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Deep Zoom Costa Rica (Silverlight Demo) »

FERDY CHRISTANT - APR 18, 2008 (08:24:51 PM)

Nowadays, cheap family cams and basic amateur photography equipment can give you high resolution images without a problem. Storage is cheap. However, besides printing the photographs and physically displaying them to those interested, a much more common way is to share them via the web. Hence the rise of sites like Flickr. Suddenly, the experience becomes a whole lot less.

Although online storage is cheap as well, you will probably require a payed account of some sort at a photo site, if you were to share your images with their original detail and size. If you were to publish them on your blog, you'd probably drastically reduce the size and quality of the image in order to provide a speedy experience for your visitors, and to spare your hosting provider's bandwidth.

Not anymore. Do you remember Google Earth's zoom feature, where you can smoothly zoom, and once you stop, the detail is filled in? This technology works by pre-tiling images into different zoom levels, and dynamically stitching them together based on your movements. Since everything works in the background, the experience is smooth.

This technology is now also build into Microsoft's Silverlight 2.0, it is called DeepZoom. I first saw it at the HardRock Cafe site, here. It contains over 250 images, some up to 2GB large, and you can smoothly zoom into them. Amazing!

As a test, I tried to reproduce the idea using our Costa Rica holiday pics. You can see the result by clicking on the image above. Next, use your mouse wheel and drag to move around the grid. How's this for a different way of photo sharing?

Note that this requires Silverlight 2.0 to be installed, if you have not, it will ask you to install it. My implementation works best at a resolution of 1280 and up, due to the size of the grid.

How did I do this? I just followed this article. Although I'm thrilled with the result, I found the process of implementation dissapointing. The Composer tool is incredibly slow and freezes often. It also exported my carefully aligned tiles in a messy way. In Visual Studio, the "Design" mode of the XAML is read-only. There are controls but you can only drag them to "Source" mode. The controls have no property editor, either. You need to know and remember each property, and manually set them by typing their name and value. I had some extra challenges since I do not have a .NET host, my implementation is hosted on LAMP. Technically it is perfectly feasible to host on any web server, it's just that you need to mess with javascript a bit.

Either way, I think the end user experience is very cool. Can't wait to hear what you think. 

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Comments: 1


APR 25, 2008 - 13:51:12

comment » Hi Ferdy,

It looks pretty neat with Silverlight, but I was more impressed with something similar (but better in my opinion): the piclens plugin.

See the demo at

The major benefit is that it works on a lot of photo blog and gallery sites. Especially the google image search is a delight when used with this plugin, just click the [>] play button that appears when you mouse-over an enabled photo/gallery and you're off. 01

Greetz, Tom. «

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