for online extremist content. It also said it would effectively give free ads to NGOs trying to counter hate speech on Facebook. And the OCCI will help fund academic research into “online and offline patterns” of extremism.

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement: “The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester —like violence anywhere — are absolutely heartbreaking. No one should have to live in fear of terrorism – and we all have a part to play in stopping violent extremism from spreading.”

She added: “There is no place for hate or violence on Facebook.” Sandberg said it was important to counter terrorist speech online through partnerships with governments, academic researchers, and NGOs. “The UK Online Civil Courage Initiative will support NGOs and community groups who work across the UK to challenge the extremist narratives that cause such harm,” she said. “We know we have more to do – but through our platform, our partners and our community we will continue to learn to keep violence and extremism off Facebook.”

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An exploding whipped cream dispenser killed a French fitness star — here's how it could have happened

French fitness blogger Rebecca Burger died June 18 after a whipped cream dispenser exploded and struck her chest.

According to the BBC, Burger died of cardiac arrest following the freak accident, which her family has said was caused by a faulty dispenser.

The device was not the kind of canister in which pre-whipped cream is typically packaged and sold in the United States. Instead, the dispenser — sometimes also called a charger — is designed so that users can pour regular whipping cream into it, and then get freshly whipped cream out.

Burger’s family shared a photo of the device, along with a warning about it, on Instagram.

 Dispensers like this typically require “charger” cartridges, or capsules, that are filled with a tasteless gas called nitrous oxide. Each cartridge is usually about the size of a thumb and weighs about 25 grams (8 grams of which is the pressurized nitrous oxide).

The charger attaches to the dispenser, which punctures it, releasing the pressurized gas into the tightly sealed container. By the laws of physics, gas particles want to spread out, so they naturally flow out of the opening in the cartridge and disperse throughout the container. The gas gets mixed into the cream in the form of tiny bubbles, and when the cream is dispensed from the container, those bubbles have even more room to expand. That gives the cream a whipped, airy consistency.

It’s why a whipped cream dispenser can whip cream so much faster than a person could by hand.

In Burger’s case, however, the dispenser seems to have malfunctioned and exploded, sending one of these cartridges into her thorax, or chest (according to the description posted by her family).

Pressurizing an air-tight container can turn it into a rocket, since the condensed gas inside will rapidly spill out of any available opening.

A prime example of this the soda bottle-rocket experiment. By filling up a soda bottle with a little water, sealing it, and pumping it full of air, the bottle turns into a high-flying rocket the moment that pressure is relieved.

Rhett Allain, a physics professor at Southeastern Louisiana University who runs the blog Dot Physics at Wired, said that rapidly releasing all of the pressure in a whipped cream dispenser would basically create the same scenario as the gif shown above.

“It’s essentially a tiny high pressure water bottle rocket,” Allain told Business Insider.

An even more dangerous scenario might be one where the cartridge somehow detaches from the dispenser.

“A cartridge by itself would go even faster,” Allain said. “It’s basically a gas rocket bullet.”

A shock to the heart’s electrical conduction system

Allain couldn’t say exactly how fast a cartridge might fly, but guessed it could be more than 30 mph. This type of hit would cause a severe injury, but it would only cause cardiac arrest in very rare cases. 

John Greenwood, an assistant professor at the the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told Business Insider that the forceful, direct impact of an object can cause the heart to stop if it hits a person’s chest at a specific time in their heartbeat cycle.

The heart’s electrical conduction system has distinct phases, the last of which is called ventricular depolarization. This is essentially the point at which the system resets and returns (very briefly) to its resting state in order to start the next heartbeat cycle. If the chest is hit at the exact time that the heart is in this depolarization phase — which typically only lasts for .1 to .2 milliseconds — Greenwood says that can stop the beat and cause cardiac arrest.

“It’s like a shock during the reset period, which really messes up the heart’s electrical conduction system,” he told Business Insider. “It’s probably more about the timing, but it would have to be a pretty significant force. It’s not someone pushing on your chest or smacking you or something.”

Like a pitcher getting hit by a fast-moving ball

Greenwood says the typical example of this rare circumstance in textbooks is a pitcher who gets hit by a fast-moving ball right after it leaves a hitter’s bat. That pitcher would fall to the ground immediately, he says, but the heart can be restarted in this type of situation. If a patient is immediately given CPR and then shocked with an automatic electrical defibrillator within two to three minutes of the impact, they can come out of cardiac arrest without lasting damage.

“As unfortunate as it is,” Greenwood said of Burger’s death, “I think an important part of this story would be that this is an example of why early defibrillation and CPR is important. It is a reversible cause of cardiac arrest, and a young person can survive if your’e able to defibrillate them in time.”

Burger’s family has also urged people not to use whipped cream dispensers, claiming that “thousands of defective devices … are still in circulation.” According to the BBC, a French consumer group has issued warnings in the past about faulty connectors on the gas capsules in these devices. The AP also reported that the product has been off the market since 2013, and that its manufacturer, Ard’time, said efforts had been asked to alert consumers about the problem. 

