Podder Skinning Competition

Are you looking for a chance to show off your WPF skills? Do you have some cool UI designs in mind that you want to test out in a real application? Would you like to win some great prizes and solidify your reputation as a WPF Guru? Looking to demolish other WPFers in an epic battle for supremacy?! If so, I have great news for you…

Battle for WPF Supremacy!

I am hosting a Podder Skinning Competition!

I built Podder, the WPF podcast player app, in such a way that it supports “structural skinning.” The application can work with any user interface you throw at it. I challenge you to create the most innovative, attractive, functional skin for Podder. If you meet that challenge, you will win some cool prizes and your Podder skin will available for the entire world to download and use.

Why am I Doing This?

Programming competitions are a fun way to bring a technical community together and have people start sharing ideas. When I held The WPF Challenge, it received quite a bit of positive feedback and excitement. I think that the Podder Skinning Competition will be a fun way to see how other people approach WPF and create fresh visual designs. Since the functionality in Podder already exists and has been thoroughly tested, this competition allows the contestants to focus entirely on creating a great UI design and user experience, which is where WPF shines.

The Prizes

Here is what you stand to win. This list will probably grow as time goes on.

First Place Winner:

1 year subscription to the Infragistics NetAdvantage for WPF with Priority Support, courtesy of Infragistics.

A licensed copy of the blendables mix of your choice, courtesy of IdentityMine.

A licensed copy of Aurora for Architects, courtesy of Mobiform.

A copy of the new book Microsoft Expression Blend Unleashed, courtesy of Brennon Williams.

An 8 GB green Zune, courtesy of Microsoft.

Be interviewed by Craig Shoemaker about how you made the winning skin on his Pixel8 podcast.

Next time you are in New York City, I will take you out for an all-expense paid dinner to the world-famous Smith and Wollensky steakhouse (the restaurant can change if a vegetarian/vegan wins first place!)

A prominent position on my upcoming Podder Skinning Competition Hall of Fame page, featuring your bio, photo, and a screen-recording (video) of your winning Podder skin in action.

Second and Third Place Winners:

1 year subscription to the Infragistics NetAdvantage for WPF, courtesy of Infragistics.

A licensed copy of the blendables mix of your choice, courtesy of IdentityMine.

An 8 GB green Zune, courtesy of Microsoft.

A position on my upcoming Podder Skinning Competition Hall of Fame page, featuring your bio, photo, and screen-shots (images) of your winning Podder skin.

Number of Winners

The number of winners will be based on the number of skins submitted. If 1 – 5 skins are submitted, there will be 1 winner. If 6 – 10 skins are submitted, there will be 2 winners. If 11 or more skins are submitted, there will be three winners.

A panel of judges, including myself (Josh), will pick the winners. If you contact me, or any other judge, looking for help you will not receive a reply!

The Criteria for Success

The judges will assess each skin from three perspectives. The following shows these criteria listed in descending order of importance.

Functionality – Does the skin work properly? Is Podder’s underlying functionality exposed and working as expected? Does the app gently present important error messages to the user when necessary?

User Experience – Does the skin look and feel great? Is the interaction model intuitive? Does it have a consistent and appealing color scheme? Is it quick and responsive? Is the UI design innovative?

New Features – Does the new skin offer any cool new features that the Podder application did not have by default? (Since a Podder skin is just a plug-in, it can contain any functionality that you want.)

In addition, there is one rule that all skins must follow. The UI element, such as a ComboBox, that allows the user to select the active skin MUST be in the upper-right corner of the Window.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone can submit a skin, except the judges! A company cannot submit a skin. You can work alone or on a team, but no more than two people can be on a team. You or your team can submit as many skins as you want, but please bear in mind that your odds of winning increase by having one very good skin, as opposed to several decent ones.

How to Submit a Skin

Contestants submit a single Visual Studio project, with all accompanying source files, in a clean compiling state. You must compress that project into a .ZIP file and make it accessible via a web URL. You must submit the source code, not binaries. You can submit third-party control DLLs (provided the company’s licensing policy allows for it), but all of your original work must be submitted as code. Anyone should be able to download your skin project from the Web, without needing to provide a username/password.

Once you have your skin project available on the Web for download, please leave a comment on this blog post with your name and the URL. When you submit the comment, be sure to provide your real e-mail address, which will not be visible on my blog, so that I can contact you if you win.

