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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

What Do You Need to Develop Silverlight?

The term “Silverlight” also qualifies the programming platform, which is developed in parallel to .NET 3.5. Since Silverlight is in development now, not all the .NET classes are available yet. In fact, some of them will never make it to Silverlight, as mentioned earlier. However, because the .NET basis is stable now, we can expect to see big improvements in Silverlight in the coming months as Microsoft releases new versions.

We are not going to create standalone applications here. We will only create applications embedded in a web page and unable to run on their own. The nice thing with this way of programming is that distributing (deploying) your application is as easy as copying some files to your web server. If you are adding Silverlight content to an existing web page, you probably already have a web server. If you don’t, you will need to get web server space eventually to publish your application. During development, however, you will be able to use the web server IIS built in the Windows operating system. Even better, if you use Expression Blend or Visual Studio 2008, starting a web application is as easy as pressing F5! You learn more about deploying web applications in Chapter 7, “Deploying to a Web Page.”

Developing Silverlight can be done with just a text editor. Notepad (or its Mac equivalent) is an option, seriously. You can write your XAML markup (a new programming language we will introduce later) in there, and then run it in the web browser to see the result. However, developing this way can be painful. Fortunately, we now have the support of great tools to make that experience a real pleasure. The best place to start and install the development environment for Silverlight is from http://silverlight.net/GetStarted.

Expression Studio

When Microsoft announced WPF, it also gave us a new suite of tools named the Expression Studio. Included are three important tools for the Silverlight developer: Expression Design, Expression Blend, and Expression Encoder.

This book uses these tools to create Silverlight content. Expression Blend is studied more in detail in Chapters 4, “Expressing Yourself with Expression Blend,” and 6, “Blending a Little More” (and throughout the book). This great tool is located at the border between designers and developers and is used by both professions. It is an almost unavoidable tool when you create WPF and/or Silverlight content. Unfortunately, at the time of writing there is no free edition of Expression Blend. A fully functional demo version can be downloaded from the Microsoft Expression website at www.microsoft.com/expression.

In addition to Expression Blend, we will be using Expression Encoder in this book. This application can also be downloaded from the Microsoft Expression website.

Expression Design can be used to create XAML-based “assets” (pieces of design). Later, you can import these elements in your Silverlight application. We will talk about this in Chapter 24.

Visual Studio 2008

Additionally, we will enjoy a better programming tool than Notepad: The powerful Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Visual Studio 2008 is the tool of choice to program Silverlight applications. In this book, we will use mostly Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Blend to program Silverlight applications. A fully functional 90-day demo version can be downloaded at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vs2008/products/cc268305.aspx.

In addition to Visual Studio, you must also install the Silverlight tools available from the “Get Started” page at http://silverlight.net/GetStarted/.

You learn more about Visual Studio 2008 in Chapters 9, “Understanding .NET” and 10, “Progressing with .NET” about .NET, and in following chapters, where we will use these tools to create C# code-behind.

Microsoft released so-called Express editions of Visual Studio. Each Express edition presents a limited set of features targeted at a specific type of software development (for example, web applications, C#, VB.NET, and so on). These limited editions are free to download and install. According to Microsoft, you will be able to use these Express editions to program Silverlight. At the time of writing, however, an exact release date was not public.

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