SEE ALSO: French Instagram fitness star killed by exploding whipped cream canister

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Uber's ex-CEO knew a self-driving car engineer had Google's data long before it bought his company, Waymo says

Travis Kalanick Anthony Levandowski

Travis Kalanick’s rough week may have just gotten worse.

A court document filed Wednesday night states that Kalanick was aware in March 2016 that Anthony Levandowski was in possession of discs that contained data from Google. 

Waymo, which Google spun off, sued Uber over the theft of trade secrets and patent infringement related to its self-driving car technology. Waymo is trying to show that Levandowski, a former engineer in Google’s autonomous car effort, took its proprietary information with him when he joined Uber, and the ride-hailing company was aware of and encouraged the theft.  

 The document may be a mixed blessing for Waymo’s case.

According to the court document, which was filed by Waymo but cites Uber’s own stated responses to Waymo’s questions, Levandowski told Kalanick and other Uber employees in March 2016 that he had five discs containing information from Google. Kalanick responded by telling him not to bring any of the information to Uber, and that the company did not want it, according to the document. Levandowski later told Uber he had destroyed the discs, according to the filing.

A longtime contributor to Google’s self-driving car effort, Levandowski left the search giant in January 2016 to co-found Otto, a startup focusing on developing autonomous trucks. Uber bought Otto in August for $680 million, but Levandowski was working with Kalanick and Uber months before then. 

Waymo has alleged that Levandowski downloaded trade secrets from Waymo that he used to help jumpstart Uber’s own self driving car research. 

Regardless of how the revelation in the filing impacts Waymo’s ability to prove its case, it could further antagonize the judge in the lawsuit. The court had previously given Uber a deadline of March 31 to hand over any stolen files or reveal if they had been destroyed. Uber failed to meet any of the judge’s deadlines. Indeed, according to the filing, Uber waited until June 8 to inform the court that it knew the files were destroyed. 

In the filing, Waymo asked the judge to order Uber to explain why it shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for failing to meet those deadlines.

SEE ALSO: Uber just fired the engineer at the center of its legal battle with Google because he wouldn’t cooperate

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Crunch Report | Apple Rolls Out Early Version Of Its Safe Driving Feature

Crunch Report June 22 Today’s Stories  Do Not Disturb While Driving feature rolls out in Apple’s newest iOS 11 beta Sean Parker has left Spotify’s board; Padmasree Warrior, Thomas Staggs join in lead up to IPO Trump might kill next month’s new startup visa before it takes effect Facebook is testing a feature to prevent profile pictures being abused by other users Tantan, China’s… Read More

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YouTube has 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users watching a ton of mobile video

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Periscope vows fix for broadcasters mad that they forfeit tips by deleting replays

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Uber has to find a new CEO — Here are 8 likely candidates

Travis Kalanick

Uber was already in the hunt for a high-caliber executive to help revamp the company. 

Now, though, that person will get to call themselves CEO. 

The ride-hailing company’s former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, resigned the post on Tuesday after getting a letter from investors demanding his departure. At the time he received the letter, he was in Chicago to interview a candidate to be Uber’s chief operating officer. Up until Kalanick’s resignation, filling that position was the company’s top priority. 

Now, Uber’s board is putting on hold the search for a partner for Kalanick, to start looking for a leader for the new Uber. (Kalanick, though, will have a role in finding his replacement.)

It won’t be easy to find an exec willing to take on turning around the embattled company, but here’s a list of some of the likely candidates for the job: 

SEE ALSO: Uber’s absent leadership: The $69 billion startup needs a lot more top executives than just a new CEO

Thomas Staggs

Former position: Chief Operating Officer of Disney

Once the heir-apparent at the Mouse House, Staggs stepped down in April 2016 in a move that shocked the entertainment industry. Given his experience as a top executive at a large company and his operational and financial expertise — he also previously served as Disney’s chief financial officer — it makes sense that Staggs has been one of the early names bandied about for Uber’s CEO post.

Helena Foulkes

Current position: President of the pharmacy division and executive vice president, CVS Health

Foulkes was in the running for Uber’s COO position, but ultimately decided against it, according to one source familiar with her decision. With Kalanick out of the picture, though, Foulkes might be persuaded to change her mind.

Foulkes has spent 25 years at CVS, helping the company develop into the massive pharmacy chain it is today. In one of her previous roles at the pharmacy retailer, she oversaw some of its marketing efforts. That’s an area where Uber needs help as it seeks to rebuild its relationships with both riders and drivers.

Adam Bain

Former position: COO of Twitter

Known as Twitter’s “Mr. Nice Guy”, Bain had been asking friends about Uber’s COO job after the company started searching for someone to fill that position. A pal of Kalanick’s, he could take the top role immediately, because he’s been a free agent since leaving Twitter in November 2016. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Computer Systems Cloud Specialist