Right after landing in Seattle after the latest .toolbox events tour, I ran to the studio and filmed this episode on Behaviors of SilverlightTV. Not only are there 10 new Behaviors added in version 4 of the Expression Blend SDK, there is new functionality available in the Behaviors API. In this video, we use a few of the new Behaviors and demonstrate that their properties are now bindable and that once triggered an action can check against a specified condition to ensure that it should fire.
These new features result in more “simple drag and drop/property setting” power for the UI designer and developer.
“There’s a lot of magic behind that little square…”
I was reminded once again on this last tour of events, just how valuable the knowledge of the Advanced Options square is to new Blend users. There’s a lot of power and majesty packed into that 7×7 pixel square.
This wallpaper is a commemoration of the little button of wonder.
On the latest Arturo Toledo episode of SilverlightTV, Arturo Toledo takes you through a tour of the .toolbox site a new site (went public during MIX10) to help designers and developers learn Silverlight and Blend from a UI and design-centric point of view.
The site currently contains two courses Design Principles and Design Scenarios. In the Principles track fundamental principles of design are reviewed and applied to application interfaces. A great resource for developers who find themselves doing more and more design work and would like to improve their skills.
The Design Scenarios track is where you apply those principles by building Silverlight-based applications in Blend. Great material for those new to Silverlight and experienced Silverlight developers who looking to improve their interface implementation skills.
In the video, Arturo demonstrates how each module is presented in video and hands-on lab format and he shows just a few of the cool applications you build while rolling through the course.
Expression Studio 4 will launch at the Internet Week conference in New York City on June 7th!
Bill Buxton will be there as our featured guest speaker and many of your other favorite Blenders will be there, too:
And I’ll be there as well, with a big smile on my face
We’ll show the products in action and showcase design agencies who have seen their businesses grow with Expression Studio.
And just a reminder Expression Studio includes Expression Blend, SketchFlow, Expression Web, Expression Design and Expression Web. We’ve talked about a lot of the new features in Blend 4 (but not all of them!) and now its time to show the new features in all of the tools!
I just returned from a speaking tour traveling to Chicago, New York City, Boston and back to New York City presenting at three .toolbox Blend workshops and three usergroups and attended one conference.
The content for the workshops, covering Blend and Silverlight v4, will be made available on the .toolbox site in just a little while. We still have some work to do to make it all available online as tutorials.
The content for the usergroup presentation, Expression Blend for Developers will be made available on this site very soon.
One thing I did want to put together quickly is a page aggregating all of the resource links available from Microsoft covering Silverlight and Expression Blend.
We have a ton of content available which can be difficult to discover when you are just beginning your Silverlight experience. Hopefully this page will be useful as a jump start to finding all the resources available.
“Another Resources page?” you may be wondering to yourself. Yes, it’s true. My goal is to stay very high-level, keep the links up-to-date with the latest versions and aggregate links across our different sites. In any case, this page will be useful during the next presentation in place of an overstuffed Resource slide.
Did I miss an important resource?
When building Silverlight and WPF applications that are composited (e.g. using MEF) or written to support UI customization, resources are loaded dynamically at run-time. This is a great solution on the development side, but can be a challenge when working on design tasks. If your design surface can’t find the resources at design-time you are presented with zero styling or worse, XAML parsing errors.
Expression Blend 4 RC provides a new feature to support loading resources at design-time.
When you open a project in Blend and the current document contains resources that cannot be resolved and your solution contains at least one ResourceDictionary file, the Add Design-time Resource Dictionary dialog will open.
Once selected, a reference to the dictionary will be added to a file named “DesignTimeResources.xaml” located under the Properties folder. Blend will now find the missing resources during design-time and be able to render the design surface properly.
This feature enables editing of dynamic applications to be much easier than before. No more hacks to get your resources loaded!
As a side note, if you’ve added a ResourceDictionary as a design-time resource and you’d like to remove it; open the “DesignTimeResources.xaml” file. In XAML view, remove the reference to your resource dictionary in the ResourceDictionary.MergedDictionaries node. Then after closing and reopening the file referencing the missing resources, the dialog will prompt you again to choose a dictionary.
