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¡¡Installing!! (the development environment) September 22, 2007

Posted by Jose Luis Latorre Millas in Silverlight, WPF.
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Here we will set-up the development environment for being able to develop Silverlight (and WPF Too!) applications on our machine.

After the teorical overview on the last post, we must install all the necessary in order to be able to proceed into the “hello world” usually done on new languages or environments :).

We should have already installed the runtime plug in (that is if you were curious enough on last post) but if not, we can install the 1.0 version recently released (or RTC’ed) at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/install.aspx. or the more powerful version 1.1 September Alpha Refresh at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/downloads.aspx#4_8. Have to say that this version is more oriented for developers as it is an Alpha, and also interesting to read the installing reccomendations before proceeding. Silverlight 1.1 includes 1.0 so, there will be no need to install this if we proceed with the 1.0.

Anyway, if the links aren’t working you can find almost all of the downloads of the components here and/or here.

Development, design tools & add-in’s -With the runtimes installed we should proceed to install the development and design tools. Here we should install the following: Visual Studio Orcas for the development in both managed code (1.1) or javascript 1.0. here we could just work with Visual Studio 2005 if we just want to work with the 1.0 Version. If you do that, you should install the latest Visual Studio 2005 SDK in order for the 1.0 template to be installed.

For the 1.1 (and 1.0 too) we should install (in this order, preferably):

  1. Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 à This is, to be able to develop with Silverlight 1.1 and 1.0 The URL link for downloading is  here, but I would reccomend the new download client from Microsoft that is far faster than the http method (and more secure, as Orcas it’s about 5Gb in size…) the name is Microsoft Secure Content Downloader. The link is here. This install will also install the new .Net Framework 3.5, necessary for the rest of the components.
  2. Microsoft Silverlight Tools Alpha Refresh for Visual Studio VS 2008 Beta 2 à This is the AddOn para be able to create Silverlight applications in Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2. The link is here.
  3. Expression Blend 2 September Preview à This is the main design, animation and interaction definition tool for Silverlight (and WPF too). The link is here.  
  4. As for the last point, you can install some of the Microsoft Expression Suite applications, which you can check here  as they are updating and improving their applications almost each month, so check the site before installing. You would like also to check/download Expression Media , Expression Encoder and Expression Design, the first ones are for Video encoding and presentation (in a very powerful way) and the second for designing, but almost any decent design application already does an export-to-xaml, so any design package will do.
  5. Microsoft ASP NET Futures July 2007 à This include ASP.Net controls for integrating Silverlight with ASP.NET & AJAX. the link is here.  
  6. Intellisense support – for visual Studio 2008. If you are going to work with the 1.0 Silverlight version, you have an interesting add-in that will make your life easier. Concretely it will provide full Intellisense & Debugging capebilites in Javascript for Silverlight 1.0. The link to this open source project in .Net is here: http://www.codeplex.com/intellisense

Documentation, samples & add-in’s - With all the development & design tools installed we should get the SDK’s of what we are going to get into. We should install this great resources:

  1. Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 Software Development Kit (SDK) à This has all the latest documentation, samples and refference. It is a must. You can download this here. Also be sure it is the latest version, as they also update this frequently. The link is here.
  2. Microsoft Silverlight 1.1 Alpha Software Development Kit (SDK) - September Refresh à The same but for 1.1. Please note this SDK is being checked almost each month so keep checking the www.silverlight.net website and the Silverlight developer center here. The link to download the September refresh is here.
  3. If you want to learn, reading code is a very good option, apart from articles and released source code. Lutz Roeder’s great tool, Reflector also has a new add-in. check it here (tool maker’s blog) or here (at Codeplex). It is also great to see what is going on.

Well that has been more or less all. Quite longer than I expected but quite complete too. Please leave your comments and indications abut how did you like this article.

Thanks for reading,

Jose

Silverlight Introduction… September 22, 2007

Posted by Jose Luis Latorre Millas in Silverlight.
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Well, first things first… So I’ll try to make a small introduction to Silverlight ;)

Silverlight’s appearance means more than just “another flash”, it’s a real development framework inside our browser, it’s far more than just more performance for displaying animations and videos in high quality on our browsers and doing these in a better-faster and cheaper way!!

Ah, and as it is a text format (xaml) it’s also serchable by search engines ;)

We can affirm that Silverlight is a subset of WPF with some architectural changes and it has two versions, one RTC-ed some days ago, the Silverlight 1.0 version which has already a nice subset of the .Net framework and it is programmed with javascript and XAML.

This version already allows us to develop sofisticated applications that take profit from xaml’s ease of use and tools that support the development of this language, very similar to xhtml but far more powerful.

The 1.1 Version, is far the most powerful thing I have ever seen. The pain is that it is still not complete and it lacks some functionalities to show all the (business) .net power, as databinding and 3d support that makes WPF so great.

Here is an image (courtesy of Microsoft) that shows the differences between them:

Silverlight components

You can see that 1.0 allows communicating with JSON and POX with external applications and we have all the basic UI Core functionalities at our disposal. Also the integration with the browser and containing html’s DOM is quite nicely done. As for the 1.1, to say that has LOADS of new capabilities and components. It still lacks some to be a real jewel but has almost all the main .Net core & most interesting namespaces packed into 3 to 4Mb.

You can watch a more detailed comparison of the two versions here.

There are great demos of what can be done with this first version that has nothing to envy to other browser plug-ins. It has just been born and it already works on macintosh, linux, pc’s and most of the browsers of the market… quite a great start-up.  I reccomend that if you’re unfamiliar with this technology, go to http://silverlight.net/community/communitygallery.aspx and watch some of the samples there… you’ll be amazed. Of course you’ll be asked to download the plug-in, it is about 1Mb the Silverlight 1.0 plug in and 3 to 4Mb (going down on size!) the Silverlight 1.1 Alpha preview plug in. The 1.1 includes the 1.0 so, no need to install both.

You can also compare performance of this environment with the bubblemark project, here.

The results say, in Alexey Gavrilov words; “WPF runs faster than anything else. The unexpected is that WPF/e is faster than Flash despite the fact that it’s been in the market for years“. You can find the results comments here. Ah, WPF/E was the code name for Silverlight, before it was launched.

As for more information, there are quite detailed introductions (mine has been quite general) you can read:

On next posts we will install and set-up a development platform for being able to start coding and touching this great technology.

More to come & thanks for reading :)

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