Sunday, January 08, 2012

Announcing a new version of the Gleed 2D XNA tool

I’ve spent some time over the Summer and Autumn of 2011 rewriting the Gleed 2D tool.  This is a tool for editing levels for 2D games and is a very popular tool in the XNA community for games running on XBox and Windows Phone.

Most of the changes in the new version are under-the-hood.  The biggest change has been to make it have a plug-in architecture.  There has also been a few UI changes though; here’s some screen-shots.

The original tool before being re-written:


and here’s the new version:


The main reason for rewriting the tool was that I wanted to add more features to it but found that it wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t easy because it was originally written to just handle the basics needed for creating and editing levels.

The features that I wanted to add were for the next version of my game (video here). I wanted to include lighting and shadows and  I wanted to design these on the canvas.

Instead of shoe-horning my changes into the original Gleed 2D source, I decided it’d be best to rewrite it and change it to a plug-in based tool.

So, now everything is a plug-in.  The basic shapes (rectangle, circle, path) and textures are now plug-ins.  Lighting (lights and shadows) is now a plug-in.  There’s also a plug-in for simple ‘behaviour’.

Here’s a quick video showing how to use the basic shapes and textures:

Basic shapes and textures

Here’s a short video showing lighting:

Lights and shadows

and lastly, here’s a short video showing simple behaviours:

Simple behaviours

The tool is still currently a bit rough.  There’s various bugs that need to be fixed, but none of them stop the tool from doing what it was designed to do.  The project is now quick big, so I’m hoping that the community will jump in and add/fix stuff.  I’d like to see plug-ins for physics and particle systems.

Feel free to download the source and play around.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A fast way of converting C# enums to strings–and back again.

I recently needed a fast way of converting lots of enums to strings (and back again).  I needed to do it very quickly.  ‘Enum.Parse’ just wasn’t fast enough.

I discovered there was no ‘enum mapper’ in C#, so I knocked up this little class.  It uses reflection just once when it comes across a new enum.

It’s compatible with .NET 3.5 too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Handy use of extension method on a bool

I don’t like to overuse if/else statements.  I really dislike seeing code like this:

if(somethingIsTrue) { DoSomethingWhenTrue( ) ; } else { DoSomethingElse( ) ; }

I just had an idea about using extension methods so I can write this instead:

somethingIsTrue.Branch( ( ) => DoSomethingWhenTrue( ), ( ) => DoSomethingElse( ) ) ;

… and here’s the extension method:

public static void Branch(this bool @bool, Action left, Action right) { if( @bool ) { left( ) ; } else { right( ) ; } }

Nice or not? I think it reads a bit better (for single line expressions anyway).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Summon Method

"Summon Method" A method that gets or creates something.
A common question (well, I've seen it asked a few times), is what should I call a method the gets or creates something? Instead of
Foo GetOrCreateFoo()
Foo SummonFoo()
What do you think?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A tool to switch project files between using Visual Studio 2008 and 2010

tool-boxUpdate: the source is now on GitHub

Visual Studio 2010 is almost here. Visual Studio 2010 (the release candidate) is here.

I’ll describe the problem before I describe the tool: You want to use the latest version of Visual Studio but you don’t want it to modify all of your projects and solutions because you’ve got other team members who don’t want to (or can’t) switch to 2010.

A serious problem indeed. If only you could you run a tool to update all of you project files to 2010, do your changes in Visual Studio 2010, then switch all projects back to 2008 format before checking in.

Well, here’s a command line tool to do just that!

It’s very easy to use: run it from the command line, give it a folder name, and tell it whether you want all your projects and solutions under that folder to be either 2008 or 2010 format. For example:

SwitchVsVersion c:\temp\MySolution 2010
SwitchVsVersion c:\temp\MySolution 2008

As a bonus, you can also tell it to change all your target frameworks to either .NET 4 or .NET 3.5. For example:

SwitchVsVersion c:\temp\MySolution 3.5Framework
SwitchVsVersion c:\temp\MySolution 4.0Framework

Binary here. Source code here. Here’s a test solution with lots of different empty projects to try it out on too.

Disclaimer: this is a noddy little tool that may not work properly on your projects and solutions. I’ve tested it on quite a large WinForms solution and it worked fine. I’ve also tested it on quite a variety of projects including C# and VB WinForms, Web Apps, Libraries, WPF Projects, and WPF Libraries. The only one it doesn’t do is C++ projects (which is a coincidence, because I no longer do C++ projects either). Be sure to back up your stuff before you use this tool! Terms and conditions apply.

