In my previous post I announced the release of Velocitek SpeedPlay version 1. Here I would like to mention some of the technical details of the implementation.
The UI is implemented 100% using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). There are not that many consumer applications out there that use WPF and being a relatively new technology it was a bit of a gamble to use it. However we feel that that gamble has more than paid off. WPF has allowed us to develop a much more innovative and easy to user UI than would be possible otherwise. Despite a steep learner curve at the beginning and a few issues I believe that using WPF has reduced the overall development time and resulted in a higher quality product.
Third Party Controls
Although the market for WPF third party controls is not as mature as for older technologies there are a number of innovative products out there. We used the blendables controls from IndentityMine and the WPF controls from Infragistics. Both are excellent products that I would have no problem recommending.
Microsoft Virtual Earth
SpeedPlay integrates with the Microsoft Virtual Earth servers to provide background maps for the replay.
SpeedPlay integrates with Velocitek’s GPS hardware devices. FTDI chips are installed on the hardware. The application communicates with the them using libraries supplied by FTDI.
A WPF application requires an up to date version of the .NET Framework (we released using .NET Framework 3.5 SP1). InstallShield was used to create an msi installer that also installs the .NET Framework, device drivers, Java and a third party application.
We are very pleased to announce the release of Version 1 of Velocitek SpeedPlay. This is an application we have developed for Velocitek, an innovative and leading manufacturer of GPS equipment for dingy and sportboat racers. From their press release:
Paia, Maui (13 October, 2008)- Three years ago Velocitek released the world’s first GPS sail training tool, creating what has now become a whole new instrument category. Today Velocitek is shaking things up again by releasing its own race replay application called Velocitek SpeedPlay.
Velocitek SpeedPlay is fully integrated with Velocitek GPS devices to make the process of getting GPS data off a group of GPS devices and formatted into a replay as fast and convenient as possible. SpeedPlay allows USB hubs to be used to download GPS data from up to 21 Velocitek GPS devices in one batch. Once the data has been downloaded race start and end times can be specified with a single mouse click and marks can be added using a convenient drag and drop interface.
As an added bonus, when connected to the internet, detailed, accurate map backgrounds are automatically imported into race replays from Microsoft Virtual Earth, providing an interested geographical context for any event. To learn more about Velocitek SpeedPlay, please visit the Velocitek website, velocitek.com
This has been a technically very challenging project, but ultimately a very rewarding one. Early in the project we decided to take a risk and develop it using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), still quite a new technology yet to be adopted mainstream. We feel that this gamble has paid off, allowing us to create an innovative and easy to use user interface.
Previously large yacht races, such as the America’s cup and Volvo Ocean Race, would have bespoke solutions for generating online replays of their events. For clubs and smaller events the only solution was to use a combination of various programs in a time-consuming manner. This video produced by Velocitek demonstrates the ease with which replays can now be created using SpeedPlay and Velocitek’s excellent GPS hardware: