I wanted to draw attention to this one, because it’s such a fun usage of WPF. Each summer, the Solent waters (between the British mainland and the Isle of Wight) are host to a world-class sailing regatta with a thousand boats racing in forty different events. Coordinating this is a challenge: each course varies depending on the class of boat and the weather and tidal conditions at the time of the race.
Until very recently, the courses have been designed using a decidedly non-technological approach: the planners would plot waypoints on a map using drawing pins, a corkboard, and pieces of string stretched around the drawing pins to mark out the course. But as the event grew and became more complex, it became harder and harder to plan the courses by hand. And of course, this is where WPF came along, with an application constructed by Simon Middlemiss, who happens to be one of the most active community bloggers on WPF.
Simon has blogged extensively on his experiences of developing the application, but without putting too many words in his mouth, I think it’s fair for me to say that WPF provided a balanced platform for developing a solution that requires a dense, data-bound data visualization display to be combined with a plethora of controls.
Since most of us don’t have the skills or context to plot a sailing course, probably the best way to experience this application is to watch the case study video that we filmed at the event (there’s also a written case study here). It shows the application in action, and Simon talks about some of the benefits that they realized from using Expression and WPF.
Although you might not be wanting to build a course setting application, the actual functionality of this application is not dissimilar to many real-world business applications: visualization of multiple data sets. I’ll highlight one or two enterprise applications in future entries of this series that do just that.
I wanted to single this application out for special praise because although Simon didn’t know it at the time, it was the second WPF application ever put into production! That it was used in such a mission-critical way for a high-profile event is credit both to Simon’s programming skills and to the relative stability of WPF even in beta.