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July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Microsoft Student Insider Feature: Vivian Chan + More Free Stuff

Welcome back to yet another exciting installment of the Microsoft Student Insider Feature Series, where I get to probe the minds of some of the Expression Studio team’s most influential members. This week we have the illustrious and adventurous (more on that later) Vivian Chan, Design Audience Lead on the Expression Studio Developer Marketing team. We also have a ton more of these free 60-day Expression Studio trial discs, so starting this week we’ll be giving away two within each post! Find more details on how to win at the end of today’s feature.

When she’s not rock climbing in Chang Mai, Thailand (i.e. rocking it Lara Croft style), Vivian focuses on one goal that drives pretty much everything she does from atop the Microsoft offices in Bellevue, Washington: make Expression Studio relevant to designers.  More on exactly how she accomplishes this and a look into some of the nifty Silverlight applications Vivian introduced me to after the jump.

Vivian’s one job, to understand the designer audience and what makes them tick as a way get Expression Studio into their hands and minds, may seem simple at first. However, it’s a bit more complicated (and fun) than you might think. One of her most important tasks is to conduct formal research on what designers are up to, says Vivian. This includes  figuring out who they are and what tools they’re currently using as well as their habits and frequency in using these tools.

It’s only with this understanding that she can direct marketing and community campaigns that include specific benefits of Expression Studio and Silverlight that are relevant to her audience, Vivian claims.

Let’s take a creative design and development team that for as long as they could remember used Adobe tools in Mac based environments, Mess Marketing. After collaborating with Vivian and preparing their Macs with Windows partitions for Expression use, the folks at Mess have created Mess With Silverlight, an ongoing project and blog focused on using Silverlight in a Mac development environment to create some pretty awesome apps.

Most notable of these Silverlight-on-Mac amalgamations is RSS Tunes, an app that acts as an RSS feed for music blogs. Well, that sounds kind of lame, doesn’t it? Here’s the catch: rather than display the posts from your favorite music blogs, it plays the tracks provided by the blogs in a music player that can be ran from within the browser or from your desktop.

RSS Tunes also has Twitter and last.fm integration so you can share what you’re listening to from within the app as well as have it play tunes from your last.fm stations. It’s pretty amazing considering  it behaves like an RSS, which means you’re constantly getting new music as your favorite music blogs update with news and features.

According to Vivian, the Mess team reported some hiccups with developing using Silverlight and Expression Studio, but have come to see it’s advantages. While it may take some getting used to, developing Silverlight apps on Mac is 100% possible and even beneficial considering Silverlight can run out of browser, which the Mess team have attested to.

This last project hosts one of the more interesting features of Silverlight: Deep Zoom. Some of you may be familiar with this basketball player named Michael Jordan. Alright, I would hope all of you recognize the guy who put a face to the game for the last two decades (Space Jam, anyone?).

Nike’s Mosaic 23/25 project is a Silverlight born web app that coincides with the physical mosaic which  was on display just this past weekend in Dallas, Texas  to celebrate 25 years of Air Jordan shoes. The ability to zoom in real time and interact with the work’s fan submissions that comprise the entire image is made possible through Silverlight’s Deep Zoom. How the tool works is that it refreshes images at set pixel intervals to guarantee high resolution images at nearly all sizes. Seems like quite the interesting alternative to Flickr to share your photos.

Check back next week for our next installment of the Microsoft Student Insider Feature Series as well as more chances to win some Microsoft swag! For this week’s chance to win a trial copy of Expression Studio 3, leave a comment linking to one of your favorite pieces of photography on the web (keep it safe for work, please) and tell us why it takes your breath away. Contest ends Wednesday, February 24th so get to it, you artsy-fartsy folks!

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