I’ve just had my first try of Deep Zoom, the collection of tools as user controls that allow the user to zoom into what seemingly looks like a single image. The idea is that as a developer (or publisher) you can collate a number of images together using the Deep Zone Composer to form one Gestalt style super image. So what can you use it for? Well IMO there are two main uses;
1. A scrollable collage of pictures where you publish just the one Deep Zoom picture and you scroll around zooming into to each picture where each picture still retains the original resolution. The BBC Radio 1 and Hard Rock cafe both have examples of this. Is it useful, hmm, well it’s a way of showing pictures and I’m sure there are benefits in reducing the bandwith of high-res pictures that the user never looks at but for me it’s not very exciting.
2. Continuous zooming. This is the one that interested me. The ability to scroll on an area and keep scrolling to the tinest detail sounds very useful. Not unlike the way Google/Live maps work…or for me like Bladerunner!
To try Deep Zoom out I first downloaded the relvant tools from www.Silverlight.net and used the Deep Zoom Composer to create my image. I wanted the continuous zoom idea so to do that you need to take a series of picture of something, each time zooming in a specific area(s). Then in the composer you resize and position them on top of each other, carefully lining them up. This is a difficult process on two counts, 1st taking the pictures is tricky…you need good lighting and very careful positioning of the camera. The 2nd problem is the composer doesn’t (seem) to allow you to set an opacity on the picture you’re trying to place. That makes it difficult to line the two pictures up correctly. Once you’re satisfied with the picture you export it into a Silverlight project. In my case this project didn’t work, just got the dreaded catistrophic exception, or to those who develop Silverlight, the standard XAML exception. I followed the instructions in http://www.codeproject.com/KB/silverlight/DeepZoom.aspx and created a separate Silverlight project and copied the assets over. That worked, so what is the result? Well yes it works, the user can zoom into the pictures detail pretty easily, but is it any use outside a bit of fun? The problems of creating/composing the image makes it difficult to recommend for everyday use, I think for one-off imagery it is powerful, launching a new car maybe, perhaps medical applications but these are quite specialist. I think coupled with an excellent image detection/mapping/stitching library then it would become a powerful tool for applications that display images.