Update: Thanks for the feedback. As requested, the source is covered under the WTFPL. Do what you want with it:

DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE This program is free software. It comes without any warranty, to the extent permitted by applicable law. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License, Version 2, as published by Sam Hocevar. See for more details.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Updated: Code Formatter Plugin for Windows Live Writer

This plug-in formats and highlights code. Version can be downloaded here. Keep reading for more info.

As well as a few bug fixes, this release includes the following features:

· Use different formatting engines such as ActiPro (Insert formatted code), and SyntaxHighlighter (Insert highlighted code)
· Dozens of languages, including PowerShell, MSIL, Pascal and XAML
· Live formatting of code using the superb ActiPro code editor.  ActiPro very kindly donated the license.
· The ability to output either highlighted text (html) or an image
· WordPress support for the SyntaxHighlighter Evolved plugin

This plugin adds four tools in WLW's tool window:


Tool 1) Code as bitmap

This uses the ActiPro formatting engine to take a snapshot of the code. 

You'll see this screen when clicked – if there’s text in the clipboard, it’ll be shown here, or you can copy and paste when the window appears:


This srceen allows you to set the size of the editor window.  You can either select common widths from the drop-down or put in your own width - for instance, 465 is the ideal width for my template on Blogger.  The buttons on the bottom right allow you to then:

a) insert the image straight into the blog post or
b) have the plugin copy the image or
c) discard it. 

The advantage of the option A is that the code is still editable in WLW; the disadvantage - you cannot [yet] apply bitmap effects, such as reflection or drop shadow.   

The advantage of option B is that you can apply bitmap effects, but the disadvantage is that code will no longer be editable.

Tool B) Formatted code

This also uses uses the ActiPro formatting engine.

When inserting code, the plugin window will allow various properties of the code to be changed:


When clicking edit code, you'll see the edit source code screen:


Tool C) Highlighted code

This uses the Syntax Highlighter formatting engine.  When inserting code, the edit screen will appear in the same way as when you insert formatted code (see above).  The only difference is a ‘show preview’ button, which displays this preview window:

To use the SyntaxHighlighter engine, ensure your blog is correctly set-up.  For the preview window to correctly display your code, ensure the Settings are correct.  Here’s the Settings window:

Tool D) WordPress Formatted

This changes the HTML output to that expected by theSyntaxHighlighter Evolved plugin for WordPress.  It’s very similar to using the SyntaxHighlighter engine, but you don’t need to worry about setting up your blog with the correct scripts.  Do be aware though, that for the Preview window to work correctly, you still need to set-up this plugin so that it knows where the SyntaxHighlighter brushes and scripts are (the default settings work right now, but if Alex changes the location in the future, you’ll need to update the settings).

To see examples of the output, please see this blog post.

Version can be downloaded here.  To use it, extract the binaries to Program Files\Windows Live\Writer\Plugins and run WLW.  If you're using a version of WLW prior to Beta 3, then you need to remove it and update!  (alternatively, change the directory to \Program Files\Windows Live Writer\Plugins)

Thanks again to all those that left feedback.   Please keep it coming. Hopefully the bugs that have been reported have now been fixed. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Problems with CSS and themes when using ASP.NET Forms Authentication

A while back, I wrote a blog post about how turning on Forms Authentication caused problems with stylesheets and Themes.  A lot of people found this post useful but had trouble finding it.  One reader suggested I change the title to get more hits.  So, I did, and this is it. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

ReSharper for Visual Studio 2010

rs I don’t know how I missed this for so long, but JetBrains have released a preview of ReSharper for Visual Studio 2010! They say this version is neither 4.5.1 nor 5.0, but a preview build with some of the new 5.0 features enabled.

Looking at the nightly builds, it seems that the first release was 9th July, but there was no news on their blog, which I’ve been checking daily since June (when they said it’d be ready).

Anyway, now I can give Visual Studio 2010 another try.  I just couldn’t use it, not even for evaluation, without ReSharper!

Also, let’s not forget that version 4.5.1 for Visual Studio 2005 and 2008 is also now available.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Google Squared and sexy languages!

Google Squared looks like an interesting tool. 

“Google Squared is a search tool that helps you quickly build a collection of facts from the Web for any topic you specify.

  • Facts about your topic are organized as a table of items and attributes (we call them "Squares" for fun).
  • Customize these Squares to see just the items and attributes you're interested in.
  • See the websites that served as sources for the information in your Square.
  • Save and share Squares with others.”


There’s some interesting results.  I searched for ‘programming languages’

It displays a list of languages, a picture of the language, a description, and what it was influenced by.

I was very surprised to see the Miranda language (apparently influenced by Haskell).  Try it yourself:  scroll down to Miranda.  I must take a closer look at this one!

limbo Another one that might get you excited is Limbo.  Scroll down and take a look (but be careful if you’re at work!!). Apparently influenced from Stackless Python.  I’d say more like alcohol!