Podder Skinning Competition Hall of Fame

There were five contestants in the Podder Skinning Competition.  Each of them submitted something very cool and interesting, but the three judges had to pick one winner out of them.  After much deliberation and conversation, we decided that the winning skin is BOConnor by Brendan O’Connor.  Congratulations, Brendan!

BOConnor

BOConnor

Here is a brief bio about Brendan:

Brendan is 25 years old and currently the lead software developer for a Healthcare company in Ireland called Technical Ideas.  He studied Computing and Software development at college for 4 years and has been with the company since it began in 2004.  The main product they develop is called Socrates. It is a software product used by GP’s, Nurses and many other Healthcare professionals which manages an Electronic Health Record for patients within their practice and also the day to day running of the practice.  Currently they develop in C# .NET WinForms with SQL Server 2005.  Brendan had never used WPF until he decided to enter the Podder Skinning competition.  He has been following it for many months, briefly reading articles from the WPF posse posted at CodeProject.  He also had some books on WPF lying around for some months untouched and once the competition was extended, saying he would enter just to give him an excuse to try out WPF and see what it was like.

The competition had three judges, including myself.  The other two were Marlon Grech and Jeremiah Morrill.  I appreciate their help and thoughtful feedback.

Here are all of the contestants and links to their submitted Podder skins:

Gary Winter : http://gwinter8217.googlepages.com/home

Rudi Grobler : http://dotnet.org.za/rudi/archive/2008/07/31/my-podder-skins.aspx

Jobi : http://jobijoy.blogspot.com/2008/08/podder-skinning-another-wpf-contest.html

Brendan : http://www.bstash.com/Podder/Podder.zip

Boris : http://cid-f2590eadde4ae4bc.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Public

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to submit a skin, and those who helped judge the skins!

20 Responses to Podder Skinning Competition Hall of Fame

  1. Steve says:

    Congratulations Brendan🙂

  2. Congrats Brendan! And congrats to Josh for a great and successful contest!

  3. Brendan says:

    Thanks very much to Josh for holding the competition, the sponsors for the prizes and to the judges for choosing my skin.

    Commiserations to the other contestants, I thought some of your skins were fantastic.

  4. Josh Smith says:

    I agree! Some of those skins really amazed me. It was a *tough* job to pick a winner.

  5. Dr. WPF says:

    Nicely done, Brendan! Great first project… can’t wait to see what you do next! 🙂

  6. Hi Josh,

    Great contest (I didn’t enter, no time!). Congratulations Brendan. Well done and NICE SKIN!

    JUST CURIOUS Josh, it appears (I could be wrong) that all 3 judges are technologists. Wouldn’t it make sense in a competition like this to include a user experience designer, someone like Grant H. comes to mind, to weigh in on topics that become more important in WPF UIs such as basic usability, color cohesion, appropriate use of animations, overall unified design theme, etc etc?

    What do you think? Or does that not play into this type of competition?

    Hopefully you have more of these in the future. Definitely a great vehicle for driving innovation in user exeperiences.

    Regards,

    Roland

  7. Josh Smith says:

    Good point, Ronald. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe next time! 🙂

    Josh

  8. Jobi says:

    Congrats Brendan! Awesome work on the first project and you are a great designer too.

  9. Brendan says:

    Thanks Jobi, I loved your skin, some great work.

    I just noticed I said I was at the company I work for since 2000 instead of 2004😮
    I would have been pretty young in 2000🙂

  10. Josh Smith says:

    I fixed that glitch, Brendan. Good catch!

  11. Mehdi says:

    Well done Brendan. Great job, Hope you can give me some tips on WPF so I can get started too.

  12. sacha says:

    I think you picked the best skin. Well done Brendan. If you can do this never having worked with WPF before, very well done.

  13. wahy says:

    Gary Winter’s work looks cool and very creative, all others even the winner look just normal and almost boring (please go beyond glossy button effect, reflecting image, mimicking other existing apps). I think the creative part of wpf or silverlight is still left behind (compare flash gallery on http://www.styleboost.com with silverlight one http://silverlight.net/community/gallerydetail.aspx?cat=3&sort=2).

  14. Nicolas says:

    Hi Josh,
    a few words from a design point of view:
    First of all a big respect to everyone taking part in this contest – it’s always better to give it a try than to lean back on your living room sofa and criticize! (wahy😉

