Logo of the Nuclex Framework, the text "Nuclex" with three green dots on a blue ring

Nuclex Framework R1404 Released!

The word 'Nuclex' in a stylish font framed by an elliptical ring with three dots

A few hours ago, I uploaded a new release of the Nuclex Framework to CodePlex. There has been an intermediate release, R1323, which I didn’t announce here because it was more or less just a stop-gap measure to stop reports for issues in the old (old, old) R1242 release where my Nuclex.Input library was still subclassing XNA’s Window.

This is what changed from R1242 to R1404:

  • Thanks to a generous contribution by Adrian Tsai, the TrueType importer now accepts standard Windows font names – this is a big step towards being a drop-in replacement for XNA’s own sprite font importer.
  • The TrueType importer now lets users choose different hinting algorithms. No hinting will result in MacOSish blurred text that stays true to the font’s metrics. The auto hinter from FreeType is a nice compromise between forcing strokes into a pixel raster for sharpness and retaining the font’s look (and imho the best option). Native will produce a perfect match with Windows’ font rendering, producing sharp letters that may deviate from the font’s actual metrics a bit.
  • You can now decide whether SpriteFonts imported by the TrueType importer are centered on their baseline or on their upper end (like XNA). This, together with the improved font name lookup turns the Nuclex TrueType importer into a 100% drop-in replacement for XNA’s font processor.
  • Nuclex.Input’s game pads now provide a method .GetExtendedState() with which you can access all of DirectInput’s 128 possible buttons, 24 axes and 8 sliders. I designed this so that there’s zero overhead if you don’t use the .GetExtendedState() method. The ExtendedGamePadState already normalizes axes for you (from -1.0 to +1.0 for axes and 0.0 to 1.0 for sliders) and in general is much nicer to work with than using DirectInput directly!
  • Nuclex.Input now supports TouchPanel input. That includes mocking TouchPanel input: You can easily simulate the TouchPanel in your unit tests:
    var m = new MockInputManager();
    m.GetTouchPanel().Press(42, 10.0f, 10.0f);
    m.GetTouchPanel().Move(42, 20.0f, 10.0f);
  • The GUI is now based on the Nuclex.Input library. That will allow me to soon implement TouchPanel input and make the GUI usable on Windows Phone 7. Note that you can easily hack Windows Phone 7 support into a project by converting touch input into mouse input. Due to the modular design of Nuclex.Input, you don’t have to touch a single line of code, simple create your own IInputCapturer!
  • The game state manager has undergone a redesign. Existing projects shouldn’t be in trouble, the redesign gets rid of the GameStateManager reference (you can remember the Reference yourself if you want your states to initiate a transition themselves). Pop-up game states similar to XNA’s game state management example are now supported.
  • Upgraded to NMock 3.0. This is mostly an internal change but it really helps being refactoring-friendly as my unit tests no longer contain method names hardcoded in strings anymore.
  • All assemblies in the Nuclex Framework are now signed with a strong name, this no longer preventing you from signing your own assemblies.
  • And of course, all issues that were reporting through various channels have been fixed — excluding two possible problems I can’t yet reproduce, but will mention here for honesty: the AffineThreadPool might sometimes be skipping a task under heavy load and there might be a problem in the PrimitiveBatch when it is handed large amounts of vertices. I couldn’t reproduce these issues and they’re not occurring in my own game, but if anyone notices such an issue, please contact me!
Logo of the Nuclex Framework, the text "Nuclex" with three green dots on a blue ring

Nuclex Framework R1242 Released!

The word 'Nuclex' in a stylish font framed by an elliptical ring with three dots

There’s a new release of the Nuclex Framework available on CodePlex!

The new release adds a new library, Nuclex.Input, which is a very lightweight library that adds seamless support for DirectInput game pads and joysticks, well-behaving keyboard text input, event-based input and the ability to mock any kind of input in your unit tests. Instead of firing up your XBox 360 each time, you can now write simple tests that simulate controllers being attached and detached.

Also new is full support for XNA 4.0 on x86 and XBox 360. Windows Phone 7 is also supported by most of the libraries. The PC builds all target the .NET Client Profile, allowing you to reduce the footprint of your installer. Special .NET 4.0 client profile builds of the third-party libraries (LZMA, NUnit, NMock, log4net and SlimDX).

Of course, all bugs reported since the last release have been fixed!

The logo used by Microsoft for .NET 4.0, a wavy letter N accompanied by the text "Microsoft .NET"

Visual Studio 2010

Two weeks ago, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2010 and with it, .NET 4.0.

I’m very excited about .NET 4.0 because this is the first standalone release of .NET since 2.0 came out, meaning that it doesn’t bundle any of the older runtimes. As you may know, .NET 3.5 is actually just .NET 2.0 with some more assemblies – all the magic required for LINQ, extension methods and lambda expressions happens in the compiler.

The letter N constructed from overlapping blue wave functions

The new Visual Studio UI also looks very nice and the darker background puts the actual work (the code) into focus. But there have been some changes like the apparent removal of the Debug/Release combo in the toolbar and the ability to add your own External Tools to the Tools menu in the Express Editions (don’t worry, both are still there, I explain how to enable them a bit down in this article).

So I decided to write a small heads-up on why I think Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0 are cool and how to get back your favorite options if you’re already used to the Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions.

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Logo of the Nuclex Framework, the text "Nuclex" with three green dots on a blue ring

Nuclex Framework R984 Released!

The word 'Nuclex' with a stylish font framed by an elliptical ring with three dots

I just uploaded a new release of the Nuclex Framework on CodePlex!

It has been a lot of work getting the GUI library finalized. For once, I really wanted to have 100% unit test coverage on the whole library, which meant a lot of work ensuring the design allowed for this and thinking of all the test cases. But hey, what other GUI library can provide that level of unit tests! :)

Another feature I didn’t want to let go of was control navigation with the game pad and cursor keys. The idea is that you, the developer, just throw some controls on the screen and the GUI will automatically figure out which control to change focus to when the player uses the thumb stick on his game pad. This means you can just add four buttons labeled “New Game”, “Options”, “Credits” and “Quit” to your screen and voilà, you’ve got a main menu the user can interact with using his mouse, keyboard or game pad.

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Logo of the Nuclex Framework, the text "Nuclex" with three green dots on a blue ring

Nuclex Framework on CodePlex

The Nuclex Framework has been released to CodePlex today!

The word 'Nuclex' with a stylish font framed by an elliptical ring with three dots

Instead of only writing about all the cool stuff and then pointing people at my Subversion repository whenever someone asks for the source code, I finally sat down and published the entire Nuclex Framework on CodePlex, together with lots of examples, documentation and screen shots.

The Nuclex Framework consists of small isolated building blocks that you can pick from, so you can easily use just the things you require and ignore the rest (or even create your own trimmed-down edition of the framework if you’re not worried about doing it all again when a new version is out).

All the highlights I wrote about in this blog (and quite a lot that I didn’t write about) are neatly organized in there. And the code’s quality should hopefully speak for itself :)

Just to list some of the more interesting things, there’s a Deque collection (faster than List<> and LinkedList<> and much less garbage), 3D vector font rendering code, 7-Zip content compression, a 3D SpriteBatch equivalent, rectangle packing algorithms for texture atlas creation, a flexible multi-threaded particle system, a work-in-progress GUI library with skin support, a cleaner game state management system, a debug overlay renderer and some helpers that allow you to automatically create VertexDeclarations from a structure without listing the VertexElements by hand.

So what are you waiting for, check it out! :D