Rob Bender
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Multimedia Stock Ticker

One day a friend of mine who worked for a New York pharmacutical company called me up and asked if I could help him with a project. The company was going to have a booth at an upcoming trade show, and they wanted to have a presentation playing on a pair of large screens at the booth. The presentation would consist of a looping video clip and a pair of stock tickers at the bottom of the screen. The budget for the project was small, so I suggested a custom Visual Basic application that could be written quickly and cheaply.

Originally, I embedded the Windows Media Player into the application to play the video clip. However, halfway through the project, the format of the video clip was changed to Apple QuickTime and used a codec that was unsupported by the Windows Media Player. A freely embeddable version of the QuickTime player was unavailable at the time, so I decided to embed Microsoft Internet Explorer into the application, which then displayed a web page that contained the QuickTime clip.

Stock quotes were pulled from Yahoo using the Microsoft XML library's XMLHTTP component to grab the HTML documents. Regular expressions parsed the HTML to extract the necessary quotes. The list of quotes was stored in a text configuration file so it could changed at the last minute without recompiling the application.

The ticker graphics were generated in hidden picturebox controls and Win32 API routines were used (for speed) to copy the portions of the pictureboxes to the on-screen tickers.

The entire project took about 20 hours, including changes requested by the client, debugging and deployment.