Silverlight’s Deep Zoom, I think, is the best way* to interact with very large pictures over the web. There are two main components of Deep Zoom. The first is a file-format. The second is a software component built into Silverlight that very efficiently handles this file-format. It turns out that the Deep Zoom component is quite extensible. This means that Deep Zoom can be used to not only view its native format, but also lots of other mega-images on the web. To highlight this capability, MSR’s Eric Stollnitz has built a new web-app that lets users preview all of the major large picture formats.
His new HD View Preview page allows you to quickly try out Silverlight on any Deep Zoom, HD View, KML Photo Overlay, or Zoomify content. For example, if you’ve previously used the Zoomify export in Photoshop, you can now use HD View Preview to quickly try out Silverlight directly on the Zoomify data. You simply type the url of the Zoomify XML into the address link on the page (see 1 in figure to the right). You can similarly enter the url of any KML file that contains photooverlay elements. Eric has provided some quick example links, including some popular Zoomify data, Google Earth’s Gigapxl layer, Gigapan KMLs, and our favorite HD Views (3 in figure). After trying out Silverlight on your content, if you like what you see, the page includes an embed code (5) so that you can easily embed what you are previewing into your own web-page or blog. For developers, the source code for the Silverlight viewer being shown here is available on codeplex.
The page also allows you to experiment with our HD View research prototype. The tabs on the page let you quickly swap between the Silverlight viewer and HD View (2). HD View is where we continue to experiment with features that we hope to see in Silverlight someday, including high-dynamic range, color management, and turning flickr images into a QTVR-like experience. As described in a previous post, if you have used Microsoft ICE or Windows Live Photo Gallery to generate a panorama, then you can get a surround video experience by simply pointing HD View at the resulting JPEG. The HD View Preview page lets you quickly try this out. To see this in action click on some of the example JPEG links (4).
After trying out Deep Zoom on your own content we think that you will agree that it is the best* way to experience very high resolution images on the web. Now with the HD View Preview page it is super simple to try it out**.
* by best I mean that the progressive download of imagery is near optimal and the application maintains an interactive frame-rate even when full-screen.