    None the less a few constructive thoughts I like to add:
    First of all I would have liked to know what the judge’s opinion is based on other than this is “the best”?
    This could not only start a fair discussion and maybe help on how to do things or not to do things, but secondly would be the least thing what participants deserve
    honoring the time they have invested.
    A thing that concerns me the most though is that this contest seems to be a competition from developers for developers – The participants (with one exception), the jury as well as the choice of the winning skin clearly reflect that.
    The thing that worries me the most here is that this is symptomatic for WPF in general!
    How many times have we seen developers introducing some WPF work (trainings / presentations and so on) with the words : “Sorry, I am not a designer” – Well, Exactly!…You are not a Designer! But why on earth do you create
    user interfaces then, if you obviously cannot do it? Not that I am saying that a talented developer is not allowed to enter the design world– but what we see in most cases are very bad examples of user interface design.
    The very important point I am trying to make here is that basically this is totally contrary to the whole WPF story – namely to have Designers
    participate to build BETTER user interfaces! And my assumption here is even you disciples although doing so much for the WPF community seems to have missed this point!
    Because what has changed in comparison to prior technologies (not talking of all the technical goodies under the WPF hood)? The answer is in fact not so much! Developers still hack away user interfaces and are even honored for it!
    And because it has become all so easy with Blend this trend seems to become even worse, according to my observation.
    What does that mean for the contest? – A WPF-Skinning-Competition should have reflected what can make WPF so unique compared to other technologies. It should have encouraged more Designers. Unfortunately it encourages even more developers to create more ugly user interfaces. The one and only contestant who was showing some design skills was the guy named boris (I would have loved to find out what kind of background he has). Although the skin didn’t seem to be finished it is very inspiring, man! For those of you who haven’t looked at it will find a treasure of beautiful vector art and a great source of inspiration on how to uniquely combine WPFs navigation capabilities with the recently released Transitionals Framework.

    Summing up: Thanks for the contest! The result gives us a great inside where we are standing right now with WPF! The WPF movement seems to get more and more understanding on the technical side of things but obviously has not done the required shift in mind yet! Design is not an afterthought! Design is not just another random set of colors in a skin! Design is the soul of the app as much as the code is!
    Design should be done by people with design competences as much as you would naturally expect competence from a person who writes code in an application.

  15. Josh Smith says:

    Nicolas,

    Thanks a lot for the thoughtful feedback. You raise a very valid point, that my contest was, and the WPF world in general still is, quite developer-focused. I certainly would have loved it if a bunch of talented WPF visual designers submitted skins into my contest, but they didn’t (not to knock the excellent work that was submitted!). The simple matter of fact, as far as I can tell, is that there currently are *WAY* more developers interested in WPF than designers. Most of the VD talent is locked away in the Adobe world, where it has been firmly entrenched for years. To summarize, I agree with you, but since I’m not a Visual Designer, I can’t help but see things from a Developer’s perspective.

    The winning skin won because it satisfied the criteria listed on the competition’s homepage the best. It was almost fully functional, it is intuitive to use, and looks good. I’m sure a VD would have much more to say about how it looks and how intuitive it is, but, once again, a cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog.🙂

    I suggest that you hold your own competition specifically for Visual Designers. I’ll help you promote it, if you decide to take the plunge.

    Josh

  16. Jeff says:

    Well done to all of the entrants. I tried out the skins and some of them were good, some of my opinions🙂
    Gary Winters did look cool and creative like wahy pointed out but I did find it a little difficult to use and identify some of the UI interaction items and there didn’t seem to be an easy way to see an entire list of episodes. Granted it is based on an oldskool
    Grundrig radio so the concept did work well.

    Rudi’s mimiced the iTunes and WMP11 well but it lacked some functionality. I couldn’t find a way to add a new podcast subscription and I wasn’t sure how the next and previous buttons work. Other than that I liked it.

    BOConnor skin had a nice clean simple UI that appeared consistent throughout. It seemed to have all the functionality and it was easy to access all the features. If there one thing I’d like to see it would be to have some other list views for the episodes and maybe a bit more sparkle

    Boris’ skin based on the Zune was an excellent replica. The UI looked nicely polished and the theme consistent. The only problem I had using it was the steps to go through to play an episode or get the details of an episode. It just wasn’t practical after a while but it could have been because the skin wasn’t complete. Overall it was a great skin.

    Jobi’s skin was also a very good skin. It seemed to have all the functionality, the theme/UI was fairly consistent and the glass window effect was interesting.

    As for reflection, glossy button effect, mimicking existing apps…I dunno, I kind of like all that stuff for a skin. Isn’t that the purpose of a skin, to transform the look of an application into anything you want?
    I think the balance needs to be between something asthetically pleasing but with intuitive functionality. A skin may look great sometimes, but as an end user if it slows me down from achieving the main task then that balance is lost and I would rather use a less appealing skin that gets the job done right than one that takes twice the duration.

    Just my 2c on the entries. Great work from everyone overall. I’m sure the authors had a difficult time juggling work and skin development whether they were designers/developers or whatever. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

  17. Josh Smith says:

    Thanks Jeff. It sounds like, if you were one of the judges, you would have picked BOConnor too! 🙂

  18. Yeah, nice job everyone… it’s fun to see the layout re-interpreted. Now if only I had time to work on another skin… some day. some day.

  19. Ngoc says:

    Hi Josh,
    Could you help me this problem? My WPF window has a special region, when user press mouse button in this region, he will not possible to leave mouse pointer out of this region unless he release the mouse button. How can I do that, can you help me? Thanks.

  20. wahy says:

    Hi Nicolas, well yes that is true that i didn’t have some sweet words before start giving my comments (negative comments about something doesn’t always mean nonconstructive critics). I think basically some people here see the same kind of issue, that the potential of WPF is still being leveraged by developers only, even thought I’m not 100% agree that all developers cannot create creative UI. Thanks for Josh for starting this event, maybe someone else will do the same where the other part of WPF is also given the same weight.

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