I’ve provided a sample solution below that will prompt you with the Add Design-time Resource Dictionary dialog, when you open the “MainPage.xaml” file.
A refreshed Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP has been released this week which provides compatibility with Visual Studio 2010. Matching the new tools, we’ve also released a new version of the Expression Blend Add-In for Windows Phone.
What does the experience of developing Windows Phone apps in Expression Blend look like?
Take a look at this brief video introducing Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone.
A few notes on installing the tools…
If you have the Blend 4 Beta installed from MIX10:
- Uninstall the Blend 4 Beta Phone Tools
- Uninstall the Blend 4 Beta
- Uninstall Windows Developer Tools CTP from MIX10
If you have the Blend 4 RC (4.0.20408.0) installed from Apr 15 Silverlight 4 RTM:
- Uninstall the Blend 4 RC
- If installed, uninstall Windows Developer Tools CTP from MIX10
Now with your system cleaned up:
- Install Expression Blend 4 RC Refresh(4.0.20421.0)
- Install Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP – April Refresh
- Install Expression Blend Add-in Preview 2 for Windows Phone
- Install Expression Blend Software Development Kit Preview 2 for Windows Phone
For more information check out the Windows Phone 7 Developer Center.
Ever since they announced the Seesmic Desktop Platform, I’ve been wanting to give it a try. The new SDK provides a way to develop client plugins using Silverlight 4 and MEF.
After seeing the request a couple times now and experiencing the same feelings myself, I found the purpose for my first plugin:
- Removing tweets from Foursquare and Gowalla.
I’m a fan of the two services and think the concept overall is pretty cool. But I’m not a fan of the “I’m at Starbucks” check-ins getting in the way of my “I just wrote an MMORPG in Silverlight” tweets.
I give you the Don’t Wanna Know plugin for Seesmic Desktop 2.
Seesmic Desktop 2, the Silverlight 4 Out of Browser client is pretty cool and the developer platform is very promising. Grab a build, SDK and find code samples on the Seesmic DevWiki.
My main goal was to update the Getting Started series to take advantage of new version 4 features. I also took advantage of this update to greatly improve the Installation and Setup tutorial.
The content for the site is made for those with an interest in experimenting with Silverlight, who most likely do not have any .NET development experience or in some cases, even Windows.
As a first step, configuring your design and development environment for Silverlight can be a little daunting. Happily the installation process is now much simpler with the advent of the version 4 tools.
Nonetheless, as requested, I’ve put together a simple step by step walkthrough of the install process.
Working towards more Silverlight time and less “WTF?” time.
The new Setup tutorial takes full advantage of the Web Platform Installer (Web PI) which acts as a download and install tool for the needed Tools. This makes writing the tutorial and installing much easier.
Along with the step by step guide, I’ve also updated the Getting Started series to reflect the new v4 tools and features, specifically CompositionTarget.Rendering (which is like ENTER_FRAME) and CompositeTransform (which makes transforms simpler than before).
Next month, we’ll be updating the Flash to Silverlight site with a new set of tutorials focused on Media (codecs, players, markers, etc) and how it compares to Flash media.
Now for some Taco Bell…
On May 6th at 6:30pm, we will meet at the Illinois Technology Association and discuss the virtues and value of Expression Blend for Developers.
Surprise! Its not just a tool for designers, rather its a tool for design tasks, which developers can often find themselves doing.
We’ll talk about when it makes sense to switch between Blend and Visual Studio, time-saving and headache-preventing features in Blend and how to keep your solution “Blendable” for more Blend-focused people on your team.
Register your spot today for the Chicago Silverlight User Group meeting.
What’s the yellow bus for? It’s a mildly clever shot from my last visit to Chicago in 2007. I don’t remember if anyone got it back then, but I titled the shot “Chicago’s version of Top Banana”. Which was kind of funny because back then the “Top Banana” video editor was all the rage as far as Silverlight demos went.
It was back in the day of Silverlight 1 and “Top Banana” was amazing. We’ve come a long way since then.