Podder Source Code

Download the Podder source code from here: Podder Source Code. You MUST use this version of the Podder source code. Change the file extension from .DOC to .ZIP and decompress the file (that is a workaround for a limitation imposed by WordPress).

NOTE: Do not modify the Podder application source code. Your skin will be tested against the Podder source code as-is, and any changes you make to the Podder application will not exist when the judges are testing your skin.

The Deadline

All skins must be submitted by 00:00 (i.e. 12:00 AM) GMT on Monday, August 4, 2008. Any submissions received after that date will not be reviewed by the judges.

Getting Started

Please read the Creating a Podder Skin article to get the Podder source code and learn the basics of creating your own Podder skin. It is not too difficult to get going. Once you have your project set up and configured according to the steps outlined in that article, you can use the default Podder skin and Grant Hinkson‘s skin as references to see how Podder skins work.

24 Responses to Podder Skinning Competition

  1. […] Smith announced the Podder Skinning Competition this weekend. I’ve talked about Podder before and noted how I love the way it instantly plays […]

  2. […] Podder Skinning Competition […]

  3. […] Podder Skinning Competition […]

  4. […] Podder Skinning Competition […]

  5. […] knowing or caring how it’s implemented. Just like the web has CSS restyling contests, WPF has reskinning competitions! So I knew I wanted to use ItemsControl and I knew I wanted to keep the UI aspects of the property […]

  6. […] 12:00 AM GMT on Tuesday, July 1, 2008 your opportunity to submit a Podder skin will be over.Β  The first submission has already be made, by Rudi Grobler (based on the work of Jose Fajardo).Β  I am very excited to […]

  7. Josh Smith says:

    In case you’re looking for submitted Podder skins here, I deleted them because the competition deadline was extended to August 4th. Come back then to see all the goodness! πŸ˜€


  8. Mike Strobel says:

    What version of the .NET Framework will our submissions be run against? My personal development boxes are all running .NET v3.5 SP1. Do we need to ensure compatibility with the .NET v3.5 RTM?

  9. Josh Smith says:

    Good question Mike. Please ensure compatibility with the v3.5 RTM. I don’t want people to have to install the beta, since many people only install RTM bits.


  10. Gary Winter says:

    Well, here goes! My Podder skin is located at: http://gwinter8217.googlepages.com/home

    I’ve had a great time working with Podder and learning some of WPF in the process. Trying to get the skinning to work made me realize just how huge WPF is and how much of a shift it is from from anything I know about Windows programming.

    As I went through the process things got a bit smoother as I worked my way up the learning curve. There are things I’d like to clean up and tweak. However, I’m leaving on vacation and need to submit now.

    Thanks again for hosting this competition (and for extending the deadline). It’s been the perfect project to use for getting a grasp on WPF and its capabilities.

  11. Josh Smith says:

    Gary! Holy Smokes! That ROCKS! πŸ˜€ Great job.


  12. Jobi says:

    Hi Josh,
    Here is my entry. http://jobijoy.blogspot.com/2008/08/podder-skinning-another-wpf-contest.html
    This competition has been great learning experience in being able to use my designer, developer and integrator skills.
    You have been one of my WPF Gurus πŸ™‚ and I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to take part in the contest by extending the dealine.


  13. Brendan says:

    Well I said I would enter and I have 15 minutes to spare πŸ™‚

    This is my first time using WPF and I learned alot for my experience, some good and some bad.

    The good being the power of WPF with its Databinding and Styling/Templating
    The bad being the tools used to create a UI in XAML. I tried a mix of Kaxaml, Blend and VS 2008. VS2008 would crash randomly which was very frustrating but I eventually managed to pull something together.

    The skin Source Code can be downloaded here:

    A Preivew of what it looks like can be seen here:

    Thanks for running this Competition Josh, it finally helped my break into some WPF and use those books I bough several months ago! πŸ˜€

  14. Boris says:

    Here is my entry…I had great fun…learned a lot ….and now really deserve some sleep…

    My Source can be downloaded here:


    Thanks for running the competition Josh!.

  15. Boris says:

    I just fixed a minor problem with an absolute path of one of the image resources that i accidentally used in my skin. Anyone who had downloaded the file prior should have an error about a missing resource named ambient.png. The fixed version is available under the same URL above…Sorry for the inconvenience.

    cheers boris

  16. […] the extended deadline for the Podder skinning competition is fast approaching (4th August 2008). Today is my last day at the office (Tech-ed preparation) so […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: