C# Express RSS Screensaver

One of the cool projects I’ve worked on as part of working on C# Express is the “starter kit” that we added to the C# Express product.  Dan and Shaykat have both blogged about the starter kit, but I’ll try to go into some more detail about what these starter kits are.


What is a starter kit?

This is a question we get all the time.  The answer is that starter kits are like samples, but with better documentation and with clear ideas for extending the application to add new features.  They can be used as just a cool application, as an example of how to use some new language features (generics) and .NET framework APIs (strongly typed resources), or as a starting point for playing around with a small application.  They are also integrated closely into the environment by being added to the File->New->Project… dialog box.


What is the RSS Screensaver starter kit?

The starter kit we have in the C# Express beta is an RSS Screensaver.  Dan has some great screenshots here.  The documentation that’s included with the starter kit has lots of information about how it works.  There is also a section at the end with some possible ways to extend the screensaver.


What is cool about the RSS Screensaver starter kit?

1)      It’s a fully functional screensaver.  You can set it to be your screen saver so you can always be up to date on the latest C# info!

2)      You can use the source to learn about C#, the .NET frameworks and how to use the Visual Studio environment.

3)   You can learn about lots of neat GDI+ tricks, like using transparency and writing formatted text to the screen.

3)      It has a set of classes included that can parse RSS feeds.  You can use these as a starting place for writing your own applications that use RSS feeds.


How do I get the RSS Screensaver starter kit?

Download the C# Express Beta from here, and look in the File->New->Projects… dialog box.


How do I report a bug or a suggestion for the starter kit?

You can use the MSDN Product Feedback Center to report any bugs or suggestions you have.  You can also post your experiences here.  And if you have extended the screen saver in a cool way, tell us about it.

Comments (7)
  1. Mat Hall says:

    Having not used a VS product for about 5 years, I’m curious as to what’s missing from the Express verions. I downloaded them all last night and had a cursory glance, and they seem to be pretty full featured. What’s been missed out? And are they going to end up like Outlook Express vs Outlook, with an ever-diverging feature set and a gradual stagnation of the Express development?

  2. Luke Hoban says:

    Mat – I just put up another post to try to answer your first question. As for ending up like Outlook and Outlook Express, I doubt that’s where the Visual Studio Express products will go. Its certainly not our goal at any rate 🙂

    Any new work we do to improve things like the C# language, the editor or the winforms designer will automatically be picked up in the next version of C# Express. So development of the Express prodcuts will never stagnate. And since Express is almost entirely a subset of other Visual Studio products, its unlikely that the feature sets will diverge much in the future.

  3. Mat Hall says:

    That’s good news! One thing I’ve not been able to find any reference to is whether these things will continue to be free, or whether that’s just a consequence of them being in beta.

    For what it’s worth, I reckon sticking with the free aspect would be a good idea (if that’s not already the plan) as it’s an ideal way to train the next generation of programmers. If it weren’t for micros in the 80s by default having a programming environment, I don’t think I’d be where I am today! Maybe even ship it (or the 200x equiovalent) with Longhorn…

  4. Luke Hoban says:

    Mat – The fact that they are free at the moment is because of the beta. The final decisions about pricing are yet to be made, but I’ll pass your comments along to the guys who make those decisions.

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