GRFX at //build 2015: What will you build?

D3D Team

Hi all!

Wow, we’ve had a busy year for the graphics teams here at Microsoft.  In addition to busily building the graphics features and upgrades you’ll get your hands on with Windows 10, we’ve been out and about. We’ve run into you at standout events like GDC, XFest, and, most recently, //build.Read on for a high-level recap of the Graphics team’s shenanigans in the Moscone Center.

Wait, why are you talking about the “graphics team”? I thought this was the DirectX blog.

Though DirectX is the close-to-the-metal path that powers the most visually impressive games on the market, Windows has an incredibly broad array of applications which meet a similarly broad array of graphical needs.  To meet the varied needs of our customers, we’ve built a number of technologies on top of DirectX:

  • Win2D – A new 2D drawing API built on Direct2D and DirectWrite that is available in C# and is as easy to use as .NET-level APIs 
  • Direct2D & DirectWrite – Two feature-rich, high performance APIs which give developers precise control over text, geometry, image effects, and other 2D primitives
  • Graphics Debugging Tools – A comprehensive set of tools which allows developers to debug rendering errors and optimize performance
  • ANGLE – An open source technology which allows OpenGL developers to quickly bring their games onto Windows and DirectX 

So, in order to give you the full picture of the graphics story at //build, I want to share the great advancements our sister teams have accomplished. 

At //build 2015, the graphics team delivered the following presentations, which you can see on @ch9 by clicking below:

Introducing Win2D: DirectX-Powered Drawing in C#

What’s New in Direct2D and DirectWrite for Windows 10

ANGLE: Running OpenGL ES 2.0 Graphics Code on Windows

Advanced DirectX12 Graphics and Performance


 Thank you to @ch9 for the great support for this year’s //build talks! PS – sweet digs. 



If you saw only one single thing from //build, it was probably Square Enix’s stunning Art and Tech demo from Steve Guggenheimer’s Keynote, which included plenty of DirectX 12 love, including  our new Multiadapter feature. If you saw TWO things from //build, you probably saw that DirectX 12 got its very first game trailer, courtesy of our talented friends at Snail Games, xie xie!


Simon Tao dazzled the audience at his Win2D talk. He also even hosted a Win2D Quick Start Challenge. If you weren’t at the conference you needn’t feel left out, because the challenges featured at //build are online so you can participate from home. Take the Win2D Challenge for a spin, and then give the others a try. Tweet us @directx12 to tell us how you’ve done!


Anthony’s Direct2D and DirectWrite session showcased new functionality and performance improvements for Windows 10. He introduced new image effects and loading advancements as well as an exciting new cloud-powered font service in DirectWrite. These enhancements will benefit not just PCs, but mobile as well… check out Jeff Mlakar’s post for a nice audience-eye-view of the talk.


Tony presented ANGLE, an open source project MS is involved with, which allows Windows to seamlessly run OpenGL ES 2.0 content. By running your OpenGL ES code on Windows, devs can spend less time refactoring graphics code and more time making apps great(er)! ANGLE info and source is available here


Last, but certainly not least, DirectX 12 was represented in the Keynote. If that left you needing more information, the best way to really dig into DirectX 12’s new hotness discussed at //build is to watch Dev Lead Max McMullen’s standing-room-only technical session. Though you may feel the need to take notes, take a break because Max’s slides are here. Max illustrated how DirectX 12 puts power and control in the developers hands to reduce their CPU overhead, manage GPU resources more efficiently, and create gorgeous 3D graphics. Some developers have already done amazing things…. We’ve discussed the lovely Square Enix demo already, so let’s focus for a moment on a developer who may be new to you:  Snail Games, from Suzhou China. Snail Games is one of the country’s top game developers and we are proud to have worked with them to port their beautiful, newly announced game, King of Wushu, from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12. If you missed it in the DirectX 12 video, Snail was able to complete the port with only two developers over six weeks. DirectX 12’s hardware control and flexibility helped them reduce CPU usage and increase framerate by ~10%, and they believe they can improve that. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Ivan from Square Enix and the entire Fable Legends team for their participation in this talk and our //build effort. So, thank you all! 


Before I sign off, I want to bring your attention to the extra cool, heretofore undisclosed, Surface docking station my pal and teammate DanChar created with his hackathon team at the Microsoft Maker garage. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted it in the Win2D session. Check out Dan’s MSDN blog post for information on this mystery hardware.


That’s the news fit to print, folks. Thanks for reading, thanks for attending events, saying hi, giving us feedback, and making your awesome apps. If you want to reach out to the DirecxtX 12 team please do so @directx12 or on the forums. We want to hear from you! If you want to talk to me, I’m @alisonst.


See you at the next event!


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