In Silverlight™ 2, the Microsoft® Live Labs team introduced a unique feature called Deep Zoom that allows one to visualize large quantities of high-resolution image data using in-place zooming and panning. Users were now able to visualize and navigate through gigabytes of image data using a standard internet connection - something that they could not easily do before. While the Deep Zoom technology was a part of the Silverlight™ runtime, it became evident that there is one big piece missing in the workflow: a tool that allowed anyone to take their existing images and compose them for use with the Deep Zoom feature.
Even though Deep Zoom allows one to seamlessly zoom through gigapixel images, there are several non-trivial steps a content creator would need to take to create his or her own Deep Zoom composition. First, the high resolution images need to be encoded to work with Deep Zoom. Second, the content creator would need the ability to manually arrange and position the high-resolution images.
There were several major challenges. This tool needed to make the above steps easy and in a way that was familiar to most content creators. Beyond ease of use, system resource optimization was another major challenge. Because of the large quantities of high-resolution images that users would be manipulating, the solution needed to be efficient and capable of running on standard computers. Finally, this tool was something that needed to be ready for public consumption at Microsoft's popular MIX08 conference.
Microsoft hired Evident Point's team to help develop a prototype solution for the challenges presented. Evident Point completed the prototype within three weeks, and this prototype was used to form the foundation for what would become Deep Zoom Composer - one of the most popular pieces of software used for creating content for Silverlight™ 2.
Based on the prototype, our team implemented a set of crucial features in just a single 6-week sprint. The initial set of features included loading high-resolution source images, creating nested layouts using panning and seamless zooming, and more. The tool was initially released at Microsoft's MIX08 conference, received excellent reviews, and has been very actively used by the public.
Since then, Evident Point implemented new features, improved usability, and accommodated the feedback. We delivered monthly releases by working very closely with the product team at Microsoft. Each release improved on our earlier release by incorporating new features that highlighted the power of Deep Zoom. For example, our most recent release contained important new features such as automatic photo stitching and direct PhotoZoom upload support.
In less than 6 months, Evident Point's team was able to build a high-quality, feature complete version of a sophisticated graphics application, all on time and on budget. The frequent releases showed seamless interaction between Evident Point's and Microsoft's teams on the project, and this certified Evident Point's image as an elite development team ready to tackle the most difficult development tasks.
The combination of Deep Zoom technology and Deep Zoom Composer created a new paradigm for exploring large sets of visual data. Viewers today can navigate through the images using standard zoom and pan controls similar to what we have in Google Maps. The only thing they would need is Silverlight™.
According to many Web developers and end users, utilizing the smooth zooming and panning provided by Deep Zoom in Silverlight™ 2 is far more appealing than the traditional approach of using thumbnails and page-based navigation for visualizing image-based data.
Excerpts from Public Reviews
"For the first time, Deep Zoom Composer built a starter Silverlight™ application to go along with the image tree. The starter application showed exactly how you could add essential features such as panning and mouse wheel zoom."
"...almost everyone we've spoken to likes Deep Zoom Composer. A large part of that goes out to the really great work you all were able to do, so thanks a lot!"
"Wow, that was too easy"